Wolves At The Gate, or WATG, caught my attention with "Fountain," an epic, heart-moving ballad from their 2016 album, Types & Shadows. The song's lyrics come from an old hymn, "There's a Fountain Full of Blood." Very clever. It was this song that made me take an interest in modern versions of hymns. I also had it on repeat for close to a year.
Since "Fountain," I've been interested in WATG's music. Even more so since the band dropped their latest album, Eclipse. I can describe Eclipse in one word: epic. It has everything: fiery screams and impassioned cries, empowering (non-screaming) vocals, electrifying guitar riffs, head pounding drums and a variety of different musical arrangements.
Wolves At the Gate has a sound all their own. A sound you'd be able to identify if hearing it on Spotify, Apple Music, or even on a good old-fashioned radio. In this writer's opinion, Wolves At the Gate are here to stay. That's why I'm so honoured to connect with Stephen Cobucci, the band's vocalist and lead storyteller to talk about Eclipse, music, and more.
What does Wolves At the Gate mean?
The idea came from a section found in the book of Acts where the apostle Paul was leaving a church he had spent time with. And he warned them that when he left, savage wolves would come in and seek to distort the truth of the Gospel. Hence, the name Wolves At The Gate. We live in an age of information where it's all at your fingertips. And, yet, the Gospel message is one that is widely misunderstood and misrepresented. From the onset of our band, we wanted to help communicate the truth of the Gospel through the art of music. On our debut release, the first track reads that section in Acts 20 and ends by saying, "We are not the wolves at the gate, we are the ones who face them."
Tell us about the culture in the Christian post-hardcore music industry. What's it like to be a post-hardcore band?
Well, quite frankly, there is no Christian post-hardcore music industry. If there is at all, it's really small. The industry we most likely "in" per se is the heavy music industry. Under that umbrella, you find many different genres and sub-genres in which, I guess, we fall into the category of post-hardcore. The culture is eclectic to say the least, both in musical style, message, goals, outlooks, and worldviews. There are people who are open to hearing the message behind our band and some who are not. It's pretty much exactly what you would expect.
Tell us about your new album, Eclipse. What is the inspiration behind the new album? Talk about the album's theme.
We named the record Eclipse because of how well it encapsulated the relationship the light and the dark can have. Diametrically opposed at times and at other times very closely linked. Much like the relationship between the truth and a lie. An eclipse tells you that it's dark. But it takes truth and faith to know that the sun is still shining. There are, at times, blindly obvious signs and, at other times, dim representations, all the while, doing nothing to negate the truth. The sun still shines. All this revolves around my walk of faith in believing the truths of the Gospel message, seeking to help others find hope and peace in the love of God, as well as how to come to grips with various social, political, and personal issues.
How has your faith grown and how has that manifested in your lyrics?
Every step of growth in my faith has come about in ways that I would not have anticipated. The simplest way to put it is in the fact that the greatest times of growth have come from the greatest times of weakness and pain. Being humbled. The lower I see myself in regards to my own humanity and sinfulness, the higher I have come to view God. The more I realize my own need and desperation, the more I've also come to realize the great power of God to save a man like me. All this plays into how I write lyrics. I want to be humble and honest in our lyrics. Because I believe that a certain type of transparency can be helpful to fellow hurting and broken people.
Demon Hunter recently released a rock album, Peace, moving away from its post-hardcore sound to adapt a lighter rock sound for the album. Has Wolves At The Gate considered releasing a non post-hardcore record (that is, a straight-up rock album)?
What Demon Hunter did with their latest release was a great move for their band and an interesting idea. Although, I don't think that is something we will ever do, because with each record, we never put boundaries on what we can and cannot do. With Eclipse in particular, we tried to push the envelope of what we can do stylistically with a record. We want an album to be filled with big climaxes and deep valleys. So, to dedicate a whole record in that way may not be an approach we take. But I have been wrong once before, so you never know.
"Fountain" is one of the best songs I've heard in years. Its vocals and arrangements are flawless. It's epic, with a soothing, yet eerie sound. With that in mind, would you ever consider doing a heavy metal remake of a classic hit? Think "Sound of Silence" by Disturbed or "Zombie" by Bad Wolves. If so, what would you cover and why?
We've always thrown around the idea of covering songs. There are so many great songs that have impacted us that we'd love to put our spin on. But we've tried to remain focused on honing in our craft. Some songs that we have tossed around over the years have been songs like "Sweetness" by Jimmy Eat World and "Clocks" by Coldplay.
What are some of your favorite artists and music that you listen to and why? Who would you like to work with and why?
Bands that have always inspired me are bands like As Cities Burn, Thrice, alexisonfire, Jimmy Eat World, Explosions In The Sky, Manchester Orchestra, Mogwai, and so on. The list of people we'd love to work with is just as long. There are so many phenomenal producers and songwriters out there. We really just want to work with people who approach music differently than us and can cause us to think outside the box.
How do you approach your songwriting? How has your songwriting evolved since Types & Shadows?
A lot of trial and error. We want to write songs that have their own identity and feeling. We don't want records where all the songs carry the same kind of weight and feeling. We want the music and the lyrics to compliment each other at times and contrast at times. One thing that has changed since Types & Shadows is a sense of freedom. There were lots of boundaries and rules I put upon myself about what makes a "Wolves At The Gate song." And realized that whatever I write for WATG is what makes WATG.
What's next for Wolves At the Gate? How can we be praying for you?
We will be touring and working on new music. We're excited to work on some stripped down versions of our new songs, and much more.
Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with over 10 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.
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