Wolves at the Gate released an EP now have released their debut full-length “Captors” got signed with Solid State Records, been touring what more do these guys got in them? Just about anything you can possibly think of and their vocalist/guitarist Steve Cobucci talks to me about it all from their history, writing style, showcase presents and much more!
1. Wolves at the Gate what brought you to naming yourselves this and what does it symbolize for the band?
Steve: When we first started the band, it took a couple months to come up with the band name. I really wanted our band’s name to be something more than simply something catchy. Obviously that’s crucial for a band, but with most things regarding this band, I wanted to make sure that there was some depth to a name for this band. The initial goal in forming this band was to write music that contained truths from Scripture and to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. In the summer of 2008 I was reading in Acts chapter 20 verses 24-30 and in this passage the apostle Paul was speaking with what was the first Christian church. During this time, the teachings of Jesus were very new as the completion of his work on earth had just been fulfilled by his life, death, and resurrection. This was a fulfillment of prophesies and promises from God all throughout history that He would send the one true Messiah to pay for the sins of the whole world as we can see in Isaiah 53. Paul was warning the first church that there will be many people who will seek to cast doubt into their faith in Jesus Christ. He describes these as “savage wolves [that] will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” This is a message of warning, yet also one of encouragement. And this is reference of where we base one of the goals of the band. There are many people out there with a wrong perspective, negative viewpoint, or even no understanding at all about the person of Jesus Christ. Our culture has painted a picture of Jesus as just a good man, a martyr, a saint, or even a myth for that matter. But my hope and joy is to be able shed light on the darkness that has fallen on the hearts and eyes of many. Jesus Christ is God. He was not just a man. He is our Savior and Lord. For all those who have a copy of our EP “We Are The Ones”, they will recognize the title track of the album sets the precedent of the band. We are not the wolves at the gate we are the ones who face them.
2. Tell us the brief history of your band.
Steve: Wolves At The Gate formed in April of 2008 at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio (a small town outside of Dayton) during my senior year. Our first show we played was as a four piece. It was a house show we put on to show our friends the new band we started. Somehow we packed what seemed to be over a hundred people there. I probably had about six inches to a foot between my face and the crowd. People were packed all along the stairs, in the kitchen, on the porch. Needless to say, it was awesome. Cedarville is quite a conservative town, as is the university, so naturally our music came as a shock to some. It was at that show that our original vocalist, Colin Jones, joined the band. He had heard from some mutual friends that there was a bunch of guys on campus who had started a band that played heavier music but didn’t have a vocalist. So Colin had come out to the show and up to me afterwards saying; “Sounds like your music could use some screaming, how ’bout I join the band and scream?” So naturally I was all for it. Since then we’ve just been trucking along, doing our best to make our way, and follow the Lord’s guidance for this band.
3. How does it feel to be a part of the Solid State Records family? Did you ever get the chance to celebrate after hearing you got signed with them?
Steve: We’ve been really blessed with our team at Solid State. Our A&R at the label, Adam Skatula, is a genuine guy. It’s hard enough these days to find solid people who love Jesus and pursue His righteousness, and even more so in the music industry. They totally support us as people and as a band, and in that order. Obviously at the end of the day the label has to make money and we have to sell records but it’s been a mutual journey together. They do their best to support us to be the best band we can and we do our best to make sure be willing to work with the label, trust their judgment, and view more as a family. It’s been awesome as well to start rallying behind and alongside other bands on the label such as To Speak Of Wolves, The Overseer, I Am Empire, Oh Sleeper, Becoming the Archetype, Children 18:3, Write This Down, Icon For Hire, etc and support their album releases. We want to be a part of the family, support, and cross-promote. We actually were supposed to celebrate after the signing as our manager Chad Weirick was supposed to take us out for dinner but things have been so busy that it hasn’t worked out yet. That was supposed to happen back in August of last year, but don’t think we’ve forgotten Chad!
4. Tell me about your debut album Captors what does the title represent and is this a concept release?
Steve: I wouldn’t be telling you the truth if I told you that this was a concept record that I planned from the beginning, but it is just a testament to God’s hand in the content of this record. Once I had finished writing all of the lyrics for this record I sat down and realized that there was a reoccurring theme. It wasn’t until I wrote the lyrics to the song ‘Safeguards’, which was the last song I wrote lyrics to, that I realized what the title of the album should be. It stems from a line in the song ‘Safeguards’ that says, “When safeguards turn captors.” The idea of ‘Captors’ is in reference to the fact that we are all born sinners and captive to our sinful desires and lifestyles. Although on the opposite side of things, those that have seen and put their trust in the redemptive act of Christ’s death on the cross are captors of His love and grace. A captor is one who is captured, like a slave. We are either bound as slaves to our selfishness of sin or bound to Christ joyfully to serve Him as a slave. Due to the fact that I am captivated by the love of Jesus, each song represents a marriage of this undeniable love that God has for us and the undeniable sin nature that we have that separates us from a holy God. I’ll reference a couple of the tracks off our new record to give some perspective. Our first single ‘Dead Man’ outlines the spectrum of being dead in our sins but being made alive in Christ. The song is a look into my heart of hearts, the depths of my sinful thoughts before my life was changed by the Gospel, my cries out to God to be saved and made new, and lastly the joy I received in being forgiven of my sins because of Jesus’ death on the cross. Another song on the record titled ‘Slaves’ is a story of a slave who runs from his master with the thought his new found freedom would bring him peace and satisfaction. He soon realizes that he has no worry being a slave to a good master, the good Master.
5. How does it differ from your EP We Are the Ones?
Steve: Clearly ‘We Are The Ones’ was an EP which in some ways limits a band although it was an awesome opportunity to provide listeners with a really focused product. We are blessed to leave the studio with the record we have in ‘Captors’. After the EP we really felt that we had so much more to give musically, lyrically, and sonically. This record as a whole will broaden the spectrum of what listeners can expect from us whether new or old fans. We are doing our best to carve out our own niche in heavy music instead of trying to fit in to the general mold in heavy music today. It’s fun to me to try and push the limits of what the listener will deem as “heavy”. Our goal is to communicate a passionate message with passionate music, that of which I feel was communicated well on ‘We Are The Ones’ and is exciting to know that our passion for the Gospel and music has only grown deeper. That aspect of our band is what has been attractive to fans so naturally we are excited to be able to hopefully inspire a deeper passion for Jesus in our listeners and to provoke intrigue in the listener who may have never given thought to a life in Christ. ‘Captors’ definitely experiments with sounds, tones, and styles that our listeners have not heard before.
6. Who are some of your musical influences?
Steve: Our musical influences tend to change frequently and surprise one another. Thankfully we have a healthy balance of old music we grew up on as well as being influenced by some of our peers. Collectively we are influenced by the likes of Thrice, As Cities Burn, Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, The Receiving End of Sirens to name a few. As well these bands, we are also inspired by bands that are friends of ours. We love seeing our friends write music that challenges us as musicians as we see them stepping up their game. Some of these bands are that of Come Wind and the Orphan the Poet who are friends that we have sort of grown up playing music together for the past 3-4 years. Both of those bands have a real love for music and are phenomenal musicians as well. Earlier this year we got to tour with the both of them and easily were the most fun we’ve had on tour as well as the most inspiring. Being able to share the stage each night and learn from each other was a priceless experience.
7. You worked with producer Andreas Magnussen on your debut release, what did he bring to the table for Wolves At The Gate?
Steve: Andreas is an excellent engineer and producer who were able to help us get these songs to the places they needed to be. He has a great work ethic, worked really hard on each aspect of the record, and has that perfectionist mentality you want in a producer. I did all the pre-production myself before entering the studio and it was awesome to see Andreas listen to the tracks and already see the direction we wanted to go in. He paid attention to each tone and its purpose in the song. His advice was always very tasteful; he did an excellent job at making the record sound like us, and helped bring these songs to life.
8. Who writes the songs, what are they about?
Steve: I [Steve Cobucci – singer/guitarist] write the core of all the songs as I write all of the lyrics and melodies. This generally works the best as we want to maintain strong melody and purposeful structure to each song. I also want the lyrics, vocals, and music to work together in a way that establishes a clear and distinct feel to each song. In regards to the content of the songs, I always want our music to be a biblical and for these songs to relate to people in all different walks of life. My desire is that people’s hearts may be changed to a life loving Jesus Christ as their Savior yet the irony is that before any of these songs are written, God works and changes my own heart about these different topics in the songs. I never want to write something and pretend that I am some expert on how to live life. These songs are essential points on a timeline of my life. Aspects of my own heart that God convicted me of, occurrences in my life that were painful yet how God brought me through it, passionate joys of His truth revealed to me, and also cries to men to come to Jesus. These songs sing of my thoughts, passions, and desires, for a God who has saved me despite all the wickedness of my life.
9. How do you promote your band and shows?
Steve: However we can, we really don’t put limits on what we are willing to do because we’ve found that the more accessible we have made ourselves to people, the more they can get behind supporting us. You can sometimes find us in malls on tour, talking with kids, inviting them to shows, challenging them to push-ups for free merch amongst other things. In our opinion, content it king, and quality always trumps quantity. We do our best to provide fans with plenty of outlets to find out more about us, post quality videos, be extensive in interviews, and be available for interviews such as these. There is no medium too small or unimportant. People are always listening and watching, so we want to make sure that we are consistent and intentional.
10. Can you describe your show visually and musically?
Steve: We try to diversify our set with a broader spectrum of our music so that kids can get a different look at our band through the different songs. While we are a heavy band, we want people to feel the dynamic shifts in our music. The energy of a live show will always trump simply listening to a record in your room with headphones. Musically and visually we strive to communicate the passion we have for the message of the Gospel while also communicating the passion we have for playing music. This has been a long road for us yet we still feel young and aim to give our best performances to whatever crowd is in front of us. Some of the best shows we have played have been in some church gym with carpeted floors and awful sound. We want fans to have an experience watching us play and joining us in the fun. We also just aren’t entertainers; you will only get as much out of the show as you put in to it.
11. What advice would you give to fellow bands?
Steve: Be patient. Nothing that is worth getting comes easily and quickly. Bands always ask us what we did to get signed. We did nothing different than most bands. Continually write songs, push yourself to write music that is from the heart and not from the scene, and play shows to get better live. If you truly want to do this for a living, don’t quit when nothing happens in six months to a year. God blessed us with an awesome opportunity and we were only able to see this come to fruition by continuing to play and write music with no expectations of this becoming a career. Don’t have a tight grip on getting signed and all that stuff, your passion should be to write excellent music and be professional musicians.
12. What else can we expect to see from you guys as far as 2012 goes?
Steve: We obviously are really excited to get our new record ‘Captors’ into the hands of fans and with that in mind we will be touring extensively for this record in promotion of it. It’s such a blessing to travel and play music as we are excited to play these new songs for fans. Not much more to say besides the fact that we will simply be on the road supporting this release.
13. What inspires you to do what you do?
Steve: It’s simple. To glorify the name above all other names, which is Jesus Christ. I’m not in music for the money; we haven’t made any of that yet. I am motivated by the gracious gift of salvation that has been bestowed upon me with the hope that I may clearly share that with all who listen to our songs, see us at a show, or run into us at a gas station.