Converge Interview

In their fifteen-year existence, Boston quartet Converge have constantly blurred the lines between metal, hardcore, and all-out sonic warfare; creating a unique, progressive sound that has won them plenty of devoted fans and critical acclaim for albums such as ‘Petitioning The Empty Sky’ and ‘Jane Doe’. Alex Gosman caught up with vocalist Jacob Bannon for a chat about forthcoming new album ‘No Heroes’, and the band’s current activity.

How are you guys, and what have you been up to since you last visited the UK [in April last year]?

Well, we’ve been writing and recording the new album, doing a few tours in the United States…right now we’re on the road with Mastodon and The Bronx, and we’re on our way to a show in Chicago.

You recently did a few dates on the US leg of the Sounds Of The Underground tour [an increasingly popular multi-band metal/hardcore tour] – how did that go?

It was…interesting! We’re not really fans of festival tours and things of that nature, so it definitely wasn’t our ideal environment to play in. But you might as well try everything once, you know? There were some great bands there, it was just that we didn’t like that huge amphitheatre environment – it’s kind of impersonal.

It’s been nearly two years since you released [previous album] ‘You Fail Me’ – are you happy with how it was received, and in retrospect, is there anything about it that you feel you should’ve done differently?

Not necessarily, no…we were all pretty happy with the record when it was finished. We’d had to overcome a lot of legal issues and label issues before it was finally released through Epitaph, so it felt like a great victory when it finally came out. In that way, it was more than just releasing a record – it was more like a new chapter for our band. The new record was the product of a whole new recording and touring environment for us, so again, it’s like a new chapter for us.

Is there any particular reason why you decided to sign to Epitaph Records?

Well, we had those legal disagreements and other issues with [previous label] Equal Vision – but ever since we signed to Epitaph, we’ve had a really positive experience. For the most part, they’ve been very supportive of everything we’re doing, they understand what we’re about, so it’s worked out pretty well.

What’s the story behind the title of ‘No Heroes’? Do you feel that it’s pointless to idolise other people/bands?

It’s completely pointless – but that’s not the overall theme of the album: just of the ‘No Heroes’ song. We thought that title would work well for the record too, but it’s not a concept album or anything like that; it’s still very much a personal record, written about our experiences over the last couple of years.

But as one of the more forward-thinking bands of today, you’re viewed as musical heroes – or at least a huge inspiration – by a lot of other bands, including some who are local to me. How do you feel about that?

It’s flattering, but it’s not the reason why we do what we do as a band. We just try to write music that is moving and exciting to us, and that challenges us – and that really is our only goal. We’ve never been concerned with attaining any level of commercial success. If people enjoy what we do or are influenced by us, then that’s great, but it’s not something we reflect on.

Was there any particular lyrical inspiration for ‘No Heroes’?

All the songs are about specific experiences I’ve had over the last couple of years…but I’d rather just let people listen to the music, read the lyrics and see what they get out of it. I think that for the first time, the songs are poetic but also pretty literal, so I think a fair amount of people could relate to a lot of the personal stuff in there.

One track that really stands out on ‘No Heroes’ is the ten minute long ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose‘ – how did that come about?

Yeah, it’s ten minutes long, and it also has a guest vocal from Jonah Jenkins, who sang in Only Living Witness and Miltown – he’s been one of my favourite vocalists since I was a teenager. We’d been working on the song for a while, and in my head I could imagine him singing on it – so I figured it was a long-shot, but that I might as well ask him, and he was happy to be involved. So he sings for the first five minutes, and then I come in for the remainder of the song. So yeah, we’re really happy about how that one worked out.

Finally, what are your plans for the near future, after ‘No Heroes’ is released?

After this current tour finishes in a couple of weeks, we’re gonna take October off, then we’ll be touring the States again with Some Girls and Modern Life Is War. Next year, we’re gonna concentrate on worldwide touring, getting to Europe, Japan, Australia and other places. We’re hoping to make it to Europe and the UK around springtime.

‘No Heroes’ is released October 23rd on Epitaph Records. Check for more info.

Alex Gosman