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Interview: Wolves at the Gate's Stephen Cobucci Talks New Album, 'VxV'

Interview: Wolves at the Gate's Stephen Cobucci Talks New Album, 'VxV'
Ohio post-hardcore group Wolves at the Gate recently released their sophomore record, 'VxV,' on Solid State Records. Revolver caught up with guitarist, lyricist, and songwriter Stephen Cobucci to talk about the new LP, lineup changes, and religion.

'VxV' is available now on iTunes and it's also streaming here. For more on Wolves at the Gate, visit Facebook and Twitter.

REVOLVER What was it like working with producer Will Putney this time around?
STEPHEN COBUCCI We were very grateful to have the opportunity to work at the Machine Shop with Will. Both Will and Randy LeBoeuf, who engineered much of the record, are really easy people to work with. They both have a great mentality in regards to making a record. I appreciated their ability to have strong opinions on what they liked and didn’t like in regards to the songs. Every part mattered and got it’s due time being analyzed. One of the most valuable aspects of the experience was the fact that Will and Randy both understood what we wanted to do with our new record from the start, and we’re not afraid to use any guitars, sounds, or tones that we would come up with ourselves. There is sometimes a fear to only use gear that you’re most confident in or familiar with, but they pretty on board with whatever we wanted to use so that our record would sound more like our band live than a studio band.

What was different about your approach to this record than 'Captors' two years ago?
Looking back now on 'Captors,' we are really pleased with the songs we wrote and how it turned out. Although at the same time, when we look back at that record we saw a lot of things that we wanted to improve upon. After touring on 'Captors' for two years playing these songs night after night, we learned more about what we really enjoy playing and what translated the best live. There are things that sound and feel really cool, but lose their luster after a while. For me personally, I thought about how I ended up performing a lot of my vocals live and how much I wish I could capture those takes for a record. At the end of the day, we wanted this new record to have a more raw-rock feel to it. I think that a number of the songs on 'VxV' have set us up to continue to push forward in the direction that I believe we hope to get to one day in regards to songwriting. In addition to all of those things, it is also inevitable to learn a thing or two from the bands that you tour with or watch on the road. These things all had an impact on 'VxV' because we have so much to learn as musicians and songwriters, so it is always cool to watch other musicians who are really good at their own craft.

What does the process look when writing lyrics?
Lyrics at times can tend to be exponentially more difficult than the music itself. There is no set structure as to how I go about writing lyrics because at times I’m sitting in front of a song with everything completed except for the actual words, or I’ll have a whole song and story written without a single note to go with it. Examples of those polar opposites are songs like “Relief” and “The Bird and the Snake.” I had no idea what to write about for “Relief” and the lyrics for “The Bird and the Snake” were done long before I wrote any music. I remember not even thinking I would write a song for “The Bird and the Snake,” even though I had already written lyrics, but I was sitting at my computer with my guitar and it all just came to fruition in essentially one sitting. All of the lyrics are based off of verse, passages, concepts, and teachings from the Bible. It at times seems impossible to even begin writing lyrics because the nature and character of God is so beautiful and immeasurable that I know that whatever I write is barely going to touch the foothills of the reality of Christ’s beauty. The real difficulty at the end of the day with writing lyrics is the fact that we hope to see the power of God work in the hearts of our listeners. We long to see people to be freed from the bondage of sin and believe that the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can produce such change.

Dylan Baxter is the new drummer on 'VxV'. What did he bring to the table and how did the sound change with him in the mix this time around?
Dylan has been a great addition to our band is so many different ways. He is so easy to work with and had lots of great ideas, insights and critiques for the new songs. Dylan’s investment on the drum parts for ‘VxV’ proved to be very valuable and crucial for the overall sound of the record. He would spend a lot of time on his own on and off the road exploring various drumming techniques and styles. On the road, he was always talking to the other drummers and asking questions. He would sit down with them and try and learn something new from each guy which I think is a great testament to his character and also to his diligence to improve his style and technique. So all in all he worked really hard and contributed a lot of good input on all aspects of the record.
What do you hope people take away from 'VxV'?
We make every attempt to be clear about the fact that we want the Gospel to saturate everything we do from our bios, to interviews, to social media, songs, shows, and music videos. People’s greatest need is for Christ, not another Christian band. Music is just a form of how we have been equipped to get the Gospel out to the lost who do not know saving grace of God. I said all of that for this purpose, for as much as we preach and desire to make clear man’s need for saving, it is only because we first recognize that severe need in our own lives. We do not speak of a Savior who has not come into our own lives and saved us from the depths of our disgusting sin. We do not sing about a God who has not shown us grace in spite of our constant failures and sins. We are not inviting people to a salvation that we did not need so badly ourselves. What I am driving at is this--we needed to be saved from our sins too, and have not forgotten that. I need God’s grace every second of my life. This is no frivolous cliche--I am dead without Christ. There is nothing better about us as people that warranted our salvation besides the grace of God. 1 Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” We have nothing to boast in besides what Christ has done for us. So for all of the hecklers and skeptics, we stand on no pedestal claiming to be better than anyone else. We just now can see what a dire need we had for saving and hope that the grace of God may find it’s place upon your hearts.

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