Cody Quistad of Wage War is ready to rock Empire Live on April 29

Florida metalcore band Wage War is currently hard at work rocking out alongside Slipknot, In This Moment, Cypress Hill, and Ho99o9 as part of the 2022 Knotfest Roadshow. However, vocalist and guitarist Cody Quistad was kind enough to Zoom in from Wisconsin (despite needing to get to soundcheck for that night’s show) to discuss Knotfest, Wage War’s show in Albany on April 29, and the band’s latest album Manic

We’re gonna be bringing the heat!

Cody and the rest of the group are giving it their all as part of Knotfest — not just because Wage War are longtime fans of Slipknot, but also because of how they joined the tour. “The way this tour came to us is obviously unfortunate, with Jinjer being in Ukraine and not able to make the tour, so we certainly send our best to them,” says Cody. “We’re out here — we might as well give it everything we got.”

Wage War

While participating in Knotfest is the band’s current focus, they’re just as excited for their own headlining tour, which starts right after this leg of Knotfest ends. “Headlining is like your crowd came to see you. [Knotfest] for us is all about making new fans and playing for people that maybe haven’t heard of Wage War before… they’re completely different things, but neither one is more important than the other, just different.”

Unlike some artists, this is not Wage War’s first tour since COVID-19 hit and put a halt to live music and everything else. The group had a full U.S. tour last August. “We did it when people were not so sure about it. We did that tour with Beartooth; I think we were one of the first full U.S. tours that successfully did the whole thing, no cancellations, and did it safely and got it done,” Cody says. “I would like to think that set some form of example.”

Since that tour, the group kept their momentum going strong. Wage War also toured in January and February with Falling In Reverse, and Knotfest began in March. “We were chomping at the bit to get out here, and we’re ready to do it,” Cody says with a smile, describing how since their first very-emotional live show after COVID-19 began, the whole group has had a “re-appreciation for what we get to do and the people who support it.”

Something else that sprang from COVID-19 is the band’s latest album, Manic. Cody describes his albums as like “yearbooks” for him. Manic is the same but with a slight exception: “Obviously we were in a pandemic, and I didn’t want to write a ‘COVID’ record or have it all be about quarantine and whatever. But I wanted to talk about some of the mental headspaces that collectively we went through… just anxiety, and losing people close to you, and relapsing into old bad habits and stuff like that. So even though the subjects were different, it was the same way of personal writing.” 

Even if the pandemic and quarantine weren’t directly addressed in the songs, they certainly affected the band and creation of the album. “Basically, having a year and a half, two years off is definitely why I think the record came out as good as it did. We had the time to work on it and perfect every part of it and do it the way that we wanted to,” explains Cody. Very little of Manic was written before the pandemic, so almost the entire album was written in that period. When asked how Manic could have been if written under different circumstances, he says: “I’m not sure if it would have been better or worse or just the same or whatever, but I think the album Manic is definitely a product of the circumstances in which it was born.”

In terms of music, Manic is one of Wage War’s most versatile albums, pushing the limits of who they are and what they can do. “Sonically it’s a marriage of everything we’ve ever done, but with more extremes in it… there are some of the heaviest songs we’ve ever done, and some of the most melodic songs we’ve ever done. We branched out sonically on tracks like ‘Manic’ with more electronic vibes. We just did some different stuff,” Cody says.

He describes the spirit of change and experimentation that drove the album: “If you’re not changing, then you’re not growing. We could very easily put out the same record four times in a row, and I’m sure there are people out in the world that would love for us to do that, but that’s never been what we’re about. We’re always gonna keep what makes us who we are as Wage War. We’re a heavy band that has a strong sense of melody, and that will always be what it is, but we take a different approach on what that looks like.”

Cody Quistad and Wage War play Empire Live accompanied by While She Sleeps, Gideon, and Chamber on April 29, 2022, at 7:00 pm. It will be their first show in the Capital District since playing at the former Upstate Concert Hall in 2019.

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