It’s a common scene at Warped Tour: a few guys walking around with headphones, trying to sell their band’s CD to the crowd gathered there to experience the festival. Some of the bands play a few dates, some of them play most of the dates, some of them only travel for a few days and some are lucky enough to travel the whole summer meeting people and selling their CDs to kids across the U.S. and Canada. We Are Forever is one of these bands.
“Being on Warped Tour two years in a row has been such a blessing,” frontman Aren Andersen reminisces. “Getting the chance to talk to people who we haven’t been able to get on the road and play shows for them that have wanted to meet us already, it was so cool. Also just talking to people and showing them the music, seeing how people responded, we got upwards of over 100 CDs out in a lot of states that we have never been to before. That was so awesome to see that.”
Andersen and We Are Forever’s guitarist, Ricky Ayala, have been able to meet we fans and bands all over the world thanks to the opportunity given to them by Warped. It’s not just a big deal because the Indianapolis-based pop-rock quartet barely leaves their Midwest town, but they’re also unsigned. They released their first EP, Seasons, in 2012 followed by a full-length To Be Alive in 2013 and their newest EP, Aeon, was released in August.
We Are Forever started getting noticed when they posted their cover of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” two-and-a-half years ago. The band has the look, two powerful vocalists and melodies catchy enough to get stuck in your head. So why are they still unsigned?
“I think for right now being unsigned is working out to our advantage,” Andersen admits. “We have had a few offers and we didn’t want to take those because they didn’t feel right to us at that time. In the future, I would definitely sign a contract with a record label, as long as they had our best interest at heart. It can’t be about making money off of you and looking at it from that much of a business. They need to see us as artists and people and be on our team, not just have us be puppets.
“We’re not in debt to anyone,” he continues. “With a record label, they’ll give you a certain amount of money and if you don’t make all that money back with your release, then you’re in debt to that company and that’s so much pressure to have [to] perform at a different pace and that can break up a band. We just care too much about the music to let something like that get in the way.”
“Anymore, it’s hard to find something that’s worth your time and it’s easier than ever to do it on your own,” guitarist/vocalist Alex Nauth comments. “If we can find somebody that can help us get to the next level, then we’ll absolutely take advantage of it. We want to work together and not just force each other.”
We Are Forever has a decent following in their hometown and has opened for bands like the Maine, Go Radio, There For Tomorrow, Tonight Alive and I See Stars. But after several years as a band, what does We Are Forever prefer, local shows or opening for bigger acts?
“I think that when we open for other bands’ shows, there’s potentially a lot of people there that never heard us before and that lets us reach out to more people overall, but when we have our own hometown shows that we throw, then all the people that know us come out and they freakin’ party,” Andersen explains. “Everyone’s going crazy, there’s crowd surfing, people just going nuts in a way that they kind of don’t when they are first experiencing us as a band.”
With the connections made through Warped and opening for larger bands, We Are Forever is a step ahead of the game. For Aeon, the Midwesterns worked with other songwriters for the first time and wrote the song “Passion” with I See Stars.
With the help of ZK Productions (Mayday Parade, Set It Off, Cartel), the four-piece feels they’ve made some of their best work to date.
“Most of the songs that we had written, we brought because we thought that we would have to do more songwriting than we actually ended up doing with them,” Andersen explains. “The songs that we brought to them, they were like, ‘Yeah, these are all really great. You guys are really good at songwriting.’ It’s just little tweaks here and there that they really helped us with and that made it really sparkle like none of our other music has, I believe. It sets us apart a little bit.”
Since experiencing this opportunity, the band feels that working with others and receiving feedback helps them become better artists.
“I’d say for what we think now whenever we get the chance to write with other people is absolutely do it,” Nauth comments. “We just wrote with other people, even our friends and stuff like that, [so] this is so much better. Anytime a musician gets the chance to work with another high-level musician or producer or whatever, always take advantage of it. That’ll open your mind to some many different things. We’re always happy to hear anybody’s input, whether it’s our fans. Like, ‘Listen to this idea. What do you think would make it better?’ We always get input from anybody that we can.”
The unsigned band released a powerful music video for their song “A Novel, Never Ending” this summer that contained similarities to a beloved Pixar movie.
“I just watched the movie Up before we filmed that and we didn’t really know what to do with that music video,” Andersen explains. “And we thought that story at the very beginning of Up, it’s hardly even five minutes long and you just cry. As soon as the movies starts, it gets your emotions with hardly any talking or anything and we wanted to get that across in our music video. Just really hit them in the feels. The fact that in the song we keep repeating, ‘The story ever ends,’ this follows a love story between these two people. When they were young, when they’re middle-aged and falling in love and at the end when the old man is sitting by himself with an empty chair next to him, it’s like saying that even though you lost someone that you truly loved, the story never ends.”
The story isn’t ending for We Are Forever, either: The band just completed a short tour with the Big Time and the Stolen and have big plans for 2016.You should be prepared for what’s to come from this Midwestern pop-rock quartet.