With a name like Secrets, you’d think the band wouldn’t be so forthcoming. Lyrically, the group’s debut album, ‘The Ascent,’ deals with betrayal, lies, guilt, love, and a lousy father. Right from the get-go, it’s clear that the quintet weren’t exactly writing fairy tales. The songs are raw, and at times disheveled. With production handled by former A Day to Remember guitarist and founding member Tom Denney, it’s not hard to imagine what direction the record takes. Plump guitars, breakdowns, and airy choruses with pop charm continue to appear at the core. And, on occasion, there are hints of industrial influence, which is a welcome touch. In some circles, ‘The Ascent’ might be placed low on the totem pole, but considering the fact that this is the band’s first full-length, it doesn’t seem like a terrible jumping off point at all.
Recently, Rock Edition had a quick phone chat with vocalist/guitarist Richard Rogers about Secrets’ band name, debut album, short history, and touring schedule. Keep reading to find out more.
First off, I’m surprised the name Secrets wasn’t already taken. How did you guys land on that band name?
I think it actually may have been taken by some pop punk band that died out or something. Are you asking how we thought of the name, or how we ended up with it?
Both. Who came up with it and why did you decide to go with it?
I actually didn’t choose it; the rest of the band chose it. One of the main reasons why we kept it was because it’s something that everyone can relate to — we all have secrets. And it’s a really easy to remember and marketable name. It’s kind of hard to find on Google, but luckily we’re getting a lot of hype and it’s getting easier.
I suppose it’s better than calling the band something drawn-out like Secrets of the Lost Abyss and Children’s Souls.
Yeah, there are so many huge names, so it’s just easy for us to tell people, and it looks cool.[chuckles] And it looks cool on paper. That’s always good.
The song “The Oath” on the new album talks a lot about secrets. Was that coincidental?
Yeah, that was coincidental. A lot of people have been like, “I can’t believe they say their name in a song.” We’re not tagging our name in there like rappers or anything. That song is built around the phrase “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” It’s about how no one is as trustworthy as you think, and how people might go blab their mouth about what you tell them.
And the word “secrets” doesn’t usually have a very uplifting connotation; it’s somewhat dark-sounding.
Are you the main lyricist in the band, or does Xander write a lot as well?
Me and Xander do equal parts. We’ll do each of our own parts. We love writing our own lyrics. We’ll come together and pick a topic and then we’ll make sure it connects.
Oh, okay. You’ll first agree on a topic, go off separately, and then come together to see if they fit. I imagine you might sometimes come back with two different points of view on the topic, which would be interesting.
We always make sure that it connects. We don’t like it when our lyrics don’t go the right way. Usually, with the topics we pick, there’s no way to mess it up. We’ll say, “Okay, we want to talk about how we hate this person.” There’s no miscommunication there; it’s going to be a mean song.
A lot of young bands test the waters with an EP first. Why did you guys go ahead and do a full-length?
Actually, when we first met with Dave [Shapiro of Velocity Records], before we signed [with Velocity/Rise Records], our plan was to make a 5 or 6-song EP and tour off that for a little bit. Dave said we should try to do a full-length instead. It turned out to be a really good idea. I figure he knew that it was going to be really big. It’s doing pretty well for being so new.
That’s true. I noticed that it was climbing the iTunes Rock Charts.
Yeah, we’re very fortunate right now. I don’t even know why it happened. I’ve been in so many previous bands — well, not so many — but, all my previous bands were always so stoked on the music, but we never got close to what’s happened with this band.
I suppose each time you’re in a new band you feel like the songs are amazing and that people will love them, but then it doesn’t turn out as you hoped and you’re left wondering what went wrong. What do you think is behind your new record’s success?
I think a lot has to do with Rise, and our producer has a big name because he was in A Day to Remember, so people follow him, and if he says we’re awesome, people are going to think we’re awesome. The music that we wrote — we didn’t do anything extremely crazy — we just wrote good, solid, structured songs. In some of my other bands, we wrote more technical stuff. This time it was just good, solid music.
Let’s talk more about Tom. What things did he bring to the table?
He did all the programming. We would write songs with him, so he would help fix up little things. He’d take our song and make it ten times better with little changes.
Before you signed with Velocity/Rise, did you have all these songs demoed out, or were these songs written after the deal?
We had four of the songs demoed out. Then, we wrote some before we went up there, but we basically wrote six songs in the studio. We were in the studio for about a month.
So most of the songs were pretty fresh. Tell us about the track “You Look Good in Plastic.”
That song is probably the least meaningful [on the record]. We wanted to have one song where we have a lot of fun with it. We all watch the show Dexter — do you watch that show?[chuckles] Yeah, that ties in with my next question. Go on. I’ll say what I was going to say after you’re done.
Okay, yeah, we love that show, so we wanted to write a song about Dexter. We watched it the whole time we were in Florida. There are a lot of really cool references to it — we talk about Harry’s code and the dark passenger and stuff. It’s a dark, cool, and fun song that’s super heavy.
Exactly. I thought it had something to do with Dexter based on the lyric “This is all because of Harry’s code / It’s all I need to know.”
Yeah, Xander wrote that part. We like it a lot. I think people might think we’re murderers when they hear that song.
The show itself has allegedly influenced a few murders. It’s a little freaky. Have you seen the last season and the twists that went along with it?
Yeah, we just watched it. You’ve seen it, right?
Yeah, I’ve seen it.
[Spoiler Alert] Dude, his sister wants to bang him.[laughs] We have Debra, who realizes she is madly in love with him, and then in the last episode she walks in on him murdering Travis Marshall.
[laughs] Killing Tom Hanks’ son [Colin Hanks]. Dude, I can’t wait for the next season.
Me too. I’m excited about the next one. I think some people over-analyze TV shows. For me, as long as they keep making new Dexter episodes, I’ll probably watch them.
Now, in March, which is coming up very soon, you’ll be heading out on tour with Sleeping with Sirens, Abandon All Ships, and Conditions. I take it that this is the biggest tour that Secrets has been on so far, right?
Yeah, we’ve only done two tours. We did a tour with Jamie’s Elsewhere for like two weeks and one with Oh, Sleeper that was really cool. This new tour is going to be huge for us.
Are you familiar with Sleeping with Sirens, Abandon All Ships, and Conditions?
Yeah, I like Sleeping with Sirens a lot. I generally don’t listen to a lot of music in this music scene; I grew up on pop and stuff. Conditions is really good. Abandon All Ships seem like really cool guys. I haven’t checked out their music that much, but they’re labelmates. The drummer messaged me about going on tour; he seems like a really nice dude.
Nice, man. Anything else going on in 2012?
We can’t say when our next tour is yet, but we did just get a European booking agent. We’re hoping to go to Europe later on this year.
Pick up Secrets’ new album, The Ascent.
For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.