In the land where anything is possible there was a tale that involved a genre unlike any other, one calling itself fantasycore! This genre style would develop into an act called The Wise Man's Fear, who would go on to write and record materia, leading to their debut full-length album "Castle in the Clouds", followed by showcases, touring, and so much more! Drummer Paul Lierman discusses the band's debut release and future plans!
1. First of all, who are you, and what do you do in the band?
Paul: Hello! My name is Paul and I play drums and write lyrics for the band. Joe does harsh vocals, Tyler plays bass guitar and sings, Nathan plays rhythm guitar/backing vocals, and Codi plays lead guitar.
2. Can you give those of us who aren’t familiar with The Wise Man's Fear a brief history of the band and can you please describe your sound for those who have yet to hear your music?
Paul: We're a fantasycore band from central Indiana. We've been around since mid 2013, and we just released our debut full-length album Castle in the Clouds in July of 2015. We describe our sound as "fantasycore" because instrumentally we perform essentially what sounds like riffy metalcore/melodic metalcore and we combine that with orchestral elements, symphonic components, and fantasy-themed lyrics.
3. How did the band come to get it's name The Wise Man's Fear? Who is this wise man in question?
Paul: The band takes its name from a novel by Patrick Rothfuss of the same title. The protagonist in the book is a young traveler/musician/arcanist who is trying to find his place in the world and earn his keep. We readapted the name to be a statement against the destructive power of pride (it's so dangerous/corrosive that wise men avoid it at all costs). There isn't really a specific "wise man" around which our name was structured, but it's more of a general principle meant to extend across the board.
4. What would you say are the bands biggest collective musical influences, and also individual ones that you feel can be heard in the record?
Paul: We pretty much all grew up listening to household name metalcore bands like the Devil Wears Prada, Attack Attack! Of Mice and Men, Underoath Memphis May Fire, etc. so that was kind of our common thread when we first began playing music together. Beyond that, each of us listen to all kinds of music from post hardcore, post rock, and pop, to deathcore, singer/songwriter, and pretty much anything else imaginable. As far as writing is concerned, City in the Sea , Betraying the Martyrs, Denihilist (old Hail to the King), and Make Them Suffer are the groups that we feel really shine through as influences on the record.
5. Could you describe your song writing process? What comes first – the music or the lyrics?
Paul: This is a tough one because no two songs came about in exactly the same way. Roughly a third of the songs on CITC started as cool riffs that Codi or Nathan came up with or just as full instrumental tracks they put together, and then the other two thirds started with either partial or completed lyrics that prescribed a certain sound/tone around which the instrumentals were constructed. Sometimes it was just a case of matching pre-existing riffs we had with lyrics we wanted to use. That being said, on some songs we might have started writing instrumentals to go along with like 3 lines or phrases that we knew we wanted in the song and then fleshed out the rest of the lyrics later on of vice versa with a riff we knew we liked.
6. What was the recording process like this time around? Was there anything different that happened or was it the same old studio thing?
Paul: The recording process was really incredible for CITC. We did things a really differently this time around and went out to Ohio to record with Johnny Franck instead of locally. There were a couple of key lineup changes that made the writing and tracking process much smoother than last time, and we really connected creatively with Johnny in a strong way that maximized idea flow and productivity. He's got a brilliant musical mind and it was so inspiring to work with him on the record. We ended up recording the album in three chunks that totaled 20 days between August 2014 and January 2015. There were definitely some intense moments that went into getting it done in that amount of time. I remember on our last day of tracking we wound up having to leave like 4 hours early because of a severe snowstorm that was going to make the drive home very dangerous, so we were literally packing up our clothes/computers/instruments in one room as quietly as we could in between vocal takes and Tyler was singing on "The Moonless Night" in the room next to us haha. It all worked out in the end though.
7. Can you tell us how this album differs from the previous releases? What can we expect and what is the message behind it?
Paul: This album is about as different as can be from our first EP on a lot of levels. Instrumentally, Codi and Nathan took charge of writing the bulk of the album, and they've got these perfectly-meshing styles of writing that borrow from the best of fast-and-riffy as well as chord structure and cool melodies. From a vocal standpoint, this was the first record that Joe has done screams on (aside from like one line on our old EP) and he crushed it. He's done a ton of work studying and practicing different vocal techniques over the past few years and it's really paid off for him by giving him a diverse range of styles to choose from. This was also the first record that we were able to fully utilize Tyler for (he was just a studio vocalist on our EP and he wrote and tracked all the cleans on that record in under 3 hours). Lyrically, we also went a much different direction. We made the album one big allegory with a story and characters and just generally tried to keep it a lot more cohesive and meaningful. All this was accentuated by Johnny's production which has that laser-precise feel to perfectly portray the sound we think fits us best.
8. Where does the title "Castle in the Clouds" come into the picture for this album? Why is there a "Castle in the Clouds"?
Paul: I got the idea for the album name from a quote by Gilbert Chesterton that my best friend shared with me in high school ("There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.") it painted a brilliant mental image for me and it inspired me for some reason. The castle described in the album represents the answers to life's greatest existential questions. It's this adamant, tangible goal from the protagonist, but it's also a total mystery and feels like a fable that nobody has ever seen themselves. The castle is really central to the entire album as its the goal the knight is always pushing towards.
9. How does the album art relate to the music on the album?
Paul: The album art was actually pretty meticulously done to display some of the album's symbols. Obviously the castle is central to the piece, but in the foreground you can see a knight on a horse arriving at the castle. This is depicting the scene from the beginning of the track "Castle on the Clouds" where he finally completes his quest and discovers the castle, which is the climax of the record. You'll also notice in the right side foreground there is a section of choppy sea, which is the same sea that the knight crosses in track 7 after battling Chaotica. Above it all is the full moon, a symbol from track 3, "In Reach (Out of Touch)" as well as track 9. The album booklet is also packed with symbolism and motifs from the record.
10. Why did you go the concept album route on the new album?
Paul: Essentially, we just wanted to make the most impact we could with the message we were delivering. You have a pretty unique opportunity to deliver a message with an album. The problem with some music that gets criticized as being "generic" is that a lot of times a group wants to write music and have lyrics, but they don't really have any direction or message they feel strongly about sharing. Usually this just turns into recycled lyrics about subject matter that has been beaten to death just to fill space. We didn't want to waste our potential to speak out by saying something that's already been done or just isn't uplifting. We put a lot of time into developing exactly what we wanted the message of our album to be, and telling a story about a person who experiences that message rather that just saying "here's your message, hope you enjoy it" felt a lot more impactful. Few things help people connect like a good story.
11. How did you challenge yourself sound wise to fit this concept?
Paul: There is a quote actually by Patrick Rothfuss that goes "Half of seeming clever is keeping your mouth shut at the right times." We tried to make some definite statements with the album, but we also left some areas entirely open for interpretation. I've heard a few really cool interpretations of the record from other people that I never would have thought of.
12. Is the concept of the album going to develop into any other mediums like film or graphic novels?
Paul: There is a possibility of a short story/novella developing from the album. I've begun a tiny bit of work on one such project, but we'll have to see how it turns out.
13. Did you get the album you wanted? Is everything on there or were there some things that were just impossible to pull off?
Paul: We couldn't be happier with how everything came out. The record sounds better than we dared to hope for.
14. What does "Castle in the Clouds" mean to you all?
Paul: To me personally, it is a reminder to live as urgently and passionately as possible. If you spend your life worrying about life, your life will be full of worrying. It seems obvious, but so many people live in a self-fulfilling cycle of uncertainty. Stop overthinking things, target what makes you feel fulfilled then tenaciously chase after that target. The album also has a lot to do with he idea of legacy in my mind. A huge moment in the title track is when the protagonist finally understands that death isn't the end of things, and that he can live forever in the way that he impacts the people in his life.
15. Do you think there is an element of the band’s sound that you would like to push out further on the next batch of songs?
Paul: This is a difficult one to answer. A lot depends on how the final concept for the next record shapes up, but we do know for sure that we want to keep the symphonic/fantastical feel that a lot of our songs have.
16. What should labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?
Paul: I would love to be able to explain the full concept for the album to them. Since that's not always possible, I would just let them know we are a fantasycore group that puts all of our heart into every show we play. I think our live performance and message should be the interesting facets for them.
17. What plans do you have for the near future as a band?
Paul: We just played the warped tour date in Noblesville, IN, so now we are putting all of our focus on shooting a music video. We can't disclose exact details just yet, but it's going to be absolutely incredible and we are so excited about the team we are working with.
18. Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
Paul: We are available everywhere for download and streaming digitally (Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon MP3, etc) and we have physical copies of our record available for purchase on our bandcamp!
19. What’s coming up for tours and or shows?
Paul: We'll be playing some local shows in the near future, but nothing too big while preparation for the music video is still under way.
20. Any last words for the friends and fans out there?
Paul: Thank you so much for listening. We can't wait to show you what the future holds. "Metal rusts, but music lasts forever." -Patrick Rothfuss.