When you talk about rock bands from Wilmington, there aren’t many, if any, that have been as successful as longtime metal/hard rock band He Is Legend.
Over the past two decades and half a dozen albums, the band has garnered a cult fan base around the world – and nearly 150,000 listeners a month on the Spotify streaming service – thanks to their powerful and with often sardonic lyrics.
On Friday, November 11, He Is Legend will release their seventh full-length album, “Endless Hallway,” their first breakthrough since 2019’s “White Bat.” Highlights include songs that are both rhythmic and melodic such as “The Prowler” and “Lifeless Lemonade”.
Also on Friday, the band will play their first Wilmington gig in more than three years when He Is Legend take the stage for what will be a sold-out album release show at Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern. It’s going to be an epic night with four opening acts, including NC metal band Southern Valiant Thorr and Wilmington-based pop-punk band Gay Meat.
More: Wilmington MusicWith songs both gritty and glamorous, the Wilmington Gay Meat act aims for the pop stratosphere
Formed in the early 2000s by vocalist Schuylar Croom, guitarist Adam Tanbouz and bassist Matty Williams, the band’s newest member is drummer Jesse Shelley, who joined the band in 2016.
“Adam and I met, I mean it was at Manifest,” the former Market Street record store in the late 1990s, Croom said in a phone interview. “We went from playing shows at (the old Wilmington venue) Lucky’s and being just, like, local yokels to wanting to get out on the road and see what we can do.”
Croom said He Is Legend managed to stay together all these years because “we’re all still friends. That’s a big factor. We all still get along and we appreciate each other’s musical abilities and we value each other’s opinions. of each one.”
Even so, Croom said, a new album in 2022 almost didn’t happen. After finding early success and playing the Vans Warped Tour in 2005, since disbanded, the band gradually built a following and in 2019 released the album “White Bat” on Finnish metal label Spinefarm Records, a subsidiary of Universal Music Group.
On the road to supporting this record in early 2020, the band canceled their tour when the pandemic hit.
“People were really talking about the album,” Croom said. “Being pulled off the road in the middle of that climb, (it) cut the wind from our sails. And I think we felt we had something to prove after that.”
You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but Croom, who looks just like the rocker with long hair, a big beard and lots of tattoos, has had diabetes his whole life. When the group was filming “Endless Hallway” last year, Croom said, he began “struggling” trying to make music while working multiple jobs, including as a set designer for several Wilmington film productions. Stress and other factors eventually took a toll on his health.
“I was very sick last year,” Croom said. “Fortunately, I was working with compassionate people. When I got sick, they understood and they were telling me, basically, that health is paramount and (to) understand what’s going on. So I was very lucky.”
Even so, Croom said, there have been fallouts.
“It kind of took its toll on the band and we had to push some shows for the first time,” Croom said. “We’ve never really canceled shows for any reason. So having to do that and being the source of it was a time when I wondered how far we could go and how much I had left. “
At one point, he said, “Endless Hallway” was basically in play.
“Basically, I had to break down one day and drive (from Wilmington) 10 hours to the studio in Nashville and start working, regardless of the (health) issues,” Croom said. “It’s kind of a fever dream. I don’t remember much about it. I don’t remember being there. I don’t remember how it all happened, because it was such a time dark.”
And while his health is much better now, Croom said, his and the band’s struggles had a big influence on the album’s outcome.
“There’s a lot of aggression on this record,” he said. “The music itself is very heavy. A bit more in the metal spectrum” than in the band’s so-called “screamo” days.
“Going into that record, I didn’t feel confident and I didn’t feel as fit as I had in the past,” Croom added, “I think that’s one of the things that made him aggressive for me, just having to go all the way.”
He Is Legend has always been extremely heavy, but they’re also known for having a sense of humor and not taking themselves too seriously, which is part of the band’s appeal. On “Lifeless Lemonade,” for example, Croom proclaims, “I got it all/I want it all… We can do it all/But I break it all.”
“If we took ourselves too seriously, I don’t think it would translate (well),” Croom said. “You kind of have to laugh at some point because, I mean, it’s rock ‘n’ roll. There are some whimsical aspects. There is darkness. But at the end of the day, I think it’s about who we are.”
“We spent forever saying, like, ‘We just play stupid, silly music,'” he added. “But there is something to be said for what we do, even if it’s also a bit ironic.”
He Is Legend is also a Wilmington product and, like any band, helped put Port City on the musical map as a hard rock haven, alongside long-time acts such as Weedeater and ASG. Croom notes that when the band has toured in the past, people have often asked him about Reggie’s, which is known as “that legendary East Coast spot.”
“Having Wilmington as your home base has always been important,” Croom said. “I love this city. I mean, it’s not a huge musical community, but we all stick together and we’re all there for each other.”
“We have this Beach Goth thing, don’t we?” he added, referring to the He-Is-Legend-themed beer launched last summer by Edward Teach Brewing of Wilmington. “We felt lucky to be in a kind of hidden paradise. It’s a great place, and I think it shows in our music.”
Contact John Staton at 910-343-2343 or [email protected]
WANT TO GO?
Who:He Is Legend Album Release Show, featuring Valiant Thorr, Bronco, Gay Meat and GRA
When: 6:30 p.m. (doors) Friday, Nov. 11
Where: Reggie’s 42nd St. Tavern, 1415 S. 42nd St., Wilmington
Information: Tickets are $22.