Veterans of the metal scene, All That Remains prepares for their 2017 tour stop in Madison with their eighth album, “Madness.”
Since their formation in 1998, All That Remains has cycled through a variety of stylistic and member changes, while remaining true to their distinct core sound.
The Badger Herald had the opportunity to speak with the band’s guitarist, Oli Herbert, about the band’s roots in the scene, favorite venues and their upcoming stop at The Orpheum on Dec. 9.
The following interview has been edited for style and clarity.
The Badger Herald: Can you tell me a bit about your most recent album, “Madness?”
Oli Herbert: We wanted to take a different approach and add the vocal lines and the lyrics first instead of the music. Not for every song but we tried it with a bunch of different songs. I think it was pretty cool because it gave me the chance, as the guitar player, to write around vocal melodies which gave me a more clear-cut role instead of coming up with ‘okay here’s some random riffs, hopefully we can make a song from that.’ Lyrically, it runs the gamete. Obviously it’s very political. A lot of time he speaks from experience, relationships and stuff like that. The song “Madness” has a lot of political overtones to it. But I think we just try to be current and reflect the current state of affairs.
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BH: How is the sound of the album similar or different from past works?
OH: I’d say we kind of have our core sound in there. Songs like “Open Grave” are definitely — I don’t want to say ‘run of the mill,’ but… definitely the ATR sound. I think where the album differs is the fact that there’s a lot of keyboard work on it and other electronic type sounds. We definitely wanted to include just a different vibe instead of just guitars, you know, two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. We wanted to have some outside electronics just to do something different. How is this similar? Let’s take a song like “Halo.” That’s a pretty straight up All That Remains song. It has keyboards in it and stuff but structurally it’s very in line with what we’ve done in the past.
BH: When did you first begin playing together as a band?
OH: I joined the band in ’99, but its conception was in ’98. So I’ve been in the band for 18 years now. It’s been a long process, you know? Lots of member changes and stylistic changes and just [as] people, we grow as musicians and our tastes kind of vary from album to album. It’s just a part of the journey.
BH: Coming from that perspective of being in the scene for 18 years or more, have you noticed any changes in the scene, or music production in general?
OH: Oh god, yeah. We recorded our first album in the 2000s… so we would record a part and if you didn’t play it right, there would come a time where you’d run out of punches and would have to come back the next day to fix all your parts. So it was a lot harder… that was grueling, to get through that album. And then by the time that “The Fall of Ideals” came out, we were able to utilize that technology differently and now that’s the standard… everyone’s job is a lot easier when it comes to recording.
That’s why every band has a perfect sounding album now… I think it’s a good thing, but I also think it homogenizes the sound of music. I don’t want to sound like the old guy, but if you listen to bands from the ‘70s, ‘80s or even ‘90s, every album has a very different vibe to it. And a lot of times there’s mistakes even, which is kind of cool. But now, we expect only perfection. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a lot easier to record now — it’s better if you’re doing it by yourself. If you understand how to use ProTools, you can really put out polished recordings…Again, it’s subjective.
BH: What do you gain inspiration from most?
OH: As far as musically, you’ll always be influenced by everything around you, all the time… an idea will come to me, it’s a matter of just capitalizing off of being able to say ‘this is a good idea, this is not a good idea’ and being able to further develop them.
BH: Are there any other artists or bands that inspire you, or the band as a whole?
OH: I mean, we listen to pretty much an entire gamete of music. I’d say [there are] not many bands we all agree on. I can’t think of one that wouldn’t be contested. I enjoy classical music, especially people like Danny Elfman or Jack Williams. They were really inspirational to me. If I’m writing a new album, I tend not to listen to a lot of metal. I get myself to a different headspace. I want to study kind of more profound music, you know, more structuralized. If I’m listening to people who are my peers, I might unintentionally rip them off. I don’t want to ever do that.
BH: Looking back at past performances, do you have any favorite shows? What’s the best show you ever played?
OH: That’s hard to say. There are two clubs in the country where I feel like have the best stage sound for, and that’s The Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, MI and the 9:30 club in Washington D.C.
BH: What should fans bring or expect at your upcoming Madison show?
OH: We’re just a metal, hard rock band. We come here, have a good time, have some beers, party hard. We try to put on a high-energy show. It’s not coming out to the opera or something, you know.
BH: How would you describe your genre?
OH: Like I said, we’re a metal band. We also have hard rock — we have singing, we have some screaming. We have a couple ballads, we have some really raging songs… I’m not a big fan of mainstream labels of music. I just feel like the people that use [genres] like, ‘oh I love black metal but I hate death metal,” I want to punch them in the face. You have to look at 100 years from now, how will that music be classified?