While Black Crown Initiate has only been together since February of last year, they’re off to a great start. The Pennsylvania band got signed to eOne off the strength of their four-song demo, March of the Crippled Bull, and their debut album, The Wreckage of Stars, was just released. With only a few shows under their belt, they also got the opportunity, still unsigned, to open for Behemoth, 1349 and Goatwhore on the Metal Alliance tour. Fresh off the road from the Reading Rainbow tour with Rivers of Nihil, Black Crown Initiate will be playing at Metal Insider’s CMJ showcase on October 22 at the Wick in Brooklyn. We caught up with guitarist/clean vocalist Andy Thomas to talk about how things have gone for them since we last caught up with them.
We last talked to you before the Metal Alliance Tour started, and I think you played 2 or 3 shows together ever.
It was not a lot.
How did you guys get used to being a band together quickly and tour?
That was our intention in the first place, but when you show up in Tempe Arizona and Behemoth is sound checking you realize that it’s time for you to watch and learn quickly how to entertain a crowd. That’s not something you pick up from playing little local shows when you’re forced into an environment with sold out shows all over the place. You have to step up your game really quickly. Our favorite thing to do is write music, so that came quickly. The live aspect is something we’re still working on, but it’s the result of being around that many great bands.
How much of the album was written before you started touring?
I want to say one and a half songs. ‘A Great Mistake’ was written and we had half of ‘Alignment’ written. Everything else came afterward.
You had about five and a half songs the whole time you were on tour? That’s fantastic. Did you write on the road and come up with ideas on tour?
We really didn’t. We wrote when we got home and very intensely. We had a lot of ideas but nothing we really explored or had time to.
How much time did you spend rehearsing before you went on the road, having placed such few shows?
Probably three weeks.
What did you learn from being on the Metal Alliance Tour?
A lot. Be on time! Always be on time and be mindful of everyone around you and what they have to do. That’s advice for local bands, too. The one thing in the end I’ve watched myself be guilty of is not being mindful of not everyone else’s time. Being on a big tour like that, you have to show up and get out of there as quickly as possible. There are other people who have to do the same thing as you.
How many local shows have you played since coming back from the tour?
None. We have one at Reverb in Reading on this upcoming tour with Rivers of Nihil. We’re really excited because it’s our first show in Reading since our first show ever.
How did you guys come up with the idea of the Reading Rainbow Tour?
We had wanted to tour with Rivers for a while because they’re old friends of ours, and we watched them form before we even started and always supported them. Being from the same town and experiencing exposure at the same time, we are pretty close to each other. We knew we should tour together, and it worked out. I don’t know who came up with the name, but it’s pretty brilliant.
It is! I asked you towards the beginning of the year what the metal scene in Reading was like, and you said there was none. With Rivers getting signed and what you’re doing, has that brought any scrutiny to Reading? Have you seen bands form or have people come up to you saying “Hey, what do you guys do? I like you guys and I’m forming a band.” Have you seen that happen or have you been too intensely working on the record?
That’s really it; I haven’t had a lot of time in Reading, let alone focus time with the Reading music scene to be able to tell you. I don’t really know. Since we’ve been touring and making the album it’s been non-stop for us doing something all the time, and this is our second local show coming up on October 3rd, so I don’t really know. I hope so!
You’ve done a lot in not that much time. Were there any musical influences you looked toward while working on the first record?
Not expressly. There are things that are in my and our musical DNA, which comes from all over the place depending on which one of us you would ask. It’s really all over the map. There wasn’t a formula at all, and when you listen to the album you can hear that. I think the EP was much shorter, but the album was an expansion of the EP in every direction.
Was there anything you were going for conceptually with the album as an actual album, or were you just like, “Here’s a bunch of songs that sound great together”?
No, I mean I wanted it to be bleak, which I think for sure it definitely is. It is conceptual, I suppose, in that it deals with my personal life, but it’s always veiled so it’s not like ‘Here’s what I think’ or ‘Here’s what I’ve been through.’ Nobody really cares, and they shouldn’t. This time around, I would rather people just listen to it, and if it makes them feel any certain way they would just come to that conclusion themselves.
Was there any point where you had doubts about signing with eOne, like the feeling you should be doing more touring and audience building, or were you just ready?
I think we were ready. I’m 28 years old. I’ve been playing and writing music for a long time, and everyone else in the band, regardless of age, has been as well. When the opportunity came up to actually do this, there was no question.
Aside from the current tour you’re doing, who would you most want to tour with?
Oh man, I would love to tour with Meshuggah, Gojira, Mastodon, Opeth, you know.
Do you have anything lined up after this?
We have about a week, I think, with Unearth and Darkest Hour coming up in October. Also Origin and I the Breather 8:22 are on that tour as well. After that, we have some things that are on the table but nothing confirmed. [ed note: this interview was done before they joined the lineup on our show]
Black Crown Initiate will be playing the Metal Insider CMJ 2014 showcase on October 22, at The Wick in Brooklyn. Pick up tickets before Wednesday, October 8 for only $10!