INTERVIEW: Crown the Empire’s Andy Leo on Writing Process and New Record?

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The first quarter of 2018 has been overloaded with all of the heaviest bands we’ve grown to love, considering it’s how I got my start covering bands almost a decade ago! One of those bands that I’ve steadily spoken to is Crown the Empire who just finished a super long run with fellow heavyweights Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides across the US. It’s been a minute but we caught lead vocalist Andy Leo at a great moment where he told us they were about to start the writing process for the new record. With the band settling in to writing this new record, we are sure it will be a minute before the album does release but check our interview for a little bit of insight into what’s to come!

We’ve done this before obviously, really speaking to you over the length of your career. That’s what I really enjoy about this tour, but you just came off a string of headlining sets while the other bands were in Europe. How did those shows go, looking at the pictures it seemed incredible?
Yeah it was really great. Being on this tour, there’s a lot of people that actually have no idea who we are and it’s awesome. That’s a great feeling because you get to win people over on the big shows but there is something really special about just a room full of people that really legitimately follow your music. So it’s really nice.

People are finding you on this tour? Like a lot of people don’t know you before these shows?
Yeah, absolutely! I’ve just been asking every day just kind of to gage what it’s like. I’ll probably say thirty out of the thousand people that have come up to us have heard about us. So crazy but that’s a good feeling to have.

Yes then you’ve been playing these acoustic sets. Elephant in the room, losing your fellow vocalist, and now it’s you taking over both roles. How has that carried over into these acoustic sets that you’ve been playing?
Oh fine! The acoustic is always super easy. Every time we tried to make the parts happen, like that, they had to be equally divided. It was a kindergartner’s class type of division there but it’s easy. Acoustic is no problem. It’s the actual set that’s hard for us but the guys have picked up the slack. Hayden screams a bunch and Brandon has always wanted to do harmonies but hadn’t really fully committed so this tour has been all about us just kind of pushing ourselves and picking up on everything we need to do better.
Perfect! Then coming to new music coming out, I know “Retrograde” is coming up on two years this summer.
Is that weird to you?
Yeah it is, that’s so weird to me. For sure. Obviously I guess just so much has happened since the release but we’re actually working on new music today. Today is day one. We have to come up with it on the road, it’s just how touring band schedules are. I get a month to write an album so we’re going to get a head start basically by starting to write while on tour.

Starting today? That’s incredible.
Yeah starting today! Everyone else is still asleep, I’m the only one up right now. I’m surprised I’m even up, what is it? 2:00 right now?
When I saw 1:30 interview, I was like really? So rock & roll.
Yeah I’m barely awake but I got a coffee in me.
Well, I appreciate it! Then you talk about it being day one but I’m sure you’ve had ideas floating around for you. You guys have been a unit for so long, the group that’s here right now. Do you feel it still changes, the process? Like are you able to work together under this pressure or do you think it’s fallen into a pretty steady rhythm?
Yeah we’ve never had to write on the road before so I think it will be a fun experience. There’s so many hours in the day. With wanting to improve ourselves, the necessity to do everything better kind of came with it. We know what we want, we have the ideas, we just have to actually commit to doing it. It’s like growing up.
So it’s the first time you’ve recorded on the road. Do you have the facilities to do that or is that like you recording like notes on your phone?
Just with our laptops, super easy. Plug it in and we have our Midi keyboards, we have our microphone, we have an interface, whatever we need is there. The guitar plug in to the MacBook. Although it’s like bumpy as hell on the road, we’ll still get shit done.

And has it always been kind of that collaborative effort between the band? Or is it something where you’re going a different way with this record?
It’s been pretty similar before. We knew who was allowed to be involved in the process and who wasn’t. There were seven of us so if you have seven people in a room, it’s like ‘I think you should…’. Now that there’s just four of us in a room, people have a change to weigh in on the actual shit. And it’s really easy to weed out what’s a not so good or bad idea. Things are streamlined a lot with four.

Then you did the headlining dates since the 20th till now, you’re on this tour for another month. You’ve announced Self Help, you’re going over to the UK. Maybe what is kind of the focus for Crown this year? Is it getting that record done, is it doing these dates, kind of what is your focus or plan?
To me, it’s that. Two years seems like, I know it’s not that long of a time to tour off an album, but it feels like an eternity for bands like us. I think people are waiting to see if it’s going to be the worst shit ever or are they able to come out of this and put out something dope. Because I think people are waiting for dope, new dope shit. So we’re obviously super willing to take up the opportunity to do that. I just know that the music has to be that step one. If the music is good, then everything else comes later. We have the concept that we’re going to be running with but if the songs are terrible, then we can’t do this shit. That’s the truth.

About Author


Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.