Betrayed - Not All Battles Involve Physical Combat
By Dave Schwartz
Strength Betrayed is a faith
based hard rock band from Dunn, North Carolina. Thomas
Smith (vocals/guitar), Jacob Hair (guitar}, Taylor Smith
(drums) and Seth Altman (bass) have just released their follow up to
the 2015 EP, “Into the Soul.” The new record – “War-Torn” – is a
step forward in their story. When it comes to this record, the
band comments, “The word ‘War-Torn’ evokes images of battle and
ruin. Of bloodshed and death. The word also evokes the human element
of emotion, brother against brother, human against human. With an
album that hopes to catch your attention and keep you enjoying the
ride, War-torn reminds us all that not all battles involve physical
Thomas Smith called in and we got to learn
more about Strength Betrayed and “War-Torn.”
DB: Well, let’s get started.
First of all, congratulations on the new record – “War-Torn.”
I would like to hear all about it. What can you tell me?
TS: What it is is our first official
album. We put out a little EP that was OK. It was
recorded by a friend of a friend. It was alright but this is
the first one ever that I want to say we put our money into.
What you can expect from it, if you heard our first single –
“War-Torn” – then you know that “War-Torn is a well-rounded song
from the album. It is heavy but not the heaviest. It has
melodies but is not the most melodic. We don’t believe that
anybody is ever truly unique but we definitely try to take what we
love and put our little spin on it. We mix up everything we
love because Jacob (Hair) our guitar player is really into
hair-metal or the '80s and I’m really big into nu metal or
hard-core. We’ve got a base player who has more of a TOOL
thing going on. So, the record is just a combination of all
DB: It’s always interesting to hear
how all of those influences mix together and out comes a product
that is somewhat different than all of them.
TS: Right, right. I mean you’ll
have a verse… I mean like I, as a singer, I like to sing
melodies. I either like to scream or sing melodies. I
don’t have very much in between. I mean a good example of that
is the song “War-Torn” and we have another single called “Sour” that
pretty much, the song was written by Seth (Altman), our bass player,
who pretty much wrote those riffs. And I kind of weighed in on
– what if we bring it down and go for more of a “War-Torn” feel in
the verse. And then go for a more of a modern rock,
straightforward, melodic, little bit of nu metal with the bass.
And then crank it back up with a heavy riff and then by the time we
get to the solo you can really hear Jacob’s influences as our lead
guitarist. It’s a lot more of an old-school shred aspect or
influence to it. Whammy bar like old Dimebag stuff. When
we write a song, especially when it comes to a solo, I just give it
to Jacob. I don’t even… I just say, just play a solo
DB: So, it sounds like you just pretty
much write as a band.
TS: Yes. So what we do is, I’m
pretty much the lyricist. The band will come to me with a
general idea and I try to make the song a little more poetic.
We’ll write a song and I’ll listen to it. And I’ll tell them
that I want to sing one part this way and in order to do that we’ll
need to change this other part. It’s actually pretty fun.
So, we kind of come together and write our songs. And by doing
that it’s easy for us to incorporate all of our different
backgrounds and styles that go into our songs.
DB: That’s fascinating. You’ve
already mentioned your previous EP, “Into the Soul” (October 30,
2015). That’s a fairly long writing cycle between records.
Why did you wait so long between records?
TS: To be honest, there were a number
of different factors. Number one was that we were brand new.
When “Into the Soul” came out we were green as grass and we pretty
much just used the EP to break into the local area. We were
pretty much just trying to play the local clubs and bars, wherever.
And I’ll be honest with you too, there was a lack of maturity and
understanding on my end. For example, that record was put
together fairly quickly. Whereas with this album, and I mean
this in a good way, took us a lot longer than I thought it would
just because of the amount of work and effort that went into it.
So, a lot of that was just a timing error on my part. And I
say my part because the other guys were wanting to record something
else. But I kept telling them that we still had the first EP
that we were trying to get people to hear. So in hindsight I
realized that we waited a little to long. But ultimately, it
turned out to be a good thing. We have matured as a band.
Out talent has grown. Working with a producer on this album
has really pushed us, really opened our eyes to how hard we can go
in the studio. This pretty much, I believe doing this album
now was perfect timing. Even though we waited really long, I
believe that we needed to grow and mature and understand. If
this album were to have come out a little earlier, I’m not sure that
we had a mature enough band to drive it home to the public. I
think we would’ve just released it and hoped for the best.
DB: I understand. When it comes
to the artistic side of almost anything – art comes together at its
own pace, when art is ready. You may have a timeline in place
but art isn’t always going to cooperate. Shifting gears,
you’ve put out a couple of videos for this record and you’ve
mentioned both songs – “War-Torn” and “Sour.” Please take a
moment and talk about putting those videos together.
TS: About the selection process of the
songs, I’ll talk about the videos in a minute, but the songs – with
“War-Torn” is was a toss up between “War-torn” and “My Fight.”
“My Fight” is an older song that first appeared on our EP. So,
we went back and re-recorded the song and re-released it. We
did a little lyric video for it. The producers in the studio
we kind of leaning toward “My Fight.” I think we felt that
“War-Torn” exemplified the band that we had become since the “Into
the Soul” EP. We kind of wanted to do something fresh and new.
People who have heard us play live have heard those songs but
generally speaking, not everyone else had heard those songs.
You can play a song live all the time but until that song has been
record, people generally tend to not remember it. And so, we
selected “War-Torn” to be the first song to kind of kick open the
door and announce to everyone that we’re back. For our old
fans, here, this is what we have. For our new fans, here, this
is what we are. Even the opening of that song exemplifies the
mindset with the drums and that kick start and then the song just
blows right into the main riff. Whereas “Sour” has always been
a local fan favorite. People always kind of remembered it.
We pretty much were going to do “War-Torn” and “Sour” and we ended
up release some others because the reception for releasing singles,
especially streaming now is so good. We did “Sour” just
because by word of mouth it was just such a fan favorite. So,
we decided to take the risk and release it on the Internet. It
has done fairly well – at least on Facebook. It is our highest
viewed music video.
DB: So what have you been doing as far
TS: Right now, like I said, this is
our first official album. We do hope to get on tour.
Probably next summer. We have some plans in place to be able
to go out and hit the road. We haven’t gone out on the road
yet outside of our three surrounding states. I personally
don’t consider that a real. We’ve done a couple weeks and/or a
couple weekends here and there but nothing is consistent. All
I can say is that we are looking and have plans to use this album to
market ourselves for the following summer. Maybe tag on with
someone or maybe getting a booking agency.
I would like to thank Thomas Smith for
sharing a moment with DaBelly and giving us insight on this young