|MM: First off I wanted to ask you how the tour is going for you all?|
John: The tour has been really good. It's with Iced Earth and Symphony X. It's good because there's a good mix of metal styles on display, each band bringing something different to the table and I think fans are really enjoying it. We are getting our music out to a lot of new people who might have been more prog or power type stuff who wouldn't hear a band like us. But they're still metal heads so they'll like it you know.
MM: How did you all get set up on the tour with bands that have somewhat different styles?
John: It's all through management and booking and it's not that different, I mean it's all metal right? It's not that big of a leap from what Symphony X or Iced Earth does to what we do. I actually think it's a good continuous spectrum of styles more than a crazy mix.
MM: To say you all have been touring relentlessly would be an understatement. How has all the touring that you all have done affected you personally and then the band as a whole?
"People are trying to write this whole thing off as people trying to be fashionable with having long hair and wearing ripped denim and it's like what the fuck are you talking about, that's not fashionable; chicks don't really dig that so what the fuck are you on dude?"
John: I think the good thing is it's that we are always playing and playing together so much makes us a really tight live band. We get used to what we're doing and get on the spot when we play live shows. The sheer number of gigs can feel pretty draining. I've got some serious road burn going on right now, it's been a little over six weeks. Instead of partying too much I'm sitting in the back of the van passing time. The tour has definitely been successful and so it's just a really long one this one. We were on tour just before this one but got a month break between the end of this tour and our next one.
MM: What tour are you all going on after this?
John: Next tour after this is Destruction US Tour. I'm looking forward to that. This is like getting out to a different heavy metal fanbase and the Destruction tour will be our more core fans into the thrash and death metal.
MM: Is there a particular reason that you all have been doing so many tours?
John: Well, this band is what we do. We pretty much are doing everything we can to get our name out there. Plus we keep getting all these tour offers that are strong offers that are worth the time and energy it takes to do it. We haven't turned down a good opportunity and our attitude is that we will just work harder. A band like us, there's not too many mainstream type things you can latch on to so you have to get respect from the metal community by playing a bunch of good, live shows over and over again. That's what we've been doing for years now.
MM: Being that you all have toured so much, have you all picked up any good touring tips from any of the bands you have been out with?
John: Uh long ago, we've got things figured out pretty well now though. Compared to some of the bands that have been around longer than us, we've done just as many shows as they have or more just cause we do our shows in really high density. When we were getting started and wet behind the ears we got lots of tips but now we more or less got our act together at this point.
MM: Moving on to Worlds Torn Asunder, how was the recording process on this one different from Waking Into Nightmares given that you had a little more time to record Worlds?
John: Oh that was a great change in contrast to the last record which was very high stress in making, this one was the opposite. It was really low stress and kinda like I'd go to practice and in my leisure time I'd have song ideas, whatever the last thing we were working on kinda brewing in my head. Or every now and then I'd get an idea and sit and write it down and then go back to what I was doing and then get another idea and write that down. The laxness of it made it really enjoyable to work and it didn't feel rushed at all. We wrote the last album in a month, month and a half and recorded it in 12 days. We had 14 days to record it and did it in 12.
MM: What did you all do with the last 2 days?
John: We went home! (haha)
MM: Where did you pull some of your inspiration from for songs on the new album?
John: Uh that really depends man, my main contribution to the songs is lyrics and structure. My job is to make sure there's a good hook there and there's a good theme that fits with where the music is. So that's important to me, I want the words to get the right feelings across and match with the riffs that John and the other guys are doing. Ideas come from all over the place like songs I hear, things I read, things I see, conversations I've had. Sometimes an idea will linger dormant for a while and then the right riff shows up and I'm like 'Oh yeah, that's the right thing to put for that and I've been waiting for a time to use this'. Anywhere I can get it I will find the inspiration.
MM: Being from California, would you say the Big 4 had a big influence on you all musically?
John: A whole bunch of stuff. Of course the huge thrash bands are certainly a part of it but I wouldn't give exclusive credit to that but I love all of those bands. We're just metal heads who like metal and that's a part of it and we're into all kinds of music. I'm into old rock and roll and heavy metal, that's what I like in general.
MM: What are you listening to right now?
John: I'm on a big Manilla Road kick right now; for a couple years actually. They're one of my favorite bands.
MM: There have been a few lineup changes over the years. With the lineup you have now, do you feel the lineup is pretty solid or just taking it as it comes?
John: It's feeling pretty solid right now. I felt like Adam (Carroll, former guitarist) wanted to leave a long time before he did. He didn't seem to have his heart in the touring anymore. Andy Bennett, the guy who replaced Adam, we got partially because we knew he was gonna be in it and we've known the guy for years. He's always wanted to go out and play with a band and he's a killer player. We can see him staying for a while. And I don't even want to have another drummer other than Carlos (Cruz) anymore. Carlos is the right drummer for this band and I wish we had him from day one because I just love the way his drumming sounds live. Of course John and Andy (Laux) have been around forever and I don't think they're going anywhere and I sure as hell am not.
MM: Was there a particular singer that influenced you and made you want to start singing?
John: Oh there were a bunch dude. When I started wanting to form a band I was into the traditional/power metal bands and the brutal thrash kick came a year later, in the midst of when we started the band and John (Laux) and I were just finding out about Kreator and Slayer records and other stuff like that. So I'd say the big one for me was Halford, Dickinson, Eric Adams of Manowar and Ronnie James Dio, the great classic vocalists you know. Initially, I tried that style of vocals but was never really good at it. I always loved Kai Hansen's vocals on "Walls of Jericho" by Helloween. There was a bunch of stuff I'd listen to and try to sing along to while I was driving and eventually I started picking up the more rapid fire kind of thrash albums and could get pretty close to that and decided I was gonna try and get a little better at that style. It was also around that time that we started playing faster and with more intensity as well 'cause we were still formulating our sound there.
MM: You've been incorporating higher pitched vocals in lately on your last two albums, where did that come from?
John: Oh you mean the screechy, kind of cut off scream vocals? I love the high pitched vocals and screams in metal. Well I've been doing that for all of our records but I think I just got better at it so it's more noticeable. Sacrifice, a thrash metal band from Canada did those screams and I was singing along with those records and I could do that and I was like alright, I can fucking do that. I always sound it kind of sounds like the scream where someone lit you on fire.
MM: With all the social media in use these days, has that altered your marketing and advertising strategies?
John: Yeah I mean mostly on Facebook put hey pretty active and I'll talk to some people on it but beyond that I don't spend much time on that. It's the modern age so deal with it and use it as best you can.
MM: With MTV and other like channels not following the music video format anymore, you all have put out music videos on YouTube. Did you all collectively decide to go that route?
John: That's more the purpose. I feel we make our music videos for YouTube more than anything else at this point.
MM: With people downloading their music a good deal nowadays, do you and/or the band have a particular stance on downloading?
John: Um, as for how it effects us it hurts us tremendously for a band of our size. As far as my stance, that is the modern age and we will deal with it. For us to make this work, we have to tour as much cause record sales just don't hold up their end of keeping the wheels turning and puts more emphasis on doing live shows. It has its ups and downs and that's one thing that won't change in regards to downloading. I am not gonna be against it and the most positive thing that I can take from it is that anyone can go check us out without making any kind of commitment and that's good and a lot of people have found out about us that way. You could make a big stink about it and pull a Lars and prosecute your fans and I don't wanna do that myself. I've read news of bands I've liked doing that and I don't wanna do that but I would say if you check out one of our records and you really like it, go out and buy it. If you listen to it and you think it's ok then keep your mp3's and listen to it whenever. If you really love the music it's cool to support it and the best way to do it nowadays is to go to the show and support the cause of heavy metal.
MM: We did a poll of our writers for the New Big 4: Best Young Thrash Bands and you all were named in there along with Angelus Apatrida, Havok and Lazarus A.D. What do you think about the thrash scene now?
John: Nice! Oh cool, good choices on the other bands too. As for the scene now, it's definitely a good thing that thrash as a genre has seen a resurgence and a lot of bands that are getting to their second or third record are putting out good records and establishing their own sound; their own brand of thrash and I think that's great. It's the kind of music that's worth listening to and not just during the 80's. People are trying to write this whole thing off as people trying to be fashionable with having long hair and wearing ripped denim and it's like what the fuck are you talking about, that's not fashionable; chicks don't really dig that so what the fuck are you on dude? It's because of the music and that's where a lot people relate to it. With the Internet people would see metal not just from their specific time but from all time and they'd be able to go "oh what do I like the best". And people think that one of the best styles is thrash and if you love it then go forth and play it and make the best metal you can.
MM: Once you are done with touring, what do you do in your spare time?
John: I keep it relaxed, I like to grill and chill with my friends, go hiking, play PC strategy games, I'm a pretty simple guy. When I'm at home I tend to get vegetative so I try to keep in decent shape and not waste too much time smoking and fucking around. But I do waste my fair share of time and it's pretty good, I do enjoy it.
MM: Aside from the Destruction U.S. tour upcoming, what's on the horizon for Warbringer?
John: Well we are touring for all of 2012 and are gonna hit some places in the world we haven't been before that aren't yet announced and I'm pretty excited about that. We have a bunch of European summer festivals lined up and are gonna be doing a European tour around then. Once the touring is all done, the new record will hopefully get started at the end of this year.
MM: That's all the questions I have so you have the floor to say anything you'd like to our readers, your fans and the metal world.
John: Thanks for listening, keep it metal my friends, check out the new record and we will be out on the road eternally so keep your eyes peeled!
MM: Thanks a lot man, I really appreciate your time and am looking forward to the show!
John: No problem man, thank you.