Shortly after the release of A Romance With Violence, Wayfarer’s fourth album, I talked a bit with Shane McCarthy, the band’s guitarist and vocalist.
Hello and first of all thank you for your time. Would you mind to introduce yourself and the band please?
Shane McCarthy (vocals/guitar): Hello – thank you for taking the time to ask us questions. My name is Shane McCarthy – I play guitar and vocals in Wayfarer. We are a band from Denver, Colorado made up of myself, James Hansen on bass and vocals, Isaac Faulk on drums, and Joe Strong-Truscelli on guitars.
Wayfarer just released A Romance With Violence, the band’s fourth album. Are you satisfied of this album?
Shane: We are, absolutely. I think we executed what we set out to do, making a big and bloody western film of a metal record that hopefully carries some resonance. The response to the release has so far been encouraging.
How does the composition process happen?
Shane: It depends, we often work in between touring sessions of this band or others. We like to dedicate decent stretches of time to writing though. Typically an idea of a songs direction and its place in the album as a whole will be brought to the table with a skeleton of a sequence, and then we all work collaboratively to flesh out the individual parts and discuss the arrangement. Then we eventually demoed this material, and dissected it further from there, adding and changing where we saw it was needed to make the album flow, or emphasize any particular piece of its overall arc. Most everything is done before the studio, but we do leave an open door to exploring a few ideas there as well.
In my opinion, this album is a pure journey through beautiful landscapes of the Far West. Where does the idea to recreate this Western ambience come from? Do you think that you can use more in the future?
Shane: Well, I think it’s certainly because this is where we are from – this landscape and the history of the place are something we grow up entrenched in so that certainly informs the psyche. This album in particular was a look at the place as a concept as much or more so than the place itself, a look at “The Western” as its portrayed in culture and legend, such as in film. So we wanted to make the album like a western film in itself, sprawling and epic but bloody and tragic. All the while it seeks to peel back the curtain on the darkness and brutality that such a thing would actually hold.
I think exploring this subject matter of our home is something we have quite settled into, and will continue to do more of. But each time it is sort of through a different lens, or different area to explore. So we will continue to live in our world of sounds and themes, but the next album will surely cover another topic.
You are based in Denver, Colorado. Do you live in the city or in the countryside? Do you think that your way of life affects your music, as some kind of loophole? Are you proud to be from this state?
Shane: I live in the city myself, growing up not far from here. The city has its own perspective, and also shares a lot in common with cities in general of course. But there are so many places close to here that are escapes of nature or history, and all of that certainly affects the music. I am absolutely proud to be from here, as its a beautiful place, and in the modern US I am proud of how it compares to other states in many ways. My family has been here for many generations. All of that absolutely informs the music as well.
What does inspire you to create music? It can be some bands you like, or everything aside of music.
Shane: I suppose, and I think this is largely true for all of us, that it’s both other music and also a lot of other factors. We are all big music nerds and really delve deep into the things that we love. Three of us are avid collectors of music and do a lot of reading and research into the history of the musicians that hold our interest. So we’ve all looked at playing music as something we want to do with our lives, and at pursuing being a part of a band that could aspire to affect as the bands we loved have. Beyond that though there is the influence of other mediums, like film – which is a big influence on Wayfarer, this album in particular – that hold a different kind of influence in what we want to create and portray in our music. Fiction, graphic novels – a lot of other art forms bring inspiration to create music. And then of course there is life itself – a sense of place in where we are, in history and landscape – and our emotions and experience as people. If that does not influence someone and inspire at some level – even if it inspires to build an escape – then their art will probably not be very potent.
There are some acoustic elements in your music, would you consider to record an acoustic album? Without those Black Metal elements.
Shane: It’s something we have talked about before, for sure. We like a lot of “non-metal” things, and they clearly hold their mark in our music as you say. We have talked about pursuing realms outside of metal with this band in one way or another, and while it may not be a straight up acoustic album I’m sure something will come of it someday.
What made you sink into Black Metal universe? What was the very first Metal song you ever listened?
Shane: We all had our separate gateways into it I guess. But being the age that we are, I think most of us got into heavy music around the age of 12, and at that time the gateways into black metal were bands like Dimmu Borgir and whatnot. That was my first taste anyway (still holds up I might add) and then that led to Immortal, and then deeper in from there. Isaac for example was a Black Metal fiend as a teenager for sure. We all spent our teenage years discovering all sorts of bands any way we could – in the last era of magazines and used CDs before streaming took over everything!
The first metal song I ever listened to? Who knows. Had to be Metallica or something – not to mention all the Nu Metal of the late 90s and early 00s floating around hahaha!
You toured in Europe, including France, last year with Dark Buddha Rising. How was this tour? Maybe you have some special memories you would like to share with us?
Shane: The tour was great! It was our first time in Europe and we had a fantastic experience. The shows were mostly very good, especially on the run with Dark Buddha Rising. Those guys are fantastic people and very mind blowing performers. It was the type of strange match up of bands that I feel works pretty well actually. Hard to boil down to one or two special memories as it was a 5 week run – but we had a great time in Lille playing under an incredibly low ceiling, and of course running around Roadburn seeing friends from all corners of the world.
Nowadays, there are presidential elections in the US. Without asking you your political opinion, how is the current situation in the United States? What would you do if you can suggest something to the next president?
Shane: Ha of course its strange. As of this writing the presidential election has been decided although it is of course now being contested in all manner of hilarious if not embarrassing ways. If I could suggest something to a president… I would suppose it would be to not be afraid of progress and change. Too much pandering and pleasing lobbyists and nothing gets done, while problems still wait to be solved. But I’m just a guy who plays guitar, so what do I know.
Do you have some words about the underground american Metal scene? And about the Black Metal scene precisely?
Shane: Well I would say underground metal in America has really risen up a lot in recent years, and that’s great. When I was younger I felt like all the good bands were in Europe, and for the interesting ones that were here it was kind of hard for them to find their place. Now, in Denver for example where there used to be no national bands to speak of outside of Cephalic Carnage, we now have so many who are touring internationally and releasing relevant music. That’s happening a lot across the country and its great to see unique American bands reach the EU festivals etc that seemed to have little place for them before. As far as a “Black Metal” scene – it’s definitely a bit different here, and there are kind of pockets that exist but I don’t think we really belong to any of them. For example I believe we are quite different from the “Cascadian » stuff like Wolves In The Throne Room, and the angular NY stuff like Krallice and Imperial Triumphant although we have friends in that scene. We’ve always wanted to make our own little corner of it that reflects where we are from.
When did your musical journey start? Do you remember the first time you picked up an instrument? When and how was it?
Shane: For myself I was 11, hearing some heavy music for the first time and talked my parents into buying me my first cheap-o bronze series Warlock. I was stubborn and probably wouldn’t have gotten far with it but was tactfully coerced into taking lessons from a metal player. The people I met doing that started to turn me on to all sorts of crazy bands and methods of playing and I became pretty dedicated to playing over the next several years. Funny enough when my first guitar teacher up and moved away to Germany, he passed me as a still very young player off to his best student at the time, which was Joe Truscelli, who was about seven years older than I. He taught me into my teenage years and then we remained friends, and he eventually joined Wayfarer.
I know that Covid crisis fucked up a lot of things, but how did you deal with it as a musician? And personally?
Shane: Well, it certainly caused delays with the album as I mentioned above, but it ultimately turned out okay with the final product. As a musician it was strange to have a time of uncertainty of whether or not we could come together to play, but we eventually figured out how to do so safely. Of course the biggest bummer part is not being able to hit the road, especially on the heels of a release like this that we are so excited about. But with everyone in the same boat, it’s just something that has to be accepted.
Myself personally, I have just been adapting the focus to being at home, and what can be done there. We have some other projects within the members of Wayfarer that are now hard at work writing with this album done and no touring on the horizon for once. So it is good to stay productive and take advantage of having the time to do so. Watch for releases from our camp next year. Lykotonon for example will be rearing a full length, which is a very different band traversing realms of Electronic music as well as Black and Death.
What are your best and your worst stage memory to date?
Shane: Oh, there are so many of both hahaha. I in particular have dealt with a plethora of gear malfunctions over the years and a lot of those have caused hell for me. But there’s so many touring nightmares over the years it’s hard to dig one out heh. Similar thing, thankfully with positive memories – there are a great deal of them and it is very hard to narrow down. Seeing people who really care though, that’s always a thing. It’s surreal to be a young band who has loved so much music and to see some people looking at you in that way that you have felt so many times in discovering all of it. The first time we saw people sing all the words to our songs at a show in New York was a cool moment. And finishing our first European tour at a large and nice venue in Krakow where a sea of people banged their heads – it’s just fun. Makes you want to keep doing what you are doing.
What if I ask you to compare Wayfarer’s music with an american dish? Which one and why?
Shane: Ha! Now this is a question I have not seen before. I have no idea how to answer it honestly, but being from where we are, it better be smothered in Green Chile.
What is your best and your worst musician experience ever?
Shane: As in with another musician? The worst ones don’t really bare sharing here as I don’t like to spread those things around, but sometimes you learn the true colors of people for sure. One of the best was maybe when Tomas Lindberg, a friend of ours but of course someone we admire, wore our shirt he had bought from us at an earlier show in Belgium during the At The Gates headline set at Roadburn while we played a small stage. That made our young selves proud I think.
Which bands would you dream to tour with? I let you create a tour with Wayfarer and three other bands of your choice!
Shane: Oh – now that is a question. A lot of names spring to mind – Enslaved, Rotting Christ, At The Gates, modern bands like Oranssi Pazuzu… But I think put us on a strange package where Fields of the Nephilim are headlining with support from Primordial and Wovenhand, and we are quite at home.
That was the last question for me, a huge thank you for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Shane: Thank you so much for taking the time – it was a pleasure talking to you here. We hope to see you on your side of the water before too long!