All That Remains are a band considered by some to be metal’s ugly duckling. The band that got left behind whilst many of their peers shot to rapid success, leaving the Massachusetts quintet to go it alone with their slowly-but-surely route to the big time.
Having just completed a summer-long stint on the new and crushing Sounds of the Underground tour alongside the likes of Lamb of God, Clutch and GWAR – things are at last looking up. Former Shadows Fall vocalist and current ATR front man Phil Labonte took some time out from the band’s recent UK stint as main support to new kids on the block Trivium, to tell our own metal maestro Ryan Bird how things stand for both himself and the band in 2005…
Hey, what’s up?
What’s shaking, man! I’m fine!
How does it feel to be back in the UK?
It’s still almost unbelievable. We’re one of the luckiest bands around to have been on the tours that we have in recent times. When we came through with Killswitch is was cool, but this tour is definitely shaping up to be just as good. The Killswitch tour wasn’t as long as this one is, but every show was sold out. Now it seems Trivium have just blown up the same way that Killswitch have, so we feel spoiled to be back on such a run. It’s amazing to see that there’s kids who actually know our stuff as well! Yesterday there was like a couple of dozen kids hanging out outside our bus, and that just never happens in the States.
Last time you were over here you were with Killswitch Engage playing middle sized venues. How do you feel about playing some smaller club shows such as this this time around?
I guess it’s pretty cool to actually be able to see the fans for a change! Sounds of the Underground was averaging about 4000 or so every day so it’s almost like a breath of fresh air. I don’t want anyone to think we’re too big for our boots or anything like that, though. It may be the heavy metal dream to play some big ass shows but we like to keep it intimate as well.
Does playing different sized venues every night make things difficult? Presumably you’ve got to change it up quite a lot.
Sure, it can be tough, but it’s something you just have to deal with. I guess the way to describe it is that it’s real work, it’s not just all partying. There’s a lot of stuff you’ve got to figure out. You need to know how you’re gonna do this, how you’re gonna do that, if you can’t do this then what are you gonna do instead etc. It’s not all just sitting around playing video games!
Of course, you guys are no longer strangers to the bigger sized venues as you just spent the summer on Sounds of the Underground. How did it go?
Simply amazing. Practically every show people knew who we were, and I’m not talking just a handful – I’m talking hundreds. It was the chance of a lifetime.
How does it feel for you guys to see that so many people want to come out and see an underground metal show in this day and age?
It was weird, because it’s a scene I’ve been a part of for a long time and seen go almost unnoticed for so many years. It’s surreal for me because I was someone who helped kick start this whole movement a long time ago, and all the guys I was playing with back then are now in these bands that are getting gigantic. To be in a band that is now considered to be on the rise is awesome.
In the past couple of years, it seems that type of music went from being a dirty word to being more than acceptable. What do you think triggered that?
I dunno! I have absolutely no idea! Why should I?! There’s no real reason I can pinpoint. I’m just thankful I’m going to be able to experience just a little bit of which the bands I admired as kid experienced. Bands like Metallica in ’91 and At The Gates – stuff like that. Thank god I can actually do this for a living, and hopefully continue to do it for another 10 to 15 years.
Obviously you were once a member of Shadows Fall. Is it tough to see them succeeding and doing so well?
Not at all. Those guys have got BIG coat tails! If it wasn’t for bands like them and Killswitch Engage, there’s no way I’d be able to do this. Everybody in Shadows Fall has always been cool to me, they’ve always been my friends, and there’s no ill feeling at all. I’m the biggest cheerleader in the world, and I want nothing but the best for the guys in Shadows Fall and any other bands out there that I consider friends.
Do you think that eventually the scene will totally collapse on itself and disappear into the undergrounds again?
I don’t think it COULD happen, I know it’s GONNA happen! That’s just the way music goes. I’m not foolish enough to think that I’m going to be doing this forever. I know that one day I’m not gonna be in a band anymore. How many bands do you know that stay relevant and stand out for years after they’re gone? To think it’s going to carry on forever is not realistic.
It’s been a good 18 months or so since you released This Darkened Heart. Any plans to start work on a new one?
Yup, we’re already talking about that one. Adam D from Killswitch is going to be producing again, because if something isn’t broken then don’t fix it! We’ll start writing around December and then head into the studio in March, so hopefully we can get the record out before the summer is over next year.
What kind of ideas are being tossed around for that right now? Anything that may surprise people?
Vocally it’ll probably see a bit more melody with the vocals, but at the same time there’ll be some more death metal growling going on. Our drummer is a massive death metal buff so whenever I’m around him I usually end up listening to stuff like Cannibal Corpse! Musically, I can’t really say just yet. As far as writing the riffs and such that’s still primarily done by myself and Oli (lead guitars), but this time I think it may be more of a band effort. I think we’re at the stage now where we know where this band is going, and we know that the sound this band has is pretty much where we’re going to stay. It’ll be different, but you’ll still be able to tell it’s an All That Remains record.
And after the album is done?
We’ll come back here, and hopefully we’ll be in a position by then that we can come through and do a headline tour of our own. The way this tour is going, it’s pretty much a given that we’ll at least pull a few people in. Whether the album is out or not by the time we come back doesn’t really matter so much, because I’m sure the second it’s done it’ll be all over the internet anyway. GO CYBERSPACE!
‘This Darkened Heart‘ is available now through Prosthetic Records.
See www.prostheticrecords.com for more information.