Florida hard rock quintet WAGE WAR — Briton Bond [lead vocals], Cody Quistad [rhythm guitar, clean vocals], Seth Blake [lead guitar], Chris Gaylord [bass], and Stephen Kluesener [drums] — have announced The Stripped Sessions. The 11-song acoustic-based LP reimagines songs from the band’s decade-plus career. It arrives on December 2 via Fearless Records. Now, the band has shared the video for „Never Said Goodbye„: Wage War – Never Said Goodbye (Stripped) – Official Music Video – YouTube
„‚Never Said Goodbye‘ is a song about losing someone you love, without the relief of closure,“ the band explains. „You’re left wanting another year, another day, one last chance to say the things you wish you had before it’s too late. This was a track originally written on acoustic and was an easy pick for the Stripped record. Over the last couple of years, we’ve dealt with a lot of loss within our Wage War family and we know many others have felt the same. Grief is one of the hardest emotions to control and understand. We hope this track is a chance to find peace with loss and remember to hold those closest to you… closer.“
Overall, The Stripped Sessions „are a time capsule of our years so far,“ says Quistad. „We obviously love to get rowdy and play super-energetic hard music, but just as important to me— and I think to people in general — is having that outlet to listen to something that’s a different speed. And how cool is it if a listener has songs they love in the high-energy realm, but it’s the same band, and those songs now offer a different take?“
Recorded in Florida’s The Audio Compound, The Stripped Sessions was produced by Quistad and Andrew Wade, who has worked with the band previously. Jeremy MacKinnon from A Day To Remember co-produced the LP’s new track — a stunning re-working of Johnny Cash’s song „Folsom Prison Blues.“
The Stripped Sessions features tracks that originally appeared on Deadweight (2017); Pressure (2019); and Manic (2021). It was important to the band that The Stripped Sessions spans their career and also allows Wage War’s often-vulnerable lyrics breathing room. „I love that it’s different points in time for us, from all the way back to when we were playing to 200 kids a night to 2022, when we’ve been doing arenas. It’s a cool time capsule,“ Quistad says.
The Stripped Sessions also allow co-singer Bond a chance to expand his range with melodic vocals. „Briton is an incredible heavy vocalist; one of the best in the game,“ says Quistad. „Over the pandemic, he was really at home just working on his singing. We’re super stoked and super proud of him.“
Some of the re-imagined versions were recorded over the last few years, with the bulk of the songs, including „Folsom Prison Blues,“ tracked in 2021. The lineup has been able to hone the more-acoustic versions of their songs live over recent years. At VIP meet-and-greets, the lineup would bust out an acoustic mini-set. Then, after Quistad did a solo acoustic gig opening for The Ghost Inside, where he premiered his different take on „Folsom Prison Blues,“ Wage War decided to do a full-band but stripped version. They played the cover on SiriusXM’s Octane channel, and also did a well-received acoustic show at the New York SiriusXM studios. And, they say, „Before we knew it, we realized we could do a whole record.“
The Stripped Sessions adds to Wage War’s already impressive and numerous career highlights. They’ve gotten more than 580 total million streams; hit #10 on the Billboard Emerging Artist Chart (2019), while 2021’s Manic garnered more than 70M streams. Manic’s chart success included Billboard‘s #5 Digital; #8 Hard Music; and #12 Rock. Wage War has earned press raves from the get-go, with kudos from Revolver, Loudwire, Kerrang!, Alternative Press, Rock Sound, Modern Drummer, and 2021 covers from Kerrang! and UPSET.
The Stripped songs allow both the lyrics and the listeners breathing room, an avenue for people who might not be at the best point in their life. „It’s been a hard couple years for everybody,” Quistad says. „There are songs on this record that I think and hope will be helpful to people who might be going through a rough time. It sounds weird, but I listen to my own music, and this record certainly helped me. It just feels like super special and plus.“
He concludes, „I can finally play our music for my grandparents!“