We met Brent Rambler, guitarist of progressive metalcore kings August Burns Red in Cologne and had a chat in their tour bus. We talked about the evolution of metalcore, as well as his favourite ABR record and what the band’s highlights have been so far!
* * *
It Djents: Hey Brent, your tour with Heaven Shall Burn is coming to an end. There’ve been a lot of sold out shows. How was it for you?
Brent Rambler: Good, its been a good tour, but we are ready to go home, haven’t been there in three months, haha. It’s awesome, we are obviously not the headliner, we can’t claim responsibilty for that, but it’s pretty good.
ID: I’m curious: August Burns Red have been one of the first bands to touch the progressive side of metalcore. How does it feel to be influential?
BR: It feels good I guess. We just played music we liked and we got lucky because other people liked it too! We don’t take responsibilty to have influenced others, as we are just a band that sounds like music we like. But it’s cool when bands come up and say that we got them into this kind of music and they adapted it into their own style.
ID: Do you remember your biggest influences when starting the band?
BR: When we started there was bands like Poison The Well, As I Lay Dying for a while and Unearth, the Uncoming Storm record, amazing record. Bands like that.
ID: Your music features a lot of different elements, like polka for example. Where do you get this from?
BR: It just comes from all the outside music we listen to. We don’t only listen to metal music, but also a lot of other things. If you are only playing fast and heavy for a whole song/ record, nothing feels fast and heavy anymore because it gets one-dimensional. You need to add more elements, and it gets more dynamic. It has more of an impact, that’s why we bring all the outside stuff into our music.
ID: Do you have a favourite record of yours?
BR: Of ours? I think my favourite is probably Rescue & Restore and then probably Phantom Anthem. But Rescue & Restore, something about this record is very cool, it has a darker sound, an interesting record throughout.
ID: You toured Messengers in full last summer. How about Constellations next year?
BR: We aren’t sure yet. Everyone have been wondering about a Constellations tour. We are not gonna say no. It (the Messengers tour) was a fun tour for us, and if the fans wanna see it, we might wanna do it. There’s some people who think the whole ten-year anniversary thing is dumb, but I don’t see it. Everyone has like that favourite record that got them into heavy music or carried them through a hard time. And there’s some records that you love front to back and you love seeing the band play it. Bands won’t stop doing it until people stop coming. So if they don’t stop the tours will come. We’ll see!
ID: How did you choose the songs in the setlist, and is there a song that stands out for you?
BR: We do more songs off Phantom Anthem, but we know a lot of fans are coming that followed us for a lot of years. So we tried to pick the popular songs off the other records. So when you’re on a support tour, you are playing the big songs off each record, so we were trying to pick those. But nothing too hard-thought I would say. Songs we have had ready to play, as we came back from another tour earlier, so we were ready to go with them. I love playing “The Frost“. That songs feels really good live. It’s very fun to play.
ID: What comes next, are you already on new songs?
BR: We will take some time off, we will work on a Christmas song just for this year. We won’t write new music for a while. Phantom Anthem just came out six months ago, so we won’t have any new music ready for a year and a half, up to two years.
ID: Where does this affinity for Christmas songs come from?
BR: Hahaha, it’s more the fans’ affinity for Christmas songs. We did “Carol Of The Bells“ many years ago, ten years or more than that, and it went over very well. We were just thinking about doing this every year, as it’s a nice thing to put out and keep your name in people’s minds.
ID: It’s Easter right now, would this be an alternative?
BR: A song for Easter? Do you know any Easter songs? Haha. I don’t think there are any noticeable Easter songs that people really recognize, so we will only keep it to Christmas.
ID: After all these years of August Burns Red, does it still feel the same? What changed?
BR: I mean, obviously when you first start out, you are excited about everything. Everything’s new and different. Now we move like a well-oiled machine: this is what we do, this is how we operate. So there’s the experience, but every tour is different. Every setlist and every show, there’s a lot of new venues as well. It’s definitely a job that changes daily. Now we know what we’re doing, that helps a lot.
The things that changed: we’ve been in a van and trailer for years and now we take a bus, that’s nice. Seems like there’s a lot less bands now than it used to be. Especially in metalcore I guess; there used to be millions in the genre. Now there’s the ones that lead the pack, that are here to stay. Bands like Architects, Parkway Drive, us as well. Handful of other bands that kinda helped to kick off the genre and who still are here. That’s cool to see. People appreciate the old guys, haha!
ID: Have you had a ‘Plan B’?
BR: No, not really. When the band’s done – who knows. We haven’t really gotten there yet. Thought about it couple of times, but it just keeps on going.
ID: So there is no end in sight?
BR: Not right now I guess. Things are going better than they ever have for us. The end in sight is always depending on the fans. We are here as long as our fans are, I guess.
ID: Coming back to Parkway Drive, they changed their direction into a more rock-oriented sound. Would you do something like this as well?
BR: I think we will probably stay in our own sound. When bands change, like Parkway Drive or Bring Me The Horizon, people didn’t stop to listen to them, but maybe focus on other bands. I think it’s important for us to stay who we are. As you know, when someone doesn’t like the new Parkway Drive song, they will carry on to other bands and hopefully start listening to us. We will see, I hope it goes well for them. They deserve it, they worked hard for years and they are going for a very Euro-festival sing-along vibe, so it might work!
ID: I think so too. Tell me: Do you have a goal for August Burns Red that you really want to reach?
BR: There’s a lot of small things. We had two Grammy nominations, so winning one would obviously be a goal. It’s just little things. Certain venues we wanna sell out, because we haven’t had them sold out before. Things that people don’t really think about. But getting a million records sold would be nice. We are at 750k right now, so hopefully we will get up to a million, that’d be nice.
ID: What would you name your personal highlight of the band’s carreer?
BR: Mhm, probably that we had three Billboard Top 10 records in a row. I mean that’s probably as good as it gets. And then the Grammy nominations for sure.
ID: Tell me about the Grammy ceremony!
BR: It’s a good time. You have most of the awards given out in a ceremony before it’s televised. That’s fun. The actual TV section is interesting – you are not allowed to drink and there’s no food, because they don’t want to show people on TV stuffing food in their mouths. That kinda sucks, because it’s loooong. You are there from six and you can leave, but can’t leave and come back until 11PM. So it’s a really long time to not eat and drink anything but water. The afterparties are fun. Our record label had one, that was a good time.
ID: Awesome. At the end of this interview, is there anything you would like to keep your fans in mind?
BR: Just thanks for your support! It’s been 15 years, we are still here and that’s really awesome. Keep on the lookout, we are announcing to come over to Europe again very soon, haha!
* * *
Follow August Burns Red on Facebook!