Five minutes later, Roberts is ready, and we duck into a corner. Roberts is eager to talk about the band’s work on its upcoming album, which should be released in early 2006, and how he wanted to record one sooner, but wasn’t able to because of touring and his label.
“I’m busting at the seams,” Roberts says. “I want to make two records a year like [bands] used to.” He particularly blames labels for this trend. “They always want the conditions to be just right. “It doesn’t have to be a blockbuster release every time, though,” he says.
For the band’s next album, Roberts wanted to actually release a six-song EP, then the full-length album and then another six-song EP. “It’s frustrating because we’ve written so much material and to not be able to release it...” he trails off.
The band went down to Australia for a few months to work on the album, and did some touring there. “We recorded the bulk of the album in Australia, came back to fix some things and ended up recording a few more songs,” Roberts says.
While all of the songs have been recorded, the band still has to finish mixing and decide on the final song list. “Some songs sound really good and then sound like shit [after mixing],” Roberts explains, “while ones you didn’t like turn out great.”
Three songs that look like they have a good chance of making the album are “Bridge To Nowhere,” “With A Bullet,” and “The Bootleg Saint,” all of which the band performed for frosh.
The rest of the show was electric. The band played a 10-song set, followed by a couple of encore tunes. Song selection included hits like “Where Have All The Good People Gone?” and “Brother Down,” as well as lesser-known songs like the “We Were Born In A Flame” vinyl-only release and “This Is How I Live” off The Inhuman Condition.
The band’s set list was consistent with ones used for other Frosh Week shows across Ontario, which they’ve been doing all week. “We were at North Bay, Ottawa, McMaster...” Roberts says. “We’ve changed the set up a bit, though.” The most noticeable change was the absence of “Hot Metal,” their usual encore piece — “The Bootleg Saint” took its place.
“We don’t know if we’ll ever record [‘Hot Metal’],” Roberts explains, preferring to leave it as a special treat for fans at their live show. He also said that when they eventually record a live album, that would be the album the track would appear on.
Roberts says he loves playing Frosh Week concerts: “It’s almost like a ritual now that in early September you go around and play to a lot of people who normally wouldn’t get a chance to hear your stuff.” He adds, “It may even be their first rock ‘n’ roll show.”
The past three years have been crazy for Roberts and his band. They released the six-song EP The Inhuman Condition, toured for almost a year — something Roberts notes others may not have done — released the full-length album We Were Born In A Flame, and then toured for another year. When it looked like they could finally get back to the studio, they ended up switching labels in the US.
“We began on Universal and then switched to Lost Highway,” Roberts says. “The relationship is much better.” The album was then re-released in the U.S. and released in the UK, which meant more touring. “We’re addicted to it,” Roberts says.
Also in this time, the band lost its drummer Corey Zadorozny, who has since been replaced by Josh Trager. To get the kinks out the band has played a few festivals, including Live 8, this summer’s big benefit concert in Barrie.
“The cause itself overshadowed the actual performance, which is how it should be,” Roberts says. “We lent our voices to a great cause along with millions of others.”
One unique part of the experience was playing early in the morning. “We were doing sound-check at eight in the morning. It was weird,” he says with a laugh.
But as quickly as he discusses his particular experience, he is quick to emphasize the cause was the most important thing about that day.
That attitude seems typical of Roberts. When the interview wraps up, he quickly rushes over to some more fans, who have been calling for him, to sign more autographs.