If you haven't heard of Ocala, FL band We Are Defiance, you're not alone. Started by a former member of Sleeping With Sirens, vocalist Brian Calzini started the group in 2009, and the band released their debut album Trust In Few on Tragic Hero Records in March 2011. After a modest appearance on Billboard's heatseeker chart, the band has maintained a small, loyal fanbase.
I caught up with Calzini a couple of days ago, and talked about the band's upcoming sophomore album and more.
It's been fairly quiet on the We Are Defiance homefront, what has the band been up to?
Brian Calzini: So much touring! We've been on the road non stop since 2010. We really hadn't taken more than 2 weeks off in the past 2 years.
To be honest, I had never seen a single press release or post about tours in the latter half of 2011, up until this point this year. What bands have you toured with?
Brian Calzini: The last tour we did was with The Great Commision, Serianna and a few others in May.We've been home writing the new record as well. Looking back, 2011 was a really busy time for us as a band.
So you've been home for the last 6-7 months writing - what sort of things have you been writing lyrically for this album?
Brian Calzini: Yes, about that long. Originally, I flew to New Hampshire to attend my grandmothers funeral and then ended up staying here to be closer with my family and to focus on writing. The new record is titled Live & Learn, and it's more focused on my life for the past couple of years. It's about love, loss, heartache and everything in-between . The last record I feel I got a bit cocky lyrically - it was because I was very pissed off and angry at the time. Live & Learn is going to be more relatable to kids.
Lyrically, was there a song that sticks out to you in your mind that was the most difficult to write?
Brian Calzini: Surprisingly, every song on this record came out smooth and natural. On this record I had a lot to say, and it was a good release to get it all out of my head.
When do you go to the studio to record it?
Brian Calzini: Our studio time has been pushed back over and over again due to A Day To Remember taking longer than expected in the studio. We're tracking with Tom Denney and Andrew Wade, they're currently hard at work getting ADTR's record done. We should be hitting the studio early 2013.
What are the chances of Jeremy McKinnon doing vocal production?
Brian Calzini: We've talked about that a lot actually, and had it lined up for the first CD but didn't work out with his touring schedule; this time around I think we might run into the same problem. Jeremy is a busy guy, and has a lot going on right now. I couldn't expect him to come off of just working on his record then go back into the studio to work on ours.
For sure, I expect ADTR to have an extremely busy album cycle for Common Courtesy.
Brian Calzini: Absolutely, they've been home for quite sometime working on their new stuff which I can say is insanely good, from what early pre-production I've personally heard. Both of our bands are never gonna see home again soon as our records are finished.
Without giving too much away, how different is their new record from their past few records?
Brian Calzini: A Day To Remember has always sounded like A Day To Remember and they grow with each record, but to me at least the stuff I heard reminds me of "old school" ADTR. Jeremy's lyrics has always reached me and he's done it again with what i've heard. I still have songs stuck in my head I heard months ago. Ive met a lot of talented people in this industry in my years in a band but no one comes close to what Jeremy does. He is the most talented song writer ive ever met.
Now, is this record your last on Tragic Hero? Or do you have one more after this?
Brian Calzini: This is our last one but we have a great working relationship with Tragic Hero and Tommy, so you never know whats gonna happen for our third release. We might re sign or see what else is out there for our band.
What tours have you lined up so far? You've mentioned that you're not going to see home much with this album cycle.
Brian Calzini: So far I can announce we are hitting the road next week on the Heavy New Year Tour with Close To Home, From Atlantis, One Year Later and The Overseer.
Are you headlining this? or is Close To Home?
Brian Calzini: Close To Home is, we're direct support for this run.
Are you looking to open for a lot of large packages in 2013, or would you rather prefer to headline small tours/runs?
Brian Calzini: Yeah of course we're always trying to get on the best possible tours. We just moved to new management - Evolve Management, and they're really kicking ass for us and getting us on bigger tours. We just wanna play in front of kids who are gonna be into what we're doing. Big tours, small tours, as long as we're playing in front of our fans we're happy campers.
Evolve is a newer management company from what I remember, correct? They focus on breaking newer bands.
Brian Calzini: Yeah its ran by Mike Ziemer and Telle Smith from The Word Alive. Solid hard working guys.
Did Telle's involvement with your last record lead to working with them as managers?
Brian Calzini: I'm not sure how it all went down, we were free agents and I got an email from them asking to take us on. At the time I didn't know Telle was a part of the company.
Are there plans to head overseas in the new year?
Brian Calzini: I hope so, we have some awesome UK fans I wanna get over and meet. The timing just hasn't been right for us but I see us overseas in 2013 sometime.
So among touring and recording a new album, you're getting married in the near future.
Brian Calzini: Yeah, getting married October 5th...finally met "the one" I guess you could say. She keeps me sane and reminds me daily how important love and life is. Im very lucky to have her in my life.
While this is an extremely exciting time in your life right now, can you see the band touring full time, 8-10 months out of the year? Touring can be very strenuous on relationships at times.
Brian Calzini: We already live in two different states so it's not gonna be much different. She's very understanding of my career and my passion with music. I know its gonna be hard, but this is my life and shes well aware of it. She comes out with us when she has time off with college. We do the best we can to try and have a "normal" relationship.
What are some of your goals heading into the studio and onwards throughout 2013?
Brian Calzini: I just wanna make a record that in the end I'm 100% happy with and stay on the road as much as possible.
What's it like working with Tom Denny in the studio? Is he a lot different than how he's portrayed in videos?
Brian Calzini: Tom in the ADTR videos are like a cartoon version of him. It's not really how he is. In the studio he's very professional and hard working. He's a killer producer and always has tons of crazy ideas with music. I mean...I think ADTR's success speaks for itself when it comes to Tom's abilities with music.
Yeah, I really wanted to know this. I got the feeling that he might be a stickler in the studio, as opposed to what most people see, a cartoon character as you put it.
Brian Calzini: Yeah he's a great actor when it comes to those videos. It's crazy when kids think all those videos they're being serious, it's just entertainment.
Do you think videos like that are a bad thing?
Brian Calzini: I think they're entertainment for kids and show a different side of a band. I enjoy watching them.
Well, a lot of kids have a difficult time seeing things as entertainment...
Brian Calzini: Kids nowadays take things too serious I think. It should be about the music.
Do you feel like musicians put themselves out there too much on social media?
Brian Calzini: I think its a mixture, I'm guilty of it myself on Twitter and Facebook but I think kids nowadays prey into band members lives too much, and forgetting we're just normal people. People make up rumors, lie about things, start fake deaths reports, its pretty crazy.
When I was a kid I liked a band I had a poster and bought their CD's. I didn't care who they were sleeping with or what jeans they wore. It was about music for me. But also I guess back then members of the Deftones and Incubus didn't have Twitter. I try to stay out of internet drama, but it seems to always follow me no matter what.
But do you feel the same way about how some people approach "interviews" now? Like, do we need to know what your "Porn star name" would be?
Brian Calzini: I can see why kids enjoy those interviews because it shows kids a different side of band members, but its catered to the 15-16 year old demographic, who don't care where or when a record was made. Its about showing a personal side of them.
Do you feel like we should sheppard kids towards having a desire to learn about the music again?
Brian Calzini: Absolutely, its all becoming a gimmick to sell records to young kids who like flashy lights and bright colors. Kids are losing touch of reality in music and the passion that goes behind making a record More kids should listen to letlive. - that's a real band.
I can definitely agree with that.
I remember you mentioning last time we spoke that you were a big fan of Boys Night Out's album Trainwreck.
Brian Calzini: Oh yeah, I wanted to do a concept record for the longest time but a million other bands started doing it, haha.
Had you grown up in a time where interviews were about what kind of pants you were wearing, can you say you would have discovered that album when it came out?
Brian Calzini: Not likely, I'd listen to Blood On The Dance floor and hate my life. I don't understand why kids call band's like that "bands"...that's not a band.
At the same time I think it's comforting that kids will grow out of it eventually.
Brian Calzini: I hope so. I don't want my kids to grow up in a scene that's full of trashy music.
I think everyone grows up listening to a few bands that you regret later, right?
Brian Calzini: Yeah, I have a few for sure.
Is there anything else you'd like to mention before we go?
Brian Calzini: I appreciate all the fans who have stuck with us and been at every show singing along and buying our merch and CD's. Know we've been quiet these past few months we're just gearing up for the new year. So expect us. We're coming out swinging!