I don’t think there’s any better way to perfectly capture Forever Came Calling than the scene that I walked in to an hour before their show at The Marquis Theatre in Denver. It was easy to tell where the band was sitting inside the venue because of the loud laughter and chatter between them and several tour mates and friends as they ate some pizza and played Magic: The Gathering as a pre-show warm up. Within seconds of sitting down with them, it was apparent that Forever Came Calling is a group of guys that definitely don’t take themselves too seriously, but that’s not to say that they’re not passionate about what they do. All jokes aside (and trust me, there were a lot of jokes) Forever Came Calling are very serious about their new album, What Matters Most… and were more than excited to talk about it.
Interview and photos by Shannon Shumaker
How has the Pure Noise Records Tour been so far, now that you guys are about halfway through it?
Joe Candelaria (Vocals/Guitar): It has been awesome. It has been way better than I think any of us expected. Lots of friendship.
Well it’s cool because you guys are all on the same label, so it’s like one big family.
Has anything super crazy or cool happened so far?
Isaac Taylor (Guitar): Chicago. We sold out the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, which was crazy.
John Swaba (Bass): It was 700 plus people - a sea of people.
Joe: It was maybe the biggest reaction we’ve ever had. I don’t know if it was the biggest amount of people we’ve ever played to, but it’s definitely the best reaction we’ve ever had.
So, I feel like the Pure Noise Tour is sort of the pop-punk tour. What does that, or what does pop-punk mean to you?
Joe: Not a whole lot, actually.
Isaac: It means this, right here.
John: Pizza, Magic and friendship. That’s what it means.
If you guys weren’t playing music, what do you think you’d be doing?
Bryce Esquivel (Drums): Playing Magic.
Joe: All of this, but without the music. No, but I’d probably be working, school…
So you guys just premiered your video for “Defenseless” a couple of days ago – where did the concept of the video come up?
Joe: I think a big part of it was we’ve always done “hangout” videos, but we try to make ourselves look stoic and serious, and we’re not a group of serious people. There are times where we’re serious, but for the most part, I don’t try to look like I’m badass… Cause if I don’t like you, you probably know it and I won’t need to say anything more.
But I like to make stupid shit happen. I think we just wanted to be ourselves and the video kind of got that across – besides the part where we look fuckin’ sweet. That’s not real life.
Well that sort of brings me into my next question – the video obviously is not very serious. When I was watching it I found it really hard not to smile because it’s so goofy, and watching you guys play live, too, has that same effect. You can really tell you’re having fun up there. You don’t take yourselves too seriously - is that something you try to do and try to convey?
Joe: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, we put up with a lot of bullshit, and it’s not for money, so it might as well be for fun.
Now, What Matters Most… drops in a few days – how stoked are you?
John: So stoked.
Isaac: I’m stokin' the flames.
Joe: [Laughs] Stokin' the flames.
Joe: Was that a magic joke?
John: Yeah, that was a magic joke. All the wizards out there gotta know about this!
Joe: They try to make me feel stupid for not liking Magic by making jokes like that all day.
Oh no, are you the only one who doesn't play?
Joe: Yeah. Well, Mac, our tour manager doesn’t play, either.
So, what does What Matters Most… mean to you guys? If there was anything you’d want anybody to take away from it, what would it be?
Joe: On a serious note – lyrically I think we’ve always been a serious band – I think the big thing is that What Matters Most… is kind of like a question and a statement all at the same time. Isaac and I both did the lyrics, so I think that it’s about different things going on, being twenty-seven, or Isaac being twenty-one. I think a lot of it is more serious, like a big theme on the record is death, which is kind of fucked. [Laughs]
Isaac: It’s something that you grow old and you have to deal with.
Joe: You can’t grow away from it. You either deal with it or you become a really shitty human. So I think that’s a big element in the album.
You do this thing and you play music and tour year round, and it’s sick and you have a ton of fun and it’s great, but then you come back a year later and everyone in your life has kind of moved past where they were before, and you have to try to re-figure out what your role is. You have to figure out which people do matter the most to you.
Well when you’re only home for so long, it’s sort of about which people matter and which people you want to see.
Joe: Yeah, exactly. But gets weird when they’re people you do care about and you realize like, “Whoa, those to people are now closer than we ever were,” and those are the new roles. It’s a different feeling.
As you said, a lot of your lyrics are more serious and personal – looking back on your old material, is it ever weird to play songs that you’ve maybe moved on from mentally?
Joe: I listen to our first EP and I just laugh. It’s like literally the worst shit I’ve ever heard, but I remember thinking at the time, “God damn, I’m hittin’ em’ with hot fire! These motherfuckers don’t even know what I’m saying!” And now I’m just like “Ugh. What?” It’s like a really bad yearbook photo.
It is weird to not to connect as much with a song anymore. But I think what does connect is when people care about it still. It’s cool to see that we still have this bond because of music.
Isaac: Hope Passion for life!
Joe: Isaac joined the band over the shitty record I’m talking about.
What would you like fans to be able to take away from your music?
Joe: Don’t be afraid to be yourself. I know that’s kind of cliché to say, but on this record – especially on this record – we stopped trying to be other people. We stopped trying to fit in and just did what we wanted to do. And I think so far (knock on wood) the reaction has been better that anything we’ve done before.
I think a big part of that was a lot of conversations in the van talking to each other and just being like “fuck it.” If we break up next year, at least let's say that we dictated it. We took the chances that we wanted to take and we didn’t do the things that we didn’t want to do and we completely went after the things that we wanted to do. I think that has been the most freeing and scary thing all at the same time.
Well it kind of goes back to the whole “pop-punk” thing. Instead of trying to fit into a mold, you’re doing what you want to do.
Joe: Yeah, I feel like we’re more of an emo band. But not like emo in the new grunge sense.
John: Like that style of music that we were all influenced by at really young ages doesn’t really exist anymore. And what has taken its place is what’s kind of known as “pop-punk” which is kind of a blanket term that I feel like a lot of bands just get thrown under. I feel like we’re kind of included in that.
Joe: We definitely use that punk beat and stuff, but I like to believe that we have more in common with a band like Taking Back Sunday than we do with Simple Plan.
So, I’ve been asking everyone this, and I’m interested to hear your opinion after this discussion, so if you could change anything to better the music scene, what would it be?
Joe: I’d vote for pyrotechnics on stage. That shouldn’t be frowned upon, even in places like this. Isaac would quit the band immediately.
Isaac: Yup. Hop a train out of here.
John: More costumes. I say more costumes.
Bryce: I wish we could slay dragons like Dio. That would be fuckin’ tight.
Joe: If our band blows up, the stage props are going to be the most ridiculous shit that doesn’t make sense. Bryce will kill a dragon-
Bryce: And I want to play drums under water.
Joe: Seriously though, probably just genres. I think that people listen to music based on a word in front of the music instead of just being like “Hey, do I like this or not?” I’m even guilty of that. Like, my favorite record of the past ten years is a hip-hop record. If you would have told me that when I was younger, I would have been like “Fuck you man, I’m punk rock!”
I feel that we like having that genre thing because we want to identify. It’s kind of fucked, because it’s cool that you want to identify as something, but at the same time, it also kind of closes you off to a world of other things.
Isaac: It also kind of fucks newer bands. I see my friends who play in local bands saying “Yo, who wants to start a pop-punk band?” or “Who wants to start a hardcore band?” Instead, why don’t you see where you are as musicians and see where your influences take you? That’s where real bands are formed.
I think it stops people from listening to new music, too.
Joe: Yeah, it’s true.
Well, I think that’s about it – would you guys like to add anything else?
Joe: The new album drops on Tuesday!
Forever Came Calling's new full-length, What Matters Most... drops on Tuesday, Oct. 21st. Be sure to pick up a copy, and check out the video for their single, "Defenseless" below!