The Word Alive's Telle Smith: The 10 Songs That Changed My Life

The Word Alive frontman flicks through his record collection, reflecting on what the likes of Boston and Incubus mean to him

The Word Alive's Telle Smith: The 10 Songs That Changed My Life
Paul Travers

The Word Alive vocalist Telle Smith takes a look back at the sounds, situations and experiences that helped shape his life as a metalcore star…

The first song that I remember hearing...

Boston – More Than A Feeling (1976)

“My dad is a big fan of bands like Boston, Journey and the Eagles, so I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock. This one really sticks out in my mind, because it was the first song I remember singing along to with my dad.”

The song that makes me think of my childhood...

Steve Miller Band – The Joker (1973)

“It’s another song that my dad would put on, but me and my brothers would all sing along to it. My grandparents lived in another state, so when we went to visit them or we went on a road trip, we would throw on a bunch of songs and sing together. We were like The Partridge Family, but not as good!”

The first song I ever fell in love with...

Korn – Freak On A Leash (1998)

“The first time I remember really being obsessed with any song it was this one, when I was about 12 years old. I started experiencing other kinds of music in middle school, and with Korn I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know what this is exactly, but I love it!’ I’d love to say that it was the lyrics that hit me because that’s something that’s important to me now, but I think it was the uniqueness of the vocals. Jonathan Davis sounded super-weird, and almost creepy at times, and that really stood out for me.”

The song that made me want to be in a band...

Thursday – Understanding In A Car Crash (2001)

“It has to be this song, because I was literally watching Thursday play it when I decided that I wanted to try to be a singer in a band. It was on the 2004 Curiosa festival tour, which they did with The Cure, Muse, and I think Mogwai were on the line-up, too. It was a really diverse and cool festival, and it had a big impact on me. I thought, ‘I want to do this with my life.’”

The first of my songs I heard on the radio...

The Word Alive – Made This Way (2016)

“I only listen to the radio when I’m in the car, so I pulled over when this came on and I messaged my parents. I grew up listening to the radio with them both, and that’s how I heard so much music that left a big impact on me. There’s no feeling like your band playing on the radio. It’s like, ‘You made the right choice.’”

The first song I ever moshed to...

Killswitch Engage – A Bid Farewell (2004)

"My best friend at the time, he ended up passing away a couple of years later, but he introduced me to metal and metalcore bands like In Flames and Killswitch Engage. He was super into Killswitch, so it would have been A Bid Farewell, which was the song they opened with when I saw them in 2004. That was the year I really started going to shows and getting more involved in the scene.”

The song that reminds me of young love...

Incubus – I Miss You (1999)

“I remember listening to this song a lot when my first girlfriend broke up with me. I was so bummed out about it, but ultimately your first love is incredibly memorable because you don’t have a lot of life experience to call on at that point. I’m actually still friends with her. She was the first girl I said, ‘I love you’ to. She introduced me to Incubus and for that I will be forever grateful, because I still love Incubus.”

The song that picks me up when I'm down...

As Cities Burn – The Hoard (2007)

“I don’t consider myself any kind of religious person, but I do believe there’s some sort of higher power. There’s a line that says, ‘Grace, make your way to the world / To those who deserve it’ and a lot of the song is about how religions say, ‘If you do these things, then you’ll go to heaven.’ It’s a passive aggressive, ironic song, because it talks about all the people who are doing things for the wrong reasons. It’s about being yourself, being humble and being good. It reminds me to always try to do the right thing.”

My favourite song to play live...

The Word Alive – Why Am I Like This? (2018)

“It’s our biggest song and everyone sings along with it, but a lot of people don’t know that I wrote the majority of the music on it. I feel like the music really connects with the emotion expressed in it as well. For me to have one of our biggest songs be one that I wrote is so cool.”

The song that I'd like played at my funeral...

Sigur Rós – Starálfur (1999)

“They’re probably my most-listened-to band since I’ve been a touring musician. I love this song so much. It’s beautiful and it’s kinda sad, but it’s also happy. I hope that’s how people will be feeling when I die. I understand that if you’ve loved me you might be sad, but ultimately, I’ve loved my life, chased my dreams and been all around the world. I’d hope people would still celebrate me as well, as much as they mourn me.”

The Word Alive's new album Monomania is out now via Fearless Recordings.

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