Alabama-based Gideon have always been an active group, touring all over, playing festivals, etc. The metal band released Calloused, their third album, in October of 2014 to favorable reviews. I was able to reach out to vocalist Daniel McWhorter and talk to him about the new album and recording process, tours and festivals, and even Starbucks:
So you released Calloused a little over five months ago and the reception has been pretty solid. How would you say this album has helped you grow and evolve as musicians?
Well, it’s a little bit different than any other album we’ve kinda done. We kinda went with our old school nu-metal riffs that we all listened to, but we found a way to keep our old sound as well, so it kind of evolved, if anything (laughs).
For this album, you worked with Will Putney, who’s highly respected and sought after in your scene. How did you come about working with him and what was the experience like compared to your other releases?
Oh yeah. Honestly, for all the records that we listened to and liked, we looked who produced and recorded them and it just happened to be Will, so it only made sense that we would go to him. It was awesome. We were there for like, a little over a month. The only thing that was kinda weird about it is that he was doing construction the whole time, like upgrading his place, so we would wake up at like, 7 a.m. to hammers and stuff going off, but other than that, it was awesome. He knew exactly what… His visions went with our visions and made it way better, like it made our record way better in my opinion.
Your albums have always had this bounce to them, like there’s this groove you could just feel coming from the music. Is it a conscious effort to put that swing to your music?
Honestly, I don’t think so. I think it just comes natural to us because it’s all the type of music we listen to, we all just like groovy stuff, and it comes out that way.
You guys are no stranger to playing more secular tours. You’ve hit the road with bands like Emmure, Stray From The Path, and The Acacia Strain. Is there a difference between the Christian tours, like Scream The Prayer, and ones like Out Of Control, or are they really the same thing?
I mean, there’s a difference in the crowds, mostly, but with the bands and the people, it’s kinda the same, the tour’s still the same. A lot of people have a bad misconception of the bands that are secular, like the bands that we tour with, like Sworn In and Emmure and The Acacia Strain, but literally some of those guys are the nicest people I’ve ever met, like even out of some of the Christian bands we’ve toured with. We love doing the secular tours; it’s just more fun, y’know? More fun and we get to hang out with a bunch of friends.
You’re also no stranger to the festival scene. You’ve played South By So What, New England Hardcore & Metal Fest, and Skate & Surf. This is your third time playing Skate & Surf?
I think it’s our second time. The first time, I was supposed to play it, but I was in the hospital. The day before I went [to the hospital] with colitis, which is some kind of lower intestine, not disease—I don’t know exactly what it was, but it was terrible. Our guitar player had to fill in, so technically, it will be my first time playing Skate & Surf.
Happy to hear that everything’s fine with that.
(Laughs) Yeah, thank goodness. Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt me again.
With the festival setup, set times are really tight, and it seems like a more restrictive schedule. What do you do when you’re not on the stage?
Oh man, we all kinda go our separate ways, honestly. Everybody has their own thing, like me, I like to go explore stuff, and not all the other guys are really into exploring stuff. […] kind of leave and walk around for hours on end, try to find something cool to do, somewhere cool to go. Some of the guys enjoy just sitting around the venue, or going to Starbucks. They love Starbucks; I hate going to Starbucks, they go all the time. It’s different for everybody.
I noticed you’ve toured with Kublai Khan a number of times. Any reason in particular?
Yeah, we played a show with those guys a long, long time ago and they just blew us away, how sick it was, and we just had a really good friendship after that. We’d talk to them, and every time we’d come through or seem them, they’d always play with us, and then we asked them, we asked Matt [vocalist of Kublai Khan] to be on our record and he said yes, so that was cool. They’re just all super, really friendly guys, probably some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Gideon’s also toured in Japan a few of times, correct? Would you say the culture there changed your perspective, or the way you view things?
Yeah, we just got back from Japan like a month ago. I wouldn’t say it changed the way I view things. I think the way they do things is way different than the way we do things. They’re more respectful, they’re all really to themselves, Japanese people. Everything they do is really polite and really nice, where in America we’re really loud and outspoken. It’s definitely weird, but I wouldn’t say it changed our perspective or anything like that.
Heavier music has always been associated with, at the very least, rebellion, and at the worst, violence and devil worshipping. Have people ever accused Gideon of being devil worshippers because of the music you play and if so, what has your reaction been?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t say…that hasn’t happened to me with Gideon, but when I was growing up there was other bands and stuff, like my family never really got the concept of being able to scream in a band, like, “Why would you want to do that? That’s so stupid. It’s gotta be the Devil’s music,” but then I talked to my youth group and showed them the bands I was listening to, having to slow it down, show them the lyrics as they were coming by. Yeah, I’ve definitely had the conversation a bunch, but never with Gideon, just my older bands, ‘cause I’ve been touring since I got out of high school, so it’s been a long time (laughs).
From what I’ve seen of you live, you’re not what some might call “a preachy band,” but you still have a very strong message to deliver. How have you managed to balance your message and your music so that neither has compromised the other?
I don’t know, we’ve never really liked being that band that preaches on stage, ‘cause I think… The way we kind of look at it is if a youth group band is up there, shoving it down your throat, not only shoves it down your throat, but immediately talks about it, those kids are just gonna turn you off in their head and not even listen to what you have to say. I mean, that’s just because some people are like that, and with our approach, we just kinda be super positive and just try to be a good role model for people, like hang out with them and go talk to them and it’s more like one-on-one. Instead of talking at people, we like to talk to people, individually, y’know?
What can we expect from Gideon in the near future, in terms of touring, projects, or anything in general?
We have our headliner coming up, it’s with Texas In July, Kublai Khan, and Silent Planet, and that should be a lot of fun. After that, I think we have a run, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say or not (laughs), but it’ll be about two weeks long and it’ll hit all the major festivals this summer. That should be announced pretty soon, actually.
Gideon is about to head out on their headlining tour, and will be playing Skate & Surf Festival in Asbury Park on Sunday, May 17. They formally announced their summer tour with Silent Planet in support of former Facedown labelmates For Today a couple of weeks ago, and will hit GameChangerWorld in Howell, NJ on June 26 and Revolution Bar in Amityville, NY on June 27. Calloused is available via Facedown Records. For more information, visit gideonal.com.