Mixing things up with genres like alternative, rock, and metal, you end up with an act who like to call themselves, First Decree. They have that talent, drive, and determination to have their music heard for all! If that's not enough, they have been hard at work, writing and recording for their latest and newest release "This Is Our Rise", with plans to being on the road for as long as possible! Lead guitarist Dane Lopez Smith discusses this release, road plans, and more!
1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Dane: First Decree was started by Travis James and I about 4 years ago. A couple break ups and different situations in our lives had left us in place where we wanted to try something different and we got together and wrote some songs and decided that starting a band was what we wanted to do. We asked my brother Zach if he wanted to play drums for us since we knew his other band was kind of fizzling out. Then we bought my other brother, Isaac, a bass for Christmas and told him if he learned to play it then he could join the band as well. Once we had our band we were ready to take on the music world.
2. Where did the idea come for your namesake First Decree? Would you say that it's a parody of the first degree?
Dane: The original name Travis and I had in mind was just Decree. A decree is a statement or an official order declared by someone and that's exactly what we wanted to make as a band. We Googled the name to make sure no one else had it and, sure enough, there was another band with that name. While we were trying to think of another name a Tenacious D song was playing and they said something about a "FIRST" decree and I looked at Travis and said, "That's it!" It fit along with what we wanted the meaning of the name to be. This is the first band that we've all been in where everyone is willing to do anything to make that statement so First Decree fits pretty well.
3. Tell us about your thought on your local music scene? Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?
Dane: The music scene here in Cheyenne is fairly small. There are a few bands that are local mainstays but for the most part there isn't too much of scene here. Wyoming in general is a great place to settle down and raise a family and live a pretty low key life. Starting a band and travelling the country playing music is something that kids might dream about here but not very many people are willing to actually go out and do it. We are trying to change that by doing what we are doing. We want to inspire up and coming bands to not be afraid to pursue this dream that we are living.
4. What bands have influenced your band and its sound?
Dane: The first song I ever learned to play on guitar was "My Own Prison" so Creed was pretty much my earliest influence. Travis is right there with me as far as Creed being a very early influence. Isaac is a huge Motley Crue fan so he gets a lot of inspiration from how successful they still are and the adversity that they overcame as a band. Zach's favorite band of all time is Avenged Sevenfold and he's also been a huge fan of Breaking Benjamin. We have a pretty diverse range of musical influences and we are always looking for new music to inspire us. We never want to get stale creatively and even though we are a pretty new band we are always looking to evolve our sound and try different things.
5. What lyrical theme do you guys use in your music? What message do you want to send?
Dane: We are always trying to inspire positivity with the lyrics of our songs. There are too many empty songs out there with no substance and we never want to write a song like that. Every song we write comes from very personal places and are meant to tell a story. There is always a way to overcome whatever is weighing you down and rise up and become a better version of yourself.
6. Why did you see "Stop", "Lost In The Crowd", and "Phoenix" to be such good fits for singles?
Dane: Honestly, we want every song we write to be singles, but we can't really do that so we have to pick the best ones that we feel represent the band best. These three songs are a perfect cross section of what First Decree is right now. "Phoenix" being the first single represented our birth as a band, rising up from the ashes of our previous lives, so to speak. "Lost in the Crowd" goes on to state that "this is our rise" out of the crowded music landscape. We want to rise above the rest and climb to the top of the rock world. "Stop" is a shout out to the people that will try to hold us back from achieving that rise. We don't care what they do or say. We're going to push forward no matter what.
7. Do you think anymore songs will be picked off as singles or made into videos?
Dane: I think these three singles will be the only ones off this album. We are planning on doing one more video for "Stop" here in the next couple months, but that will be it for this album. We're going to be writing new music throughout the rest of the year and something new and fresh will end up being released as the the next single from us.
8. What was the recording process like this time around? Was there anything different that happened or was it the same old studio thing?
Dane: The majority of the songs on the album are the same ones that were on our self released album. We only sold a thousand copies or something like that so our manager didn't want those songs to go to waste. We completely repackaged the album with new artwork and everything. We remixed and remastered all the old songs and ended up recording a couple new tracks and a couple acoustic tracks in Nashville. We hadn't been the studio for a couple years so it was fun and a little stressful getting reintroduced to the recording process.
9. Do you remember the very first time you heard the final mix of the new record and what you were thinking?
Dane: Hearing the new final mix of all the songs was a great experience. A solid mix can really make a song come to life and that's exactly how it was with the final mix of our album.
10. How would you say that the title and album art relate to the music on this album?
Dane: The title really describes our mentality right now. This is our rise and we are prepared to face any and all challenges that lay ahead. The artwork is a bit of an homage to our self released album. Even though the album and songs are repackaged we wanted to recognize where they came from. So that's where the griffen comes from on the cover.
11. What's your favorite song as off this album as of right now?
Dane: I have a couple favorites on the album. "Lost in the Crowd" is one of my favorite songs to play live. It's also kind the title track of the album and sums up what we are doing as a band right now. "From Me To You" is another favorite of mine. It is the first song that Travis and I wrote together about ten years ago and for it to have lasted this long and made it onto the album is something special for me.
12. What does This Is Our Rise mean to you all?
Dane: I've kind of answered this question throughout the rest of the interview. It pretty much is how we all feel as a band right now. This is our opportunity, our one chance to rise up and make this band great. We have put in a lot of effort and are continuing to make sure First Decree rises to the top and makes an impact on the world. We remind ourselves every night to rise above the rest and that if we keep striving to do that we won't get lost in the crowd
13. What are your current tour plans, if any?
Dane: We just finished a tour with Pop Evil and we are preparing to go out with Avatar, Gemini Syndrome, and Huntress. We are also trying to lock in some more tours that will keep us out on the road through the rest of 2015.
14. What other plans do you have for this year?
Dane: We plan on being on the road for pretty much the rest of the year. At some point we'll go home and recharge and begin writing songs so that we can start putting together our next album.
15. Any last words for the friends and fans out there?
Dane: Like I said, we plan on being out on the road for the rest of the year so make sure you come out to a show near you and hang out with us. We are starting to recognize faces at our shows and it's awesome to see people coming back because they want to see us play. So keep coming out and don't forget to pick up the new album, "This Is Our Rise", when it comes out on August 21.