Interview with Warner Drive
With Song River
SR: If you would, help unwind your label stuff first. You recently signed with a label out of Sweden, Dead End Exit?
Candice Levinson: Yes, we actually signed the deal at Sweden Rock fest the day that we performed at the festival!
Elvis James: Yes its a Swedish label. It makes sense since we are concentrating our efforts on Europe. Sweden especially has been good for us with all the festivals we have been playing and the response we have been getting from them.
SR: Your first three albums then were they released under Cybertrack Records?
Candice: No, only City of Angels was released under Cybertracks. The previous two were released independently by us under our own label Rancho Relaxo.
SR: As the band progressed from the first album, Fully Loaded- produced by Mike Clink, to K-Go which you all self produced, and lastly to City of Angles- produced by El Hefe, did you sense a growth in your own styles individually and collectively?
Jonny Law: Growth is for pussies. I’m writing the same style of energetic, uptempo rock n roll that I was years ago. #truth
SR: Album number four is now in the process. What can you tell us about it? Title? Release date?
Candice: We haven’t decided on a title name yet. Usually that doesn’t seem to happen until the very end and the album is completely recorded. We are aiming to release it either later this year or early next year.
SR: Will it carry the tradition of WD forth?
Candice: Yes…It’s going to be very high energy Warner Drive!
SR: Do you all favor a certain studio for recording?
Candice: These days, recording software is almost everywhere.
Ryan Harris: It’s more about finding a method or group of people that work for you and the band. I think it’s more about the vibe and comfort and less about the “studio” these days.
Jonny Law: I’ll never record another album in a commercial studio. Why? Tracking for our last 2 albums were done at my home studio.
Elvis: I really like Rancho De La Luna. Dave Catchings studio in Joshua Tree.
SR: What about producers? And who will be producing your next album?
Elvis: We will be producing this next album.
SR: Although California is home, you seem pretty tight with Europe. How did this relationship begin over there?
Ryan: We kept coming back and people seem to really show their appreciation.
Candice: In 2012, we had an opportunity to play a festival in Germany, which was the first step in getting us out to Europe. Once we saw that as a possibility, we booked a whole European tour around that festival. We were able to get out on our first European tour thanks to our US fans. We launched a Kickstarter campaign and our fans were generous and awesome enough to help us finance that first overseas tour. We have been going back to Europe every year since then, and hopefully will get the opportunity to expand to other continents as well!
SR: Is there a certain appreciation level or connection with types of genres that is not necessarily better but different between Europe and the states?
Ryan: “Bands” are still popular in Europe. As a musician, I want to see people play instruments. I hope that doesn’t get lost in a world of DJs and backtracks. It’s refreshing to see that fans still share that same feeling.
Elvis: It’s easier in Europe to be on shows or festivals with other genres of music for the plain and simple fact that the fans of all those different genres accept and like them all. The Europeans are truly music lovers. Its really a great thing.
SR: Did Jonny end up purchasing the ‘Animal’ snare drum?
Candice: No! He’s still looking for one!
SR: Candice objectively looking at the rock world… how much has changed for females in the industry to be taken seriously as musicians and not just a ‘thing of eye candy?’
Candice: I really hope I don’t come off as rude, but I get asked this kind of question all the time, and to be quite honest I hate it. It’s such a dated concept in my opinion. I think it’s quite the opposite. I think that female musicians are very respected nowadays and there are so many more now…and very talented ones at that! It’s not a “cute novelty” thing anymore.
There are a million questions I could get asked, but the only thing that people ever ask me is “What’s it like being the only girl in a band?” or “what’s it like being a female in the industry?” There has to be something else that we can ask females other than this same question over and over again. And besides, girls aren’t the only ones who can be considered eye candy….
SR: Duly noted Candice, and that is fair. It is a topic some want to discuss and some don’t.
Warner Drive has blended the sounds of metal with the lyrically drive of punk. They do coexist- a challenge?
Jonny Law: It’s not a challenge because WE are Warner Drive, and the type of music we perform and write is naturally a blend of those styles. We don’t do it intentionally, it’s just who we are. If there was a band out there trying to emulate what we’re doing, then perhaps it would be a challenge for them to stylistically match what we do, but given the fact that WE are Warner Drive, and we are blending those genres and styles, it’s pretty natural. It just happens, it’s simply the music that we write.
SR: Known as a relentless touring band- how do relationships at home keep chilled?
Ryan: Good question….I’ll let you know when I figure it out 😉
Jonny Law: Trust
Elvis: Sometimes our significant others join us on the road. Other than that, just spending quality time with our loved ones as much as possible when we are home.
SR: Los Angeles to Helsinki- is a part of your shout out- almost sounds like rock n roll Olympics has landed.
Ryan: Most of our shows these days involve airplanes or 7 hr drives….I feel very worldly. Also, I like to run so the Olympics aren’t completely out of the question…
SR: Are you as a band more drawn to recording or performing?
Ryan: Both….it’s a cycle. Performing is always the most fun…but recording new stuff is what keeps things interesting.
Jonny Law: For me, recording. Performing is great because there’s a connection with fans wherever you go, but whether we’re in Los Angeles or in Helsinki, every venues is simply 4 walls, a bar, and a stage. They all smell bad and they’re all dark… unless it’s a festival in which case there are no walls, but many of those fields don’t smell so good either. I personally prefer recording and being creative and allowing the music inside of me to articulate itself onto “tape.”
Candice: I think that our energy as a band is much better translated during our live performances. My favorite part of being in this band is being on stage and seeing people in the audience having a good time, smiling and singing along.
Elvis: Performing is where the band is at home.
SR: Any expectations or concerns playing the Sweden Rock Festival 2016?
Elvis: It was great to be a part of that festival. Over the years we’ve heard so much about it. It lived up to all the expectations. When it comes to the staff and how we were treated as a band, it far exceeded my expectations. It’s an awesome festival and easy to see why it’s as big as it is.
SR: Warner Drive works hard, plays hard. You have shared the stage with so many notable bands: Jet, The Plain White T’s, Yellowcard to name a few. When the intensity of doing what you love becomes a bit overwhelming how do you all as band diffuse and chill?
Ryan: Netflix and vodka.
Jonny Law: What does “diffuse and chill mean”?
Elvis: For me, spending my time off with family works best
SR: Thank you all for doing what you love. I am sorry to miss you as you pass through Arizona, but hope you won’t be too long in coming back.
Final question: Duran Duran or Boy George? You have to cover one of their songs and make it Warner Drives style. Which artist and what song?
Ryan: Trick question….Motorhead is the clear answer.
Jonny Law: Billy Joel.
All Photos Used with Permission from Warner Drive