Interview: Wolves at the GatePosted 03/31/2012 06:39AM by Nick Senior as Interview
At the end of February, Nick Senior had the chance to speak with Steve Cobubbi, the guitarist/vocalist for the metal group Wolves at the Gate.
Nick: What is Wolves at the Gate’s goal or mission statement as a band?
Steve: You know there are a lot of Christian bands out there. There are Christian bands that talk about what it means to be a Christian and how to become a Christian. A lot of times, sorry if this comes across as proud, but there aren’t many that are doing it correctly. It just becomes a gimmick. I just want to show people who Jesus really is and depict Him through our lives and our music. I would love if people came to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior and have a relationship with Him. I know that it’s Truth, and we’re not ashamed to be here. As believers, there are very few things we are actually commanded to do, and one of them is to love the Lord God with all your might, and the other is to “now go and preach the Gospel.” That what He says to do, and a lot of times that puts people off. Like “Wow, God sounds like really proud--go tell people how awesome I am.” Well He is, and we want to convey that in our lives.
I want people to know that I’m not a pastor, but at the same time, I’m not a hellion. I want people to know that you can be a regular guy who does regular things, like you’re an engineer or you’re in a band. Jesus has given us salvation, and all He’s asked is that you serve Him.
Nick: Be a Christian first and say you are second.
Steve: I totally agree, and that’s our goal as a band. Nowhere on our website does it say that we are under the Christian music genre because I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe that you can write “Christian” music. We are a bunch of Christian guys, and that permeates what we say and do, so it comes across in our music. I don’t want to be ashamed, but I definitely don’t want to flaunt it because people can just use that to make money. We’re not trying to get into the Christian music market to make money because it’s dirty. We’ve seen it and played with those bands before, and it’s depressing
Nick: Well, you see that a lot with “Christian” bands that have released three successful albums, and then they release a statement saying “We’re not sure we’re a Christian band anymore.”
Steve: Yeah, we don’t want to label ourselves like that. In the Bible it says, “Those who will not confess me before man, I will not confess before the father.” I don’t want to be that guy. [laughs]
Nick: Back to the music aspect, what inspired you to get into music?
Steve: Honestly, just going to shows. [laughs] The first real, raw rock show I went to was Blood Brothers and Against Me. Up until then, I hadn’t really listened to any heavy music. I just remember my buddy showed me their music on the way there, and I was like “This is rad!” Based on the music, I expected some huge dudes because they sounded absolutely nuts. Well, we get to the show, and they’re these regular, tiny guys, [laughs] and they’re killing it up there. I mean I’ve always loved music, but I started picking up the guitar when I was a senior in high school. A big influence for me was Thrice. I’m a huge fan of their music, and it was really rad because I was able to connect with them. Plus, they are so solid live.
Nick: I love them. I remember reading the lyrics for The Artist and the Ambulance and it made me appreciate how intellectual and spiritual they are.
Steve: That’s the thing that’s cool. They were a huge influence that made me want to play. I guess the real thing that got me going was the Lord really got a hold of my life when I was in college and gave me a passion to share the Gospel. I just wanted to use a talent I had to use it in that way. Music just kind of snowballed. It was an idea that started locally. We’d play small shows locally, and we just kept working, and here we are now. Like now people actually want to listen to what I’m saying. [laughs]
Nick: Well you guys are now signed to Solid State Records, which is a nice accomplishment. Do you have any tours lined up?
Steve: We are actually going to the studio in March. We have tours coming up, but nothing’s yet confirmed for sure. The plan is to record in the studio for a month and then tour like crazy.
Nick: Do you have a release date targeted for the album?
Steve: The label is saying sometime in the summer, hopefully June or July.
Nick: Has it hit home yet that the band is a full-time gig now?
Steve: In all honesty, when we recorded the EP, we thought that was it. We had just done Cornerstone Festival, then the drummer quit. I honestly thought we were gonna quit, just because our old vocalist is married and just had a little girl, so I was like “Uhh…” [laughs] I told the guys, “Let’s just put out an EP, and if anyone enjoys our music, they’ll have something to remember us by. It was going to be our swan song. We just figured we would put it out and see what happens. Then it just took off; the Lord blessed us like crazy. So no, I did not expect this at all. [laughs] It’s funny, though, because a lot of bands have told us that, with regard to our excitement, “It will wear off.” But honestly, I’m letting it ride out as long as possible. [laughs] I never would have thought that I would be on Solid State Records. That’s what I dreamed about as a kid, and now it has happened.
Nick: Growing up in that style of music, that label is the pinnacle of “Christian” metal. [laughs]
Steve: You can’t really go to many other places. And even for metal in general, it’s not like there’s a whole lot of other places to go. It’s not like Warner Brothers is going to pick us up. [laughs] Unless they’re desperate.
Nick: I don’t know. Maybe the Jonas Brothers aren’t selling this month. [laughs]
Steve: They actually went to my rival high school, [laughs] which was funny because I had always heard about them, being from the area, all of a sudden, they are like the biggest name in America.
Nick: So for the new album, do you see a different direction than the EP?
Steve: I think the heavier aspects of our music will sound a little different because, like we talked about, I’m a huge fan of Thrice. We are very much an old-school sounding metal band. Like we don’t have chugga-chugga breakdowns. We will do that very few and far between, just because it’s relevant and what we hear, and it’s what influences us, whether we realize it or not. But I tried to go back in time, I guess, and tried to write a lot more like the stuff that got me into music. There’s going to be a wider variety. For the EP, we wanted to put out a very focused sound on there. That’s what is exciting for me. You are going to be able to see who we are.
Nick: Yeah I can see that you try to differentiate yourselves a bit from the generic scenecore stuff.
Steve: It’s just a different generation now. The tours that I went to were the first Taste of Chaos tours with The Used, My Chemical Romance, and Underoath. That’s the thing though, is those bands actually wrote songs. That’s why you and I enjoyed that style back then and why this new stuff is getting so stale so quickly. That’s what I want to do. I want to write a song. I want each track to have a distinctive sound and be in a different key, you know? [laughs]
Nick: Who would do that? Isn’t it all just breakdowns? [laughs]
Steve: Yeah, that’s why we want to push ourselves to create heavy music that you wouldn’t normally hear now. It’s worked for us in a lot of ways, and it hurts us in other ways. It’s funny because kids will come up to me after shows, and I can see it coming, and they’ll say, “You guys were sick! It’d be awesome if you sang less or had more breakdowns.” [laughs] My response is always that it wouldn’t be us if we didn’t sing or had more breakdowns.
Nick: Yeah, every band now has four or five word breakdowns that are easily printed in bold letters on a shirt. [laughs]
Steve: Yeah, I think that’s the other thing. We’re pretty wordy as a band. I love that because I love content. I love reading the lyrics to a song and having it take you somewhere as opposed to a really short journey where I’m like, “Oh I know what this is about; you really hate this girl.” [laughs] That’s why I loved Thrice so much. You read any lyrics from any of their albums, and it’s better than almost everything that’s out there right now. That’s what I love about it. If you can read the lyrics, and you don’t need music to appreciate it, you’re good to go. I want people to dig in. Grab a fork and knife and dig in to the lyrics.
Nick: As long as it’s healthy for you. [laughs]
Steve: Exactly, [laughs] this metaphor just got deep.
Nick: Yeah we need to reel it back. I think that’s what is great about Thrice, and I think you guys do it to a certain extent too. The lyrics mean what you want them to mean. There’s a surface level, and there’s a deeper meaning as well.
Steve: Yeah, it’s always funny hearing what kids say. Like, “This song really helped me when I was going through this,” when that wasn’t at all what I wrote it about, but I’m obviously glad it helped them. That goes to show, in scripture, God spoke through a donkey, so I often use that comparison. If He spoke through donkeys then, He’s still doing it now. [laughs]
Nick: We are all donkeys; it just depends if we’re smart ones or dumb ones. [laughs]