The San Francisco Metal Examiner had an interesting conversation with All That Remains frontman Phil Labonte about among other things, their experiences in Tokyo when the earthquakes hit and the increasing difficulty for bands to support themselves through their music as gas prices increase and as the economy struggles.
Q: This San Antonio show will probably feel light years away from what you just went through in Japan. What was the most harrowing part of that experience?
A: Yeah. Well, it was nothing really harrowing for us. First of all, the actual earthquake, the epicenter, was 250 miles away. We felt the shaking in Tokyo, a 5.5, but you walked out of the building, and that was it. In Japan, a 5.5 is fairly regular. I wouldn't say fairly regular, but they build their buildings up to codes for that. The biggest thing was that it shut the airport down, and we had to wait in lines when we had to leave. It wasn't like, "We've gotta get out of here now."
Q: Is the band fund-raising or thinking of going back to do a benefit show of some kind?
A: If that were to happen, that would be a long way off. The reactor situation is not getting any better. It just got raised to a Level 7, which is on par with Chernobyl. I don't know when we'll be back.
Q: How long were you guys over there? Was it a full-blown tour or just a few shows?
A: Japan's small. A full-blown tour over there you can do in a week or week and a half. We were there for four days. We had done Australia, then straight to Tokyo, then back home.
Q: Does the title of the latest album symbolize the metal community or something else?
A: I don't really get into the whole explaining songs or stuff like that because I don't want to take away from the listener. For me, it's not about what I felt, it's more what type of impact the song has on the listener.
Q: You guys have had labels thrown at you such as metalcore, and lately some say you're more mainstream or melodic. How would you describe the band's music?
A: I would just say we're a metal band. There's a bunch of different styles of metal that are out there and that we touch on. We create our style. I think it's just metal. It's a fairly all-encompassing kind of term nowadays. It used to be if you were metal in the '80s, it was fairly easy to figure out what metal was between '83 and '88. There was not a lot of sub-genres. You had metal and hardcore that got mixed a little bit, bands like Biohazard or Agnostic Front. But in the '90s, there were bands like Earth Christ. We do so many kind of things when it comes to vocal styles. Like the song Two Weeks (see live performance, left), Oli and Mike never play the same riffs. That's a very thrash metal progressive way to write a song. There's a complete moron riff, and I'm doing some Cannibal Corpse type of lows. We don't sweat what we're labeled. We're just a metal band.
Q: Of all the bands you've toured with, which one have you learned the most from?
A: Gwar as a band has their act together because they have a big production. They have so much stuff going on and so many people. No matter how small the room is, they cram all that stuff no matter how tiny the stage is. They put on the same quality show and are extremely professional, so we learned a lot about that. But it's more of a situation where you work with whoever you're out with.
Q: All That Remains is coming up on 10 years of the first record. What comes to mind when you reflect on the past decade, and where do you see the band 10 years from now?
A: Oh, I don't know. To be honest with you, being in a band isn't what it was 10 or 15 years ago. It gets harder and harder to make a living. When you get older, you don't want to leave on tour as much just because you're never around. Gas is $5 a gallon, the music industry is at an all-time low for people buying CDs. People who think All That Remains is loaded, they're completely wrong. I've never made six figures. So I don't know if there will be another 10 years of All That Remains, but . . . (chuckles)
For the full interview click here