With the bands seventh album “The Order of Things” cocked, loaded and ready to fire this week, we would assume that All That Remains are in for one hell of a year, as they are about to embark on a North American tour with Swedish melodic Death Metal pioneers In Flames and are booked to take the main stage at this years Download Festival. Phil Labonte, talks exclusively to Overdrive about the new album, the meaning behind the title and when we can possibly see them on a headline tour of Europe.
OD – Let’s talk about the new album “The Order Of Things” and that title, what is the meaning behind it and did you have any other names that you were considering?
PHIL – It refers to the vast majority of events and things that happen in each of our lives and then there’s this 10% that we can’t really control. And then, the other 90% of it is really how we kind of react to things and how we let them affect us. So, it’s kinda like saying “Que sera, sera: whatever will be, will be”. It’s kinda like saying “Worry about yourself, and worry about how you let things affect you more, than about worrying about trying to affect things, because most things are outta your control”.
OD – You worked with Josh Wilbur (Gojira / Lamb Of God) on this album, what album inspired you to choose Josh for this album?
PHIL – Well, to be honest with you, before we actually started working with him, there were only a couple of records that Josh had done that I had heard, like the Lamb of God stuff and I’d heard the Gojira record also.
But the vast majority of the work that he’s done has been outside of the metal contingent, so I wasn’t familiar with his stuff. What happened was, we’d wanted to work with Adam (Dutkiewicz, from Killswitch Engage), and Adam wasn’t available, so we said like, “these are some people we’re thinking about – why don’t we meet with this guy Josh”, and we’re like “alright cool. We’ll sit down and talk to him” and he made us feel really good about his ability to work with us. We discovered more of the projects that he has worked on in the past and we all collectively thought that he’d be a good fit for what we were thinking we should do on this album and it turned out to be, (in our opinion), a great vision though Josh, as he’s super-talented, super-smart and really understood what we were going for, and he became a huge asset, like, he is or was a huge asset to the production of this record. It wouldn’t sound the same without him. I mean, we couldn’t say enough good things about him.
OD -It is hard to adapt to a different producer after working with Adam on the last four albums, were there any stand out moments that you will remember from working on this album that shows a difference in how both Adam and Josh work?
PHIL – They’re not dramatically different – they’re both really encouraging. Working with them both has been a great experience for All That Remains. There are a few little things that are different when comparing them. Like when Adam hears something he doesn’t like, he’ll just kinda look over at you and laugh at you. Like, if you give a bad performance, he’ll go (blows raspberry), you know? He’d do something silly, but working with both of ‘em, you know, they both really care about the record they’re working on, and they really want the record to sound the very best that it possibly can.
I don’t think this recording experience was dramatically different, but I think that Josh was a little more interested in giving ideas if we hit a road block or we hit a part that we couldn’t come up with what we wanted to do and wanted it to sound like. Josh was a little more up-and-coming with ideas. Adam was a little more reserved about that – mostly I think because I think he was saying “this is YOUR record, it’s not MY record, so I shouldn’t be saying this or that”. I think Josh is a little more “this is OUR record”, than Adam is. I don’t think there is a positive or a negative from either side. It’s just different ways that the producers work, and the point that we were at, or ARE at, that adding another opinion, or having others bring ideas, becomes a real big benefit, so we didn’t end up sounding like we were putting out the same think over and over.
OD – You have an amazing ability of singing with a remarkable strong and melodic vocal and then with the likes of “No Knock” it’s just fucking brutal, how do you manage to switch these vocal styles when you’re on a rigorous touring schedule night after night?
PHIL– Ah- it’s tough. Mostly its stuff to keep my acid reflux in check, ya know? Like, on tour, you’re drinking, you’re late because basically you’re working bar hours, ya know? You’re up at noon or one or whatever, and you’re up late and you get done with the show and then everybody’s hungry so you get a bunch of pizza. So most of the challenge for me is keeping my reflux in check, and making sure that I’m not yelling over a bunch of people. I don’t tend to go out to bars and stuff on tour. I go out and we’re talking to people and I’m yelling over music and I’m yelling over people talking and one thing and the next, so it’s mostly trying to make sure that I’m taking care of my health to be able to perform every night.
People assume that every night on tour you’re out partying, and you’re going up to the bar. That might be true for, say, guitar players or drummers. But for vocalists, it’s like, usually “No I can’t go out. I have to sing tomorrow”. I can’t go out because I’ll be talking to people all night and my voice could blow out, so I have to be extra careful.
OD – Can we talk a little about the album artwork and its meaning?
PHIL -We just kinda wanted it to reflect the title of the album, like the order of things. Originally we wanted diagrams of machinery and stuff and show the way that things fit together. I think that the scenery and the artwork really fit in with the title. And also I had told the artist “no body parts, no skulls, no faces, no fingers, no hands, no human images at all”, because every record we’ve done had some sort of figure on it. I wanted something different than that.
OD – You have had some flack in the past regarding speaking your mind, do you think that our so called freedom of speech is not so “Free” and do you let this influence in your lyric writing? Have you decided not to use particular lyrics in case they get misunderstood?
PHIL – I don’t think I really think about that kind of stuff when I’m writing lyrics. I don’t worry about if it’s gonna upset someone or offend someone. This record was the first time that I ever swore on a record. In “No Knock”, there’s a couple of curse words and it’s the first time I ever put a curse word in a song that I thought that would fit in, to get the message across. But it’s not something that I regularly do. I swear plenty in real life, so it’s not like I need a “swear outlet”.
OD – What are your thoughts on Gene Simmons saying “Rock is dead” or Dave Lombardo recently saying that “there’s not enough creativity in today’s metal music”?
PHIL – Well, in answering the question you’re asking, which is, the older artists that say “you’re not doing it like we did”, they’re probably right on some level. However, at the same time, most of the older artists that have been around and stayed around, they kinda put out the same thing, record after record, if you know what I mean.
They found their audience and they catered to their audience with the same sound. So, I think that it may be a little bit of a curmudgeon-ey statement; a “get off my lawn” grumpy-old-guy-thing; “you damn kids and your internet!” It might be a little of that… kinda like “you can’t do it like we did it, ‘coz we’re old and we know how to do this and blah blah blah”. That might be where it’s coming from, but I think that music is definitely evolving; that heavy music is definitely changing, and there’s a few bands in my opinion that are near the cutting edge, and it may not be a popular opinion, but I really think that bands like Bring Me The Horizon are really pushing what heavy music is, what creativity does and what it means to be a creative metal musician to make something that is compelling.
I don’t think that the old guys are right. And I’m probably in the middle of the old guys! Like you mentioned Gene Simmons and Dave Lombardo, and like, I’m just about 40 so they’re probably between 10-20 years older than me and the guys that I mentioned, like in BMTH are 20 years younger than me. So, like, the old guys are being old guys, and young guys are out there doing what they’re doing. Some of them are kicking ass and some of them aren’t. So I don’t think the old guys aren’t right, I think they’re just being old guys.
OD – You are heading out on tour with In Flames at the end of this month, when will you be heading over to Europe?
PHIL – Well, I know that we’re gonna be playing in Europe at the festivals. I’m not 100% positive on what has and has not been announced, but I know that we are going to the UK. We’re playing Download, so hopefully any Irish fans can get across from Ireland to England and come out to the show – we’d love it. The last time we played for Irish fans, in Ireland, was 2008, so it’s been a long time. It was with Trivium, and we’re hoping that we can put something together for later on this year, and get over there and do a little more expansive touring. Right now, I know for sure the one thing I can talk about is we’re gonna be over there at Download and the bigger festivals in June.
OD – “This Probably Won’t End Well” is the first single / video taken from the new album; can you let us know what the next video will be?
PHIL – To be honest with you, I don’t know. I think that it might be “Valid”, but I’m not positive – I really don’t know. But when we were finishing up the record, there was some push-back from the label about which songs should be singles, and which ones shouldn’t be, and we had a bit of a disagreement over the whole, what their perspective is gonna be, so we’ll see. Personally, I mean, we’re really, really proud of this record and I wish we could make videos for 8 or 9 of the songs, but that’s just not gonna happen, so I’m not sure what’s gonna come out next. We’ll see what the label wants to do and see if we have to get into any arguments over it or not.
OD – Since you started playing music as a full time career, what’s the most bizarre situation you have found yourself in to date?
PHIL -Ya know, coming from the back ground that we kinda come from, it’s been weird to be able to step out of the underground exclusively and welcomed into a more mainstream perspective. I mean it’s a dangerous thing for an underground band to do. I mean, I remember when Carcass released “Heartwork”, and Bill Steer stopped doing the guttural vocals and there were people screaming “SELL-OUTS!!” at Carcass! Like that actually happened! As much as the dudes that are like “oh I’m all about the music and everything Carcass has done is great and Heartwork is awesome”, I was THERE as an active Carcass fan in the early ‘90s when “Heartwork” came out, and I remember the wrath of shit that it got from the guys that are like “It’s not heavy enough”. I mean, that happens but, you manage to persevere and expand not only our audience, but expand musically too and we’ve managed to do that and everyone in the band is very happy about it. So that’s probably the craziest thing that’s happened; that we continually get to put records out.
All That Remains seventh album “The Order Of Things” will be released on February 23rd via Razor & Tie Records.
Pre-Order your copy here.
Check out another killer tune from the forthcoming album below.
Words – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Official Stock