Interview – Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel


American heavy metal has seen a new wave of young fresh acts carrying the flag over the past decade. One of the leaders of the new generation is Knoxville, TN extreme metal band Whitechapel. Together since 2006 the band has seen their popularity grow exponentially with four studio albums peaking on the hard rock chart consecutively.  

Now in 2014 after years of pounding the pavement touring and crafting their skills they bring the world their newest album titled Our Endless War. Recently we sat down with lead vocalist Phil Bozeman for a look at what makes Whitechapel tick, the work behind their newest album, their upcoming tour with DevilDriver, and much more. –  Whitechapel has been around for eight years now and in time has become a premiere metal band. Your sophomore album This Is Exile in 2008 was really the breakthrough for the band. What was that like to see things really start to take off after that release?

Phil Bozeman – It was crazy, our first album was kind of like our breakout and This Is Exile was our staple album to let people know we were here to stay. It showed we are here to make this our career and prosper as a band. It was crazy to see the response we received from that second album. The anticipation kept building for us, we kept touring and going at it, and it turned it into what it has today.

Candlelight Records
Candlelight Records
Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records – It really has been a very steady climb for Whitechapel.  Labels can often be limiting but Whitechapel has always been labeled a deathcore band. The scene really has thrived over the past decade. Is the band comfortable with this label or is that something you really don’t concern yourselves with?

Phil Bozeman – We just look at ourselves as a metal band, we just like to play heavy music. We are what we are, if people want to label us that is fine. I do honestly think the genre has kind of tainted some bands. I think the term to be more hurting to the scene than helping because a lot of bands are just getting pigeonholed into it. – Exactly.  Labels in any form of rock are so limiting. It seems with each album the band’s sound progresses and a deep sense of atmosphere is placed on the song structures. Is that something the band is striving for as you grow?

Phil Bozeman – Yes definitely, we just do not want to write the same music over and over again. We just want to expand our horizons and write different music. We want to challenge ourselves and have something new and fresh. It is not very satisfying to write the same exact thing over and over again. It may satisfy other bands, but we are ultimately here to satisfy ourselves. If we did not satisfy ourselves then why are we doing what we are doing?

Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records – Absolutely. There are many bands that may play it safe and do the same type of music continuously just to please fans, but how happy can you be doing that?

Phil Bozeman – Exactly. That is going to cause turmoil in the band. There are going to be people who want to reach out to different artistic writing styles. If they do not get to do that, there is definitely going to be tension for sure. – With that said, the band released their fifth full-length album Our Endless War on April 29th. The album is perhaps one of the band’s most atmospheric and mature to date. What was the writing and recording process like for this record?

Phil Bozeman – It was pretty much the same as we have always done. We always write the music over the course of a year or so. We pretty much did it that way and I added vocals when everything was completely done 100% the way it was going to be on the album. All the guys have laptops that they demo their stuff out with to just get the idea across. That is pretty much the writing process every time we have written a new album. – Sounds like the band has found a process that works well for them. The melodies on this album are really strong and cohesive with the grooves. Was that the intent going into the album?

Phil Bozeman – We just wanted to write something a little bit more emotional sounding and different. We went into it thinking let’s mix the old school with the new. We tried to please ourselves and write what we wanted to write but also keep our fans in mind. We want to give them what they want to hear, but at the same time we want to do what we want to do. We were ready to put together riffs that we had not had a chance to use on other albums and see what came of it.

Metal Blade Records
Metal Blade Records – It came out really well and people are going to love this record. The core of Whitechapel including Ben, Alex, Gabe, and Zach has been together pretty much for the duration of the band. Many bands have interchanging members but you guys have had stability. What has been the key to the band’s chemistry?

Phil Bozeman – Our chemistry works so well together as far as writing with our views, our opinions on what we want to do. We just work really well together.  We do not want to be one of those bands where it is not taken seriously and we are constantly changing members all the time and people are not dedicated to it. We are all dedicated, all on the same page, and that is how it works for us. We are not thinking about doing anything differently, we do not bicker or argue. We just worked out really well for us. –  That is great that the band is all on the same page. That is the key for a band’s success.  You will be co-headlining a tour with DevilDriver along with some great supporting acts in Revocation, Carnifex, Rivers of Nihil and Fit For An Autopsy. How excited is the band for this tour?

Phil Bozeman – We are ready and really excited to get back out on tour. We have not been out since we did a tour with GWAR in October. We are ready to play new songs and get this new album out there. – It is really a great mix of bands. Speaking of touring, the band has done extensive touring. What are some of the key things you have learned being on the road so much?

Phil Bozeman – To really appreciate home and the people out there supporting you.  You learn how to become better as a band as you start to progress. You are spending months at a time with the same people. You get to learn from other bands that are more successful and more well known.  You get to see how they do things and you learn how to become more professional as a band. You mature with age and you learn to adapt to the lifestyle.

dsc_9760 – Obviously being on the road can be stressful.  You have to find that balance. What are some of your musical influences?

Phil Bozeman – I grew up listening to Metallica, Pantera, Cannibal Corpse. A bunch of heavier bands, I was influenced by a lot of punk rock too. All kinds of different genres play into my influences.  I listened to a lot of hip hop throughout my whole life as well.

East West
East West – It seems like you have a good mix of influences and tastes. My last question for you is pertaining to films. covers rock/metal and horror movies. I’d like to know if you are a fan of horror and if so what are some of your favorites?

Phil Bozeman – I like the Friday the 13th and Halloween series. Anything that is eerie and dark, I like stuff like that.  I like the corny stuff but I also like the stuff that really makes you question closing your eyes at night.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures – Those are some classics.  What do you think of the modern end of horror with all computer effects and remakes?

Phil Bozeman – I feel like the acting, depending on the movie, is a lot better. The technology we have today makes it tight and polished, but that is the whole part of the classic horror films, the corniness and goofiness of it.  That really puts the emphasis on classic horror films. It seems today horror films are a lot darker and more serious than they were back in the day.  It is just the new age, technology is advanced, things look a lot prettier. The classics are always going to be the classics, they have that respect there.

Catch Whitechapel on the following dates:
5/17: Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
5/18: Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
5/19: Tempe, AZ @ Marquis Theater
5/20: West Hollywood, CA @ House of Blues
5/21: San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
5/22: San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
5/23: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
5/24: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
5/25: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory
5/26: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory
5/27: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
5/29: Calgary, AB @ Marquee Beer & Market Stage
5/30: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
5/31: Regina, SK @ Riddell Centre
6/1: Fargo, ND @ The Venue
6/2: Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights
6/3: Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
6/4: Joliet, IL @ Mojoes
6/5: Kokomo, IN @ CenterStage Bar and Grill
6/8: Cincinnati, OH @ Bogarts
6/10: Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
6/11: Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
6/12: New York, NY @ Stage 48
6/13: Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of the Living Arts
6/14: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
6/15: Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
6/16: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
6/17: Orlando, FL @ Firestone Live
6/18: Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
6/20: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
6/21: Corpus Christi, TX @ House of Rock
6/22: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar ‘N Grill (Outside)
6/23: Austin, TX @ Mohwak

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Purchase a copy of Our Endless War here 

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