Interview // CROWN THE EMPIRE
“This album was our way of opening up”, guitarist Brandon Hoover discusses the band’s intriguing new full-length, Sudden Sky.
Sharing their thoughts and anxieties with the listeners, Crown The Empire have laid a lot of things bare on their new album Sudden Sky. Drastically questioning the state of humanity and the chaos of the world we live in, it is a powerful body of work that delves into the subject of vulnerability and human detachment in modern times.
Discussing the main themes of the record, Brandon explains: “The main concept behind our new album Sudden Sky is vulnerability. In an age filled with technology, we are slowly losing the true meaning of real human connection. Instead of showing how we feel we numb ourselves with drugs and distract ourselves by staring at screens. The only way to break this cycle is to disconnect.”
Opening up to the public and allowing themselves to be vulnerable wasn’t easy, as Brandon confesses: “The hardest part was to be completely transparent and open our hearts. We’ve been numbing ourselves on the road for years now. For a while we’ve been hiding how we truly felt and what was happening behind the scenes. This album was our way of opening up.” He further points out: “I have no idea if it will make a difference or not. All I know is that it’s helped me and is still helping me to this day. Every time I listen to the album it means something different to me but relates to the exact situation I’m in. There’s something very special about what we created, and I couldn’t be happier.”
When it comes to writing and recording albums, it can be a very difficult and stressful process at times. Brandon admits: “There was a point when we were in the studio that I had to leave because my stress was giving off a negative vibe and no one wanted me there. So I went home for a week and was depressed and felt like I failed in a way. Then I was driving one day and I got a call from my producer and he told me to listen to the song he texted me. We had been trying to write vocals over this instrumental for a year at this point and as soon as I listened to it, I started crying. The lyrics hit home like nothing I had heard before and I instantly knew this song was going to be special. The song was ‘BLURRY (out of place)’ which is probably my favourite song on the new album. It’s what gave me confidence to go back into the studio and finish the record.”
I would like to see us to open up and stop being afraid to be ourselves
There are many flaws in our world and arguably social media can be the cause of some of them, this is something that Brandon would like to change. “I would like to see us to open up and stop being afraid to be ourselves. I think it’s hard because we all want to be liked and we think the only way to do that is to have followers on social media and post trendy shit to stay relevant. I’m guilty of it to at points but recently I’ve been starting to change that perception. We need to be more human instead of putting on this mask and trying to portray this ‘perfect’ life on the internet when really we are all struggling internally in some way.” When asked about his ideal world, he ponders: “A world where selfies didn’t exist.”
With a lot of thought put into it, the album artwork is rather shocking but ties in well to the themes of the record. Shedding a light on the inspiration behind it, Brandon remarks: “There’s an artist named Frederick Heyman who creates these disturbing virtual art pieces in these 3D altered environments. We really wanted to capture our emotions during the album process and how we had been feeling over the past couple of years. So we 3D scanned our bodies and became the art pieces.”
A lot of us are suppressing how we truly feel instead of facing the demons
There is a lot of striking lyrics on the new album, which we are sure will resonate with the fans, but the ones that stood out most for Brandon were “I’m the worst at letting go to the scars I love the most. Will they bury me?” from the song ‘MZRY’. He clarifies: “Those lyrics are exactly what I’m going through currently. I have a lot of personal baggage from my past that I’ve had trouble letting go of since I could remember, and it’s caused a lot of chaos in my life. But I’m so comfortable with being uncomfortable that it’s hard to change. I really think a lot of people can relate to this too. A lot of us are suppressing how we truly feel instead of facing the demons.”
In some people’s view, social media can be a hinderance to society, however, Brandon determines it’s neither all good or all bad. “I think it can be both. Without social media I don’t think a lot of the issues that have been addressed recently would of ever been brought to life. The fast spread of information does help bring attention to things we need to fix in today’s society. On the other hand, I think it’s not healthy knowing every single thing that’s happening at every second of the day. It can cause extreme society and depression because instead of focusing on yourself your focusing on stuff that’s more than likely completely out of your control.” Debating on his least favourite thing about internet culture, he reveals: “I think it’s horrible how if any information gets out on the internet, true or false, the negative will overwhelm the positive no matter what. We as humans feed off validation and having our own opinions so the internet can become cancerous extremely fast.”
Social networking certainly plays an important part in music, creating a significant platform and a link between artist and fan. However, Brandon’s relationship with social media is somewhat different due to running the band’s social media accounts. He comments: “I use Twitter and Instagram equally, but that’s because I’ve run all the Crown The Empire accounts since we started the band so I kinda have to be on social media. If I wasn’t in a band, I could definitely live without all of them.”
Bringing a more light-hearted tone to the conversation, we turn to movie- and video games-related topics. Inspired by sci-fi genre, Brandon considers the films which would make a perfect pairing with Sudden Sky as their soundtrack. “It would have to be a dystopian/sci-fi movie because that’s where we got a lot of inspiration while writing the album. The Matrix, Blade Runner, Altered Carbon, Ex Machina. We’ve always been really into movies, tv shows and video games.”
Making his last statement, Brandon leaves us with a word of advice as he shares the motto that he lives by: “Just Breathe.” And a word from us, make sure you listen to Crown The Empire’s new album, Sudden Sky, out now.