Portland, Maine’s Too Late The Hero have been steadily building a name for themselves since forming in 2003. While you may not have heard of the band yet, that’s all about to change with the release of Statement of Purpose, a screamy, moshy hard rock album that the Warped Tour crowd will easily gravitate towards. Too Late The Hero’s sonic offerings vacillate between heavy and heartfelt and are artsy with their angst. They are so memorable that it becomes impossible to expel or expunge them from your brain; their songs are catchier than a raging case of the flu, as the band deftly mixes metal with melody in a way that just might inspire you to get off your ass and do something.
“We started young, we’re still young and we’re still hungry,” vocalist Jared Wilbur said. Too the Late Hero formed while a few of the members were still in high school. They cycled through a handful of guitarists, but never lost sign of the dream. In fact, the band put itself in the driver’s seat and sought to control its own destiny. “We toured the U.S. on our own – we had no agent or label,” Wilbur said. “We booked our own tours through the wonders of MySpace and just by searching for shows. We’d go to someplace like Texas with our trailer and in some cases begged our way on to shows.” While many bands flap their lips about being DIY, Too Late The Hero were too busy taking action and actually being DIY. They even “weaseled” their way onto an A Day to Remember headlining gig in Florida three or four years ago during a self-booked tour.
Too Late The Hero’s self-starter, “yank the bull by the horns” mentality is what lead them to where they are today. Statement of Purpose is the debut release for Rethink, the brand new label venture of Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler, one of the most respected skinsmen and musicians in the metal scene and long time manager Larry Mazer. It speaks volumes about Too the Late Hero that Rethink selected them as their inaugural signing and release.
Adler stumbled upon the band via a familial connection – Wilbur is the younger brother of producer Josh Wilbur, who has worked with Adler. Josh produced his little brother’s demos from time to time and that’s how Adler got wind of the band. He liked what he initially heard, but when he ventured to Brooklyn to see one of their shows, he was floored and a partnership was instantly born.
“I remember what he said to me,” Wilbur recalled. “He came up to me after the show and said, ‘I heard the demos and liked your sound, but you gave me so much more than I was expecting.’ He thought we wrote strong songs, but didn’t expect our ‘metal’ show. He wasn’t expecting as much live energy. We get real sweaty on stage. Our favorite thing in the world is going apeshit.”
Too Late The Hero locally released a full-length dubbed Is This Thing On? as well as two EPs and a DVD. Clearly, their ambition is uncontainable. After being so admirably independent for the entirety of their history, they elected to sign with a label so they can take that next step that they are staved for. Wilbur reasoned, “We did it all ourselves up to this point, but there is this wall you hit eventually. In the past three years, we noticed that promoters are not interested in you unless you have a booking agent, and then a booking agent wants you to have a label and the label wants you to have a booking agent.” It’s an endless cycle type of situation most unsigned bands run into and Too Late The Hero are prepared to take that next step up. Wilbur, who is a substitute teacher when not on tour, said, ” I want to tour full time and I want to have everyone in the world love our band, so this opportunity made it more feasible for us to do it for a living.”
With the support of an artist who has had a similar, no-stone-unturned career trajectory in Adler and armed with a fireracker of an album in the form of Statement of Purpose, Too Late the Hero are equipped to finally live the dream in 2011.
Some of the standout tracks on Statement of Purpose include “Still Insists She Sees the Ghosts,” which operates off a post-hardcore battery but evolves into something entirely different, thanks to its melody, while “Life as Fiction” has curled lip snarl and makes its points through screamy vocals and techy, metallic guitar solos and breakdowns aplenty. “The Hunt” is fuelled by harmonic distortion, while “Dead and Gone” is home to a huge, crew-style chant and a singalong that is bound to become a staple of Too Late the Hero’s live show.
Statement of Purpose is full of situational narratives so that each song stands on its own without a unifying lyrical theme. Wilbur contends that he is a very happy person, but is able to “work stuff out in songs,” like any good therapy session. “We’re not political and we don’t have party jams. Every song is about relating to or connecting with something I went through or something my friends went through,” the singer said. However, the band’s tight playing and songwriting is what connects one song to the next. “Hold Your Applause” is a powerhouse and Wilbur admits the song is vocally influenced by bands like Glassjaw, At the Drive-In and Underoath, because “they knew how to be melodic and also really heavy,” Wilbur said. The song boasts the lyric, “Let me introduce myself / I’m your second favorite,” which is a reference to how Too Late The Hero are able dip their toes into both genre pools, for better or for worse. “We are usually the odd band on the bill,” Wilbur said. “We were either the heaviest or the poppiest band on bills that we played.” Meanwhile, the title track goes for the jugular and shows no mercy or remorse, as it rips from start to finish.
Wilbur said that the band penned the second-to-last song, “Requiem of a Scenester,” in the studio. “We’ve done that a couple times and the songs come out interesting,” Wilbur said of the process. “‘Requiem of a Scenester’ is one of the more aggressive songs, and writing before jamming it out can be weird, but we’re happy. It was inspired by signing to Chris’ label. Perhaps it was subconscious, maybe, that we have a Lamb of God-sounding guitar riff.” Lyrically, Wilbur admitted the band wrote the song about wanting to rock. “It’s like a love letter to our scene. A lot of bands forget where they come from and they forget who put them there and this song is written about that sort of person, who turns their back on people who got them there.”
Statement of Purpose is a record that encourages participation, and listeners and audiences will open their arms and embrace Too Late the Hero. They balance their guitar distortion with melodic singalongs by distilling elements of bands that they love into their own unique cocktail. “We don’t think much about the kind of song we want to write beforehand,” Wilbur said, “We don’t think about the style. When you love metal, like Pantera, like I do personally, and when you also love straightedge hardcore, Earth Crisis, and stuff like Comeback Kid and you love Jimmy Eat World and New Found Glory, who are the most ‘singalong’ band ever, this is what comes out. We have metal songs with big choruses and a gang vocals because I want to cram things I love into one song. Everyone in the band has different taste in music, too, so our sound developed organically.”
Ultimately, Too Late The Hero operate under one other guiding principle: great songs. “You can write awesome parts, and pile up sweet riff after sweet riff, but we love songs that get caught in your head when a chorus comes back,” Wilbur explained. “We write the parts kids want to mosh to, but those breakdowns have to be in a great song.”
Mission accomplished with Statement of Purpose. Expect to hear more from Too Late The Hero in 2011 and beyond.
|Kevin Billingslea (guitar), Jack Stolz (guitar), Aaron Caple (drums), Nate Duckworth (bass), Jared Wilbur (vocals)|