Southern Soul / Metal Heart:
He Is Legend

He Is Legend pic #1
Photo by Taylor Gahm.
He Is Legend, probably the most diverse band in the metal/hard rock/hardcore scene right now, is a rock 'n roll band with a Southern soul and a metal heart. With guitar riffs that would make James Hetfield and Neil Young proud, lyrics that tell stories of witches and Hollywood horrors, and a rhythm section to rival any other band on the market, they are poised to take over the scene. Space City Rock writer Mars had the chance to sit down with the band (specifically, drummer Steven Bache, guitarist Adam Tanbouz, singer Schuylar Croom, and bassist Matt Williams) on their most recent tour and pick their brains on several subjects.

SCR: How's the tour going?
Schuylar Croom: It's going good.
Matt Williams: It's good, it's good, it's good.
Schuylar: It's kinda weird being the lowest band on the totem pole. We're having a good time, and it's been pretty rocking as far as we're concerned.
How's the turnout been for the shows so far?
Everyone: Every show has sold out.
How's it been playing, with only the four of you guys on the tour?
Schuylar: Awesome, man. It's been back to our roots like when we started.
Matt: Yeah, we haven't done this in like six years. It's been nice.
Schuylar: Yeah, real nice.
Any crazy tour stories yet, or is it too early in the tour for anything like that?
Schuylar: There never is really any crazy tour stories.
Matt: We don't really do anything like crazy or insane.
Schuylar: No one gets like accidentally amputated or anything. It's been pretty much, "Oh, we just hung out."
Matt: I saw and eighteen-wheeler in front of me hit a truck today. That was pretty cool.
Schuylar: Really? Wow! That's a pretty good story.
Matt: Yeah, it was pretty weird. Yeah, I like it.
He Is Legend record cover
So how is the album selling right now?
Schuylar: Um... We don't know. Like not very good, I don't know.
Adam Tanbouz: Probably not as good as we want it to be.
Schuylar: Not as good as it should be, but through no fault of our own. I mean it's a great record, and people are starting to get it on this tour, I guess.
So the video is going to be released tomorrow? Any info that you can give me on it?
Schuylar: Yeah, tomorrow. Um, it's a different idea. We worked on it with our friend who is based out of Houston, Taylor Gaines. Basically, we just hung out and worked on it. You'll get to check it out tomorrow.
Any puppets?
Adam: No puppets this time. It's a kinda different idea for a music video.
How's everything going with Solid State [Records]?
Schuylar: Um, we're definitely on that label. Yep.
Steven Bache: They sure do put out our records.
Yeah, I have heard some horror stories about the entire Tooth and Nail family...
Schuylar: They are probably all true.
Steven: They are our record label.
Schuylar: Yeah, they are our record label and they do in fact pay for us to record our records.
Steven: We've met them.
Schuylar: Yeah, we know those dudes.
So how do you guys like the new Southern-style influx in rock today, like with Norma Jean and Every Time I Die and you guys' newest stuff?
Adam: I really don't put us in that genre. I mean, we are from the South, but we don't play Southern rock at all. The only things that people really confuse that with are the stoner parts in our music. But when I think of Southern rock, I don't think of any of these new bands as Southern rock. I mean, Jet is more Southern rock than a band like us, but I know what you're saying. These new-school bands are trying to do the Southern thing...
Schuylar: They adopt a Southern accent when they sing.
Adam: Yeah, if anything, we have more of a psychedelic stoner element to our music, but other than that I wouldn't put us in that category, 'cause there's just as much thrash and folk shit.
Schuylar: And nu-metal.
Adam: Yeah, definitely nu-metal.
So, getting to the record, what was the writing process like with this record compared to the other records?
Adam: It was pretty much the exact same thing. Me and Steve got into a room and wrote it out and basically showed it to the other dudes, and Schuylar wrote lyrics. Then we went out to Evetts' place and put it all together.
How did you like working with Steve [Evetts] versus Adam [Dutkiewicz] this time?
Schuylar: Well, this like our fifth producer. We have had, like; people produce our records when we were a younger band. He's our second big time producer, and you just can't compare the two. One was just so laid-back, where the other one was structured.
Adam: Well, Adam had his hand on, where Evetts had his hands off, and Adam would be hands-off where Evetts would be hands-on. They have different approaches and different ideals as far as producing goes. Every producer is different. We adapted how he wanted to record.
I read on your FAQs on your Website about the vocals on the record; the vocals changed dramatically on this record. Was there any real conscious change, or was it more of "this is how my voice is now" kinda thing?
Schuylar: You wanna take this one, Adam?
Adam: Well, that would be silly because I don't do vocals. [laughs]
Schuylar: Naw, I mean, every time we have done a record I just do whatever comes out of me. I never try to sound like any other person. And people ask us what influenced you and what bands did you listen to when you made this. They don't write guitar riffs and be like. "I want it to sound like this." They just write whatever comes out of them. And it's the same way with me. I didn't consciously say, "Oh, man, I need to sing really high and do things that I can't naturally do." We recorded I Am Hollywood, and it was the first time we ever had someone pay for us to do a recording, and we were so young and didn't know what to do and we wrote the record and got on the road and toured on it for two years and we didn't want to play it like it was on the album. We adapted the songs to how we play because we focus more on our live show than anything else. This record is more like how we sound live. It's the music that we can do and I don't feel like I could do some of the things that I did on I Am Hollywood. On this record I focused more on what I can do and the things that I felt good about. I didn't want to do something that I couldn't do live.
So it was more comfort and more confidence on this record?
Schuylar: Yeah, I felt really good about the things that I did. And I focused more on writing that I did, like, "Oh, I have to do this really awesome part right here." Just shit that bands do that is just unnecessary. But it wasn't like, "Aw, dude, you damaged your voice." No, it's just that I'm just not going to sing like that because I can't do it. I can't do it live. And if I can't do it live, then what's the point of doing it on the record?
Yeah, there were a lot of rumors that you were damaging your voice.
Schuylar: That's just because kids are idiots. A lot of people just don't know what they are talking about.
Adam: I actually met a lot of kids at shows that are throat doctors. And do a lot of throat surgery. So they might have been right.
Schuylar: A lot of people say it's because I smoke too much that's why my voice does that. So I am going to cut down. I quit smoking, pretty much. It's because I was so worried about how my voice sounded. I try to stay away from it now. [Schuylar lights up a cigarette]
I Am Hollywood was more constructed like a story, but you've said previously that it was not written that way. The new record was more free-flowing, but it was more of a cohesive story...
Schuylar: Well, I didn't write this record like I wanted it all to fit. I just wrote little short stories. I really don't wanna be like the guy that people say, "Oh, you so listen to that band and the singing." I would rather have like four or five people at a show be like, "That dude's a good storyteller, and his lyrics are really cool to listen to," than be like, [starts singing] "My girl has a vagiiiinnnnaaa." It's like that in every single song you hear, nowadays.
It just seems like people are getting away from storytelling, and you are getting more into it.
Schuylar: It's lost, man, because it's easy to write lyrics about nothing at all. I mean, my lyrics are pretty much about nothing, but I like what I write. I feel good about the things that I write. I am more proud about the lyrics than anything. Not that I feel bad about anything that we do; I love it. But I like storytellers; those are my favorite artists like Tom Waits. They just do it well. Tell a good story in five minutes. It's awesome.
So, how did the label take it when you presented them the new record?
Steven: They bought us pizza.
Schuylar: They loved it, man. They really did. They weren't expecting what they heard.
So what's the response that you've been getting from the fans?
Adam: Kids like it, kids hate it. Just pretty much the same as any new record.
Schuylar: Some kids love it, some kids hate it, but I think we are gaining a lot of new fans.
Adam: What matters is that we like it a lot. We are happier with this record than we were with Hollywood, and that's usually what bands do. They're happier with their next record.
Schuylar: And I also feel like the kids that hate it are the kids that don't get our band. The kids that are like, "Awww, man -- this sucks," are the kids that like, y'know, fill in the blank of any shitty band you want. And we are just like, "oh, well, that's fine. You can dislike it, 'cause we really don't care." And we really don't, and I feel good about saying that because we love our record. And I feel really good about it still, which is unusual for us, 'cause usually we are sick of it in like a month and a half.
Do you guys play anything off the first EP anymore?
Schuylar: It depends. We don't usually, but we will play like "Either They Decorated For Christmas..." every now and then, when we can.
Adam: But we haven't played that in a long time.
Schuylar: Yeah, we haven't played that in a long time. Since we got a new guitar player, we've been working with him for a short time. And we just tell him that we need to learn like these six songs and we are leaving in like two weeks.
So how is like working with Mitch [Marlow] instead of Mckenzie [Bell], now?
Schuylar: It's completely different. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I feel like Mitch is more like us and more like our style and attitude.
Steven: It's like getting a puppy! Everyone is just so excited and they want to bring it and play with it.
Schuylar: Now, why would you go there? Why didn't you say "kitten"?
Steven: I don't know. I just thought everyone could relate to it.
Schuylar: It's really like a turtle.
Steven: It's like getting a pet turtle that fuzzy and Asian.
Schuylar: He's Fuasian.
Is it too early to start thinking about the next record?
Entire Band: No. Not at all.
He Is Legend pic #2
Photo by Taylor Gahm.
So, are you already working on it?
Schuylar: We haven't started working on it yet.
Steven: We are getting mentally prepared. We are really excited. We are writing stuff and taking notes.
Schuylar: I think we are more excited for the next record than we have been about anything. That's really the goal. Do a headline tour and do a new record. You gotta think from our position that this is the most positive we have ever been. Even like writing the last record, we weren't all on the same page; we were just writing it because we had to. Even with I Am Hollywood, we were like, we have these songs and we've got to get ready, but dude, I can't wait to get in a room with my best friends and write this record. And it's something we haven't done in a long time, and we are stoked to just be able to start. Like right now we have to get this headline tour out of the way so we can write this new record, and it's an awesome thing for us to be able to say that.
So is Mitch a permanent member of the band now? Is he leaving Classic Case?
Schuylar: Mitch has joined our band!
I am a fan of Classic Case also, so...
Schuylar: They're one of our favorite bands.
Matt: Classic Case's new album kicks ass, if you don't have it.
I have it.
Matt: Awesome!
Schuylar: The are one of the best bands that has come out in a long time.
So who are you favorite bands to tour with?
Everyone at the same time: Classic Case.
Adam: Every Time I Die.
Steven: The Receiving End of Sirens.
Schuylar: Any of our bros. Anyone that we are kindred spirits with.
Steven: Classic Case is a band that I watch every night. We seriously never get tired of them.
Matt: We did a headlining tour with them and every night we watched their entire set. Every single night.
Schuylar: When we left for this tour, we stopped tour hours out of our way to stop and see their show and an acoustic set with their two singers. We saw both shows and we had like a fourteen-hour drive.
How did the split EP come about?
Schuylar: Just from us being bros.
Steven: We wanted to make a record with out best friends.
Schuylar: Will, our old merch guy and now our booking agent, had a label, we were all on tour together, and we thought it was a good idea.
Matt: We wanted to cover each other's songs, mostly.
Steven: Yeah, and we half-assed it, and it sounds awful.
Schuylar: At least you can get it and hear how horrible we can be.
Steven: Yeah, it was a good lesson, though.
Schuylar: Everyone's got to put on one thing that they are like "eh..."
Whose idea was it to do "Fancy"?
Schuylar: I think that was me. I wanted my mom to sing it, but my mom wouldn't do it at the last minute.
Steven: It's a good jukebox song.
Schuylar: That's pretty much how we thought. There was this diner in Boise, and we would always put it on. We would put on "Stranglehold" by Ted Nugent and we would put on "Give Me Back My Bullets" by Lynyrd Skynyrd and we would put on "Fancy" by Reba McEntire. And we thought that would be a good song. If we had it all to do over again, we would cover "More Than A Feeling," by Boston. Um, no, we would never do that. I could never do that.
Steven: We should do "Freebird," the entire live version.
Last question: for people who don't know your band, what do you want them to know?
Schuylar: Just what our new record songs like when you buy it from Best Buy or our Website. And that...
Steven: The bands that you think are cool are just a bunch of dudes.
Schuylar: Yeah, they are the bands that never gave up. They were together in high school and were like, "Man, I could probably do that for the rest of my life."
Anything else you want to say?
Schuylar: Buy our new record and buy Classic Case's new record and listen to Slayer! END