While in Chicago for Oyster Fest, Lisa and I were able to catch up with Lewis from 10 Years. Having just wrapped up touring with Shinedown, Chevelle, Puddle of Mudd, and Sevendust on the Carnival of Madness tour this summer, these guys aren’t slowing down. They have a new album out and a few tours already booked for this fall/winter, including quite a few headlining dates. Their new album Feeding The Wolves debuted at #17 on the Billboard Top 200 countdown. Read on to hear what Lewis had to say about their creative process, band poaching, and why you should always listen to your parents.
Lets start with a bit of background information about the band and how it all came together.
“Brian, who is our guitarist now, was a drummer for a long time. He and I had a band called Blind Aggression, it was a terrible band name, but we were in middle school,” Lewis shrugs. “There was another band that we played shows with a lot, one that Tator was in, and we just kinda took all the people from around town and put them together. The guys who really wanted to do this and make it work, make a living as a musician. Once we found the guys with talent and the drive, we put together 10 Years. We had a different singer for quite a while. One day we heard Jesse singing with his band and the minute he opened his mouth, we knew we had to have him. We stole him from his band, and that’s how our current lineup came to exist.”
That raises a very interesting question about band poaching. As we have started to navigate the band circuit, we are starting to realize there are very small circles sometimes. Almost everyone knows each other. Do you have to be very careful about stepping on toes as far as the poaching goes?
Lewis smiles, “Well, I guess you should… It was the missing link. The singer we had back in the day, Mike, was a great front man, a great screamer, we were a different band then. We always kinda wrote in melodic heavier under tones, like we do right now, we just didn’t have that final component, to fill that vocally. As soon as we heard Jesse we said, that’s the tone, the voice, and everything that we were looking for. We just couldn’t pass that up. He was a fan of the old 10 Years. It was one of those things, we allowed him to make his own decision as to what he wanted to do. We didn’t have to pull him, (kicking and screaming), he was pretty excited to come over and work with us.”
The sound of the new album is different than the past. What were you guys thinking progression wise when you went into the studio?
“We have went in with a complete body of work to the studio. We had a lot of heavier songs that just somehow along the way… they ended up not making it on the first two albums. You’ll sit down with a producer and he’ll say, ‘these are the ones we should record.’ There were a lot of songs that the five of us wanted to make it, but when your so new to the game…you don’t know any better, and you listen to these guys. The third time around, we decided that we were going to speak up and stick up for our music. We decided that this album was going to be our vision. It was easier writing this time, we were all on the same page. We got out to LA and had a couple weeks to rehearse the songs we had already written. We already had what was going to be the album. However, once we got out there and started the process, we wrote 5 or 6 new songs that all made it on the album. We were just in a great head space, everyone was getting along and the creativity was flowing.” Lewis is quiet for a moment. “When I listen to this album… yes… people might comment on how different it is, it is definitely a different direction. However, this is the direction we have always tried to go. This to me is what 10 Years is supposed to sound like.”
Speaking of the creative process, how do you begin and how do you solve differences?
“We usually start out with a guitar riff or something. Jesse usually adds vocals and stuff after the music is done. He will take a body of work and vibe off of it and then write the lyrics. Brian is amazing with his riffs. If something doesn’t work, if one of us isn’t feeling it, we just throw it out. If something made it on the record, we were all stoked about it. We are picky, and I think you have to be. We are one of those bands that doesn’t want to write a record that just has like singles and a bunch of filler. Every one of the songs on the new album, I’m super proud of.”
What was the inspiration for Shoot It Out?
“That was actually the first song for this album. Brian came up with the riff and we were talking about it, and how we wanted to write an aggressive record, one that we wanted to play live. When you’re starting, this was the beginning of the third album mind you, and we had everybody, label and management putting so much pressure on you to churn out “hits”. This song is talking about …’I’m not going to be your whore’ is directed at all of them. If you go back and listen with that context it makes more sense.”
Being on the road as much as you have lately, how do you stay entertained?
“Honestly? I play a lot of golf. On this last tour the guys from Shinedown and Sevendust would go out with us and play golf. We went to a bunch of baseball games, played video games… I can pretty much entertain myself with a case of beer.”
We have to ask… do you guys prank each other?
“I can’t even really remember. The Carnival of Madness tour was probably the most fun we have ever had on tour. We just threw down. I can’t tell you everything, I don’t even remember it all!”
When packing to go on tour what are your necessities?
“Definitely my iPod, and my x box… if I didn’t have those things, I’d be real bored. My golf clubs… um.. yeah that’s pretty much it. A couple clean pair of britches and I’m set.”
Do you have a 5 year goal as a band?
“I think we just want to still be relevant. All you can ask for as a band is to have longevity in this business. We are fortunate enough to have been doing this as long as we have been. If this all ended tomorrow, I would be the happiest man alive, because I have got to live out my dreams. And play with my heroes. This is not a business that you look at and say, ‘I can do this the rest of my life.’ Longevity is all that we hope for.”
If you could go back in time, leave a note for yourself, a piece of advice, a warning,or just something that would have made this journey a little easier, would you?
“Easy question. I would say, ‘listen to your father. Listen to your parents.’ All my life growing up, I thought my father was such a dork, he didn’t understand me, he was never a teenager. All the advice he gave me growing up as he said, ‘one day you’re going to understand.’ It was all right. Actually when I turned 23 out of school, I bought him a bottle of Dom Perignon. I wrote him a long letter and attached it. Basically it said, ‘Sorry for being such a brat for so long. One day when I have kids and I’m telling them all things you told me and they are not listening, we are going to pop this bottle and drink to all things coming full circle. And I know they will.’ Listen to your dad.”