Little Rock, Arkansas’ I WAS AFRAID and their dreamy, spacey grunge rock record blend the density and tone of bands like SHINER and SMASHING PUMPKINS with the spacey elegance of FAILURE and HUM. Released in early 2015, “Endless Ecstasy” merge alternative and punk attitude with alt-rock riffing and psychedelic melodies, making a stirring, hypnotic throwback to 90s emo and grunge. Put yourself in its gloomy, yet very relaxing mood and read the full interview with I WAS AFRAID below.
Hey there guys! Let’s start off with a conventional intro – please tell us little bit about your background and the story of I WAS AFRAID.
We are a dream rock band from around the Little Rock, Arkansas, area. Two of us live in Little Rock and two live right out side of Little Rock. Ty (Guitar) and Darby (Guitar/Vocals) started I WAS AFRAID in 2011 but there have been a few changes and this version of the band is completely separate band than it was when it started. This version of the band started in 2013 when Evan joined on bass. Since then we have gone through a few drummers. But luckily Champy has decided to stay with us for a while. Since 2013 we’ve put out an EP, a split, and two albums. We are currently working on a 7″ and a tape release for some time in 2016 right now. Those being our 5th and 6th releases that we are very excited about releasing!
The 90s rock / grunge / emo / shoegaze culture revival shows no signs of slowing this year. What are your feelings towards that decade and what other inspirations do you have?
The 90’s were a weird time for music! All the big labels were scooping up bands that were making obscure music and putting out/helping fund their records. We’re big fans of alt-rock during that time period and we take a lot of influence/inspiration from the bands of that era like HUM, FAILURE, FAR and SHINER. It’s awesome that all these styles are coming back. We’re also big fans of the new wave/goth/pop-rock of the 80’s and also dig the early 2000’s alt rock like INCUBUS and DEFTONES.
How about the message? Lyrics-wise, do you always try to create some back stories and concepts within your tracks? Is this something you do after you’ve created the instrumental part or do beforehand?
Darby: There are always concepts in my head. Sometimes the lyrics come before the songs, sometimes they come after the songs. Everything in Endless Ecstasy has a connecting concept. All the new songs will have a connecting story, but totally separate from Endless Ecstasy. I try to work with themes instead of have scattered topics.
You are currently working on new music. Can you shed some more light on your future recording plans? Are your new tracks a natural follow up to what we heard on “Endless Ecstasy”? How do you approach your creative process?
We are shooting to be in the studio by early 2016 and get these songs laid out. We have been pretty set on going back to Earth Analog. We had a great experience while we were there and Matt is really great to work with, but that is subject to change. The newer songs follow up rather well to the songs on Endless Ecstasy. They have a more mature sound but still have the same idea, instrumentally, behind them. Usually when we are writing, someone will come up with a riff and we always just flow from there and build around it. We don’t have any specific rituals when it comes to writing though. Just a single idea and then a little bit of jamming around it. Typically we will start with just one guitar and drums, then gradually add everyone else into the mix.
Do you have a certain kind of guitar effects and type of sound you are looking for while composing?
Ty:Whenever I’m thinking of structural riffs for songs, one of the most important things I try to bring into the picture is something that hits heavily, but also maintains a groove. I put a lot of importance on songs flowing organically and matching the guitar tones with the type of emotion the song should display. When it comes to leads, I look for whatever sound works best with the feeling of the song. I think we’ve found our niche in creating lead guitars with a delay/chorus tone that emulates a spacey feel, but not too overbearing to where it’s straight shoegaze. It’s become a sort of signature.
Darby: Effects for me come after the actual composing. They’re like the added flavor on top of everything. But as far as my guitar sound goes I like to have a big tone that’s really warm and full of midrange. I want lots of gain, but lots of clarity in my signal.
Evan: Evan: I just keep it basic. Bass for our music is pretty straight forward. I plan to add some effect in the new material, But nothing too over the top. I like keeping things subtle on bass.
Apart from other musical inspirations, what sparkles your creative juices?
Ty: Without wanting to drop the obvious answer of ‘life’; when everyone experiences certain things, I feel the people who have the opportunity to work with a type of art like we have, often access and mark down those experiences subconsciously through their creative outlet. Like a journal basically. This is our journal of music and memories and the creativity can be translated to those experiences.
Ok guys, so you played some single shows in late October and early November. How were they?
The shows have been nothing short of amazing! We took about 2 1/2 months off after our last tour to get our heads together and get some writing done. So coming back and playing with SUCH GOLD and SHAI HULUD on 10/26 was a great way to start things back up and was such an honor. The Halloween show we played with KNOCKED LOOSE, LOWERED AD, NO VICTORY, and TERMINAL NATION on 10/31 was a blast! We love Halloween, and being able to share the stage with our friends from other parts of the country was a special treat. On 11/2 we played a last minute house show with TITLE FIGHT and PILLOW TALK in Oxford, MS. This was one of the most important shows we have ever played. TITLE FIGHT had a show drop and our buddy picked it up and asked if we wanted to play. Of course we could not decline. So in a few days notice we all got our work schedules figured out and made the trip down to Mississippi. There were close to 100 people crammed in what we were told was a house, but turned out to be a tiny apartment like place. So many people showed up that we opened up the windows so people could stand outside and still be able to watch the show. Trying to put in to words how special and insane the show was is hard to do. But we are so thankful that we got the chance to share the experience with the bands and everyone who attended.
Great! Gig-wise, what’s next? I know you’ll be sharing the Fall Fest stage with DIE YOUNG, so please say hello to Daniel from me. We did a quality lengthy interview some time ago and I really miss these guys playing shows here in Europe. How about I WAS AFRAID? Is Europe a goal?
We have a few more shows coming up and will be pretty busy until the end of January as far as gigs go. Fall Fest is going to be a good time and we are really looking forward to playing with DIE YOUNG, DROWN, and all the other great bands who are going to be a part of it. DROWN are some good buds of ours and we love playing and hanging out with them when we get the chance.
It’s cool having DIE YOUNG play because they used to play at Vinos pretty often back in the mid 2000’s. They have seemed very enthusiastic about being able to come back. It’s great to see those guys back in action and their new tracks are shredders. Daniel is a very nice man and we will make sure to deliver the message!
Europe is definitely on our radar! Unfortunately it’s very expensive to fly over there. If we ever had the opportunity, we would undoubtedly take it. Europe seems to treat bands very well and the scene looks incredible. Not to mention all the awesome bands over there! Hopefully one of these days we can make it!
What is your main association with Europe and what European artists do you admire?
Ty: I associate mountainous scenery with Europe and I hope to visit one day to take it all in. THIS TOWN NEEDS GUNS (TTNG nowadays) is a favourite European band of mine. They have some of the best instrumental work I’ve ever heard and I’m always pulling out an album from them. I also have a liking for The Police as well….they arrested my heart with “Roxanne”.
Evan: KING DIAMOND, Oktoberfest (I like beer a lot), and Creation Records are usually what I associate with Europe. Bands from Europe that I admire and like are BLOC PARTY, KICKBACK, HIM, ENTOMBED and pretty much any band on creation records. I’m into different types of metal and there’s a large breeding ground in Europe for that. But I’ll not go on a list with that.
Darby: When I think of Europe, Premier League Football instantly comes to mind. I love so many European artists that it’s hard to name all of them but I really love TEARS FOR FEARS, CARCASS, DEPECHE MODE, LUSH, MBV, RIDE, THE SMITHS also if we count GORILLAZ as a UK project then I’ve always loved them.
Champy: I’m a big math rock nerd, and Ireland and the UK have really been a hotbed for that genre lately. Enemies, AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR, ADEBISI SHANK, ALARMIST, and ZEFS CHASING CARA are a few bands I can name off the top of my head. There’s even have a huge math rock centered music festival called ArcTanGent in the UK every year.
Nice! Ok guys, back to the band, what else can we hope to see from I WAS AFRAID in the future?
More touring and more music is the plan! We try and stay busy. Once we release something, we like to follow up with a tour or two to support the releases, so be expecting that. Like we had talked about previously, we would love to make it to Europe. We have been in talks about trying to make it overseas soon…Australia, mainland Europe, UK, and Mars (not so overseas) are in our sites if we can work those out. We just really want to push ourselves as far as we can go, so hopefully everyone will be seeing and hearing more of us as time will progress.
Great! Thanks a lot for your time. Please share your final thoughts and let’s keep in touch!
Thank you for having us! Thanks to anyone and everyone who has ever supported this band. Shout out to Headcold, Mourning, Modern Lives, Youth Pool, Little Rock Arkansas, Mean Ends, Terminal Nation, Knocked Loose, and Orange Amps.