Q&A with Adam Wolfsdorf of The Energy
Brooklyn-based quartet, The Energy are getting ready to self-release their When We Were Young on April 23rd. In anticipation for the release, the band have released the title track from the album, which tells a story about youth, rebellion and being young. With four studio albums already under their belts and nearly a decade together, When We Were Young promises to be a remarkable release from The Energy.
We had the chance to chat with vocalist Adam Wolfsdorf about the bands upcoming release and more. Read the entire interview and listen to "When We Were Young" below!
Can you tell us a little bit about The Energy for anyone who may not be familiar?
Sure. We are a Brooklyn based rock quartet. We’ve been together for about 10 years, and When We Were Young is our fifth studio album. We’ve had the interesting experience of playing in front of thousands of screaming fans while on tour with 3 Doors Down and Eve 6. We’ve also played some of the dingiest basement dives for four patrons and a bartender. So we feel like we’ve seen a lot and done a lot on both sides of the industry. We are passionate about music and believe in strong song-writing and meaningful lyrics; we also explode once we hit the stage! We’ve been featured on NBC, MTV, ESPN, and for 70,000,000 listeners on Voice of America’s Border Crossing. We stay grounded. That’s pretty much us, in a nutshell.
You guys are getting ready to release your new album, When We Were Young this year. Did you have any goals in mind when you set out to write and record the album?
The record was recorded over a much longer period of time than our last two albums, so there wasn’t necessarily a clear-cut goal connecting song one to song ten. But throughout the process I think we were realizing that we didn’t want to be tied down by any sort of expectations, especially commercial expectations. We just kind of wanted to play, to let it all hang loose. We were making an album as much for ourselves as for anyone else, even our fans. It might sound selfish on the surface, but I think it’s that genuineness that fans really gravitate toward, or that’s what we hope!
This being your fifth studio album, how do you feel that you’ve grown or changed with When We Were Young?
We’ve definitely come a long way, and this album feels like a sort of arrival as far as finding our “sound.” Our first album with Ian on guitar, Realize Your Sin, it felt like we had a lot to prove and the songwriting was all over the place, very experimental on some tunes. On Streets of In-Between, our last record, we intentionally took a more commercial approach. In many ways, When We Were Young is the best of both approaches. Like I said, we were really letting loose a lot more, so tunes are a bit heavier, more virtuosic in some places. But we’ve also learned how to make those things fit within song structures that are accessible and that comes out naturally in our songwriting. We’ve definitely come full circle.
You’re also planning on self-releasing the album. Why did you choose to go with that route and what are the benefits of self-releasing an album?
Being independent kind of goes hand-in-hand with everything we’ve just discussed. Not being on any sort of industry timetable or record label schedule is what actually allowed us to create the record at our own pace. In the past we’ve definitely operated like we were on that kind of schedule: giving ourselves deadlines, getting the product finished and out the door. But being independent allowed us to choose to take a slower pace this time around. It also means there isn’t a pre-established model of success we need to replicate—like, “Go to Girl” was a smash, let’s do another one of those! Instead we can focus on trying to push ourselves musically, to grow as artists. Now that the album is finished we also have a lot more freedom in terms of promotion and distribution, and since we’ve done this a few times before we kind of know the drill, even without being on a label.
You also just released the title track from the album. Can you tell us a little bit about the song?
Like many of our best songs it emerged both spontaneously but also went through revision. The way Adam tells it, he actually came up with the initial idea for the song when he was visiting my in-laws in Vancouver. He was coming back from Granvile Island, which is a local market- really cool place- when the chorus melody suddenly popped into my head: “Oh when we were young; oh, we could not fight it. Our lives had just begun- when we were young; when we were young”. The melody was hooky and the lyrics were accessible. But they also sort of carried a larger message: youth and rebellion, how you feel so strongly about certain injustices when you’re a kid, but you can’t really do anything about them, frustration with powerful leaders or a corrupt government. I remember he changed the verse lyrics right before we went into the studio and to me it just became this incredible plea for a more direct, honest relationships. It’s both a personal and political message, not to mention at a time when our society’s political discourse has become so incredibly polarized.
Is the theme of the song something that inspired the album as a whole?
Because the album was put together over a longer period of time, we didn't really have a specific vision necessarily guiding it from start to finish. But as the project went along I think we were becoming less concerned with how to make a record that would be accepted commercially, as we were on Streets of In Between. We kind of just wanted to play. The result is an album that’s a bit heavier and more virtuosic than Streets but structurally the songs are still pretty accessible. There are a lot of massive riffs, a couple weird time signatures thrown in there, but you still get that great sense of anticipation right before the chorus drops.
When can fans expect to hear some new music from the album?
Album drops April 23, 2016! We’ll have singles and a video every month leading up to it!
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from When We Were Young?
When We Were Young is somewhat different from our last two albums in terms of sound, but very different in terms of process. We recorded this new album over a longer period of time, which gave us more opportunity to polish the songs or even try them out in a live setting. That’s one of the nice freedoms we enjoy, being independent and not on a specific timetable--it’s great to be able to take our time with the project. Many of the tracks were recorded with Scott Riebling, who we worked with on our last album, Streets of In-Between, but three of the songs, including the title track, we recorded with Mike Watts and his team at VuDu studios. So that was a great learning experience too, working with slightly different production styles and in getting different people’s takes on our sound.
With the release of When We Were Young this year, do you have any other big plans in the works? Can we expect to see you on the road soon?
They can definitely expect to see us back on the stage sometime soon! Playing live has always been our bread and butter, and at our peak in touring we’ve played 100 shows some years. But we kind of slowed down our touring schedule while we were working on When We Were Young. I think it was kind of necessary to take a step back, focus on the tunes and take our time with them. But we’re really anxious to get back on the stage, in front of our fans, connecting directly. So look for dates in our usual haunts--New York, Philly, Boston, DC, Baltimore. We’re also looking to beef up the media aspect of our game, so don’t be surprised to hear us on some hot reality show or see our video come on the screen at your gym!
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Long, moonlit walks on the beach with that special someone…..