November 24, 2015 Interview – Phil Labonte of All that Remains Talks 2015
In this world, it is easy to go with the trends, but it is more bold to stick to what one believes in. For Massachusetts based Metal band All That Remains, it has always been about one thing and one thing only, music. Sustaining a plethora of industry changes in fifteen years as a band, All That Remains has seen their fanbase grow with each passing year as they explore new styles and sounds, while not forgetting their past. Marching through 2015 with their seventh overall studio album, The Order of Things, more touring, and a new band member, All That Remains have a bright outlook on the future ahead. Recently we caught up with Lead Vocalist Phil Labonte to talk the band’s year, longevity, balancing time for family, and more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke, earlier in 2015, All That Remains was continuing to pound the pavement touring in support of The Order of Things. With the final days of the year upon us, how would you describe All That Remains’ 2015?
Phil Labonte – It has been a good year. We have had three singles that have been released, one was top 10, one was top 20, and another one that has just come out. We have done Europe, Japan, and North America this year. That was mostly done in the Spring, we spent mostly Summers off doing some festivals in the US for radio shows and things like that. We recently finishing up doing a co-headliner right now with We Came as Romans. We had a a week off or so, and now we are another co-headline run in the US to kind of hit those spots that we missed on the first one. It has been a busy year for the band and we still managed to have a significant amount of time off, so it’s a nice thing to be able to be busy when you want to be busy, but still have the ability to say, “Right now we are not going to tour and that is ok,” without wondering how we are going to pay the bills and such.
CrypticRock.com – Right, it certainly has been an overall good year for the band. As you mentioned, the success with the singles and touring when you want to tour rather than being forced to tour, it is all positive thing. You had also mentioned the co-headlining run, was a killer bill with We Came As Romans, Devour the Day, and Failure Anthem. How did that tour go?
Phil Labonte – It was great great. Before the tour, we weren’t really close with We Came as Romans, but we had a lot of mutual friends. We kind of knew what to expect going in; of what kind of guys We Came As Romans are. They were every bit the super easy to get along with and kind of people all our friends said they were. It was a lot of fun and the shows were cool. The kids came out and it seems like they were having a good time. It was a really good solid and enjoyable tour.
CrypticRock.com – That is really great to hear. It is good to tour with different bands to keep things interesting. All That Remains have done a pretty good job of keeping yourselves diverse touring with different types of bands in the Rock and Metal genre through the years.
Phil Labonte – Yes, it is something that we kind of try to make a point of doing. For us, if we were going to go ahead and say what would be the easiest tour do, that would be going out with bands like Unearth, Killswitch Engage, or the bands from our area. The crowds are going to be friendly and familiar with who we are; even if they don’t know everything. That is kind of a no brainer, but you get in front of as many new people when you go out with the bands that are a lot like you. Unless you are going out with bands that are a different style of music, to you in some extent, you end up playing to the same people over and over. That is not how you maintain longevity. As a band, we have been around for almost fifteen years. It is not always the most comfortable playing in front of new people. Although, it is much more fun playing for people that are familiar with your stuff that are singing along. Playing in front of new people is how you remain a relevant band.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, it also gives you a challenge. If you were just playing in front of the same crowd or doing the same type of music you did fifteen years ago, one could imagine it would get boring. Change is definitely a part of life, everyone goes through it. It hit fans back in September when Jeanne Sagan decided to say goodbye to All That Remains after a decade. You guys had a long standing working relationship, was that difficult for the band as a whole to say goodbye to her?
Phil Labonte – As a personal thing, we all come from relatively the same area. We have a lot of the same friends, so I don’t think it’s like we aren’t going to see each other. From a personal level, it doesn’t feel like it’s a goodbye. As for the band, we kind of picked up from her that she wasn’t enjoying touring as much since she got engaged, and that is understandable. In the entire time that she was in the band up until she got engaged, she really did not have a serious boyfriend. She dated and stuff, but once we heard she got engaged, we kind of knew that she was not as into the touring aspect of being in the band. It wasn’t really a shock, we had kind of been thinking it might happen, so it was something we were prepared for. When she did tell us, it was an easy switch to go call Aaron Patrick up and ask him he wanted to join the band.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, that is understandable on both parts, and the best of luck to her in her future endeavors. You just mentioned Aaron Patrick coming on board. He has plenty of experience himself; he played with Bury Your Dead, among other things. What has it been like adding him to the fold?
Phil Labonte – Simple, really easy. Like you said, he is a professional. He has played in Bury Your Dead for a lot of years, he has filled in for Lamb of God, he has played with DevilDriver for a lot of years. He is not a new musician or new to being a professional musician. He also toured with us for a long time and Bring Me The Horizon, so he is really familiar of what it is like to be on the road. It was a really simple change, we have known him for a long time, and we have done tours with him when he was with other bands. We have always gotten along, so we hired him to do tour managing about a year ago. Then when Jeanne decided she wanted to pull the trig and make a move, we told him, “We know you, we all get along, do you want to be the bass player and join the band?” We told him no try out is necessary, and he said yes. It has been really cool since he has been playing with us. I think he brings a lot to the band. I think everyone in the band is really excited to write with him.
CrypticRock.com – That is great that it worked out well. Speaking of writing, you guys released The Order of Things back in February, has there been any ideas floating around for future material?
Phil Labonte – No, not really. We aren’t there yet. There is probably riffs that Mike and Oli have come up with, and I know Aaron has a lot of material he has written; stuff he wrote in his spare time that really did not have any specific plans for it other then he just wanted to record it. I am sure there is a lot of material, but nothing that we got together and listened to as a band or discussed if we are going to go ahead and start writing. We don’t really start putting stuff together until we are really done with the record cycle and we are really sure we aren’t going to be on tour for any significant lengths of time.
I’m married, Oli’s married, and Aaron has a fiance, Mike has a fiance, and Jason has a pretty serious girlfriend. Therefore, when we are more at home, we trying to balance family life with being in a band. Considering how time consuming being in the band is when you are on tour, it is not like you come home and can spend some time with your family during the day, you are gone for a month or a month and a half. So considering how that tends to work out, we really do wait until it is time to start writing before we get together rehearsing and stuff like. Unless we are there to try and get together to get some new songs into shape, but we really don’t get together until it’s time to write.
CrypticRock.com – That is completely understandable. You want to spend time with your family when you have time off. Life changes and circumstances change. We move on to different things while we keep our careers and you really kept All that Remains through all the changes. It is really quite impressive what the band has done. A lot of bands that came out the same time have come and gone, and All That Remains is still here. What has been the driving force for you all these years?
Phil Labonte – I think that it is really because we don’t get wrapped up in tertiary things about being in a band, and there is a lot of tertiary things about being in a band. Whether it be people that really like the attention of being in a band, or it be people that like partying, or people that like to write songs because they want to show off their chops at drums, or guitar, or whatever. We have never fallen into that trap.
First and foremost, we write songs, and that is the most important thing that we do. The vocals are not the most important, the drum parts are not the most important, the first and foremost thing is; is it a good song, does it connect to us, and if the answer is yes, then we will go ahead and move forward with the music. If the answer is no, then no, we don’t worry about if we have the right look. People that are familiar with All That Remains know that we are not really a look band. We are out there with jeans and a t-shirt, wearing what we would wear probably around the house. When you focus on the music and not being the cool enough band or whatever, I think that is what gives you longevity. You can get real big real fast by wearing the right outfit and saying the right things, but that doesn’t give you longevity. I think that we really focus on writing good songs and I think that is the most important thing.
CrypticRock.com – Very well said. Yes and quite honestly, year after the year, the songs are getting better, which is a testament to the band. All That Remains was born from this really strong Metal scene over a decade ago, one could rattle off a lot of bands that came from that scene. What do you think made that scene so potent?
Phil Labonte – I think there were a lot of people in the area that mixed the Hardcore attitude with the European Metal sound honestly. Which is part of the reason people called the stuff coming out from there Metalcore. We were all pretty blue collar kids, nobody was white collar, we were all suburban kids that were into those bands and stuff. We all listened to a lot of the same stuff, but we remembered what it was like when Glam outplayed itself and got not cool, and then Grunge showed up. We kind of got our start when Grunge was heavily influencing music overall, even when it didn’t really sound like it. The ideas of the Grunge movement really got a lot of people, and everyone was overly flashy and everyone was over Rockstars looking like Rockstars. That kind of stuck with us. It was not about the showmanship or what you looked like, it was all about what were you listening to and playing the stuff that you want to play. That attitude is something that permeated, not with just our band obviously, but all the bands that came out then.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it really is cool to look back on it all these years later and see where everyone has gone since then. It is a great story as well with everything that happened at that time.
Phil Labonte – Yes, I am fortunate to be one of the guys that was around when the New England Metal and Hardcore started, kind of had a career that has gone past when it ended, and still be one of the handful of left standing. That is an accomplishment and one of the things that I am most proud to be able to be part of.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it is something to be very proud of. As you know, CrypticRock.com covers Horror movies as well music. You had given us a pretty comprehensive list of Horror movies you liked last we spoke. Has there been any new Horror movies you have seen recently and enjoyed?
Phil Labonte – I haven’t seen anything worth anything lately, to be honest. Though, I am excited to see Ash vs the Evil Dead series. I am going to wait until it comes out on DVD or Netflix. I think it is going to be fun. It is of the more interesting ideas I have seen on a recurring weekly show. I am excited about that.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, it started on Halloween and has received very good reviews. It looks like fun and it is great to see Sam Raimi is behind it.
Phil Labonte – Yes, it definitely could be something really enjoyable and fun to watch, I’m really excited to see it. Hopefully it sticks around and I can download, I’m sure I can get it somewhere.