It’s that time of year—the temperature is dropping and the ice is settling in. Plenty of music addicts are still longing for another concert to see, something to bring them a little bit of summer fun back into their lives to hold them over through the coldest months of the year. Luckily, some bands are taking advantage of the slow touring season and diving head-first into the snowy roads, ready to bring us an escape from the dark winter.
Hailing from Lancaster, PA, August Burns Red have certainly made a splash in the music industry—they were just nominated for a Grammy last year and are now setting off on a 10-year anniversary tour to celebrate their breakthrough album, Messengers. Members JB Brubaker (lead guitar), Brent Rambler (rhythm guitar), Matt Greiner (drums/keyboard/piano), Jake Luhrs (vocals), and Dustin Davidson (bass/vocals) have worked tirelessly to relearn their old material for the upcoming tour and are stoked to finally play some never-before-performed songs.
Luckily, I was able to catch Brent before the hectic holidays and the musicians took off for the roads, to talk about the upcoming tour. I must say, he and the band are psyched to be able to play the album in its entirety and pay homage to the record that brought August Burns Red to the spotlight.
What’ve you been up to lately to prep for this tour?
We’ve just been practicing, obviously it’s our 10-year anniversary tour of our record so there are a lot of songs that we haven’t played in a long time and some songs that we’ve never played live before so, just a lot of preparation and making sure we’re playing our parts right and trying to remember. We’re also preparing for our annual Christmas show, so while relearning our songs, we have to keep the newer songs fresh in our minds, so there’s just been a lot of practicing and obviously going home and hanging out with family.
How do you feel about after 10 years, finally getting to play some of these songs that you’d never played live?
I think it’ll be cool. It’ll be something awesome for our fans who have been with us this whole time. Everyone has their own personal favorite song and I think that being able to see the whole record from start to finish and being able to see these songs that you’ve been listening to for a decade live, possibly for the first time ever, I think that’s cool. I think a lot of the fans will appreciate that. I mean, we were touring a lot on Messenger and we were a smaller band at that point and doing a lot of opening shows, so we would only have maybe a 30-minute set at times, so we only ever got to play a handful of these songs. I think it’ll be cool for the band. To be honest, the record feels a little bit dated because we’ve progressed a lot, wrote a lot of different material since but it’s fun to go back and go over those songs. It’ll be a refresher. The record is extremely aggressive a little bit different than what we play now.
You mentioned your annual holiday show—what got you guys into doing that?
Well, the production company that we were on, they, for years prior to us, had been putting on an annual Christmas show with their bands. And we hopped on and played and now I think we’ve kind of taken over the headline spot for the annual Christmas shows and then they do another one with another headliner. But it’s just fun and a great way for us to play a concert for our friends and family once a year in the area. It’s nice for us to play a hometown show.
How do you feel about headlining it?
It’s cool. I mean, we’ve been headlining it for about the last nine years. When I was growing up, we would go see a Christmas show all the time. It’s just a lot of fun because we used to go see it and now we’re playing it.
You guys released an album back in 2015, can we expect anything new from you guys in 2017?
We are actively working on a new record, but obviously, preparing for the 10-year anniversary tour is first and foremost. We are working on a new record and have plans to record it in the next year, but we don’t have any kind of release date now. We’re taking our time because I think in this point of our career, we want to put out quality material versus just popping out a record every two years. We have a large catalogue to listen to so anything that we put out from here on out is of the best quality versus, like I said, writing and writing and writing, just to get records out.
Are you able to write on the road at all?
We generally don’t write on the road. We aren’t big fans of people taking over the back lounge of the bus and playing their instruments. There’s 12 people and we need to share the space, so not a lot of writing happens on the road. A lot of lyric writing happens on the road. That’s a little easier to do than picking up a guitar and setting up an amp (laughs). So that happens on tour. It’s actually a great atmosphere to write if you can escape into your tiny bunk. But instrumentally, it’s not the best for writing.
That’s understandable. I saw you guys were nominated for a Grammy last year. What was the feeling?
Shocking (laughs). We had no idea that we were even—like, you have to be eligible to be nominated by the Grammy committee and we didn’t even know we were eligible. So the fact that people took the time to sit down and listen to the songs and to vote for them, it was awesome. It was completely unexpected and getting to go to the Grammys was fun. It was an experience. I mean, hopefully we’ll be nominated again, but who knows. We’ll see. It’s just another great thing to add to our catalogue of accomplishments.
Well, yeah. How many people can say they’d been nominated for a Grammy? What was your approach to actually attending the awards?
I went into it thinking that there was pretty much no way that we would win (laughs). Sure, it was a category of metal, but what we play is just far more aggressive than all of the other bands nominated. It’s a little harder to swallow. There are no radio-friendly parts. So, knowing that, you just kind of know that you have very little chance. Because sure, people took the time to listen and pick the nominees, but once people know who the nominees are, they have to vote and we’re a little tougher to swallow more than the other bands if you aren’t familiar with our kind of music. So I went in knowing that probably the softest sounding band would win it and I was right. Ghost won and they sound a lot like rock.
Oh right, yeah. And I noticed you’re touring in some of the coldest months. How do you handle that?
We actually like touring in January and February because a lot of bands don’t tour then. I think one of the most important things now is trying to find when to tour, especially when you’re headlining, when there aren’t many other tours. And that’s proving to be harder and harder and harder because bands aren’t making that much off of music sales, so they have to tour constantly if you want to make a living. So January and February are our favorite months to tour because not many people are out then. But yes, it’s cold, but we’re also from Pennsylvania so it’s not that bad. We have it better because we’ll be on a bus, so it’s easier for us to do tours this time of year. Hopefully, we won’t run into too much snow. We’ve had that happen and that is the risk you take. But once you get out of the Northeast, it gets a little easier. And we have had such a mild fall—like, it’s supposed to be in the 60s next week, so a little ridiculous. But last year, we had a really bad snowstorm, but that was only one. And then it went right from winter to summer and we didn’t really have a spring.
I remember that. How do you handle getting sick, though?
Oh, that’s tough. It’s a bummer on tour. If one person gets sick, the whole bus gets sick. That’s just how it goes. So, if you see that someone’s sick, you just walk up to them and be like, “Just cough on me. Get it over with.” So, it is a bummer, but we all try to take care of ourselves, stay healthy, eat well, so that if we do get sick, we can get over it faster.
What’s your favorite part about being on tour?
Playing the shows every night is what we look forward to every day, especially if you’re going to a venue in the middle of nowhere and you have nothing to do all day, it’s nice to finally get on stage to play the show. But I enjoy traveling and exploring different places. And we’ve gotten to the point now where we’ve played certain places so often that we know them and we look forward to going back and playing them again or visiting restaurants, breweries, places like that. And then we get to see different places that are outside of our little boxes at home.
Don’t miss as August Burns Red pulls in to The TLA in Philadelphia on Jan. 4, PlayStation Theater in NY on Jan. 6, and Starland Ballroom in NJ on Feb. 11. For more on these musicians, visit their site at augustburnsred.com.