An interview with Famous Last Words
Long time fans of Famous Last Words might know that the band have not only become a staple in the metalcore scene, but they’ve in part done so by fully embracing concept albums. Each one of theirs have told a story through beautiful songwriting, exceptional musicality and flair. After releasing the lead single from their upcoming EP, The Negative, as the first new song in over two years, vocalist Jeremy Tollas stopped by to chat concepts alongside all things The Negative.
Words: Renette van der Merwe
You’ll be releasing a brand new EP early December. What are some of the emotions in the FLW camp right now?
Excitement. We are all so incredibly excited to be putting music out again. This is our first conceptual material since The Incubus and it’s a story and project I’ve been working on for over a year now. We are currently independent which has actually been great for us. We own all of our material 100% and get to do everything our way. It’s been a challenging learning process taking care of some of the back end duties that go into a release like this, but I couldn’t be happier. We haven’t had to meet anyone’s deadlines but our own which has made this process feel a lot less stressful than it has in the past. Personally, my passion for this band and the conceptual aspects we are known for has been reignited.
The Negative – the new EP – is a concept album. Can you tell us a little more about it?
The Negative is about a photographer who feels a strong sense of purpose. He feels his purpose is to capture what he calls “moments of truth” which are completely unfiltered, unedited, natural moments. He wants to capture these moments and preserve them so people can remember what “real life” looks like among the plethora of inauthenticity. When developing one day he sees a vision of a parallel universe colliding with our universe in one of his photo negatives. He doesn’t know when or what is going to happen exactly once it collides, but he knows it’s going to be soon and he begins to wildly speculate on all of the horrifying possibilities. He carries this knowledge on his own out of fear of the world thinking he has gone mad. Has he gone mad? Is the universe doomed, or is this all in his head?
“Personally, my passion for this band and the conceptual aspects we are known for has been reignited.”
This isn’t your first rodeo with concept albums though. Why have you always been interested in constructing your albums in such a way?
Growing up I’ve always been a huge fan of musicals. I love how music and acting combined can tell a story that carries so much emotion. Being able to take all that I love about musicals and deliver it in the form of a metalcore album is just so much fun for me.
Do you think it’s something that’s almost inherited from the early 2000s post-hardcore and metalcore scene?
Not necessarily. I think 2000’s post- hardcore and metalcore was definitely more “artsy” and that’s something I absolutely love about that era of music. But I don’t think conceptual themes are mutually exclusive to that era. With how streaming is these days, I feel like artists have to find different ways of delivering that same kind of material. So it looks a little different than it did back then, but that’s awesome. The scene is ever evolving.
You only saw each other for the first time in two years back in August? What was that experience like for a band who’s been together since 2009, and did that mean the EP was recorded separately?
It was so great seeing the guys again. We all live pretty far from one another. I’m in Michigan, Tyler is in Vegas, and Cody and Evan are both in Florida, so we have to find ways to make it work. We actually decided to take a little break right before everything got shut down by Covid which is why we didn’t see each other for so long. Luckily we didn’t have anything in the works when everything was shut down, so we didn’t have to cancel or change any plans. I really came into my own as the leader of the band over quarantine and our break. It was a break I definitely needed to get that recharge and passion back. I stepped up hard for this release and even though it’s been stressful and an incredible amount of work, it has somehow simultaneously been less stressful for all of us. It’s been fun. Before our break, I feel like we weren’t really having fun anymore, so I’m so happy that’s back. But because of the separation and Covid, the writing was done by myself and our producer Nick Sampson. We’ve worked with Nick on Two-Faced Charade and Council Of The Dead. I really wanted to go back to our roots while also doing something kind of fresh with this release, and I feel like we accomplished just that.
What will the rest of the year bring for Famous Last Words?
This was always going to be a pretty long rollout plan. We wanted to go all out with the videos, production, and content for the release but funds were limited as an independent band. We were able to secure an investor for the project, but that meant finding ways to make money off an incredibly short EP. That’s why we did the Anthology Collection. The Anthology Collection is a three disc set that includes Pick Your Poison, The Negative, Two-Faced Charade, and Council Of The Dead. Nick Moore from InVogue Records was kind enough to give us permission to reprint our old catalogue for the collection. It was the only way we could sell physical units of The Negative and make enough money back to cover our expenses. It’s been an interesting strategy for sure, but it’s going well. A lot of fans out there have been dying to get their hands on physical copies of some of our old stuff, so this is their chance to do just that while also getting the new EP and supporting us. Every bundle we sell helps us to create more music and content for our amazing fans. We are only printing 300 copies of this, so once they are gone, they are gone for good. If you want to get your hands on a copy before they are gone, go to famouslastwordsband.com/store.
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