zrock exclusive! Shadows Fall : Killswitch Engage : Lamb of God : God Forbid Interview
by Jarrod Vrazel : zrock.com
The MTV2 Headbangers Ball Tour rolled into Houston on November 26, 2003. I had the opportunity to discuss the tour and the music with members of each band:
Brian Fair Shadows Fall vocalist
Howard Jones Killswitch Engage vocalist
Will Adler Lamb of God guitarist
Byron Davis God Forbid vocalist
Zrock: The MTV2 Headbangers Ball Tour will play to over forty thousand people across North America. Are there major differences in your musical experiences on this tour as opposed to shed shows such as Ozzfest?
Brian: One big difference I noticed was last night. When we played Ozzfest people were far away. Last night they were close enough to jump onstage and drink my beer. That’s not something that was going to happen at Ozzfest without getting hit by a bunch of batons and mace probably.
Howard: Someone jumped up and drank your beer?
Brian: Yes, and drank my beer some dude and left like this much. I was like take the rest. I have a lot more fun having contact with the audience that way. It’s also fun to be able to have the kids sing along because they’re going to remember that for a long time. The stage diving is always good, although last night in San Antonio I had to teach Stage Diving 101 two or three times throughout the set. Ozzfest, the only thing that great about that is it’s just overwhelming to walk out on stage and see that many people. It was totally amazing. But, it’s hard to see them. They’re thirty or forty feet away.
Zrock: Plus it’s probably noon or two o clock in the afternoon.
Brian: Exactly it’s awful early in the day. This is definitely what I associate with playing shows playing clubs at night with kids right up in your face. It makes it easier to put the energy out because you’re getting it directly back.
Zrock: How has the tour been so far compared to your expectations?
Brian: The tour has been incredible.
Will: It’s far beyond what I expected it would be. Totally amazing.
Howard: There’s really no way to figure out what it’s going to be like before the tour starts. You hope it’s gonna be a good tour and everything.
Will: This thing’s been good. It’s been real good.
Brian: We’ve all done tours together. All these bands have toured at some point together. It wasn’t that long ago. There were some shot shows on some on some of those tours, where you playing to the local band’s family that opened. So, to come back a few years later after we’ve all put out new records and have been working hard, it’s just cool to see the response that way.
Zrock: How many more dates do you have on this tour?
Will: I think it’s seven.
Brian: Yes, lucky seven.
Howard: Is that what we’re down to?
Brian: After tonight, there will be seven more.
Brian: As you can tell, we’re all a little tired at this point.
Will: A little worn out.
Zrock: Has having the connection with the Headbangers Ball had as much of an impact that most people would think it has?
Brian: Yes. There are actually girls at the metal shows. It’s usually just all sweaty dudes.
Will: It’s flattering to be involved with that.
Howard: You ll get a hint of perfume in the midst of all the ball sweat.
Zrock: What’s next for each of your bands after this tour is over?
Will: Writing. That’s what we ll be doing. Write, write, write. Put out a new record.
Brian: Same with us. We’re going to take time out. Write . Record. Repeat. Then tour again.
Howard: Then record.
Zrock: The Art of Balance has been out over a year now?
Brian: A little bit over a year. It came out last September. It’s funny we could continue to keep touring on it, to push it the way things are going, but physically we’re a band of the road.
Byron: Everybody is going home to write new material. We’re fortunate because they’re going to be home, so we’re going to be going back out. It’s a good thing, but at the same time we’re going to miss them.
Will: And you got a new record coming coming out.
Byron: Our new record will be out February 24, 2004 Gone Forever. We actually caught the tale end of the hype that they created, which is a good thing for us because it will make it easier to go out.
Zrock: Will the familiarity with the fans keep the momentum going?
Byron: The thing is, a lot of their fans know who we are, but a lot of their other fans don’t, because they’ve gotten a lot of the P&C from the Headbangers Ball and Ozzfest and the majority of tours that they’ve done. We pretty much just came off a year hiatus from writing and trying to get our shit back together. It’s definitely going to be good for us to go out and hit the road. Hopefully we ll have our video on Headbangers Ball soon. As far as Headbangers Ball – it’s cool. It’s not doing anything for us right now, but hopefully .in the future it will.
Zrock: Hopefully you can transcend the momentum from this tour and the fans that see now calling in so that you ll get a shot.
Byron: That’s what we’re hoping for. But, our biggest hope is that there’s people at the show when we play. It’s all good.
Howard: It’s supposed to be good tonight. I heard it’s sold out.
Brian: Last time we played here it was nuts. I was surprised it was here at not at Numbers. We just rolled through Numbers two months ago with Poison the Well and it was almost a thousand kids.
Zrock: How much has the internet’s role played in the momentum for your bands?
Will: It’s huge.
Byron: It’s a big part of everybody’s band. Rather you like it or you don’t.
Brian: Because now it’s a media. If someone tells you about a band, you can Google search, download their mp3, and hear them. Before, you had to wait until your boy copies their tape or whatever. Now you can hear about a band, you can find out em, and they usually have a video or mp3, and pictures everywhere.
Will: and live footage and all kinds of crazy shit.
Zrock: In the old days, if you waited for the Rip Magazine or other monthly to come out, you got the old news, whereas today you see fan feedback the night of the show. People get home and post that the show was awesome and there may be people in the next town seeing the posts and saying, we can’t miss this show.
Brian: One thing about touring: Before if you didn’t see an ad in a magazine or know about a show somehow, it was hard to find out about. Now you have no excuses. If you missed your favorite band, you need to be logging online and find out. All of our websites have updated tour dates everyday. It helps that way, in a huge way. So now there are no excuses.
Byron: Except if you don’t have no money in your pocket.
Zrock: It seems this tour has been priced right.
Byron: This is the best-priced ticket of the year so far. All the bands pretty much have their own set of fans, and if you can’t get to a show to see four insane bands for under twenty dollars then there is a problem. There is really a problem. Especially if you’re going to shows spending forty dollars when there’s only one or two band that you ever heard of that you want to see.
Zrock: … Or the tours when you favorite band is opening the show and you could care less about the headliner.
Brian: For twenty minutes you paid eighty-five bucks. On some of the tours we’ve done in the last year, they were decent for exposure but our fans didn’t even go. You go out with some of these bigger bands, and it’s great to get in front of their audience, but you know the kids who usually see you in that city are waiting until we come back with these guys or somebody else for fifteen bucks instead of thirty five bucks to see us with a band they hate.
Zrock: Some of the people get the attitude that they’re on the whatever tour so they sold or they’re leaving the fans behind.
Brian: I never blamed any kids who didn’t come see us on Ozzfest. First of all, you gotta get up at 7 in the morning to get out there, then pay 50 bucks to watch us for twenty minutes when they know we’re coming back in September.
Zrock: Especially when their wanting $125 for general admission.
Byron: They’re not even getting anything for their money.
Howard: That is insane. That’s so much money.
Will: Well, luckily we were able to line our pockets so heavily at Ozzfest.
Brian: Oh yeah!(laughs)
Will: Oh wait… No we didn’t!
Brian: No, we didn’t even get paid. That’s right. It actually cost us money to do that tour.
Zrock: How you seen the downloading scenarios as positive or negative?
Brian: It’s one of those hit or miss things, both good and bad. If people download your song, love your band, and go out and buy your record, that’s great. If they download your song, lover your band, and download the rest of the record, and never buy it, then fuck em. Because, unfortunately in this day and age, SoundScan is what the industry standard is based on. If you’re not selling records… there could be millions of people at your shows, people love the shit out of you, but no one in the industry is going to give you the respect on the business side because you ain’t selling records. If you do download and you want to support these bands, you gotta go and buy the records. Plus you’re gonna miss out on the artwork and the lyrics and the whole package. But, if it turns some kids on, and they download some songs and find out about you and you can get a fan out of it, that’s great.
Zrock: If you can get a taste of what it’s all about, it may make a difference.
Brian: I understand. Before I drop twenty bucks on a record, I want to know if it’s good. I want to check out a few tunes. Which is why most of the bands put up a few songs on their websites.
Zrock: When people go out and buy a CD, does any of it filter down to the musicians?
Everyone: NO! (All laugh)
Brian: It takes awhile to make the money back, that’s for damn sure.
Howard: A long time.
Brian: If you ain’t going platinum, you ain’t making money off record sales.
Howard: So if at all possible, if you download, you like it, go buy it at the show, so the money actually goes to the artists.
Zrock: Do get a lot of sales action at the shows?
Brian: We would if we had any records with us. (Laughs) We owe our label too much money.
Byron: Sometimes you do really good with sales at shows, sometimes you don’t. Because, with kids, even thought they ll come out to the show, they’re still dropping money to get into the show. Every band has something, so, they only have a certain amount of money. Most kids come with their allowance or whatever. It ain’t like they got three or four hundred dollars in their pocket coming to a show. They may have 50 bucks, so between hanging out at the show, getting something to drink, and seeing a couple of bands that they want to see, they might walk away with something here or there. You just hope you put on a good enough show so you ll be one of the bands they buy stuff from.
Brian: So what it’s all about is having the cheap little merch things like stickers and pens so they can at least grab something.
Zrock: So you get your own little billboard…
Brian: Yes, it’s all about spreading the word. If you can give them something to come home with so they’re not going to forget who you were. You know how people are – it’s in and out – if they don’t have something physical to remind them of who they saw, they might not remember who you were. They might have thought you were the greatest band ever, but kids can be burnt out these days.
Zrock:Then you get the same kids in the record store the next day…
Brian: Who was that band that night?
Byron: If they can even find your CD in the store.
Will: Who did I see? Sha… Sha-qira? That’s who it was.
Brian: Damn, that singer is hot. I must have been wasted.
Will: They didn’t sound nothing like this. These dudes suck.
Zrock: Seven more days. Will you get to take any days off for the holidays? Your Thanksgiving will probably be here on the bus?
Brian: Yes, I got a feeling we’re going to be in the middle of Mississippi at a truck stop.
Will: You guys need to come to New Orleans with us. Caravan.
Brian: I want to, but we ain’t trying to drive that short of a time , then drive west.
Byron: We’re gonna be chillin in the van in a parking lot, cooking up some ribs and some steaks on the Foreman Grille cause that’s how we get down. (Everyone laughs) Other than that, every day is time off for us. We had to quit our jobs to come out here. So we’re gonna go home, hustle a little bit to make our ends, so we can pay our little bit of bills before we hit the road again in the new year.
Zrock: Any up and coming bands we should be on the lookout for?
Byron: Every band from the underground right now is up and coming. A lot of bands are breaking through. You got Bleeding Through, Avenge Seven Fold, and As I Lie Dying.
Will: A Life Once Lost
Howard: Betray You
Byron: Right now it’s all about the underground and Headbangers Ball recognizes that. It’s just a matter of time. All the independent hardcore labels are just pushing through. Because nobody wants that everyday pop music that you hear on the radio, like POD, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and all that calculated crap.
Zrock: In the 80’s people walked around with shirts that said Corporate Rock Sucks.
Brian: It still sucks.
Byron: There’s nothing wrong with being on a major if you’re doing what you want to do and you don’t have someone telling you what to do, but a lot of what you see breaking through and selling millions and millions is a lot of telling you what to do. Right now this is the purest form of music out.
Brian: You can hear the common influences from the bands, but everyone’s taking in their own direction. Metal is such a wide-open genre that you can experiment a lot with it without really turning your back on where you came from. All the bands on this tour grew up listening to a lot of similar stuff, but we’ve all taken it through our own route. It’s cool to see that’s why some many bands have blown up and can tour together without sounding the same, whereas all those other cookie-cutter nu-metal bands all sound the same. It’s cool to be able to keep kids interested. I think that’s why the underground scene is so intriguing to these kids now. They’re like I heard this band that’s doing this, and this bands doing that, and they’re mixing it all together and I don’t even know where it’s coming from. It’s a great time. People are really pushing the envelope.
Zrock: Does there seem to be about the same level of intensity across the country?
Brian: The coasts are always going to have shit going on a little bit more, but it’s starting to spread a lot. We’ve had some great shows in the middle of nowhere on this tour. You never know where it’s gonna hit.
Byron: I think as far a musically goes, not trying to make it one sided or another…
Will: East Coast West Coast thing?
Byron: A lot of aggressive music is coming more from the Eastern seaboard, because everyone on the Western coast is partying it up.
Brian: They’re happy. It’s sunshine.
Byron: They don’t really have too much intensity and anger in their music like we do over here. Everybody on our side is stuck together in the same area. It might be something in the water. We got a lot of intensity. We got Dillinger and a lot of bands coming from our area.
Brian: And none of us wear makeup like the West Coast bands.
Byron: It’s pretty funny that the Headbangers Ball Tour is comprised of all the bands from the East Coast and it’s really intense.
Brian: I just think it’s funny that before they hopped on it was three Massachusetts bands. And one Virginia band. And Jersey ain’t too far from Massachusetts, either.
Byron: We’re all from within six hours of each other.
Zrock: How’s the overseas action?
Brian: Metal has never died over there. We did an European tour with two really metal bands. I found like a time warp. There were dudes there in what we call the full metal jacket. The denim with patches covering the whole thing. They were still rocking with the old school hair. There were no pits; it was just fist banging and overhead clapping. Metal has always been thriving over there. No one told them it wasn’t cool anymore.
Howard: I tried to jack this one guy for his big Stryper patch. I was like yeah… that’s nice!
Zrock: Do any of you have any upcoming international tour plans?
Brian: We’ve got no tour plans coming about. Just rest. It’s all about rest.
Byron: We’re supposed to be going overseas with Chimaira to the UK. After that, we’re going to come back to the US for our record release, February 24, 2004 Gone Forever. This will be our third time to the UK. We really haven’t been able to go overseas because our record label doesn’t believe in what we’re doing over there and have no idea of how to make a statement for us. So they’d rather us not go and miss out on all the good heavy music, so whatever to them. We’re gonna make it happen. It is what it is.
Zrock: The lineup rotates every night on this tour. How’s the lineup looking for tonight?
Brian: We’re getting stuck with the late night shift, so Shadows Fall is closing tonight. No one wants to close this tour out.
Will: No time to hang out.
Brian: Exactly. Plus the fans are getting beat up for three straight hours and they’re all tired.
Byron: But its cool they’re all staying, though.
Howard: That is cool. It’s just right from the jump, they’re tired. It’s like, God Forbid is on, and you see (panting) oh crap, here we go, OK, let’s mosh some more.
Zrock: How has the teamwork been between the bands? Any tensions on whose closing the show?
Brian: No, it was split down the middle and that was the original plan.
Byron: There’s really no tension.
Brian: The only thing you gotta do is hide your rider from God Forbid and it’s a good night (everyone laughs)
Will: nd lock the door to your bus…
Byron: It’s like this though.. It’s all love between the bands. At the same time, some people are suffering more than others. As you see, we’re sitting in the plush right now (Shadows Fall tour bus) and we’re gonna return to our plushness, but we just need goodies to get by with. We’re the last ones on the totem pole, so we get what we need and then we take what we need. But it’s all love. If we have it, we give it back.
Will: On the way out, stuffing your pockets.
Byron: You gotta do what you gotta do, man.
Zrock: That’s great to hear some tours seem to spend the entire time fighting amongst the bands.
Brian: We avoid that like the plague and that’s why we tour with bands that we’re friends with. We made a lot of friends so we don’t have to deal with the bullshit. We have enough friends out there and enough good bands to tour with.
Byron: We’ve toured with a lot of band throughout our time together and there’s only been one band that I can name, but I’m not gonna name, that ever pulled that rock star shit.
Will: Yep, I think I’m thinking of the same fucking band.
Byron: But other than that, it’s all good. Everybody is working for a common goal.. It’s all love. We definitely want to do it again. We definitely want to do this shit again.
Zrock: Brian, you’re wearing a Celtics jersey. How often to you get to follow your sports teams on the road?
Brian: I’m going to be watching the Celtics game on my phone all night. I sit there and hit refresh every thirty seconds.
Zrock: The power of technology. How many times have you been traveling on the road and wondering if your team won?
Brian: I had to watch the Patriots win the Super Bowl in the UK on the wack 15-minute recap on British television. They were like oh yea, this team won some game in the states. It’s tough, but that’s the least of your worries. Finding a clean place to shit is usually more important.than finding out a score.
Will: Especially when you wake up at 9 in the morning, hung over as shit, there’s no place open, and you gotta doo-doo. It’s the worst, dude.
Byron:Bag it, man.
Byron: Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Zrock: On that note, have a great show, Happy Thanksgiving, and we look forward to your new releases in the New Year.
-special thanks to Andrew Sample and Steve Joh
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