November 4, 2019 Interview – Briton Bond of Wage War
Beloved by many, Wage War formed in 2010 in Florida, and made their 2015 debut with Blueprints. With their name on the map, the band then delivered their sophomore effort, 2017’s Deadweight. Accumulating nearly 50 million streams over just the past two years, the quintet have steadily built their career atop the adoration of a strong fanbase and plenty of media acclaim.
Sometimes success can inspire a self-applied pressure that results in growth. Seeking to evolve their sound, for their third disc, Pressure, the quintet stepped outside of the Metalcore box and opted to explore new terrain. Heavier than their previous efforts while simultaneously being more melodic, the album shines like the diamond on its cover. Recently, Vocalist Briton Bond sat down to discuss all things Pressure and the band’s sonic evolution, and to geek out over Sci-Fi.
Cryptic Rock – Next year will mark a decade of Wage War. What have the past ten years taught you about yourself and music?
Briton Bond – Oh, so much! We didn’t start touring until about 2014; we were a local band for a while. It teaches you a lot about yourself when you get out on the road. The first couple years of touring was definitely in a van. You’re there with your best friends: you cry together, you fight, but we’re all pretty good about all that stuff.
I’ve grown so close to the guys in the band: they’re my best friends. We’ve been through so much together, from relationships, home life, and just what’s going on with each other’s lives. I wouldn’t trade it for anything; these guys are my rock. It’s been so incredible seeing the world with my best friends!
I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned on the road is just being yourself. There’s so many Rock bands where you want to look like this, you want to sound like this. The biggest thing was just saying, you know what? I don’t want to do that, I’m tired of doing that. I just want to be Briton. I think that relates to a lot of people, because there’s so many bands out there that want to be the tough guy or things like that. That’s just not me, and I just want to be me.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Now, between 2017’s Deadweight and Pressure, obviously the band did a zillion things but something that really stands out are the stripped versions of “Johnny Cash” and “Gravity.” It feels like those tracks had an underlying influence in the making of Pressure—is that true?
Briton Bond – Yes and no. When those came out, it showed our fans and whoever listens to us that we can do those kinds of things. We were like, “Oh, maybe we’ll try that on the new record,” but the mentality going into the new record was let’s step out of the box. I think they definitely were the first step, for sure. With Pressure, we really wanted to do something a little different but definitely still be Wage War.
I think it was time for us to break out from the typical Metalcore mold and just try stuff a little bit different. There are so many bands that have been out for so long, and it’s usually on that third record is where it makes or breaks—like Underoath, A Day To Remember, bands like that. They took a step out. We weren’t trying to fit that kind of mold, but we were just like it’s time to do something and change it up a little bit. So, hopefully it’s working out!
Cryptic Rock – It definitely is! Now, just for kicks, is there a song that you’d like to do a stripped-down cover of?
Briton Bond – It’s funny you ask that—I’m not going to spoil it, but we just did one. (Laughs) We literally just did one a couple days ago for some radio stuff, so be looking out for that.
That’s really hard to say what song I would like to cover, ‘cause I like so many bands. (Laughs) Okay, I wish we could cover a Metallica song, but that’s not going to happen because it’s Metallica and you shouldn’t cover their stuff.
Cryptic Rock – Alright, to get back to your music, Wage War have always been a strong band, but you really nailed down your sound on Pressure. Do you feel like when you went into the studio this time around that you really knew what you wanted to do and embraced that?
Briton Bond – Yeah. It was just us like, “Do we make a Deadweight Part 2 or do we write a new, fresh record?” I think that everyone in the band was kind of getting to the point of, the sound is fun to do but it’s getting stagnant; we’re ready for a fresh new page and the next chapter of Wage War. So that was our mentality going in. The guy who did the record was Drew Fulk, and he really pushed me to my limits in a good way. I’m very thankful for him!
Cryptic Rock – Drew is an amazing producer.
Briton Bond – Absolutely. He’s been on so much stuff, not even in Metal. I know he’s worked on Chainsmokers’ stuff—just different projects like that. He can dive into our world and help us with our kind of songs, which is really sick.
Cryptic Rock – As you just said, Drew pushed you to your limits because you’re doing some singing on this album. Is that something you’ve always wanted to do?
Briton Bond – I’ve been working on that, I’ve always wanted to do that. (Laughs) I got good at yelling in a microphone for a long time, and you get comfortable there. Ever since I was a kid, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It takes dedication, and either you’ve got it or you don’t. I worked on it. I’ve been a fan of Queen stuff since I was a kid, so it was always something that I wanted to do.
Cryptic Rock – You did a great job! Is it easier to scream and harder to sing, in that, people are much more judgmental when you actually sing?
Briton Bond – I feel like we’re on our third record now, so you’re going to get some hater comments like, “Oh, I liked their first album.” That’s every band, you know? It even goes back to the big ones like Pantera and Metallica, all of those bands everyone loves the first album. So, I kind of block that out. The big thing for us is doing what we want to do. This tour has been so sick with people singing along every night, so I think we have something going right. Either you like it or you don’t, it doesn’t affect me at the end of the day. We’re still trying to have fun!
Cryptic Rock – That actually segues into the next question, which is about “Who I Am,” which really kicks the album off perfectly and sets the tone.
Briton Bond – I would say it’s evolving, but then again it’s not too far out of what Wage War is. We love the heavy breakdowns and the melodic choruses, but I think “Who I Am” has a cool message also. I think that song was a really good one to lay it down and be like, “Hey, this is what Pressure’s going to be. We’ve changed a little bit, but we’re still the old Wage War. We’re going to go in, we’re going to try some new stuff, but we’re going to have fun with it.”
Cryptic Rock – It’s the perfect way to start the album. Now, “Ghost” is brutal and brilliant.
Briton Bond – (Laughs) That’s the circle pit song right now.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Obviously whenever a heavy band starts to diversify their sound, there are the naysayers who bitch that they’re ‘going soft’. Was this the middle finger to that?
Briton Bond – I don’t think that is the way we went into it. That song just came organically; we were just, “Let’s write a ripper!” Some people think that Pressure, that we just wanted to abandon sounds but that is not what we were trying to do. We threw 4-5 tracks on the album that, you know, we’re not going to abandon the sound but try some new stuff. We’ll always be a heavy band! That is not something we’ll ever leave behind, and I think “Ghost” is a good reminder of that. Like, “Hey, we still like to go in and that’s not going away any time soon!”
Cryptic Rock – Well, the flipside of that, sonically, is “Me Against Myself.” That’s really an anthem for mental health and being self-aware enough to say that you’re not okay—and that’s okay. Was that an important message to put on the album?
Briton Bond – Absolutely, I would say yes. That’s a message we wanted to portray. Every time we write it’s usually kind of a personal story of what’s going on in our lives. So, that kind of gave people insight into Wage War, like, hey, we’re just like you. It doesn’t matter that we’re on the road playing gigs and stuff. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are—we all feel the same. We all have depression sometimes, and at the end of the day we can all relate.
I think that song was really cool—that was one of Cody’s biggest melodies going into this record. It was just stuck in his head, and he was like, “Oh man. Me against myself.” (Sings) It turned out that song was amazing!
Cryptic Rock – The whole album is amazing! Okay, the million dollar question is: How do you stay sane under all the pressure?
Briton Bond – If I’m being honest, I don’t know how much pressure there is. We named the record that from different aspects of life all coming together at once—so that’s how we got the name. We don’t feel that on a regular basis, but we wrote an album about it. To be honest, on this headliner—the Pressure Tour—it’s been probably the most relaxed and the most fun I’ve ever had. People are coming out and singing the songs, so it’s actually been very relaxed and no pressure. (Laughs)
I’m very proud of this record and I was kind of anxious about what people would think, but at the end of the day either you love it or you hate it—this is what we do. We’re going to make the best of it! We might not be a band for the next 10 years, we could play for the next 20—who knows? We’re just going to have fun with it while we are. We’ve been so blessed with so many fans coming out; we sold out so many shows on this tour. I can’t take it for granted at all!
Cryptic Rock – Last question. At Cryptic Rock, we cover music as well as films—particularly Horror and Sci-Fi. Are you into either genre, and if so, do you have any favorite films?
Briton Bond – I love Sci-Fi. I can go on about it all the time. (Laughs) The coolest thing I’ve really dove into lately was Altered Carbon on Netflix. I thought that was a really, really cool concept for Sci-Fi. My favorite Sci-Fi movie ever, well actually, my favorite scary Sci-Fi whatever you want to call it is Alien (1979). I am so into those movies—that is my jam!
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Did you like Prometheus (2012)?
Briton Bond – Oh, absolutely! I loved the whole thing! Even Alien: Covenant (2017) was amazing. I’m actually on a thing on Facebook where people share their art for the Alien movies, memorabilia and figurines. It’s actually really cool what people come up with, because it kind of shares the Predator (1987) world too.
Cryptic Rock – Aside from the Alien movies, what other Sci-Fi do you like?
Briton Bond – Oh man. I mean, it’s easy to say Star Wars. I like that and Star Trek has always been a good one. I’m trying to think of a really crazy Sci-Fi movie that I’ve seen lately that I really liked. There’s so many—I watch too much Sci-Fi. Okay, I’m going to go with a cliche: the best Sci-Fi movie ever made, to me, was The Matrix (1999). The first one, not the other two—they kind of fell short. (Laughs) The first one was just perfect for me!