Within The Ruins have earned their place as one of the most talented bands in progressive metalcore. Hard working, driven to grow and quite popular, in other ways they deserve more. You might think that due to the more complex nature of some of their material that some people have favored more run of the mill bands, and you’d probably have a point. Still, the refusal of WTR to bow down to the expectations of more mundane concerns and paradigms has made them worth following and a more rewarding band for die-hards to believe in.
The Westfield, MA band remain cerebral and capable of clobbering a crowd on new album Halfway Human (Pre-order bundles HERE!), a testament to the pleasures and perils of the modern metal musician. As our site has grown it has been cool to see WTR still in the mix and growing as well, and so it was a good time interviewing extremely talented guitarist Joe Cocchi.
Read it BELOW.
It was obviously going to be a challenge to follow up Phenomena. In some ways that was a big leap for band, it seemed. This one feels less conceptual this time but still the bigger, even more complex sound.It feels like more than ever in some ways you really know how you want to drive this machine. Yes? No?
Joe- Absolutely. Since the beginning this band has been about growing. Musically, as band-mates and as people. Also to top each album (at least in our eyes). I say this in the most humble way but its usually not always as challenging as one would think. We put an album out, we play it, tour it, live it, and it eventually feels stale. When it gets to that point, THEN you know what to do next musically. That’s when you start to feel and hear a direction for a new album. Its a natural process for any writer/artist etc. It’s a beautiful thing.
What made me a fan is you guys always seemed so determined to be yourselves at any cost and carve out your niche. How does Halfway Human represent the current state of your journey to you? I’m especially enjoying “Shape-Shifter”, from dismissing regrets to the complex and super cool layers and arrangements.
That is just as important to us as “making each album better than the last.” There’s so much shit out there, its easy to write cookie cutter tunes that you know will sell and probably work just fine for touring off of. But that sucks todo. We were meant to do what we do, I feel we all have a huge gift with this band. It should be something special for all the people who listen. Not just some run of the mill bullshit you can hear anywhere.
How do you even begin to describe to outsiders all the work that goes into something like making an album like this?
Impossible. Even when I’m not at the studio – drums, riffs, all this shit is just constantly in my head during the writing process. Once were deep into writing, it becomes this almost scary obsessive part of your mind that completely takes over. Most people have have an idea of how song writing goes i think. It’s just the difference with us is we spend the extra time. I could go to the studio one day and sit and tweak a 90% finished song for 12-15 hours straight sometimes. Then do it again, and again and again. It continues to morph still. Its never really done either. But bottom line is when I’m writing i spend a stupid amount of time making the song what it should be. Its a 24/7 process once it starts. And there’s no other place I’d rather be while it’s happening.
Any modern tech deth like, say…stuff like Archspire that you relate to? What are some of the inspirations or peers you feel a kinship with these days? “Beautiful Agony” for instance, has some of your darkest verses but still a wild combo of styles. Melodeath, metalcore, ripping leads. You can even circle pit toa few sections, ha.
Haha, yeah I’m too old now and too obsessed with my own work to really name anyone. Of course there are bands that once played a part in my earlier days of writing. And those bands/styles shaped the base of what we still do today. In the past 3/4 years i have not found a band where I was like “,whoa, we should do something like that.” I think we’ve reached a point where we have our building blocks and our roots and now its just building off that. Always trying to add new elements and stuff. Some big bands that helped bring us to where we are now are Arch Enemy, At The Gates, Black Dahlia Murder, As I Lay Dying, Metallica, Attraction To Tragedy, Kill-switch Engage and you get the idea.
“Death Of The Rockstar”, did you worry some people would think you were just complaining it is hard to not be bigger?
Nope, never worry. Don’t really care what anyone thinks. We make music for ourselves and the fans because we still can. And the fans we have are loyal. And it’s not about that its “hard to be bigger”. It’s about the fact that the industry just sucks now. It is what it is and there are no more “rockstars.” For as hard as we work and the music we make, you have to think that at one time the reward would be there. Maybe 20-30 years ago. Now a days most known musicians aren’t as well rewarded as you’d think. It’s still quite a struggle to be in this band.
Listening to “Bittersweet” made me wonder…how do you not have carpal tunnel yet?! or need wrist splints? What the actual fuck? Is Halfway Human because you have like cybernetic hands now after the originals burst into flames from all the nastiness?!
Don’t jinx me. haha. Halfway Human is how we feel, literally because of the life this band has created for us. Its a gift and a curse. We can’t stop, we love it,but the reward (pertaining to our quality of life) is just not there.
At this point are you most at home playing with toys and arrangements in the studio or is it just as rewarding still to show people you can pull off the insanity live as well, even as your material has become more challenging? I mean, you guys always had more chops than most bands.
Thank you. I’m not sure i think about that even. I just write, and if i like it, it makes it to the album. And if I can pull it off live then cool haha. I always considered myself more of a composer than a player/shredder. I’d be happy just writing music at my studio and putting it out there for peoples enjoyment. The touring just has to be there so we can make somewhat of a living. I love touring and playing live, but again, not as rewarding financially as you’d like.
“Treadstone”, most likely a Jason Bourne reference? Are you guys finding that being in a modern metal band is similar to needing to be able to kick the asses of 20 people at once while multi-tasking? Or is that what a TM is for, haha?
haha, could be. And yes that is what a t.m is for. Back in the day maybe a different story. We’ve “matured” a bit on the road since the kick 20 peoples asses at once days. Now we just drink beer and netflix.
I wanted to close with a question about “Objective Reality”. What a monster track. Do you have to chart tunes out when they become that involved? Also, it feels like some of the solos on this record have a little more lineage with less experimental and more sort of classic metal soloing. Though the whole album has so many cool twists and turns.
Nope, just write and try to somehow remember or re-learn it once rehearsal time comes to play it live. It definitely gets to be more work each album as the songs become more intricate. I don’t know any music theory or how to even write out music. Yeah, I took a totally different approach with the solos on this album. But the music was also bit of a different vibe so the solos just came out how they came out. This album called for a bit of a different style. I felt like the Phenomena material lacked life and “feeling” in certain songs. So a lot of the solos and stuff on this album are basically like first the 1st-5th takes as I was writing. Whatever came out, that’s what it was. I decided to not over write or over edit the shit out of this album.