Twenty-one-year-old prog metal upstarts Protest The Hero have the number one record in Canada and the mass media on their trail—but that’s not why they party. Vocalist Rody Walker, guitarist Tim Millar, guitarist/pianist Luke Hoskin, bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi, and drummer Morgan Carlson have just released their sophomore record, Fortress, to critical acclaim, and though they have a reason to crack open a bottle or two, they simply agree that “everyone has their vices.” Walker adds, “Rveryone needs two legs to stand on and I choose cigarettes and booze.”
As The Aquarian chats with the talented singer who is “smoking butts and taking names,” we learn how PTH don’t take themselves seriously by any means, yet manage to write intellectually complex songs full of literary references and valid morals. As Walker explains how “the only success I know is getting drunk every night,” we wonder what drives these young underlings to craft such a composite sound built on progressive metal ethics and grindcore change-ups, with meaningful lyrics questioning social norms. So is he letting us on? We think so. But here’s what Rody Walker had to say about the making of Fortress, and Protest’s carousing lifestyle.
Fortress is becoming?
To some degree. I don’t know if it affects us because we don’t really see it. Mostly we just live our stupid suburban lives and ignore everything that’s going on around us. It’s been a slow- going gradual process, so it’s very difficult to see. It’s kind of like when they first started testing airplanes: they just pushed them over the cliffs and they couldn’t tell whether they were in flight or falling to the earth, and in most cases we are falling to the cold hard earth.
You think you’re crashing?
I hope so. I don’t want to be doing this forever. We definitely have a passion for [in a mocking tone:] ‘creating technically advanced music,’ but in the same breath we don’t take ourselves too seriously as individuals or in the band. There’s too many fucking bands out there that take themselves too seriously, and it’s way easier when you don’t care about anything in the world.
How do you think ‘technically advanced music’ can be a number one record in this day and age?
I think it’s just because people understand it’s sincere. We don’t write music for the fans, we don’t write music for the critics, we write music to keep ourselves entertained, otherwise we’d just slip into the wonderful world of alcoholism and drugs—well, a less functional version of that, cuz as we do recede into it, we are still functional to some varying degrees.
You guys have been in a band together since high school. How does progressing as people come into play on Fortress?
I think there’s a certain maturity to this record that didn’t exist on previous attempts in what we’re willing to accept outside of our given genres. We’ve come to a point where nothing really matters. Like, I’m a huge pop enthusiast; I’m a big fan of Paramore and Justin Timberlake and I’m not ashamed of it in the least. I like what I like and don’t what I don’t. Most of our intrigues lie in metal, but the diversified list of bands we listen to actually just add a progressive, interesting element to our record. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it innovative, but I’d call it unique.
And how does that translate to songwriting?
Maturing as people has made us mature as songwriters, and though we’re not very mature people, we do take our jobs somewhat seriously because it has formed into a career. So the writing process is less sitting around laughing and farting, it’s more just sitting down and actually writing stuff…by getting very drunk. We’re not the kind of band that says, ‘We want to write a metal album, we want to write a prog album’—we just sit down and say, ‘Let’s write some fucking songs, let’s write a record,’ and it comes out how it comes out. But it’s a very natural progression into further obscurity.