In their own words: The Family Crest goes to War

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The Family Crest

Courtesy: Keith Stein

About seven years ago, I began writing music for a project, The War. The first installment of the project is The Family Crest‘s new EP, Prelude to War.  An overture of sorts, Prelude to War is meant to give you a taste of what’s to come. The EP tackles themes that run throughout The War, which is a metaphor for the struggles—battles, even—that we go through every day, and how those challenges inform who we become immediately and over the course of our lives.

The Family Crest, Madi Sipes and the Painted Blue, Lapel  
8 p.m., Saturday, June 3
Great American Music Hall
Tickets: $20-$45.

We’re really excited to share the new music in our hometown at Great American Music Hall ‪on June 3, so be sure to come to the show for an early glimpse of The War. I promise it’s going to be epic.

On the Prelude to War EP leading into LP The War:

Prelude to War is a kind of overture to an overarching project that we’ll be releasing, titled The War. I’ve been writing it for about seven years, so we’ve been anxious to get it into the world. It’s been a massive and fulfilling undertaking. We’re all super proud of it and can’t wait to share it with everyone. The War: Act I, comes out this fall.

On a harder, “rock” edge to The Family Crest sound:

Everything we’ll be releasing is in service of the overall project, so when we were working on Prelude to War, we weren’t necessarily going for a specific genre shift. The songs written for the EP just ended up feeling a bit more rock-ish and pop-ish. Act I features more familiar, [The Family Crest]… genre-bending. The pop/soul/rock sounds are still sprinkled through the next release, but we also have more extreme, epic orchestral sounds that we’re known for. In many ways, those classically oriented songs are more epic than anything we’ve realized to date. I’ve been working on this project for so long, that the music written for The War spans nearly a decade. I think it’s an interesting listen because over the years, different things have influenced my writing at different times, so there is definitely a lot of swimming through genres. That being said, the whole thing was orchestrated at one time, so there’s cohesion across these songs that may be separated in conception by a long period of time.

On trying new things in the studio:

We went in many directions on this project. At times, the music steps into soul, late ’70s groove-based jam, Afro-Cuban, ’80s synth pop, cinematic orchestra, baroque, California jazz. You name it. It jumps everywhere. However, the approach to writing this project and making it a cohesive musical piece happened extremely organically. Having written everything over the better part of a decade, I’ve had all sorts of different musical and personal influences that have permeated my composition process. I’ve never been one to sit down and say, “I’m going to write this and this,” but rather, I just allow whatever is happening when I’m writing to happen. When I’m writing, I’m learning a lot about myself. After I lay a track down, I sit down and assess what was said, almost like my subconscious was the one speaking. Because of this process, I never force anything out. When I’ve tried to go that route, it’s always come out sounding not earnest. So I guess the shorter answer would be that there were a lot of styles that I wanted to explore, but at the time I didn’t know I wanted to explore. Everything came naturally.

On the band’s mindset as the members wrote and recorded Prelude to War:

A lot of the EP was written in the past three years, so it was written while we were touring extensively. I find movement to be a heavy influence on my writing, so a lot of these tracks were heavily inspired by the different places surrounding me. Lyrically, Prelude To War takes aim at conflict. Why we do the things we do, the choices we make, the outcomes of said actions and how we deal with the end result. It’s interesting to me that a project that I’ve been writing over the past seven years called The War has come to fruition at a time of such social and political unrest in our country. Being half-Chinese, I’ve experienced my fair shake of racism in my life, and seeing our country take a sharp turn toward that dark place has been hard to deal with. Its opened up old wounds and some new ones as well, but allowed for some lyrical breakthroughs.

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