An Interview With John Kevill and John Laux!
You guys are on tour with Soilwork, Darkane, and Swallow the Sun; their styles aren’t exactly like yours. Does that make it difficult to perform on this tour?
John Kevill: No, we kind of do exactly- we’ve played on a bunch of weird bills, this one I mean, sometimes like- I guess like- some Soilwork fans or whatever won’t get as much into as what we’re doing because it’s very different, but then some of them do, and um, it’s been a really successful tour actually.
John Laux: Yeah, and Darkane is actually a pretty old school band.
JK: And Darkane’s a pretty [demonstrates thrash/drum sounds] “tukah tukah tukah” fast.
JL: And honestly we’ve made really good friends with everyone. These are all great people we’re touring with; everyone in every band. It’s a good tour.
JK: On stage regardless how the crowd is, we pretty much do the exact same thing; try to represent to our music as best we can. People watching are people watching, we do what we do, if they like it, they like it.
You guys get to tour with all of these legendary bands like Exodus, Kreator, and Obituary… What are your feelings towards that?
JK: Hell yeah!
JL: Yeah, it’s an honor. We got to hang out with like Napalm Death and Suffocation every day.
JK: Yeah we lived on a bus with those guys.
JL: And since I basically grew up listening to em and you’re like trying to (?) on the stage, you know. It’s fun.
JK: It’s like… In the case of Kreator and Exodus, especially and for myself, like a huge Kreator fan, we pretty much like, one of the reasons we’re a thrash band is because John Laux and I here, heard Coma of Souls, so, that kind of was one of the things. Oh and now we’re on tour with them, which still leaves me scratching my head sometimes how that happened.
Is there any type of ritual you guys do before you go on stage?
JL: We, uh, sacrifice nine pigs, seven sheep, and three virgins. [laughs] We drink some beer, fuckin shout, [laughs] jump up and down.
JK: My only ritual is I yell at walls for a couple of seconds to make sure everything’s working and then I go and do it.
When you’re on stage, what is your approach to get the fans to go absolutely crazy?
JL: 110%, going bat-shit.
JK: Yep, said it right there. You got to be more excited about your music than anybody, because if you’re not, then why the hell are you playing it?
JL: That’s what our band’s about. We’re a performance based band, like, when people pay to see you live, you better perform. That’s how we feel about it.
JK: We definitely consider like the music we write and everything, it’s very, it’s thrash, it’s fuckin good for live shows. That’s where we feel we have to deliver the most and pretty much we headbang 16ths the whole night, every night.
Being a part of the Los Angeles metal scene which features tons of metalcore artists and not so many thrash–
JL: [laughs] Did you write these questions?
JK: Well, there is a thrash scene in the LA that actually. When we started out, we’re more/less a part of, now we’ve been on tour everywhere, so we’re not so active in the scene anymore. Kind of has it own, as with any scene, its own politics.
JL: There’s a thrash revival everywhere. I wouldn’t even call it a revival. Just there’s kids playing thrash metal all over the fuckin globe, every country, every city.
JK: It’s stupid to call it a revival, I mean you don’t call kids playing death metal a revival. Even though I mean, death metal kind of stopped around then, 94-95.
JL: Using the word, “metalcore” it’s just like I think a lot of kids got sick of it and they’re just kind of going back, it’s pretty much what metalcore’s ripping off, the oldschool shit. I think kids everywhere are getting into it.
JK: Keep the riffy parts and leave out the [demonstrates metalcore sound] “chunchunchun, chunchunchun”
JL: Yeah, that’s a matter of opinion.
There was actually more to my question. It was “Do you think that could be why you guys were signed before–
JL: We stuck out.
JK: I think it’s because… Um… Well you see all, like all the metal labels like Metal Blade, Century Media, Earache, especially; Nuclear Blast, a little bit all tried like signing thrash bands because labels jump on the next thing and I guess we were Century Media’s attempt to jump on the trash thing and we’ve pretty much just like, I don’t think the whole, as it was built by the media, trash revival thing ahs really sold because it’s not a very commercial thing. But I think we’ve toured enough just like through sheer playing a fuck-ton of gigs that enough to know about that have been reasonably successful.
What did you guys do before you started Warbringer?
JL: Worked some pretty shitty jobs, went to high school.
JK: Yeah, basically. I met this guy, I was a senior and he was a bit younger and we were just doing it as a hobby for a couple of years and tried our best to make it as good as we could for –
JL: And then we kicked out our friends and turned this into a business. [laughs]
JK: Yeah, then we kicked out all of our friends because of whatever problems they may have had and we got, pretty much we’re like, we’re gonna be serious about it, try to be the best band we can. And then unexpectedly us, we got signed and now we’re touring.
JL: There was Zombie.
JK: There was also Zombie, there was actually two bands running at once that contained – there’s another band that contained myself, Adam, our guitar player, who was also Warbringers original drummer and then Ryan, who was our previous drummer for Warbringer also played drums for Zombie. And for a time, Zombie was doing better than Warbringer. [laughs] And then, Zombie disintegrated and parts of it went into Warbringer and kind of finished the lineup.
Which artists inspired you to create your own, original sound?
JL: It’s not artists. It’s like certain records in the thrash kind of like movement that really like stick out.
JL: You can be like, one of the LA bands, which really like stick on the sound, like 1984 that’s all we’re going to play. Or you could look at like End of the Era records, like Demolition Hammer, or Sacrafice, or Kreator; they all push the limits, they sound like a death metal band that are playing thrash, it’s very technical.
JK: Look at Kreator, they got from like from proto to like black/death/speed metal stuff to like Endless Pain, to like getting really complex from like being as bare-bone, simple as possible to being like a technical band in the course of their first five albums.
JL: Yeah, and it’s that evolution that caught our attention, we wanna push trash, we don’t wanna be like stagnant or repetitive.
JK: For me, it’s just like, I just want to play heavy metal that’s got the feelings of all the bands that inspire me everything from like Priest to like Obituary, the whole spectrum of things I listen to, just incorporate things of that that I think are compatible with our sound, write songs that are our own, you know?
Yeah. How do you all interact to write and record all of your songs?
JK: It’s a cluster-fuck.
JL: Yeah, we just jam. We uh drink and smoke a little bit and just do what comes natural.
JK: We get something there and then everyone picks and throws in their two-cents.
JL: We pretty much bang it out.
JK: Yeah we pretty much bang it out, over however much time we got. This last record was interesting because we had about two and a half months to do it. And we had like a song and a half done at the beginning of this time so we had to- this first record was written over probably around like two and a half, three years of jamming all the time, writing a song like every month or two and this record was written like writing a song every week.
JL: It was hard.
JK: That being said, we’re really happy with how it came out.
Your next album, Waking into Nightmares is set to release sometime in May (May 19th), how will the concept be different from your previous full-length?
JL: Well we, I guess, it’s more of my thing but, I kind of wanted to step away from the war thing because it was getting a little silly and so like we, we’re still like Warbringer. But the first album had so much of that theme, we tried to incorporate more themes that are still thrash metal like core and violence and sheer terror.
JK: Even though, actually as the writer of the lyrics, I have to say… Five out of ten songs of War Without End actually have anything to do with war and then the rest are violent, evil themes –
JL: I know, but like, the whole, War Without End, Total War, Combat Shock, like the whole –
JK: Yeah, it’s pretty, War Without End, being the album title, was something that I was not that behind ever –
JL: Well, I think, all in all, I’ll say, Waking into Nightmares is a more mature record. That’s what we were going for as a band.
JK: I think it’s uh, it’s got a lot of like heaviness, a lot of speed, a bit more diversity and the way it’s set up, kinda the first half of the record ‘s more straight headbang fare than the second half goes, through a few different sort of things. And there’s a fucking war song at the end. [laughs]
Will there be any unexpected surprises on the new album?
JK: Yeah, there’s one thing on at least there, that will definitely make a lot of people say “what the fuck!”
JL: Yeah, it’s a fuckin stoner jam.
JK: Yeah, we have a tripped up instrumental that is not really a heavy metal song at all.
JL: Yeah, when it gets heavy it sounds like Nine Inch Nails. It’s going to be awesome.
JK: Yeah, and then after that it’s going to be one of the heaviest songs.
Have you ever been walking around outside and seen someone wearing a Warbringer shirt?
JL: We’ve been at the airport and hunted down like by janitors with long hair.
JL: Yeah. Remember that shit?
JK: Yeah, twice in the same day when we were flying to Europe. We kind of really didn’t know what to think of that. It was in LAX and we play LA all the time so it some like thrasher dudes who come to all the LA thrash shows that happened to be working at LAX like moving stuff around. They saw us and recognized us on the day we were flying out to Europe to tour with Suffocation and Napalm Death. That was probably the most memorable ones of one of those.
What would be your ultimate goal for 2009, as a band?
JL: It’s already set up. We’re going to tour our asses off.
JK: We’re going to tour pretty much endlessly probably into 2010’s first months.
JL: And we’re taking a break. A LONG fuckin break. [laughs]
What kind of advice would you give to a young band that’s just starting out?
JL: Don’t play covers when you’re trying to play shows.
JK: Yeah, don’t fuckin play covers.
JL: It’s good when you’re getting together and you’re trying to get a feel for each other. But you want to be writing your own music and promoting your own music and you want to be creating your own sound.
JK: You want to write songs that stick in your own head, I think. And if you do that –
JL: You want to get people pumped on your own shit.
Which bands or artists do you think belong on everyone’s playlist that you think no one has really heard of?
JK: Well it depends what you’re into. One of my favorite bands is Manila Road; not a terrible great, not a lot of people know about them.
JL: The Smiths. Morrissey and Mar. That’s fuckin my opinion and I’m out…Bitch!
…Is that it?
Actually, I do have one more question. What is with the LA radio stations? Why don’t they ever play any metal?
JK: Cause its mainstream radio and they don’t play metal.