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We Came As Romans to celebrate new album at hometown Warped Tour stop

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2015

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We Came As Romans has what frontman Dave Stephens calls "a love/hate relationship" with the Vans Warped Tour.

The Detroit-based rock sextet, whose members reside primarily in Royal Oak and Ferndale, is no stranger to the summer trek. "We all pray for it, even," Stephens, says with a laugh from a tour stop in Houston. "We all want to do it every single summer, and every show you play is incredible."

But, he adds, "There's so many things about it that are just miserable. There's no dressing rooms. It's an hour walk to catering or something. You're walking around in 110-degree heat. But then you get on stage and forget about it all."

The Detroit stop on this year's Warped Tour -- Friday, July 24 at the Palace of Auburn Hills -- will be an auspicious one for Stephens and his mates. That's the same day WCAR releases its fourth album, a self-titled affair that the group is justifiably proud of after a difficult gestation.

The group came into the project confident it had material for a strong follow-up to 2013's "Tracing Back Roots," which debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Independent albums charts. But it was in for a rude awakening when it played its new songs for "We Came As Romans" producer David Bendeth, whose credits include Papa Roach, Breaking Benjamin and Paramore, among others.

"We went in and he said, 'OK, play your best songs,' and we did and he was like, 'This is horrible! This sucks!'" Stephens recalls. "At that point we had 12 songs and he pretty much shot down every single thing we came in with. It was absolutely shocking. He really called us out; 'This is your fourth record. You're doing the same (stuff) you've been doing every other record. You can't get away with it.'

"That's why we went with him, though; we really needed somebody to force us to push ourselves creatively as musicians. David wouldn't let us put anything less than great songs on there."

WCAR heeded Bendeth's orders and went back to the drawing board. Writing with new collaborators in Detroit, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles and Nashville the group came back with another 23 songs, 10 of which appear on the album. Stephens says "every member of the band lost something they loved" in choosing the tracks, but all were ultimately satisfied with the finished product.

"We really came together on this record more than ever," Stephens says. "We wrote more honest and didn't hold anything back. Moreso than anything else we've done, the six of us got involved together more than ever. That's the reason it's self-titled. It's another real step forward."

Vans Warped Tour

11 a.m. Friday, July 24.

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75.

Tickets are $38.50.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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