An Interview With Oli Herbert of All That Remains [Rest In Peace]

An Interview With Oli Herbert of All That Remains [Rest In Peace]

You just released For We Are Many last week, how has the response been so far?

It seems to be pretty decent, you know. You have, obviously, the haters out there on Blabbermouth[.net], but whatever. (laughs) But no, I guess we made #10 on the Billboard Top 200, so can’t complain about that.

 

How do you think it follows up to Overcome?

I think it’s a better album, overall.

 

Do you think it’s All That Remains’ best work yet?

Yeah, I think so because of the dynamics and the differences in the songs, I think there’s a lot more variety.

 

How was the writing process?

It was very stressful and it was the hardest album we’ve had to write.

 

Why so?

Because of the pressures from the previous ones and just because everyone in the band has a different take on what music should sound like.

 

What is something you favor or that you love most about For We Are Many?

Umm… I love the fact that there are twelve tracks on it and that’s the most you could put on the album. And it’s– I guess, I’m happy that Adam Dukiewicz produced it, there’s a lot of things I love most about it, I guess. (laughs) But, I’m glad that there’s a prolific number of tracks.

 

Would you say there’s a certain pressure that comes along with being in heavy metal trying to please your fans (new and old), the media, and the radio all at the same time?

Yeah, it’s just about us trying to write songs that we want to write. And some of our fans will enjoy it and some will leave. But, it’s something that we have to put ourselves before everything else; it’s the only way music is going to come out the way we want.

 

Would you say All That Remains has gone through a “transition period”?”

Well, every album sounds different, so I’d say that we’re always growing musically. The next album will be different from this one, you know? I couldn’t tell you how right now, but it will definitely be different.

 

What is it do you think that drives the passion out of your fans from you guys?

Hmm… Well, I know that there are many people with some of the lyrics tattooed on them, I think that our music is, it’s hard hitting enough, but it’s also accessible enough that people can embrace it, so I think that, that combination is good.

 

What kind of an impression do you feel that All That Remains has left in heavy metal?

Hmm… Impression, huh? I’d say that we’re kind of one of those bands that walks the line I should say, between what is acceptable and what is “too heavy”; we’re always trying to find– we always want to be on the underground side of that line, in which we become like a corporate rock band, you know? (laughs) But you know, we just want to– we like having songs with lots of melody in them, and obviously we love our solos, and double bass, and screaming too. So, putting it all in and balancing the right way, that’s what we do.

 

Do you think that because your music is kind of diverse, meaning it has a rock side to it and a metal side to it, that it opens doors for new fans who’ve never really listened to metal before?

Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you tell someone you’re in a metal band, they get the impression that you’re in Cannibal Corpse if they don’t listen to metal. I know when I was a kid, I hated metal. Like, when I was 11 or 12, I used to listen to British pop music, you know because it was on the radio and stuff, Pet Shop Boys, you know. My friends would be like, “Do you like metal?” I’d be like, “No, that stuff is noise to me! They played Motley Crue and I instantly liked it. So, I didn’t understand the difference. I think with metal, people’s ears have to grow into it. I think that fans of more mainstream-hard-rock will find us more accessible than say, a band like Cannibal Corpse, who are an awesome band, but they’re a death metal band.

 

Since you guys do have a lot of melody, have hints of Finnish or Swedish melodic death metal, especially with the guitars, are there any musicians in particular from those specific “foreign” genres that you would like to work with, maybe for a side project or a guest spot on one of your songs?

Umm…My favorite guitarist has always been Andy LaRocque from King Diamond, he’s from Gothenburg, Sweden, so just his vibrato and his taste, is just unparallel, he happens to be a producer himself, too. So, to have him– I know he does a lot of guest solos, to have him do a guest solo would be awesome. So, maybe next album! (laughs) I’ve met him a couple times, back when we were starting off; I asked him, I was like, “So, what scales, what things do you practice.” He was like, “I don’t know any scales, I just have my ear.” I thought that was cool.

 

I’ve interviewed musicians before that have said labels are spending way too much money on bands that all sound the same, that you can’t even tell apart–

Well, that’s what happens, is that there’s one band, lets take the example of Nirvana or something, and they get super, super huge— is that Corey Feldman (looks at TV)— oh, anyway! And they say, “Oh, if you sound like that, we want to sign you, because that’s a money maker!—Yeah, that’s Corey Feldman(laughs) Anyway! And what happens is, you get this watered down version of what was considered to be a popular band, you know? The same thing has happened in every genre.

In the late 80’s, you had the thrash– the thrash underground move was huge, especially on the West Coast. Metallica was the forerunner in that; MetallicaAntrhaxMegadeth, and Slayer, and suddenly, you know, the East thrash bands, even lower level ones, I guess were making money back then. And then when grunge hit, basically they’re back to playing in front of 75 people a night, or whatever. So, it’s hard, whatever kind of music you play, if you have a band that gets really, really big, you’re going to have a bunch of copy cats because that’s what the labels want; they’re just a business. And it’s not necessarily making good music.

 

Yeah, and the internet has made it much easier for these bands to exist because of MySpace, Facebook, etc–

Yeah, I think we’re flooded with bands right now, there’s just too many of them.

 

It’s making it difficult to make or be in a band–

Yeah, I mean, I’m glad that we’re not just starting off now, because I think we’d be probably– never mind that I’m 36 years old, but if I was in my early 20’s starting off, it would be a much harder game than it was when I started. Just it’s the way things are, there’s way too much competition out there. I think that people have no attention span for music anymore.

 

That’s the same thing Chris Adler [Lamb of God] said to me.

Because we’re around the same age. When we were growing up, we had cassette tapes or new CD’s would come in, but you didn’t have the internet. It was, you know, you’d listen start to finish to an album. And, you knew the songs, you knew the lyrics, you knew– even if you weren’t a guitar player, you knew like, you could sing along to some of the solos, it didn’t really matter, maybe like Iron Maiden or something. Nowadays, people, they want little bits and pieces; they’ll listen to a song for two minutes, then oh, they’ll get sick of it. It’s the culture we live in, it’s this ADD thinking, I think.

 

Do you think it’s different maybe where people grew up?

They have a longer attention span, as far as, lets say if you’re a band, lets say, Overkill, over here, you know, they’d maybe draw 100 people, over there, they’d play to 40,000 people in Germany. You know, because people, long-term fans, die-hards over there, that’s just the difference in the culture. I think it’s important for a band to establish an European base as well, no matter how well they do here, because people are really fickle in America.

 

Yeah, an example would be that I just saw War bringer a couple weeks ago in Denver and there was no crowd, no pits going on, and last year, when I saw them in Hollywood, the fans over there were going insane for them.

Yeah, Warbringer, I assume is a West Coast thrash metal band?

 

Yes, they’re from Ventura, CA.

Exactly. They definitely have that 80’s sound, so they probably do well in San Francisco and that area. It’s weird with being in a metal band, in different parts of the country– we played San Francisco the first day on this tour and it was poor as far as the number of people there, then you go down to Denver, like, we always do well in Denver. You go to Texas, it’s phenomenal, you go to Wisconsin, the mid-west, it’s great, but it all depends on what part of the country you’re in.

 

Do you think that the entire lineup of who is on the tour also makes a difference?

Oh yeah, of course. I mean, a headlining band is not the only reason people will come see; they want to see a package because they’re spending 20-25 dollars on a ticket, they want to be entertained and say, “I like the headliner, but I want a whole concert. I like this band, this band, this band.” It’s very important to have a solid package that people will say, “Ok, this makes sense.” Sometimes you get packages that are a little bit more diverse than you might anticipate and it brings in a strange mix of audience members, but I feel that doing a combination of those diverse tours and the tours that play the bases are– they’re being preposterous, I guess.

 

What is something that’s always intrigued you or reeled you into metal?

I think there was some kind of combination, inner power of darkness, because I was kind of a picked on kid and I needed some kind of strength; something, you know– when I heard that Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil, it was my first foray into metal, and it just brought me into the world. And I started getting into, I was a Dungeons and Dragons geek as a kid, and I started getting into all these fantasy type metal bands like Candlemass and stuff. It just all fit together, and the imagery, back then especially, the mid-80s was very powerful for a kid entering his teen years, like myself. There was so much allure back then.

I got into Satanism for a while, and I had my Satanic bible in school; you know, because I always wanted– I always knew that kids who called themselves Christian, you know, were mean to me, so it must be a bad religion. I read the Bible, I went, “Oh, this makes sense, Do unto others as you would have others do unto you… If someone hurts you, you punch them in the face.” (laughs) It made perfect sense to me!

So, I think that everything kind of came together, like the whole package of metal, I just fell in love with that part. Later on, down the road, I went to school for music; I consider myself more of a musician than just a metal-head, but definitely when I started off, I was proud to just be called a metal-head, and you know, I still am, but I definitely consider myself to be a musician first and foremost. Not an artist. (laughs) You know people think I’m an artist, it’s like, “Shut the fuck up!” It’s the most cliché thing people say. I’m a musician. But, metal flows strong through my veins, plus other music, but metal is it.

 

It’s good to like other music.

Oh yeah. I’m a big jazz dude right now.

 

Really? What are you listening to?

Yeah, getting into Pat Martino, going back listening to George Benson, trying to really pick out some different sounding licks. Ummm…Trying to think, I can’t think of anymore names off the top of my head. I just go on YouTube a lot and watch lots of instructional stuff, I’m learning– trying to learn as much as I can right now. I’ve got my Bachelors degree in music, for composition, and I studied Jazz and Classical, but I want– some of those things got a little rusty from playing in the band and obviously, I’m always working on things, but there’s things that slipped my mind, and I’m trying to become a more complete guitar player in general. It makes me happy.

 

Since you just said you got your Bachelors Degree, what is something you’ve learned throughout college that you’ve applied to being in All That Remains?

Oh God, pretty much everything. I got into Composition because I’m a big song-writer in the band, and that’s obviously important to be able to have a grasp of what’s going on. The way you orchestrate the guitars and just having a handle on being able to listen to different kinds of music and understand it, analyze it, and apply that to a metal situation, I think, is crucial. Because, like you mentioned before, a lot of bands coming out, sounding repetitive.

I think the problem with a lot of the new bands that come out is that they’re listening to a group of groups, and basically, all they do is copy that; and they’re not going back to what influences them, they’re not really studying the music. Say if you wanted to understand lets say Led Zeppelin, well you would study blues guitars before them, you don’t just– you’ve got to go to the roots in order to do that. I think bands just don’t do that anymore. Well, some do, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the band DAATH?

 

Yes!

Eyal [Levi] is– he’s a good guitar god! (laughs) But he’s a real jazz guitar player, the guy is just amazing. And he’s doing Django Reinhardt stuff, the way he incorporates it into metal, it reminds me of Alex (inaudible), it’s just a takes you there.

 

Yeah, it’s kind of like Swallow the Sun, they a little bit of incorporate classical piano into death metal.

Yep, that of course is another huge influence, classical, I think on metal in general. Especially more the European symphonic stuff, Rhapsody and stuff like that, a little hokey sometimes, but I think they have some good ideas.

 

What is it, do you think, that makes metal such a tight-knit ‘community’, I guess you could say?

I think metal, you know, it’s kind of got a working class vibe to it, I was talking to a guy down the street, he was like, “Yeah, you guys should play Red Rocks [Amphitheatre]!” “Like what’s the cap[acity] there?” “9000.” I’m like, “Nobody in the metal genre, except Metallica could fill that place.” Look at the biggest bands in our genre, I would say like Slipknot and DisturbedRob Zombie, those three together could pack that place. (laughs) Slipknot could pull, you know 4,000 or 5,000. It’s tough right now. I think that, coming from that, you’re not making a lot of money, but you’re having a strong impression on the kids. So, you’re also getting to know each other well, you’re not isolated in the fancy dressing rooms, you’re in one green room with all of the bands.

So, I think it’s important for bands be friends with each other because if you piss off other bands, you’re going to burn bridges. You’re going to meet each other down the road at more opportune times. Again, things aren’t– I started playing guitar in ’88, and in that time period, you had the big arena rock bands, and there was so much money thrown at them, and in my head I was like, “So that’s what being in a band is like!” That was part of the allure, of course in starting too, and then you get to 2010 and obviously it’s nothing like that. (laughs) And you better love it, and if you don’t love it for what it is, then you’re in the wrong business. It can be great, like what fans think, lavish, but it’s not like that. (laughs) Those days are gone.

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