As one half of the lyrical duo in ¡MAYDAY!, Wrekonize takes up a huge share of the duties that comprise making Miami’s group of eclectic musicians into The World’s Most Dangerous Band. With the follow up album Believers on the near-horizon, expectations are high for ¡MAYDAY! to somehow equal or top last year’s Take Me To Your Leader. Will they be able to pull it off? We’ll find out next week.
We talked to Wrekonize to see what went into making the Strange Music sophomore album, what’s different about it and what he expects it to accomplish for ¡MAYDAY!.
How would you say that the sound of this album is different than Take Me To Your Leader?
It’s bigger. The music feels bigger because we brought in instrumentalists on this album to broaden the sound a little bit. I’d say the concepts are just as big if not a little broader and more widespread than the last album but overall I’d just say bigger.
How did bringing in instrumentalists help you guys and what brought about that progression?
We’re all real candid with people in the fact that we’re not the greatest musicians on planet earth. We thrive off a certain energy but we’re not classically-trained musicians and our skill level only goes to a certain distance. We’re still learning and improving everyday, but that’s just kind of where we’re at.
Bringing in some of the guys that we worked with on this album that are way more talented musicians than we are and way more technically sound than we are allowed us to take the music to places that we’ve wanted to go for awhile that we might not have been able to go in the past based off our own chops. It was good because it allowed us to use our imaginations to go a little further than we would normally when we’re playing some of the riffs ourselves.
How do you think you improved musically from the last album?
I’ve been wanting to do bigger sounding hooks than Take Me To Your Leader – group-sounding hooks, like it sounds like a whole choir of people was singing the song rather than just Bernz and I. We pulled that off on a couple songs on this album and then I also wanted to have more instrument solos and we pulled that off really well on “Marathon Man”. Our boy Ralfy Valencia played the guitar and him and Gianni worked on that solo part at the end and that’s like a great piece of music. I love music that when you hear a guitar solo like that, it tells its own story. I definitely wanted to have some of that on this album too.
Do you have any personal highlights on the album?
For me “Last One Standing”. I love the music. I love the way the song’s laid out. “Shortcuts and Dead Ends” I love because we just sat out to make a very personal record to us. I love Bernz’s verse and my verse on there and I love the hook as well. If I had to pick a third I’d probably say “Mortuary Mary”. That’s another song that I really like. It’s very feel-good to me.
When you and Bernz write a song does it have to go through the rest of the band and speak for the band as a whole? Does it need to go through any voting so to speak?
No, not really. The band’s pretty free with letting us do the concepts that we see fit, but I think a lot of times when me and Bernz are writing we’re thinking of the whole group – we’re thinking of everyone that’s related to us and family and friends that surround the whole group, not just me and him. There are times however when Gianni or Plex will come in and say “Here’s a concept” and draw us up a concept. That happens from time to time too. There’s not necessarily so much an approval process or anything but we do keep the whole group in mind when we write.
So that obviously dramatically changed your writing process from your solo album to this album.
Oh yeah most definitely, even though I did write portions of The War Within with Bernz but yeah it started more as a group conversation on most of the records, if not all of them, versus mine which was a little bit less.
Did you feel any pressure to follow up Take Me To Your Leader, which many call a classic?
No not really. I think we did a good job of not thinking too much about that and just focusing more on making another album and not trying to focus on how it was related to the last album we did. A lot of times I think that trips people up and can mess up the vibe of an album if you’re too focused on what you just did rather than what you’re doing.
Did you guys vocalize any goals that you wanted to achieve with this album?
Nah. We just wanted to expand the fanbase and we wanted to put the music in places that we haven’t yet, whether it be blogs or a certain TV slot. We just definitely want to cross boundaries with this album and break into new grounds as far as promotion and visibility that we didn’t have with Take Me To Your Leader.
What would you say is the theme of this album?
I’d say the theme of this album is to put on a show for the people who are just getting tuned into us and really giving them a good vibe of what we’re about. At the same time we want to give the people who got on board with us early what they’ve come to really appreciate about the group. It’s reaching out into the new frontier as well as embracing and showing love to the people who gave us love to us when no one else was.
What do you think that the fans who have been down expect from you guys?
I think they always go for lyricism – there’s always a great deal of lyricism. I think the fabric of the music in terms of the variety and the mixture that they get is what someone would say makes us unclassifiable in a certain genre – I think they look for that as well. Definitely lyricism is one of those that people look for right off the rip.
In what ways do you think you guys got better on this album?
I think we’re more comfortable in the songwriting process. We knew a little bit more about the directions we wanted to go. We started to think of concepts before we even had music this time around, where as a lot of times before we were letting the music kind of push us into concepts. I think the songwriting process definitely got a lot more complex and improved. The songwriting definitely improved.
What are your expectations for this album and what would you like it to achieve for ¡MAYDAY!?
I’m definitely like an exponential kind of person. I don’t need a million records sold tomorrow but I’d just like to be the kind of person that outdoes the last thing we did. I would like to sell more copies than we did the last album and preferably catch some new eyes that we didn’t catch on the last one. As long as its exponential growth, I’m always happy with that. I just want to cross the marks that we set on the last album and set a new bar for the next time.
Anything you want to say before we wrap this up?
We’re out right now in Des Moines, vibing out on the last week of the Summer of Strange tour and I just want to say thanks to everyone that came out on the tour and repped with us. We’ll be in a city near you before the year’s up.