I have said time and time again that metal is a genre that deserves some serious appraisal, because it’s essentially music in its purest form—no Auto-Tune or crafty computerized notes necessary. Being one of the most up front and down-to-earth modern metal bands around, All That Remains is also the most transformative, stylistically and physically, due to the release of their new album and a surprise band lineup change. For me, their music always elicits a newfound fascination with modern metal and genuine artistry. Although they’ve pretty much maintained their individuality as dedicated metal musicians, there is no doubt that they have also re-established many fans’ appreciation for the genre itself, especially when you take a listen to their album that came out this past year, The Order Of Things.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with vocalist Phil Labonte a few weeks before the tour, when he revealed a bit about being on the road, the album’s production and reviews, and the recent lineup change. Check out more of what he had to say below!
You guys are preparing for your tour right now. Since the last time you guys were out, how are you feeling as the dates creep a little closer?
Good! We’ve spent a lot of time home this summer. Usually we don’t take summers off, but this year we didn’t see anything, you know, really attracting once the tour started to come together. We just basically relaxed and took the time off, so it was cool. We’re definitely excited to get back on the road. We haven’t been on a bus in about three or four months, so it’s about time for us to get back out there and start promoting more and getting in front of people.
From what I can tell on social media, there seems to be a bit of a debate about categorizing All That Remains’ genre, but you have referred to it as modern metal. Do you still feel that way, or do you think that the new album has sort of changed that a bit?
I think we’re still a metal band. The tones that we go after when we’re recording, like the kick drums, the guitar tones, you know, the lead tones, those things are a big part of what makes things inherently metal. A lot of people get wrapped up in whether the singer is screaming or not, and you know, if there are certain types of breakdowns.
As to whether it’s metal or core; I don’t think those are the actual things that make modern metal. It’s always been about hard-driven music, with a sort of scooped out sound on the guitars, the drums being really punchy and stuff, so I think that whether something is metal or not is really dictated by the tones together, the sonic sound of the music, regardless of whether or not your riffs have enough notes or the right kind of mesh together.
All That Remains originally started out as a side project for you, since you were also a vocalist in Shadows Fall. At what point did you decide to focus solely on All That Remains?
Well…they kicked me out (laughs).
I had started writing, basically just because I wanted to play guitar again, you know, I played guitar in a band before Shadows Fall, and the whole point behind starting All That Remains was just for me to play guitar in a band again. I probably had about three or four songs written when they asked me to leave, and it was pretty much a no-brainer, it’s like, “Well, I’ve got these songs written, I’ve already started working on them, so might as well just take them and run with it.”
But you wanted to be a drummer at some point, is that right?
When I was a kid, yeah, which was a terrible idea.
When you’re a kid, you do dumb things (laughs). My parents told me no, I could not have a drum kit, because they wanted to remain sane. My godparents got me a guitar, so that worked out.
It’s been several years since you guys toured in the HardDrive Live: Fallout Tour. With a different lineup, and a new album in tow, what are you looking forward to the most in performing in it this year?
We’re very excited. We just went through a member change—our bass player quit, so we had to replace her.
Yeah, this just, just happened. She got engaged last year, and she just wanted to focus for a while on her relationship and stuff.
Yeah, with the timing, that’s pretty understandable.
Yeah. It’s amicable to me, from our perspective, we understand, so we have a new guy. I wasn’t sure if you’d heard about this…
No, I had no idea.
We haven’t had a member change since 2006, and we haven’t really talked about it. But, to answer your question, we are very excited to perform. We have a new member, we’re pumped, and I mean, Jeanne [Sagan] was always an energetic person on stage, and Aaron [Patrick] is extremely energetic, so I think he’s going to fit the role absolutely fine.
Yeah, that was an unexpected surprise on my end (laughs).
Switching gears a bit here, you’ve explained the reasoning behind your album, The Order Of Things, being that it’s about accepting a lack of control over the events that happen in life, which in turn, creates inner peace. May I ask where this sort of revelation came from through your perspective?
I just turned 40 this year, and a lot of things that used to bother me just don’t bother me anymore. I’m just like, whatever. You know, there are things that happen that is worth getting upset over, but you really can’t do anything about it, so you getting worked up or letting it really ruin your day. At that point, you have to think is it the something’s fault, or is it your fault? Something you didn’t do that you have no control over destroys how you feel and ruins your day, your week, your month, maybe even your year (laughs), you have to try not to let that happen.
And those are the kinds of things—family members die, and sicknesses, and probably losing a job, those are real things to be concerned with. There are too many things that are important that makes you not want to sweat the small stuff. And that’s kind of the whole thing, just don’t sweat the small stuff.
That’s a great message. Some press outlets have referred to your album basically as a strike against those who want to dictate how the band should sound. Do you ever pay attention to those kinds of remarks, or do you usually just brush them off?
For the most part, I brush them off. Our Twitter accounts, our Facebook pages, where the people you think you’re conversing with or people that you’re talking to, those bands that are in the media, in entertainment, they never respond a lot of times. But when you’re dealing with me, it’s not that, you’re getting me. Comments and stuff don’t go through a committee, they don’t go through anywhere, it’s just my say. So, with that being said, I spend a lot of time reading stuff that people say.
There are definitely the kind of people out there that say things just to get a rise out of someone, and to be honest, I’ve made friends with a lot of dudes who were like that. The reason I even met them was because they were trashing All That Remains on the Internet. We got into a lot of back and forth stuff, and it’s kind of funny looking at it. There are just…(laughs), just so many people, I mean, everyone has access to the Internet! The Internet has given everybody a voice, and they get to decide what they’re going to go ahead complain about, because everyone goes on there and complains about every different thing. I mean, for example, you can go to an outdoorsman website and find fishermen who will find and call each other’s mother’s names (laughs).
(Laughs) That’s so true, though! No one is safe.
Exactly! It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m sure there are brilliant and talented scientists who also talk smack about each other on science websites or other message boards, you know?
Oh, most definitely. To make matters worse, I recently saw on Facebook that they’re coming out with a dislike button, so I’m sure that’ll go over very nicely (laughs).
Oh, that’ll be… (laughs). Well, that’s going to be great. I’m sure everything on the Internet will have more dislikes than real likes (laughs).
Probably (laughs). So, what have your fans’ responses been like since The Order Of Things was released back in February?
Well, it did come out a little while ago. Since I did have a little time off during the summer, I haven’t had a lot of interactions with fans, meet and greets, or really any time to talk with them about it. But you know, the responses that I’ve gotten is really thoughtful. It’s not just, “Oh, this is badass,” it really kind of seems to resonate, and that’s just a really big compliment.
Absolutely. I took a listen myself and thought it was fantastic, as well.
This album also took a new turn in a productive sense, with you making the decision to work with Josh Wilbur of Lamb Of God and Gojira. Were you concerned with taking on something that kind of strayed away from the norm for you, or was this something you were looking forward to from the beginning.
Well, we’re kind of into the habit, and so we usually had to been trying to work with Adam [Dutkiewicz] as much as we could because he’s done so much of our stuff and he’s a close friend, and he has worked on a bunch of our records and stuff. When it became apparent that he just wasn’t going to be available because of other commitments that he had like touring, we realized that we kind of don’t have anyone else in mind.
But once we started doing pre-production with Josh, I was sold. I was like “Alright, this guy’s awesome.” We’ve already talked to him about doing our next record, so that’s what our plan is next year or maybe a little earlier in the fall, maybe. But you know, we liked working with him a lot, he’s got great ideas, we feel that we’re really just on the same page, and overall it’s a lot of fun.
Many modern metal bands probably won’t admit to this, but you guys are pretty open about enjoying a bit of mainstream pop music. So, I think many fans are curious, what are the current pop tunes you’re all into at the moment?
I like the new Taylor Swift record, 1989, and to be honest with you, Bring Me The Horizon, which is a fairly heavy band has put out a record that’s really poppy that’s number two on Billboard, and it’s an awesome record, so I’ve been listening to that a lot. Their older stuff is really heavy—in the new record it kind of sounds a little like Linkin Park. I hear they’re getting a lot of crap for that. But I think they’ve written an absolutely amazing record.
Since we’re going down that road, there are a couple of Lady Gaga and All That Remains mashups on YouTube, so I’d really like to know, have you seen those yet?
Wow! (Laughs) That’s really funny, seriously.
They’re not bad—I highly recommend you check those out sometime. Maybe you and Lady Gaga can collaborate on the next record or something.
(Laughs) Yeah, I doubt it, but that’s cool.
All That Remains will be performing alongside We Came As Romans and Emmure on Nov. 4 at the Theater Of The Living Arts in Philadelphia, PA. They will also be playing Nov. 6 with We Came As Romans and Devour The Day at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. Then on Dec. 14, they play with Sons Of Texas at the Gramercy Theatre in NYC. The Order Of Things is available now. For more information, go to allthatreaminsonline.com.