Interview with Leroy Hamp of War of Ages
In an eerie corner of America, a ray of light shone down seven years ago to reveal War of Ages to the heathen world. The hardcore Christians have toured the world heavily and released an album almost every year since their immaculate conception so that you can rock your ass off. If you're a good little metalhead, they may grace you with their presence after their set to show you the way to salvation. Do not fear them you black-hearted bastards! The songs are not all crucifix-laden. They speak of the hurdles every one must face in life no matter what creed. I sat down with vocalist Leroy Hamp when the 10 for $10 Tour stopped in New Orleans to discuss future plans for the band and humankind.
Buick Mckane: Welcome to New Olreans. You’re latest album “Arise and Conquer” came out last year. How successful has it been?
Leroy Hamp: It’s been great so far. We don’t know how much it sold because we really don’t pay attention to that. But we’re happy with it. And as far as the overall sound, we love what Tim Lambesis did; we love the way the record came out. To us, it’s a success. To others, they can feel however they want to feel about it. We like it, we’re happy about, so that’s it.
Buick: How well received has it been by your fans?
Leroy: Very well. We’ve noticed a growth in our fans. We’ve noticed a growth industry-wise like with tours. We’re on this 10 for $10 tour and the others we’ve had the opportunity to be on because of that record. We can definitely tell that people are liking it and enjoying it. It caters more to our metal fans, as well as our hardcore fans. So we’ve noticed a growth in fans, so I would say it’s been successful. More so than “Pride of the Wicked” and “Fire from the Tomb”.
Buick: Well I noticed that you’ve had an album come out each year since you’ve started releasing albums. Where the album for this year?
Leroy: We’re going to record our next album in November. Same studio. So that’s set for November. And we’re going to be doing 10 for $10 for the rest of this month and half of August. Then we’re going to Europe in September with a couple of bands, Sworn Enemy and Earth Crisis. So we’re going to be going over there with those two bands. And immediately when we get back, we’re going to be home for a week and record in November for the most part. I think we’re going to have October off for writing and then record.
Buick: Did you take more time on this album?
Leroy: With all the technology that we have now, we’re able to do a lot of the writing on the computer on the road. Before we weren’t able to do that, but now we are. So we’ve taken more time to write the current album we’re writing must because we can do it on the road. We tour so much, we can just sit there and tinker with our songs and write it out, do the vocals and figure out how we want the structure to flow.
Buick: You claim to be the hardest working and hardest touring band, and your roster of shows is pretty impressive. Why do you like touring so much?
Leroy: We’ve never actually claimed to be that, other people have, which is great. This is our job. This is what we love to do. We work in the entertainment business. And if this is your job and this is your business, you’ve got to work it, you’ve got to work hard at it. That’s the way we look at it; you have to put in the time and work really hard at it. Hopefully someday it will pick up and we’ll be able to support ourselves financially in every way.
Buick: What’s been your favorite tour so far?
Leroy: I’m sure it differs for each one of the members, but I would have to say the Throwdown/ Soilwork tour was my favorite. Just meeting Soilwork and Throwdown which is another hardcore band that I’ve been a huge fan of for a long time. In finding out how awesome those dudes were, you see them on t.v., you see them here and there, and you think they’re going to be the biggest jerks in the world. But then you actually meet them. Soilwork; amazing dudes. I hung out with them most of the tour and we became good friends. Same thing with Throwdown. That was the best tour I’ve been on.
Buick: I’m sure you’ve played lots of small places and really huge festivals. Which do you prefer?
Leroy: The festivals have their pluses because there’s so many kids. There’s so many bands bringing all of their fans. We’re leaving this tour for one day to play a festival, and I’m sure there’s going to be three to four thousand people watching us at this festival. The last two or three years, it’s been just about our fans. Now it’s all the bands other bands’ fans too. That’s surreal. You go out and play an average show, you’re not going to get three or four thousand people a show. But at the festivals, you are. That’s a plus. But on the other side, you’ve got these small shows where you can grab a hold of the kids. You have a more intimate understanding with the kids and they’re able to interact with you, which is not as easy in a room with thousands of people. They both have their perks. I like the intimacy of the smaller shows and I like the intensity of the bigger shows.
Buick: And speaking of small shows, you played a show recently in your hometown’s mall parking lot. How many people came to that show?
Leroy: Quite a few actually. It was really interesting actually because we only had one week to promote it. This company got us to play for this thing called 99, which is 99 deaths from suicide, drug abuse and other things happen each minute. So they came up with this thing called 99 to create awareness. They asked us to play and told us that we were going to play in the back end of a truck. They pulled out a flatbed truck and we played on it. They already started promoting it with posters and told us we were playing on Friday. So we put a couple of blasts out on our Myspace. A lot of kids came, it was a lot of fun. Very interesting. We come from a very small town and everybody was confused about what was happening. We were screaming our guts out. Half the people knew us and the other half were like “Who are these people?” We played right next to two gigantic hotels. And there were people looking at us through the hotel windows. There was a big soccer tournament the next day and they didn’t like the noise. The owner of the hotel walked out and asked “When are they going to be done?” But we finished our set, they let us go and it was cool.
Buick: I’ve heard a rumor that you’re a Christian hardcore band.
Leroy: Yeah, we are a Christian hardcore band. There’s a lot of bands coming out that say “This is church” and “We’re here to heal.” First off, War of Ages is in the entertainment business. We believe we’ve been given talents and we work hard with what we have to help further our business. Those other bands charge kids at the door and charge them for t-shirts, but they say it’s church or it’s the ministry. No, this is our business. We can be Christians and own any kind of business. We are who we are and play the music we play and that influences what we do. But I guess the part of our ministry is individually, we get off the stage, talk to kids and hang out. That’s the Christian part of what we do. Up on the stage is entertainment; we rock out as hard as we possibly can, hang out with people and be a metal band. But a lot of people get really confused. They think we might get on the stage and preach at them or throw Bibles at them. That’s not what we’re here to do. I disagree with that, honestly. We are an entertainment business, but we are all Christians.
Buick: It’s refreshing to hear that, because I’m Catholic, and I have no problem saying that and that I like metal too. So I didn’t know if you were a Christian hardcore band or a hardcore band that happens to be Christians, and you don’t really bring it in to the music.
Leroy: It influences our music in general. I write vocals based on my life experiences as I hope any other vocalist would. Whether they’re writing about girls or whatever, they’re writing about their life experiences. They’re going to write about whatever they want. I happen to write about my life experiences which happens to do with God. Or some songs I write have nothing to do with God. They have to do with changing your life and fixing yourself. So it really depends on what I’m writing. A Christian D-chord is no different than a secular D-chord. Metal is metal; we just do what we do. It’s a fine line finding the difference between your business and your faith, like a pastor. Like a pastor gets paid to write a sermon, he gets paid to do what he does on Sunday morning. That’s what he gets paid for, that’s not the ministry part. The ministry part is what he does as far as being a leader.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Leroy: I’m sure there’s a lot I could say, but I’ll just leave it at that.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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