Artists On The Rise: We As Human (Atlantic Records)

For this month’s “Artists On The Rise” segment, we are putting the spotlight on Nashville, TN based Alternative Rock band We As Human, currently signed to Atlantic Records via the imprint Hear It Loud. We As Human consists of Justin Cordle, Jake Jones, Justin Forshaw, Adam Osborne and Dave Draggoo.

We first witnessed this incredible band during their flawless performance at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA (you can read a review by our staff here) and we’ve been enamored ever since. Through their remarkable stage presence, unwavering dedication to their fans, and solid message behind their lyrics, We as Human left a lasting impact not just on AltWire but the 800-1,000 fans that packed into the crowded Chameleon Club on October 17th, 2013.

Founded in 2006 in Sandpoint, Idaho,We As Human have steadily gained a loyal following, performing a rigorous and nearly non-stop touring schedule, that has seen them go from their early beginnings in Idaho, to all the way across the United States. While their climb to fame has had its fair share of ups and downs, We as Human recently got their big break when their music was discovered in 2011 by Skillet’s John Cooper leading to a major label contract and instant exposure to Skillet’s large and very devoted fan base.

Their eponymous debut album “We As Human” released on June 25th, 2013 is one of the best alternative rock debuts we’ve had the privilege of listening to in recent memory. Every track of the 10 song album feels like it has the potential to be a true hit, and we see nothing but good things in this band’s future. For rock music fans that have been looking for a good, hard and energetic Alternative Rock band, it just doesn’t get any better than them. Critical reception of their debut has been extremely positive (averaging 4 out of 5 stars), and you can purchase it now on Amazon.

AltWire recently spoke with We As Human’s Justin Cordle to learn more about this up and coming new band, and what we can expect from them in the upcoming months. Here’s what Justin had to say..

AltWire[Derek]: If you could, tell me about the early history of We As Human before you were discovered; how did the band members meet each other, and what inspired the name of the band?

Justin [We As Human]: It kind of started out of just this love for music that for me started when I was 8 years old. I have pictures of me with my little toy guitar sitting next to my dad. He was this old southern gospel musician/country musician like Johnny Cash; and I just remember watching him. My dad was my hero (still is) and I wanted to be so much like him that when I was eight years old, I was like “Dad! You gotta show me some chords on the guitar!” and he showed me 3 chords and I just ran with it man! It was just over for me, it was like crack, it was all I did, day and night. I’d fall asleep with my guitar and when I’d drive my mom crazy she’d be like “you got to go play outside!” So I’d go out in the woods…I grew up in the woods…and I’d go out and play to the birds and the bears or whatever [laughs]!

And so anyways, I grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho and I met my drummer at a young age (Adam) and we were just childhood friends – we actually grew up playing music in church together man – and that’s where really we started to learn how to play with other people.

Then to jump years later, Adam and I and some other guys decided “let’s start a band! Let’s start playing some music!” and we ended up in like 2006, just a couple of years after we kind of started playing music together – and not really like “let’s be a rock band” or “Let’s do this, let’s do that!”…we just started playing – Adam and I finally decided “hey we got to get real serious about this, we’ll put the band together…we’ll get a name”, and my brother who used to be in the band when we started for the first little while there, is actually the one who kind of tricked us into the name.

He came downstairs while we were rehearsing in the basement of this church, and we couldn’t decide on a good name, and my brother was like “Hey dude! This weekend Three Doors Down and We as Human are playing at this local venue, would you want to go?” and I said “Yeah, I love Three Doors Down, I don’t know who We as Human is but you know we should go check it out!” and he was like “HA! I got ya! …We as Human sounds like a real band, huh?” and I was like “…yeah, but they’re playing this weekend?” And he’s like “No, it’s not a band, but they should be!” And so we thought that was cool and we just kind of took it and ran with it.

We filtered through a lot of the local musicians, back in 2005/2006, we got together in our garage and then closet, and threw some microphones in front of us, and recorded our first kind of solo album project called Until We’re Dead and barely sold 1,000 copies of that over the coming year or two. And uh, we kind of learned how to be a band, and really started to pick up when Dave Draggoo joined the band about six years ago. We did our first little West Coast tour, and that was really fun. We had a good time doing that, and decided that we just wanted to keep it up, and so we started doing little independent tours here and there. And then MySpace comes out of nowhere, kind of takes over the world, and we opened up auditions on there because our guitar player left because he wanted to do other things. We opened up online auditions and found Justin Forshaw, and Jake Jones who are just killer guitar players man, and that’s really kind of how we formed. It was just kind of this slow progression into like “yeah we like this” and now we like touring, and we kind of became the band we are today, because all we do now is live on the road.

AW: Your lyrics have often been noted for how personal they are in connection to your own life experiences. For example, “Sever” is about your nephew Tyler who passed away from Cancer, and “Take the Bullets Away” is about struggles your sister-in-law had experienced. Given that knowledge, could you tell me about your personal inspiration for the song “Dead Man”? Was there an exact moment that inspired the creation of that song?

Justin: Yeah there definitely was. “Dead Man” when I originally wrote it, we wrote all the music and the lyrics and everything kind of at the same time, it was just a jam session that turned into a song. And I wrote the lyrics and everything to the song, and it was called originally “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and it was about spinning a web of lies, and we went into the studio with “Itsy Bitsy Spider” where the music was all the same as it is now, but the lyrics were different. And we went in and recorded all the music, or were in the process of recording, and that night, my whole band and I went to our apartment where we were staying in Knoxville, TN and recording, and I just didn’t feel like the song was right…and the next morning I was scheduled to record the vocals for it. I just didn’t feel like it was right man, and I didn’t know what to do about it, and it was 1 or 2 in the morning and I remember laying by the kitchen in a sleeping bag as my whole band was sleeping in the other room and I was just restless and I went in the other room.

And well, this girl named Kristy from Spokane, Washington – she has cerebral palsy and she has been in a wheelchair her whole life – she writes poetry and she had written some poetry and she gave to me before I left, as we had kind of met through shows and things. She had just handed me these piles of papers and said “hey take this and if anything is your muse, if there’s anything you can use from this, or if it inspires you, great!” and I was like “Hey, I’ll read through some of her poems” and I read this poem, called, I think it was called “My Suicide” and she says in her poem “Sitting here at my gravesite/I’ve never felt so alive”. And all of a sudden this light bulb just starts firing for me. And I spent the next hour or two just writing all the rest of “Dead Man” and I threw “Itsy Bitsy Spider” away…thank god…and wrote “Dead Man” by myself in the middle of the night. And the next day I showed our producer Travis Wyrick and was like “Hey check this out, what do you think of this?” and it was just unanimous across the board, they were all like “Oh my god this is the song!”.

And as far as like the subject matter, what it means to me is man, I mean, who doesn’t battle their inner demons? Who doesn’t know the right thing to do, but still chooses not to do it sometimes? And we all find that strength to make the right decision, and sometimes we don’t and there’s so much shame and guilt and remorse that can come along with that. That was a struggle in my own life and something that I had been facing. I didn’t feel like I was winning, I didn’t feel like I was a good person, I didn’t feel like there was anything that was GOOD in me you know? And so I wrote Dead Man just about that struggle that I had been going through, and the hope that I had found through my faith, and my brothers and sisters who had encouraged me and who had kept me going through those hard times. I wrote that song just realizing that every day we battle to do the right thing. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but it’s about putting behind the evil that’s in all of us, and choosing to do what’s right not only for us but also for those around us as well.

It’s a great time to be We as Human!

AW: Yeah, that’s definitely a powerful message not just for you, but for the fans who are listening to as well! Now that the band has been discovered, and you’ve been signed to a major label…going forward, what can we expect from We as Human in the year 2014? Do you have anything big planned, and is there anything you’re excited to discuss?

Justin: Oh yeah absolutely! We have a ton of touring already booked out through 2014, so we’re going to be out on the road a lot. We’re out with Filter right now, as soon as this tour is over we’re going to be going out with Family Force 5 for the Christmas Pageant tour, and then we have a couple of weeks off for Christmas and then we hit the road with Skillet in the new year. We’ll be out on tour with them a lot in the beginning of the New Year, doing all big arena tours, and we’re going to do that up until almost spring time. And then we’ll break off of that, and start doing some festivals again, and by that time I’m sure our fall and winter of next year will be booked out as well. There a lot of people who want to come out and watch us play, and that’s a good thing yeah, to be out on the road and wanted so [laughs], we have a lot of touring coming up and then hopefully a new music video in this next year or maybe a couple, and then we’re working on some acoustic stuff.

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for acoustic versions of our songs, since we did the song “Sever” that you saw, we did it acoustic style, and a lot of people have been asking us for more acoustic performances of our songs. So we’re going to do that, and then lastly but not least, we’re already writing again! We kind of took a break from writing when we wrote our current album that just came out, but you know…it’s like an itch, it’s starting with us again, and it feels good, it feels natural, and it’s not forced. When we’re traveling, we’ve picked up the acoustic guitars and we’re already writing together so there’s a lot of music, a lot of live shows and you know, keeping in touch with our fans through our social networks and things, and yeah…it’s a great time to be We as Human!

Check out music by We As Human below (music courtesy of We As Human/Atlantic Records):

Derek Oswald:

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