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Getting Past the Industry to Love Music Again
AP.net (LOST) Interview: August Burns Red
06/08/10 at 11:16 AM by Adam Pfleider
Last year I talked with August Burns Red over Skype while they were over in Europe. Only interview I've ever done over Skype. It was pretty interesting. Anyway, this is what's up with Constellations....

August Burns Red (LOST) ArticleSetting yourself apart in a genre that is growing by the numbers, August Burns Red pulled through with what some might call a “sleeper hit” with the release of their 2007 album Messengers.

Two years later, the band is back with a monster follow-up, Constellations, another powerhouse that seems denser, yet more dynamic than the band’s previous releases.

“As always, the attempt was to write the best songs we could,” JB Brubaker says, one half the band’s guitar chops, and principle songwriter. “After touring on Messengers for two years, and listening and getting into a lot of different music, we wanted to try to do things a little differently, especially with the dynamic aspect. A lot of our favorite music is more on the chill side, and we love stuff like that so it only made sense to throw that into the mix.”

Brubaker took on the approach with his love of bands such as Cult of Luna and Isis – and it shows. The deeper one dives into Constellations, the more constructively built it becomes, without shedding any of the band’s “sleeper success” sound.

“Of course we still wanted it to be a metal-August Burns Red record,” Brubaker says via Skype. (The band was currently touring Europe at the time of interview.) “I think there’s a lot of ‘staple’ August Burns Red stuff going on. Cult of Luna is one of my favorite ‘heavy’ bands, and they do a ton of ambient quiet stuff.”

Tack bands like Explosions in the Sky, Arcade Fire and Interpol to Brubaker’s influences, and he’ll defend that he hasn’t been a short-term fan of the aforementioned “indie” bands. With Constellations, he has now found the time to let them show through.

“I guess the whole indie/post rock thing has struck a chord with many of us,” he says. “But that didn’t just happen in the past two years. We’ve always been a fan of that kind of music, [we] just haven’t really been able to work it into our music as much.”

The tracking of Constellations was also a conscious effort played into dynamics. “We wanted songs that ended in the same key to continue into the next song that started in that key,” Brubaker says, citing “The Escape Artist” into “Indonesia.”

Ask Brubaker about his favorite song off the record, and his answer is “Meridian,” a six-minute build that was less a jam, and more of a direct effort to push the band to a new level. It’s what Brubaker says is “closer to what I love in heavy music.”

According to Brubaker, the band’s bassist, and roommate, Dustin Davidson was skeptical when he heard him writing some of the song's parts. “’This sounds too doom for us,’ I believe was his reaction,” Brubaker says.

In the end though, the band were stoked on doing something different, and Brubaker likes how the track breaks up the final three tracks, which he feels "all hit pretty hard."

Constellations isn’t a concept lyrically, but more about Matt Greiner’s visual idea for the album. Griener, the band’s drummer and partial lyricist, says the concept art came to him one night when he was laying in bed.

“I had this picture in my head of a person playing tug-of-war with a star in the sky,” he says. “The person wanted more than anything to bring the star down to his level, to see and feel the star, up close and very personal.

“I also imagined these people flying kites in the same sky as the person pulling on the star. These people were very normal people enjoying the everyday breeze and the leisure of flying their kites. The thing that set these people apart from the person 'flying' the star was their direction, their purpose, if you will. The 'kite runners’ were facing all sorts of directions, and following their kites whichever way the breeze that day was blowing. The person 'following' the star was always focused on the star, nothing else.”

The idea came together, and can be seen from the cover to the inside linear notes. Griener says his lyrics “offer hope and a future. A 'way out' for people that feel like all is lost. Some lyrics are merely a call to action, while others tell actual stories of life and death, of complete surrender.” He cites “Indonesia” as the later example.

But his lyrics aren’t about the main idea he had for the album’s artwork. “We have the option of following our own abilities and allowing them to lead us through life,” he explains of the artwork. “But these abilities come in phases, and with these phases, we'll find ourselves lost and running every which way. However, when we focus our attention towards God, abilities come to light. They come into fruition and find their place in life. We are at that moment guided by the creator of the gifts and talents versus the talents themselves."

Second guitar onslaught and partial lyricist, Brent Rambler, penned many of his words in the moment. “Something would hit me, and I would write down as much as I could before I lost inspiration,” he says. “I would then go back over each of them numerous times until I felt good about them.

“A lot of what I write about deals with stuff that directly affects me,” he continues, “whether it is about ignorant festival promoters, or the passing of a loved one. I try to pick topics that aren't terribly typical, but people can still relate to them. I think a lot of my lyrics may come out sounding angry because they are so in the moment, and I think that helps capture the emotion behind them."

Filled out by vocalist Jake Luhrs, August Burns Red anticipate greater success with their new album. Brubaker says the band has “high expectations” and hopes Constellations “takes [them] up a notch career wise.”

“I genuinely believe that people are going to love the album and embrace the new elements we've incorporated into this record,” Brubaker says. “With that being said, perhaps it will take more than one listen to just ‘get’ everything. I've always thought of this genre as being one where you can hear it for the first time and go ‘Yo, that was freaking sweet.’”

And if it takes time for some listens to “get” the direction the band has moved towards, Brubaker says it’s all part of the genre they’re playing in. “I don’t think metal is unique in that regard,” he says of his previous statement. “There's not as much of a ‘grow on you’ factor as other genres, but at the same time, that’s why I think metal isn't as timeless as other genres. For that reason, I hope that there are parts that listeners need to hear a few times before they completely ‘get’ it. I think that will ultimately help the longevity of the album.”
Tags: august burns red, interview
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Show Review: Underoath Winter Tour w/ August Burns Red and Emery
12/16/09 at 11:35 PM by Adam Pfleider
Progression is a dangerous tight rope that many artists face walking, and often falling to their impending doom - even if there is a minority of us that still enjoy the step, or sometimes leap, forward. Music would not be as exciting if some bands didn't try to step out of the pocket and continue to push themselves. Though, I'll be the first to admit that some bands moved just a bit too far outside their comfort zone.

I hated They're Only Chasing Safety. From the less than admirable first single of "Reinventing Your Exit" to the lackluster barrage of bands that followed, it was the bane of my existence for some years. I didn't get it. It's not that I longed for another The Changing of Times, because an album like that is now a bit behind me, but it just seemed like an easy out for the band. Then Define the Great Line dropped and turned Underoath into a completely different band. A band that seemed intent on pushing themselves as far away from such a wretched sound that built their career thus far. Lost in the Sound of Separation cements that fact. After the show, I was able to have a word with guitarist Tim McTague in which he explained that the band is going to be pushing for something even further. An "audio/visual" experience on record and in their "future live shows," something they had hoped to bring out a bit on this tour. It's still early to tell with the work that has been done in the home studio of the bus during tour, he says, but from McTague's banter, it sounds exciting and promising.

This is a show review, is it not?

Emery took the stage to two Christmas trees and a blow up Santa, doing an acapella version of "White Christmas" and launching into "So Cold I Could See My Breath." The band did a great job of ripping through their catalog with energy and ease as vocalist/keyboardist Josh Head did his best "I look like Rob Zombie's younger brother" impression and climbed atop the crowd at the end of "Walls." With the release of In Shallow Seas We Sail, I think Emery show they still have prowess, and after their set, it seemed they have the energy to keep it up.

August Burns Red doesn't let up until the end. From the beginning of "White Washed" to the closing "Composure," they run around the stage and everything sounds solid. The band are sound intent on being one of the best metal bands out there. Their show is proof of that. The "Carol of the Bells" cover was a nice touch as well.

Underoath took the stage and launched - and I don't use that term loosely - into "The Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed" and "In Regards to Myself." Frontman Spencer Chamberlain strapped on a guitar for "Emergency Broadcast:The End is Near" and the groundbreaking Define the Great Line track "Casting Such a Thin Shadow." Match the energy of the newer tracks live to the showmanship of "Young and Aspiring" and "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door," and you can certainly tell where the band is headed and where some fans still seat themselves in nostalgia. I'm excited for the band's future, because you can tell it in where the emphasis lies in the setlist for this tour. I'm curious to see the line the band will walk next.


La Zona Rosa --- Austin, Tx. (12/15/09)

Emery SetlistWhite Christmas, So Cold I Could See My Breath, Cutthroat Collaspe, Rock N Rule, Curbside Goodbye, Walls, Edge of the World, In Shallow Seas We Sail, Playing With Fire, Butcher's Mouth

August Burns Red
August Burns RedWhite Washed, Up Against the Ropes, Meddler, Truth of a Liar, Marianas Trench, Thirty and Seven, Back Burner, Carol of the Bells, Composure

Underoath SetlistThe Only Survivor Was Miraculously Unharmed, In Regards To Myself, Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near, Young and Aspiring, We Are The Involuntary, Anyone Can Dig a Hole But it Takes a Real Man to Call it Home, Casting Such a Thin Shadow, You're Ever So Inviting, Breathing In A New Mentality, A Moment Suspended in Time, Desperate Times, Desperate Measures, Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear (Encore) It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door, Writing on the Walls

Tags: show review, underoath, august burns red, emery
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