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Interview

He Is Legend Frontman Schuylar Croom Discusses New Album "White Bat"

A lot can happen in fifteen years. It was in 2004 that Wilmington, North Carolina rockers He Is Legend released their debut full length, "I Am Hollywood" and since then the band has evolved into a sound of their own, shedding their metalcore skin and finding favour with fans of southern rock, stoner metal and even blues music. After a year's hiatus in 2009, the group returned focused and energised, releasing the albums, "Heavy Fruit" in 2014 and "few" in 2017, with a new album, "White Bat" scheduled to hit the shelves on June.

Whilst on tour with The Damned Things and Crobot, I had the pleasure of speaking to He Is Legend frontman Schuylar Croom about the forthcoming new album, "White Bat," the literary and philosophical themes behind the record and the anniversary of their debut album, "I Am Hollywood."

Diamond Oz: You're on tour right now with The Damned Things and Crobot, how's it going so far?

Schuylar Croom: It's been a fantastic tour. We're really getting along well with everybody and we're touring with some powerhouse names. It's been a really interesting tour. It's a joy to see these legendary musicians every night.

Oz: Absolutely. How did this grouping come together?

Schuylar: I've been friends with Keith Buckley for quite a while. So, we've got a record coming out at the end of June and I told him about it and he was like, "Perfect. Let's get it on!" so we just kind of made it work that way. So it was pretty organic. It's a really good, solid rock tour with a great lineup. It's almost over now, we've only got a few more days.

Oz: Yeah, I think it's heavy enough to appease metal fans but at the same time it's good old fashioned rock.

Schuylar: Yeah it is like that. It's cool. It's an interesting dichotomy to watch these guys that are huge influences on tonnes of bands and were like our heroes and now we're getting ready to go have dinner with them tonight. It's a real fast friends scenario.

Oz: Very nice! Obviously you mentioned the new album, "White Bat" coming out. The last I checked there were two songs released from the record, the title track and "Boogiewoman." How would you say those songs represent the album as a whole?

Schuylar: It's kind of a sordid thing we did, releasing the first and last track from the album. I think the meat in between is interesting and I'm excited to see what people think. The response has been cool and I think it's gonna be a real fun thing to listen to. It's got a life of its own.

Oz: Well like you say it's got a life of its own, it's its own entity. So how would you say it compares to the previous album, "few"?

Schuylar: I'd say our cohesion is better. With the addition of Jesse and having a stance as a band and a stark purpose. We've kind of been put through the ringer a bit. With "few" we wore all the hats, from production to sending out albums and whatnot. It was something really interesting to watch but I can't say that I would do it again as far as the crowd funding thing is concerned, that was just a daunting task. With this, we had something to prove. We want our fans to know that we're not going to stop and with the addition of Jesse Shelley we had an album that we really wanted to write. We had music that was ready to pour out of us so that was kind of our vibe.

Oz: Cool. I think it's kind of important to release a new album since obviously 2019 marks the fifteenth anniversary of "I Am Hollywood." It's probably a bit cooler to celebrate with something new rather than going out and redoing that record, so to speak.

Schuylar: Yeah, I think so too man. I don't necessarily subscribe to the whole reunion thing. I'm not 100% against it but it is kind of living in the past a bit and I think that if a band still has some semblance of integrity and inspiration that you kind of have to go for it. We had a lot of inspiration after the last few years of touring. "few" was an interesting run, we learned a lot about ourselves and we felt cut out for the job to record again and record quickly. It ended up being a really good process, we're all very happy with it.

Oz: Just reading about "White Bat" itself is very interesting. I know it's inspired by "I'll Be Gone In The Dark," by Michelle McNamara. So consequently, death as a whole seems to be a major theme on the album...

Schuylar: Well I was reading Michelle's book and I'd scrapped a bunch of lyrics I had for the album by the time I got to L.A. and finished the book around the time they basically caught the guy. It was a crazy turn of events and by the time I got out to L.A. I was just feverishly writing and creating this character and trying to put myself in his shoes. It was an interesting thing and there was a lot of feelings of disgust and feeling terrible for this woman who had been trying to catch this guy and it finally happened after she died.

I don't know but feeling like I could use that for some inspiration to create this character of the White Bat, based on everything that we as humans go through like these feelings of guilt and pain and projections and all this shit that we do to ourselves. It is a dark record. I think it kind of gets back to our roots in He Is Legend, where we made dark music, sprinkled with a bit of melody but it's probably the heaviest record we've done for a long time and the songs are going over real well live.

Oz: One thing that I found quite striking was the artwork, which is very minimalist for lack of a better word...

Schuylar: Until you open it up! It's actually pretty wild. I got a chance to work with an artist that I really like, his name's Matt Ryan Tobin. He's done a lot of work for Waxwork Records and the new "It" soundtrack and "Hellraiser" soundtrack, a lot of poster work and I basically reached out to him, telling him that I had this high art concept that I was working on if he was into it. It was kind of a shot in the dark but he turned out to be a fan so we worked really closely together doing the artwork and he actually pushed me to be more involved than I would normally so I'm pretty proud of that.

Oz: Sweet. It works very well with what I've read about the album so far and it comes together to create one whole piece of art, which is what an album should be.

Schuylar: Exactly. I think it's lost in today's culture but also for some strange reason, vinyl has this staying power and I hope people will at least realise that this piece of vinyl is the way we intend for it to be enjoyed, so you can pull the linear notes out and look at the whole artwork and everything. I'm really excited about it, I think it's going to be big.

The new He Is Legend album, "White Bat" will be released on June 28th through Spinefarm Records.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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