Interview: Heart Like War

Heart Like War is a Cali pop punk band who earlier in 2016 put out their third release Fired Up. They’ve had a huge year including the release of a Rockumentary, an appearance at Joshua Fest, and a DIY tour.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with David Camarera, vocalist/guitarist for Heart Like War about their friendship with Mike Herrera of MxPx, punk rock influences, Fired Up, and more. Check out the full conversation below.



 

How long has Heart Like War been playing together?

Heart Like War was kind of an idea. I was in other bands at the time and I never imagined HLW would be a real band… it just was me and an acoustic guitar. In 2009, with the help of my brother Andrew Camarena (our drummer) and Mike Herrera of MxPx it became a real pop punk band so we decided to make it happen. The band is 7 years old now but we also were finishing college in the middle of all that so its been a crazy ride.

I saw on your website a pretty cool explanation for the name Heart Like War. Can you share with our readers the meaning of the name?

Heart Like War to us means a spiritual battle; everyday we choose and make a good or bad choice, we choose to do good or evil in the world. I think everything in life can be compared to a Heart Like War because we all have a decision to make: so make it something that will make you win in this war called life. We are Christians in a band so we believe we fight a spiritual war and we are on the light side of the battle, not the dark side – just like Star Wars, real life IS like Star Wars.

You’ve had a pretty cool relationship with Mike Herrera, with recording your first couple albums at Monkey Trench studios, mastering Fired Up there, and having him featured on one of your songs. How did this all come about?

Well, everyone in the band are absolute MxPx nerds. We grew up in the fanclub and going to meet and greets after shows, covering MxPx songs in our band, we went to every show we could go to! Eventually we struck a connection and emailing led to phone calls with Mr. Herrera himself. He built an awesome recording studio in 2008 called Monkey Trench in Bremerton, WA and we were one of the first of a handful of bands to record there. Mike Herrera kind of became a mentor and father figure to helping out our band and now we can say we are his friends and we even opened up a sold out show with him on acoustic guitar and Five Iron Frenzy at the Chain Reaction last year. We asked him to sing on our song “Today I Grew Up” when I first recorded there in 2009. I was freaking out to know I had to sing in front of him and he sang on one of the songs I wrote! Our little boy fan hearts will never be the same.

He’s basically one of my pop punk heroes, so I am completely stoked for you guys!

Thanks, so are we! We are like super chill with him now and see him a lot backstage to hang out, and perform with him on stage, but we will always be those little boy fans deep down inside.

So tell me a bit about Fired Up. How did writing for this album compare to Party Propaganda Machine?

The way it works is, as the lead singer/guitarist I write all the songs and then bring them to the band to add to the music collectively. When I wrote Party Propaganda Machine, I jammed to a drum machine due to my brother the drummer being busy in medical school (he is a doctor now). I had a lot of time to write alone in my room. The songs just came to me over the course of 3 years (due to being in college myself). I had like 40 songs – I narrowed it down to the 10 you hear on PPM. With Fired Up, same approach pretty much, over a few years I wrote many, many songs. I always write songs on an acoustic guitar first, jam it with the band, and then we demo it on the computer and then jam it live before recording it in the studio for a final draft. We make sure we only record the best songs we think are the “best 10” since recording is expensive.

What’s a favourite moment from that record?

I would say my favorite moment from PPM was when Mike Herrera was in the studio with us and starting singing the MxPx song “Unsaid” over our song “Party Bomb” we were like “What? Oh yeah…that one riff in the chorus kinda works with singing “Unsaid,’ haha”. It was like that was weird and cool at the same time. Favorite moment from Fired Up would be when we recorded gang vocals. If you watch our behind the scenes video on YouTube you can see how fun that was for us to record throughout the album. Whenever I record an album I feel like my dreams come true and I get excited like a child on Christmas morning. Your whole music career comes down to that one album so its nerve-wracking but rewarding to know you accomplished it!

 For “Bring It On” am I picking up some Sum 41 influence (The Hell Song) in the video?

I love Sum 41 –  they really influenced my punk rock roots growing up. You got that right! I was inspired by Sum 41, I always thought to myself, “If I ever make another music video I want to make it really creative and funny.”I think it came out great, we got lots of awesome feedback on it so far. It was funny filming it, I smoked up my apartment using that fog machine and the smoke detectors went off in the apartment. The neighbors thought it was a real fire with all the smoke.

I also liked your track on the Autism Awareness, Acceptance & Research Benefit Comp. with Thumper Punk, “Blessmylife777” – that’s when I first messaged you guys because I laughed out loud realizing it had to be a response to an Against Me! Song. Can you tell me a little bit about that track?

You are correct again, nothing against Against Me! (pun intended). I noticed when they released that song “F—mylife666” I had to show that life is beautiful even when life seems like it really sucks. It inspired me of the Autistic children I use to work with. I have a BA and MA degree in psychology and I worked with mentally disabled kids for 5 years. Our song “blessmylife777” was a message giving them a voice. One of my first clients was a non-verbal autistic kid who could only talk to me through an iPad. Towards the end of our song when you hear us sing “don’t count me out, don’t count me out cause my hearts still beating,” I mean that. Special needs kids are smarter than we give them credit for and I wanted to give them hope and a voice with this song as a reflection of my experiences seeing the world through their eyes. Despite those children’s disabilities I see them always appreciating life even with their challenges standing in their way, it doesn’t get them down, it gets them excited. They always have a reason to smile and love something about life and they do that better than most people I know without a disability.

Can you tell us a bit about the Rockumentary that you guys put out?
Where did the idea come from? What do you hope people take away from it?

Well I always wanted to share with people the process of being in a band. Being in a band like ours we do everything 100% DIY. We do everything ourselves and the Rockumentary was meant to show our experience doing our own tour. With my friend’s band help (the Miracle Dolls) we spent 6 months to book a 2 and a half week tour and we had the best time of our lives. We saved money on hotels by crashing on our friend’s floors in apartments and houses in different states. We got robbed at a church! So watch our Rockumentary to find out what our first tour was like and you will feel like you went on tour with us! We document everything. I want people to take away the feeling like you are in our band, this band was never meant for us to act like rock stars or become famous, we want the band to be about the positive message and those who love our music to rock out with us. I want everyone to know if you see our show, I want to teach you the words, I want the band to include YOU too. So go to YouTube.com/HeartLikeWar and there you will find our Rockumentary!

Any highlights you want to share from the Fire Auras tour?

Mike Herrera joined us on stage (he surprised us) on the last night of our tour at the Manette Saloon in Bremerton, Washington, and last minute we decided to play an MxPx song together, “Heard that Sound.” It is so cool to know we are that chill with the dude we can perform MxPx covers with Mike Herrera himself. So then if the real lead singer there is it still a cover? I guess we were MxPx for a song and we loved/cherished every second of it! We also got robbed at a church and I won money on a penny slot machine in Las Vegas after a show. If you want to know more just watch our Rockumentary it covers everything that happened on our first tour!

And you guys played Joshua Fest this year? How’s that feel to be hitting this major Christian festival?

We just came back from Joshua Fest and it was amazing. We got to hang out with our friends in Five Iron Frenzy, watched Relient K and Switchfoot perform along side us, so it was pretty amazing. I never dreamed in a million years that one day our band would make it this far and now we are featured at one of the biggest Christian music festivals in the country. I am still soaking that in, we are blessed. We really can’t put our excitement into words, all we ever wanted as a band was to play music live and now we are doing it in bigger ways than we ever imagined.

Lastly, anything else you want us to know about Heart Like War, and any plans for what’s next?

I want people to know that if you come to one of our shows we promise to fill your ears with cool music and we always give away free stuff at our merch table so come say “Hi” to us after a show, we want to meet you! Plans for Heart Like War is that I am already writing the next album, it will be recorded at Monkey Trench Studios with Mike Herrera sometime in 2018. We are already thinking about our next tour run and hitting up more music festivals to play at! We are excited for the future.

Anything is possible, what is next? We are going to shoot a couple more music videos soon so please stay in touch on our Facebook and check www.HeartLikeWar.com for everything you need to know about us! Thanks for reading! Thanks for this interview it was fun!

heart-like-war-album-art

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