When art imitates life, it's okay. However, when life imitates art, things get ostensibly weird.
iwrestledabearonce may be masters of musical unpredictability, but even that couldn't necessarily prepare them for life's capricious ways. Becoming pregnant, founding vocalist Krysta Cameron amicably parted ways with the group while on Warped Tour 2012 because, well, mommy duties are no joke! There were no hard feelings, but the four other gents definitely weren't ready for that. We'll just be honest. So, the remaining members—Steven Bradley [Guitar, Keyboards, Programming, Samples], John Ganey [Guitar, Keyboards, Programming, Samples], Mike "Rickshaw" Martin [Bass], and Mikey Montgomery [Drums]—did the only sensible thing. They went online and improvised as quickly as humanly possible. Enter Canadian singer Courtney LaPlante….
"I have no idea how we got so damn lucky," chuckles Bradley. "Courtney is just the perfect fit for us. We met for the first time when she arrived at Warped Tour, and we played a few hours later. It just clicked. Not only is her vocal style perfect for all of our material, but she's also a total weirdo like the rest of us are. If it didn't work out, we might not be having this conversation. This feels like a new chapter. We're happier than we've been in a long time. Courtney is a source of positivity and this creative energy, and that's contagious as hell."
That new "energy" courses through the band's third full-length album for Century Media Records, Late For Nothing. The hallmarks of their whacked-out style remain present. Of course, there are moments of throat-cutting metal aplenty, but they're juxtaposed with eerie electronics, jazzed-out time signatures, zany rhythms, and interludes of Carnivale-esque bliss.
At the same time, the songwriting has been honed and heightened, making for some of the quintet's most memorable anthems. Album opener "Thunder Chunky" stomps along like it's exiting Jurassic Park before crashing into a hypnotic melody. Meanwhile, "Inside Job" creeps up to a careening chorus from a near-whisper, while "Letters to Stallone" volleys from vicious to vibrant.
Coming off the road in early 2013, the band made a conscious and collective decision when they hit the studio.
"The entire album came together as a result of us wanting to do something different," affirms Bradley. "We didn't want to make another weird IWABO album or whatever people were expecting. We set out to make something different and better than anything we've ever released. It's a more evolved version of the band. We explored new styles and genres as well—especially in terms of the more spacey, epic, and beautiful parts. It's got the most melodic moments of our career as well as the heaviest."
As far as the differences go, Bradley and Co. challenged themselves to condense all of that sonic craziness into some of their catchiest choruses to date. You can hum along while you headbang.
He goes on, "There are definitely more hooks. In our opinion, it's a more enjoyable listen. The weird twists and turns and the off-time heaviness haven't gone anywhere, but those parts seem to serve the songs better now. Also, this album has a fucking solo by Steve Vai on it, so it's automatically our best one to date."
Vai's not the only one who's down with iwrestledabearonce though. Their sophomore set, 2011's Ruining It For Everybody, debuted at #80 on the Billboard Top 200, immensely advancing past the #121 debut of their inaugural effort, It's All Happening in 2009. In addition to The Vans Warped Tour, they've decimated venues alongside everybody from Dillinger Escape Plan and August Burns Red to All Shall Perish and Enter Shikari. Online, they're something of a phenomenon with a staggering 429K Facebook "likes" and over 20 million cumulative YouTube views.
In many ways, for once, the title encapsulates iwrestledabearonce mindset. "Late For Nothing just summarizes our feelings about so much in life, starting with our band's career," admits Bradley. "It's also a reminder to people that life is happening right now. No matter what detours or weird things happen—and they WILL happen—they are what you make of them. Is whatever you're stressing about and 'late for' really as big of a deal as you make it? Probably not—so calm down and sniff those damn roses while you still can."
Start by enjoying the latest wonderful, wild, and whimsical musical mindfuck from iwrestledabearonce.