When He Is Legend first hit the scene in 2005, there was much rejoicing. Here was a band with the energy and attitude that rock and roll demanded. With their label home being Solid State records and more than one special thanks in the I Am Hollywood album credits going to Jesus, it was presumed this was another Christian band. The band has since pointed out that this assumption is not necessarily true. When approached by their publicist, deciding on doing an interview or not was a pretty easy choice to make – based upon a combination of the intense and hard rockin’ set I’d witnessed a couple months earlier at SXSW and the opportunity for lead vocalist and frontman Schuylar Croom to set the record straight when it came to spiritual things … or at least that was the thought going in. I’ll let you decide.
When your band is on and it’s rockin’ hard, your arms are spread, your head is tilted back, you’re spinnin’ around – these are all things I saw at the South By Southwest show about a month ago – what are your feelings at this point? Describe the sensations and the thoughts going through your mind.
We’re on the stage? I don’t know, I think, uh, (the) stage is kind of like it’s all a blur, you know; and that’s kind of like what we live for – is that 45 minutes to an hour onstage. You know, I think there’s less thought than any other time during the day at that point in time, you know, you’re just feelin’ it, playin’ music.
How would you describe the feelings and sensations to somebody that was, uh, you know, maybe because of a disability or whatever they would never have a chance to experience the same thing or if they don’t have a reference point necessarily of the same experience … what kind of reference points would you give it and how would you describe those feeling it?
I’m tryin’ to think of a good explanation. Being our livelihood or whatever, it’s exhilarating. Being on stage and having people watch what you’re doing. There’s nothing really like it, it’s kinda hard to say, “Well, this is the sensation you get,” because, I mean, it’s like … I guess it varies from person to person. Some people might get just as excited writing internet code, you know? So I mean, it’s from being like, going from a hobby to your career to, you know, the thing that drives you and that most people know you by, it’s a little… it’s hard to kinda pinpoint what the sensation is from stage. I mean, it’s just that adrenaline and exhilarating feeling of just being on stage. It’s definitely a high for sure, you know?
Some of the song titles beg for a background story, like “China White 3” and “Everyone I Know Has Fangs.” Tell me a story that has some zest behind it on one of the songs on the album.
I like lyrics (to be) very, I guess, theatrical to an extent, you know? Like, to tell a story. I’m not sure if any of them really have a huge back story behind them. I mean, “Everyone I Know Has Fangs” is just kind of that – really like almost (any) vampire story, kind of, you know? Just the whole, like the real “everybody’s out to get you” kind of feeling, you know? Like I kinda just felt that in the way that the song vibed before the lyrics were written or whatever, and the melodies. I mean, that’s just kind of the vibe I get. The back stories have all… I mean, like, the “China White” thing just kind of fell into place from the first record, you know? And the second record was like, “Well, let’s write a sequel to that.” I guess that’s kinda how it just fell about each time. It’s not like I have a set-out saga, you know? It just kind of works, you know? “Oh, here’s a new record, we gotta do another one,” and then it’s just like, I’m sure they didn’t really have the idea for First Blood Part II, like Rambo, you know? I’m sure (it was) like, “Oh, let’s write another Rambo,” you know? So I mean, I’d love to be able to have all these like awesome answers, like, “Man, we were riding through the desert in Arizona and there was like a real vampire hiding in the cave,” but that’s not what happened. It’s not as fantastical as that.
Tell me about some of the differences, uh, in recording this album than the last album, and how it was working with the people you worked with, and anything you’ll take away from this album that you’ll probably remember a long time.
I think this was like the definitive He Is Legend record, just mainly because everything was in our favor. We, you know, we recorded with good friends in an area that we love and were very comfortable and I think, as far as the recording process itself, this is the best one we’ve ever experienced and, you know, the nicest studio we’ve been at and it was a great feeling. You know, just being so close with, not only the people we were working with, but the people that we kind of kicked it with in Carrboro (NC), all our really good friends, you know. I feel like I have more friends in Carrboro than I do in my own hometown, so it’s nice to be there and to not feel pressured, you know. You’re just making your music and you have no deadline, and it was just a great experience. I think we’ll all live with that (and) take that with us forever.
Nice. What kind of standards do you use? I mean, how do you judge a new song of yours and know, “Hey, this is a He Is Legend song?”
I think they all kind of are, just because of the way that we write. When we’re getting ready to write a record it’s just … we know that no matter what comes out it can be… I mean, we’re kind of blessed with the fact that we can do a song that’s slower or a jazzier-based song or something like that and our fans don’t really say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what is this type of music I’ve never heard before?” So, I think when we’re writing we pretty much know that it’s gonna have the He Is Legend stamp of approval, I guess. I don’t think we’ve ever written a song and said, “Man, we can’t use that,” you know? “It’s too different from what we do.” I think that’s one of the things that kids kinda like is that our sound is always changing from record to record, but it still has the He Is Legend feel to it. They’re like, “Okay, what are they tryin’ to do,” you know? It just sounds like us and I think that just comes from us being confident, maybe, in the way that we write music or the stuff that comes out of the studio when we’re in it. I just think that we kinda pride ourselves in being able to do what we want, or doing what we want whether we’re allowed to or not. Our songs always kind of show that side of us, I guess.
I think it’s working. Cool. All right, if somebody told you, “Hey Schuylar, you conjure the spirit of Jim Morrison onstage,” how would you take that comment and what would that mean to you?
I would take it as a compliment, for sure. I’ve grown up listening to classic rock and I just feel like a classic rock vibe from stage even if we’re playing heavy metal or whatever. I’ve kind of always aspired to be that, I guess. Not that I’m saying, “Oh man, I wanna be Jim Morrison,” but if someone were to say that to me, I would probably smile, you know? I mean, that’s better than them saying, “Dude, you’re just like the dude from (insert scene band name),” you know? I doubt that that would get me very amped. But, of course, that’s great. Those are very iconic things that every band kind of has in the back of their mind. Whether or not they’re thinking about Jimi Hendrix when they’re doing a solo, you know, if somebody says, “Man, that’s just like Hendrix,” I mean it’s gonna … you’ve kind of achieved your rock and roll goal, I guess. Especially in a day like when music is as bad as it is now. It’s great to have a classic … just an icon kinda come up and influence. If somebody can get that… I mean, a lot of people say, “Oh, you guys listen to a lot of Pink Floyd” or whatever. Like, that’s very true. I’d rather hear that than somebody say something about a band that listens to Pink Floyd as well, like when we get, you know, it’s like that classic: “Oh my God, you guys listen to this band who listens to a band who listened to Pantera,” you know? (laughs) It’s like, “No, we just both like Pantera – I guess that’s kinda how that came out.” Yeah, so I would love to hear, “Yeah, you look like … you sound like Jim Morrison. You’re his reincarnate.” You know, thank you.
What do you think of Jesus Christ?
What do I think of him? Um, I don’t know. I don’t know what I think of him. I think, uh, that’s a good question. I think it’s kind of a, like a personal question, I guess. Or a question that you hear too often, like, just spouted off random answers – “Oh, I love Him,” (or) “Oh, I don’t believe in him,” you know? Like, I don’t know. I kind of stopped asking myself that question, because I never really had the answer to it. I think that’s kind of the position I’ve been in, is the school of I just don’t know what to think of him. I mean, it’s a tougher question than just, like, the correct an… You know? Like, what is the correct answer? I think that’s why the question exists, because there isn’t a correct answer.
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