Interview with JB Brubaker of August Burns Red: Bringing It Home

Interview with JB Brubaker of August Burns Red: Bringing It Home

—by , November 24, 2010

When JB Brubaker of metal band August Burns Red said, “We’ve been doing a lot of touring the last year and half and we kind of felt like pampering ourselves a little bit” he wasn’t implying fancy cars or trips to the tropics, but something as simple as a vehicle upgrade for his band. He and fellow guitarist Brent Rambler, drummer Matt Greiner, bassist Dustin Davidson and singer Jake Luhrs are all enjoying the luxury of a tour bus for their run with the AP Tour Fall 2010.

Still feeling the praise from last year’s album Constellations, they released a live DVD before hitting the road this fall. Shot in their hometown of Manheim, PA, it was no surprise they gave it the title of Home.

Even after an unsuccessful shopping trip for an accessory for his space on the bus, Brubaker was still in high spirits in talking about tour life, new material and it seems, stalking NOFX in Australia.

How is life on a tour bus?

It’s our first full US tour on a bus. Touring on a bus versus a van is night and day as far as the quality of life. We’re all in great spirits, we’re sleeping great every night, no one’s tired and we’re not driving ourselves through the mountains of Wyoming.

Is the AP Tour going well?

It’s been awesome. The tour has been filling the rooms and all the other bands that we’re out with are super cool.

You guys are in the area for Thanksgiving, will you diverge and go home for a bit.

The tour is actually playing in Connecticut that night. But us and Polar Bear Club decided to go home and spend the day with our families. It’s sort of a major holiday and we said, ‘Hey, we’re in the Northeast, why don’t we just drive home from New York City and hang out with our friends and families for the day and then get back to it.’

It’s doesn’t seem like many shows are scheduled that day, so I’m surprised they’re playing.

Yeah, it’s a weird day to play a show.

Especially after eating all day.

[laughs] Yes, exactly.

Your live DVD just came out. Why did you feel it was time to get one out to fans?

The reason we decided to do a DVD was we’re kind of at a crucial point right now where we’re going to go away for a couple months to write and record and bands tend to loose their steam during that time. We’ve put three records out, so we have a decent amount of material to pull from and play on our live record.

The documentary feature was under an hour, was there anything you wish made it in?

Well, this wasn’t supposed to be a ‘history of the band-type’ documentary. This was supposed to be like daily life of the band on tour. Just like laid-back, little life on tour story.

Well, it does seem like you guys have a lot of fun on tour.

Yes, we try our best to keep it interesting [laughs].

What really stuck out were the fan interviews and hearing what an affect you’ve had on them. Why was it important to feature them?

Well, at the end of the day, no one in this band would be in this band if we didn’t have people coming out to shows and listening to our music and that’s something we definitely don’t forget. I’ve seen bands come and go very quickly in this genre and I feel like we’re very fortunate to have a dedicated fanbase who stand by us from album to album and are constantly coming out to our shows again and again.

Do you ever feel amazed in hearing from fans how the music that you created has affected them?

That’s always very humbling when people say things like how our music has helped them through this and that. I guess I listened to bands in the past that have had affects on me, so I understand that and it’s awesome that we’re able to provide that for some people. It’s definitely not like we’re writing the song to hopefully reach out and touch some kid who’s going through a hard time, but the way kids can relate to what we’re saying and writing, that’s just icing on the cake.

The space you shot the show at is a gymnasium in your hometown, it looked like a huge space.

It was a gym in Manheim and we brought in our own staging and lighting and set it up exactly how the videographer thought it would look the best. Which is awesome, because there’s not many venues which you can go into and just shape everything just how you want it.

Thanks to the DVD, I can’t get the intro to “White Washed” out of my head.

Oh really? I’m sorry that’s got to be getting annoying then.

No, it’s good. How do you build a riff and get it just right that you know it’s perfect to have that affect of getting stuck in people’s heads?

I don’t know. I’ve always just written stuff that if it sounded good to me and I was happy with it, I was confident that my bandmates would be happy with it. If we were all stoked, then the audience would be as well. As far as the “White Washed” intro riff goes, I wasn’t like ‘Oh, that’s a really catchy hook.’ It was just like, ‘This is a cool, eerie lead to go over this heavy intro part.’ We like melody and stuff, so there’s going to be like catchy things here and there, but the goal is just to write good songs. I don’t know if I’m ever like, ‘This is perfect.’ I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that way; it’s a difficult question for me to answer.

So do you draw in any other influences from other genres outside the hardcore and metal ones?

I think I do and probably more than I realize. I listen to a lot of more chill, indie music and also like a mix of punk stuff. I think that those kind of things creep in with a metal vibe to them. Especially on Constellations and maybe on our newer stuff, we’re definitely working with more dynamics and clean sections and things a little more unorthodox for the genre. But at the same time, they fit and make the songs sound bigger overall.

Do you do any writing on the road? What mindset do you need to be in to write?

Well, I definitely like to be alone and that’s difficult on the road. I don’t like people around me hearing me jamming on my guitar, trying to come up with cool stuff. Because it’s not like I can just come up with things out of the air. It takes me a long time to write. When we get home, we don’t have a lot of time before we go into the studio and I still have four or five songs to finish. I’ll probably find a way to write a little bit on the road, but it definitely happens when I’m at home.

How will the sound progress for the next album?

There’s a lot of stuff written already. We’re going to continue to push more with what we did with Constellations as far as the dynamic stuff I was talking about. We’ll develop those parts a little but more. But as always, it’s going to be a fast and heavy record and in fact, there’s stuff I’ve written that’s the fastest stuff we’ll ever play. I’m kind of wondering if I’ll be able to play it, which is a bit of a worry, but I guess that’s what practice is for.

Is there anything else you’re doing after the AP Tour?

Right after this tour we have a week off and then we go to Australia for the No Sleep Til Festival, so we’re excited for that, that’ll be cool. We get to go out NOFX for six days and they’re one of my favorite bands ever, so I’m excited to see them every day.

Speaking of NOFX, I think of the series they did that showed them playing around the world in cities not usually hit. You guys have played places like Dubai and recently in South America, where else would you love to head out to?

I really want to do some extensive Southeast Asia stuff. We went to Japan for the first time this year and I just loved there. It made me curious about the rest of Asia because that has been a place that I have seen very little of. I’d like to do Indonesia, Thailand and China. I definitely would like to take a month and just go all over the place there and play shows. I guess it’s a new place that’s a little iffy, I mean NOFX did a good job showing that on their Backstage Passport series, so there’s a lot of questions. But I don’t even care if we don’t make any money, I just want to go and see as much of the world as I can.

August Burns Red will be performing three area shows. They will be at The Best Buy Theatre Nov. 24, The Starland Ballroom Nov. 25 and Crocodile Rock Nov. 27. For more info, myspace.com/augustburnsred.

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