Interview With Phil Labonte Of All That Remains
Band Photo: All That Remains (?)
On Tuesday, March 29, I got the chance to interview All That Remains vocalist, Phil Labonte, when they rolled through Vancouver with As I Lay Dying and Throwdown. Phil had problems with his throat and was advised to cancel all press but he was cool enough to let me ask him a few questions. As usual, I brought my sidekick Jen with me to help out a bit.
darkstar: How’s the tour going so far?
Phil: It’s been pretty much off the hook. Like every night so far has been sold out. The past 5 shows in a row. Lots of kids going crazy, you know? It’s been awesome, absolutely awesome. I don’t know what it’s going to be like tonight. I know it’s a 19+ show and that might be a little weird but I can’t imagine it not being a completely full room, you know, considering in the States, it was, you know, 5 sold out shows. And then here, I can’t think Canadian kids are that much different from kids in the States.
darkstar: I saw you guys on tour with Gwar and Dying Fetus last year. How was that tour?
Phil: The tour with Gwar and Dying Fetus was cool. We did another tour with Gwar in February and that tour was a little bit better. Instead of being first, we were 2nd out of three. It was really good. The kids were a little more receptive on that one. I think it gave people a little more time to get drunk. There’s a big difference between being the first and the second band whether or not you’re dealing with a band that sold a ton of records or not or anything like that. It’s like perception. As the night goes on, people get a little bit crazier. You know, things get a little bit more out of hand and stuff like that. It’s definitely one of those things where it’s better to go on later. But the Gwar tour was good tour, definitely.
darkstar: I heard that you guys were getting $150 a show.
Phil: We get $200 a night on this show.
darkstar: Oh really?
darkstar: And a hundred goes to gas?
Phil: Usually. We get $200 American here. You figure, gas is what? 95 cents to a dollar a liter or so. So there’s really roughly almost 4 liters in a gallon so you figure that’s almost 4, 5 bucks a gallon. This gets about 12-15 miles to gallon pulling the trailer. So $200 covers gas to get to the next show pretty much. So we’re not making tons of bread. You know, we’re not a band that’s making a lot of money. I mean, we’re doing all right, in the fact that, you know, our merch sales and stuff like that. But we’re not making a ton of money. Like when I get home, this [the tour van] is what I drive for my car. This right here. So it’s not like we’re making a lot of money at all.
darkstar: So how do you guys make money?
Phil: Hopefully, we’ll to make some decent money in merch. But it’s been for the past year that we haven’t been making money at all.
Jen: Do you guys have like a part-time job?
Phil: A couple of the dudes in the band worked at home. Like Oli, our guitar player, he gives guitar lessons when he’s at home. Mike Martin works for his parents. Matt Deis, he lives at home so he pretty much lives with his parents and stuff. I much take care of the bills. I take care of the business for the band. So when I get home, I can’t really have a job because I’m working on, you know, stuff for the band and stuff. But that’s what you gotta do if you want to be in a band and be touring, you know.
darkstar: Are you guys excited to be part of the Sounds of the Underground tour?
Phil: Yeah, it’s gonna be pretty sick, pretty out of hand. It’s going to be pretty awesome.
darkstar: Do you know if they’ll be coming to Vancouver too?
Phil: They will be coming to Canada. I don’t know if they’ll be coming to Vancouver. I don’t have any dates yet.
darkstar: Well, I know they’ll be coming to Toronto. I’m just wondering if they’ll be coming to Vancouver too.
Phil: It’ll come to western Canada but I’m not sure how many – I know they were talking about doing 4, 5 dates in Canada. So they’ll probably do like Montreal, Toronto or something like that and then somewhere out here. A couple of shows out here.
darkstar: Do you have any plans for a headlining tour any time soon?
Phil: There’s been talk of it. But it won’t be until after Sounds of the Underground tour if we do. We were kicking around the idea of coming back to Canada and doing a headlining tour in Canada for a couple of weeks after Sounds of the Underground, probably like late August or something like that. But it’s completely and totally up in the air. I have no idea if that’s really going to happen or not.
darkstar: Could you tell us a bit about the beginning of the band, like how you can about to forming a new band?
Phil: Well, I was in Shadows Fall and I sang for them. Basically, I just started writing guitar riffs because I wanted to play guitar in a band. You know, I haven’t played since a year before I got into Shad and I’ve been in Shad for about 2 years at the time. So I haven’t played guitar in a long time so I wanted to go ahead and start playing guitar again. So I started writing stuff. Just as I started writing stuff, they came to me and were like “Look, we want to go find someone else. We want to go ahead and get somebody with a little more of a rock style.” And I was like “Ok, that’s cool.” I kinda got something else that I started up. You don’t start another band if you’re completely happy with the band you’re in, if you know what I mean. All the creative stuff that I want get out, I get out in this band. You don’t start side projects. That’s why there’s not like the Dave Mustaine side project from Megadeth, you know? That’s kind of what it was. They asked me to leave. Fill in the rest of the gaps with the band and get started with this one.
darkstar: If you weren’t in All That Remains, what would you be doing right now?
Phil: Selling cell phones at the mall probably. Working at the mall, something like that.
darkstar: Do you like the mall?
Phil: I am a big fan of commerce. So yeah, I do like the mall.
Jen: Have you been to any malls in Vancouver?
Phil: No. I have been to one in Calgary though. Oh no, in Edmonton.
Jen: Oh, the big one?
Phil: The gigantic one that had Red’s Entertainment Complex [West Edmonton Mall]. We played there with Gwar and that place is sick. That’s a big mall.
darkstar: What was it like working with Adam from Killswitch Engage and having him produce your new record?
Phil: Like working with a clown. Like bozo shows. Nah, I’m just kidding. It was cool. Adam knows his stuff. He knows the sound that we’re looking for. He knows us really well. I’ve known Adam for going on for up to 10 years now or longer possibly. I really trust him. So it was cool. It just felt natural and it fit, you know.
darkstar: Are you guys going to be putting out a new album anytime soon?
Phil: Probably the beginning of next year. We’ll finish this tour and we’ve got like 6 weeks off. 6 weeks will probably be full to the brim with press for Sounds of the Underground and stuff like that and also try to take a little time together as a band and go ahead and write some new stuff. We’re hoping to put together at least 2 new songs, which we won’t be playing at Sounds of the Underground because we’ll only have a half an hour set and we don’t want to play two new songs if you’ve only a half an hour set and people haven’t even heard This Darkened Heart. We sold so many copies, or this number of copies, and we know that there’s an enormous amount of people out there who haven’t even heard the name. So we’ve got a lot of work to do with This Darkened Heart still.
darkstar: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heart of All That Remains before?
Phil: We are a modern metal band, is really the best way to say it, you know. Because we’ve got solos, we’ve got harmonies, we’ve got some of the kind of breakdown-y stuff. We’ve got singing, we’ve got screaming, we’ve got kinda like a shouting thing going on sometimes. We cover a lot of ground. It’s a modern metal band. You can call us Metalcore if you want. People are going to slap names on us and stuff, which is fine. It doesn’t bother me. But, I mean, if you look at us as a Metalcore band and then you look at, say, you know, Hatebreed as a Metalcore band, which a lot people say Hatebreed is a Metalcore band because they’ve got some sort of metal-y riffs. But it’s like we sound nothing alike. How exactly can Hatebreed be a Metalcore band and we be Metalcore at the same time? It’s such a subjective term. It’s much easier to just go, oh, they’re a metal band.
darkstar: How many instruments can you play?
Phil: Me? I can play guitar.
darkstar: Just the guitar?
Phil: Just the guitar. And vocals, I guess don’t really count, but kind of.
darkstar: Did you learn the guitar by yourself?
Phil: Well, I’ve taken lessons and stuff. I took lessons from our old guitarist, Chris. I took lessons when I started, when I was 14, 15 years old. I still try to pick Oli’s brain as often as I can. You know, I try to get as much information as I can because he plays like 9 instruments and has a masters in music theory and composition. He knows his shit backwards and forwards. He knows his stuff.
darkstar: Weren’t you the guitar player in a band before Shadows Fall?
Phil: A band called Perpetual Doom. I played guitar and I did backups. That’s actually where I got started singing. It was a terrible death metal band.
darkstar: Well, I guess that’s about it. I don’t want to kill your vocal chords.
Phil: I appreciate it.
darkstar: Do you have any last words:
Phil: Smoke pot.
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