Though it may be cliché to claim that a given band is among the most important acts in their respective genre or movement at this point, one would be remiss to not tout Massachusetts' ALL THAT REMAINS as easily being among the most important bands of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal. While other NWOAHM bands have gone stale or simply popped up as boring carbon copies from their very inception, ALL THAT REMAINS have kept their sound fresh and unique compared to the vast majority of their compatriots. Fresh off their recent Ozzfest trek and with a stellar new album in 'The Fall of Ideals', ALL THAT REMAINS are poised to take their career to the next level.
All right, here's the section where we hype the new album, "The Fall Of Ideals" - you've brought a lot of new elements into play, so tell us a little bit about that.
"Well, we really wanted to expand on what we did with the last record. I'd done some clean vocals, I'd done some of a more abrasive yell, as opposed to a standard kind of bark, Death Metal-inspired kind of growl that I do. I'd had kind of more of a HAUNTED, like the band THE HAUNTED, Peter Dolving yell and I did some low Death Metal stuff, but it was always buried and hidden away, it wasn't something that was predominant, whereas on this record, vocally, I wanted to go ahead and expand upon all the stuff that we'd touched on in 'Darkened Heart.' Rhythmically we have a new drummer, so that's going to show a huge difference from one record to the next. It's something that we always wanted to do; we always wanted to have really, really fast double bass, we always wanted to have the kind of grind blast beats and the chopping wood CANNIBAL CORPSE blast beats, you know, we'd always wanted to do stuff like having kick drums following the triplets, 'cause we are a big triplet band - we do a lot of 'dut-dut-dut,' real fast triplets and stuff, and we wanted the kicks to be able to follow that stuff, you know, kind of give it more impact and that really mechanical Metal sound which I love, I absolutely love it. So we really wanted to just expand on everything we did on "Darkened" and I'm pretty happy, 'cause I really feel like we did."
What was it like working with Peter Wichers (ex-SOILWORK) and Adam D. from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE?
"Adam D. was just like last time; he's crazy, but he does a great job - he gets the performance out of you, not just that you want, but the performance that you need to have on a quality album. If people are going to spend fifteen, twenty dollars on a record, it's gotta deliver, you know what I mean? Peter was great. Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend a lot of time working with Peter 'cause while he was doing engineering and tracking guitars, me and Adam were in the other room doing some vocals. So I didn't actually get to work with Peter much, but Mike and Ollie spent a good portion of time with him, they said it was really cool.. I mean, we all hung out a lot, we got to go out and eat afterwards and just spend time bro-ing down and he was really, really cool. I was really pumped, 'cause I'm a SOILWORK fan anyways, so it was really cool to meet him and I'd never met anyone in the band. Peter was a really sweet dude, you know, so good stuff, I was really pumped."
Okay. After your first performance on Ozzfest, what kind of vibe do you have from it?
"It's gonna be fuckin' awesome! (laughter) Pardon my French. But we went on at probably ten in the morning and it was retarded, kids were just like... and it was awesome. I mean, I guess ALL THAT REMAINS has some fans in Seattle that don't mind getting up early because there were kids that knew the words, I could hear them singing along. It was a great show, it was tons of fun. Obviously, it was the first Ozzfest, so there was all kinds of technical crap that we had to deal with, you know, and that happens, you kind of go into it knowing - you hope for the best, plan for the worst, hopefully you fall somewhere in the middle. But it didn't seem like the crowd minded at all, they were great, they were excited, it was a really great time."
I just hope you guys actually get people in there on time for those occasions you're on first. Last year when it was in Seattle, ARCH ENEMY was on first - they started ten minutes early and they opened the gates ten minutes before they started playing. I was towards the front of the line, got in there, "Oh! I get to watch the last half of their last song."
"That's something you kind of run the risk of. I mean, last year with Sounds of the Underground, there really wasn't that much problem; for the most part, they opened doors either on time or fairly close to on time, they were fairly expedient about getting people in, they would push the set times back because they didn't have the same restrictions Ozzfest does. Ozzfest is a bigger show, more bands, so it's a little more difficult to keep everything running in an orderly fashion, which is fine and we understand that's the way it goes. Whatever. But you can't complain because you'll play early a couple days and then a couple days later you're going to be playing noon, one 'o clock or something like that and there's going to be ten thousand people in front of you or whatever. And literally, there's times where it's that many people. If you're playing in the afternoon, I think there's room for anywhere from five to ten thousand people in the parking lot, that's not including the venue, the eighteen or twenty thousand or whatever thousand-seater venue that's going on. So, can't really bitch."
Do you ever find working in front of crowds that size intimidating?
"I've been playing shows a lot and to me it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the first couple rows - whatever's right in front. If you go to a theatre, the people that are down front and that are in the mosh pit or whatever, that are right there, you can see their face, you can point to them - those are the only people that I really even notice. Other than that, it kind of washes into the background. I think the biggest crowd I ever played to was seven or eight thousand people and once you're over three or four thousand, then it all just becomes more heads. Maybe if we played something like Download where you're playing in front of fifty thousand or whatever, maybe then it would be like 'whoa!', but I really, really just focus on the kids that I can see, the people down front that I can make eye contact with and that I can really have some kind of connection with, you know what I mean? 'Cause that's really where our show comes through. It's not just about us getting up there and performing, it's about audience participation, I've always got the mike out, I want to hear kids singing. I'm constantly saying 'come on, get into it, hands up, let's see your fists in the air.' Whatever; I want interaction, you know what I mean? So I can only interact with people I can really see."
All right, how would you compare the European Sounds of the Underground tour with the American version?
"Well, the European Sounds was definitely a different thing. I mean, it was a club tour, it was theatres, whereas Sounds in the U.S. was a much bigger production, there were way more bands, like eighteen bands last year - Sounds in Europe had, like, six or seven. So it was cool, it was fun. It was our first trek into a lot of countries in Europe; first time we played Italy, first time we played Switzerland, first time we played Holland - first time we played a lot of places. So it was cool to get out there and play these places and hopefully open up people's eyes to what ALL THAT REMAINS is and hopefully they could check us out or whatever, but in the U.S. we've done a lot more work, so it's... I don't want to say easier, but we definitely have people that come out to shows in the U.S. that are there to see ALL THAT REMAINS, you know what I mean? Even if there's only a handful of them, almost every show we've played, there's people that are specifically there to see us, you know what I mean? And that's really cool, 'cause you've always got some people that you can rely on, that you know are going to be pumped, when no one's ever heard of you and you're playing to a room full of this. (folds arms and stares) You know? (laughter) And that probably won't translate well to recording, but you know. You're playing to a room full of people just standing there with their arms crossed and you really have to get out there and bust your ass to impress them."
Okay, tell us a little bit about the filming for the 'This Calling' video at the Hancock Naval base.
"It's a video." (awkward silence)
"Shooting video sucks. If you're happy with the end product, that's really all that matters. 'Cause you basically get up and make believe you're playing all day long. I mean, the Hancock Naval base is really cool. Where we're playing was a mortar encampment and they had four, I think, ten inch mortars that used to be there, back in the day, I guess. I mean, it's a video. It's cool to shoot a video, 'cause we want to have a cool video, but it's video."
One thing I've always noticed about the band is that your lyrics are way more positive than most Metal bands. You kind of stay away from the typical "everything sucks, I hate this, I hate that" or violence in lyrics. Tell us a little bit about where your lyrics come from.
"I look at myself... I'm a very positive person in general, but I look at myself and I see someone who is extremely fortunate. I am way, way luckier than the average person born on this planet. And really, people that are born in Westernized countries are usually far more fortunate than people that are born in countries that aren't Westernized. I mean, if you're born in the U.S., it's way, way better than being born in Afghanistan or born in some war torn country in Africa where you probably won't live... or in Ethiopia, where there's famine all the time, or in Congo, where there's constantly civil war and stuff. So do I really have any right to gripe because I feel like our politicians are doing the wrong thing? There's times when I'm pissed off about things, but at the same time, you've really got to take a step back and really take a realistic look at the situation that you're in; you've got nothing to complain about. I mean, not only am I fortunate enough to be born in a free country where we have social systems that don't completely prevent poverty, but our unemployment rate's low, we have the ability to feed most of the people in this country, there's not too, too many people that are really, really hungry, you know? There's always going to be some kind of hunger, I don't want to sound like I'm living pie in the sky, but, I mean, do I really have anything to complain about? And the answer is no, especially when you top it off with the fact that I'm in a band. I'm on tour, I get to do what I love. I don't make any money because Ozzfest is a seventy-five thousand dollar buy-on or whatever, but you know, it's like... I've got nothing to complain about. And I guess that's going to show in our lyrics, you know what I mean? It's the fact that it's not as bad as a lot of people make it out and I personally think there's too many people out there that complain and that are looking for a free ride, have a sense of entitlement and feel like they're owed and they're always mad and somebody owes them this and it's someone else's fault and it's not. It's not. First of all, it's not that bad. And second of all, it isn't someone else's fault; stop your complaining."
Bad things happen to good people - it's a fact of life.
"Exactly, exactly. And good things happen to bad people and that's what happens. That's reality. Deal with it. (pause) Sorry."
That's okay, I like hearing things like that. (laughter) All right, here's a question, it's probably one of those things that you get asked a lot, but I figure I'll throw it out there anyway; does it ever bother you that most anytime ALL THAT REMAINS is mentioned in the press...
"No it doesn't. It does not bother me in the least. I love the dudes in SHAD, they're all great people. It didn't work out working together, but just because it didn't work out working together doesn't mean I'm mad at them."
Oh, that's not where I was going to go with that.
"Oh! My bad. I apologize."
No, that's okay! That's okay. I was going to ask if it ever bothers you because the press labels you as 'this guy was in SHADOWS FALL... and hey, he's got this new band.'
"Looking at things in perspective, SHADOWS FALL is a Grammy nominated act, their last record sold almost three-hundred thousand, I think between two-hundred-fifty and three-hundred thousand."
Yeah, halfway to gold.
"Our last record did sixty thousand. I am not gonna bitch because someone associates me with a Grammy nominated act that has sold almost three-hundred thousand records. (laughter) Again, why the hell am I going to complain? It would just be ego, you know? And it's like, I'm a Metal frontman, so obviously I've got a healthy ego, but at the same time, I'm realistic. If you don't have something to be mad about, don't fuckin' be mad. (laughs) 'Cause I don't have anything to be pissed off about, you know. So really, it doesn't bother me. I'm hoping that this record puts us in a position where that stops, only because when that stops, ALL THAT REMAINS has become, in the Metal community's eyes, a viable, important act. When they stop doing that, that's when I'll feel like, 'okay, so we're getting the respect we deserve.' But there's a lot of people out there that have never heard ALL THAT REMAINS that know who SHADOWS FALL is and if they hear SHADOWS FALL or hear the name SHADOWS FALL and they hear a lot of press about ALL THAT REMAINS and they hear we're doing Ozzfest and they want to check us out because they're like "oooh! I like SHADOWS FALL, this guy used to be in the band and I hear good things about ALL THAT REMAINS." It takes more than one thing to get someone to check out a band a lot of times, unless you're one of those people that really searches for music, which there's a lot of people that do that. (Phil raises his hand) And that's great and people like you that search for music are absolutely necessary, because you're the people that are going to get the word out. But at the same time, there's a lot of people that have the bands they listen to and unless they have a really, really good reason to go find another band, they're not looking. And if my affiliation with SHADOWS FALL gives someone one more reason to go ahead and pick up the record or even to go to our MySpace site and listen to some songs or go to our website and listen to some of the songs, come a little bit early to see us on Ozzfest, how can I complain?"
Okay, now whatever happened to the DVD that was supposed to come out last Fall?
"It is still going to be coming out. We have a problem where every time a camera turns on us the show explodes into a terrible fiasco. (laughs) We've had good shows, we have good shows often people tell us. Maybe people are lying, but if we were awful, I don't think we would have even been able to get on Ozzfest, you know? But it seems like every time we turn a camera on, we try and shoot a show for the DVD, it turns into a wreck. So we want to go ahead and put out a good DVD. I mean, I don't want to go ahead and put out a DVD that isn't on par quality-wise with something like CHIMAIRA or KILLSWITCH or LAMB OF GOD. 'Killadelphia' and 'World Ablaze' are amazing DVD's and when you've got people basically competing for dollars in the market place, you can't go and have a poor quality product first off and second of all, if our fans spend money, I want it to be worth their money. I don't want to go and rip off the fans, someone that likes us, 'cause I'll tell you what, kids will let us know. If it sucks they're going to come up to me at a show and be like, 'yo, that DVD sucks!' (laughter) And I'll be like 'sorry...' No, we want to make sure that we do it right. So if that means that we have to put it off or whatever, then whatever and we'll put it off. We'll apologize and we'll explain and I think people will understand when you say "hey, look, we want to make sure it's right, we don't want to throw some junk out there just to say we have something," because we care about our fans and how they perceive us." [FIN]
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