Article by Shannon Shumaker
In a way, Favorite Weapon has been a long time coming. By the time that the Atlanta quintet stormed the stage at their nearly sold-out Denver show in support of The Amity Affliction, they more than had the crowd’s attention, and with good reason. No stranger to the tour circuit, vocalist Hance Alligood easily commanded the stage, captivated the audience and absolutely killed it on his vocal runs only an hour after expressing that he had been sick all week. It comes as no surprise, however, because after only a few minutes of chatting with Alligood before their performance, it was apparent that he knows exactly what he wants.
Favorite Weapon, after all, is very different from Alligood’s former project, Woe, Is Me. Just give the band’s first single, “Hollow” a listen, and you’ll understand why. The first thing that will stand out are Alligood's strong vocals, the second will be the meaningful lyrics and the third will be how different it sounds from his old band. It would be a crime, however, to compare the two, as they’re on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. As Alligood explained, “Obviously Favorite Weapon is nowhere near as heavy or dark as Woe, Is Me. That’s one of the reasons I left to begin with. That style of music just didn’t speak to me anymore - it didn’t do anything for me. I don't know whether that had to do with the environment or if it was just time to move on to something that suited me better and something that I could enjoy.”
And it’s apparent that he does enjoy it. Only two short weeks before their debut album Sixty Saragossa was set to release, Alligood had nothing but positive things to say about the album, his band mates and their fans. Over the span of about nine months, Favorite Weapon formed, all of the pieces coming together like a puzzle, and when it was all put together, Alligood had a group of talented musicians behind him, ready to create music that they love. “We want to write music that we enjoy writing and playing - something fun,” Alligood stressed when talking about what they wanted to accomplish as a band, “We want to get something out of it. We want to enjoy it and we want other people to enjoy it. But you know, you can create music all you want for other people to enjoy, but at the end of the day, if you’re not having fun playing it, then what are you doing it for?” With everyone in Favorite Weapon coming from different backgrounds in the music industry, it was easy for them to create a record that they enjoy playing, too. And as Alligood explained, writing music for yourself is key - when you’re happy with what you’re doing, everything else will just fall into place naturally.
“So far, everything has gone exactly how I expected it to - we’ve gotten lots of great comments,” he said on the band’s reception so far, “Some people are obviously not into it and that’s cool. That doesn’t hurt my feelings - everyone likes what they like.”
He continued, speaking about what direction he wanted to take Favorite Weapon musically, and as he explained his thought process behind the sound of Sixty Saragossa, it was obvious that Alligood knew what he was talking about. While his previous projects obviously played a big role in his growth and development as a musician, he stressed that he didn’t want Favorite Weapon to sound like his old band. “Musically, I definitely wanted to have songs that were more structured, because I did so many songs with my old band where it was like, a singing part at the beginning and then like eight breakdowns and then some more singing. And people like that, I understand that, but I just wanted to have something with a little more structure and catchy melodies,” he explained, “I want these songs to be memorable, and if that means that a chorus happens three times in a song, then cool. I want people to remember these songs.”
With those catchy melodies and hard-hitting, relatable lyrics that really carry Sixty Saragossa, Alligood has definitely hit the nail on the head. The choruses on Favorite Weapon’s debut album are infectious, but more than that, the record is personal. The first half of Sixty Saragossa, in Alligood’s words, is darker than the rest of the album, but that’s what makes it so memorable. “Toward the beginning, the record deals a lot with perseverance and overcoming different obstacles in your life, one of them being yourself. The biggest thing you have in life at times is getting over yourself and moving past your inner struggles,” Alligood explained in regards to the message behind the album and what he’d like listeners to take away from it, “There’s also talks about addiction and struggles with people in your life who you try to do everything you could for, but you can only help someone so much. If they don’t want to help themselves and there’s really only so much you can do.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, Alligood stressed that he doesn’t want to force his own personal experiences or beliefs on anyone. As he explained, he writes lyrics from his own personal experiences, but he wants Favorite Weapon’s listeners to be able to connect to their music in their own personal way. After all, art and music can easily mean different things to different people - that’s what makes it so great. “It’s weird - someone asked me this the other day, ‘what does this song mean?’ And at the end of the day, I don’t really want to dive in too deeply about what they mean to me. What I want and what my hope is for this album is for the listener to take in everything from a song, and let it sink in and make their own connection to it. I want people to feel something, but I don’t want to tell them how to feel,” he explained, “Lyrically, a lot of these songs are very special to me, and it’s not that I don’t want to share those stories with the world, but I don’t want to force any ideas on people. I don’t want them to go into it with any preconceived notion. I just want people to run free with it.”
In fact, it’s hard not to connect with Favorite Weapon’s debut album. Sixty Saragossa as a whole is very real and human, a direct reflection of the musicians who collaborated on it. Sitting inside the venue, an hour before the show began, it was apparent that Alligood was excited to share their music with the world, too. The amount of positivity, passion and hard work that he has put into the project was absolutely tangible, and as our conversation turned from the band to the music scene as a whole, it was apparent that he felt the same about the scene in general, as well.
As our conversation winded down and as the minutes ticked by, Favorite Weapon’s upcoming performance drawing near, I took a chance and asked Alligood a question I’ve been asking many people; if you could change anything to better the music scene, what would it be?
Alligood’s answer answer directly reflected both his attitude as a musician and his personality and heart as a human. “I don't know if there’s a whole lot I can do about this because people are going to be people, and I’ve said this before and people say it a lot but the message never seems to sink in…” he said, “But if fans and listeners of music spent more time supporting bands and artists that they like instead of publicly hating, bashing and ripping apart bands that they don’t like, then I feel like the unity in our music scene would be a lot stronger.”
He continued, “I just feel like we should all look out for each other a little bit more and not worry about who’s been doing this the longest and things like that. Don’t get me wrong, there are bands that have definitely been around for a while that have paid their dues, but I think people get too caught up on politics and not enough on unity and friendship and remembering that the reason we’re all here is because of our love of music.”
At the end of the day, it’s about the music to Alligood. Favorite Weapon and their upcoming album, Sixty Saragossa exist because he and the rest of the band are passionate about what they do, and want other people to be able to connect with what they’re creating. That’s what making music is about, after all, and it seems that Alligood definitely has it figured out. After floating through different projects and bands that didn’t really speak to him, Favorite Weapon seems to have finally ignited that fire and passion for Alligood once again. His amazing vocal work and lyricism on Sixty Saragossa is a testament to that.
As a fan of music and an avid concert-goer, one of the best things to see on stage is a band that truly believes in and enjoys what they’re doing. Watching Favorite Weapon perform, it was apparent that they’re here for a reason and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. After all, they love what they do, and Alligood said it best, “The main objective is just to have fun with it.”
Favorite Weapon's debut album Sixty Saragossa drops on October 14th via Rise Records. The band will also be heading out on another tour in November and December. Check out the bands retweets on twitter for hints about the tour!