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Mike Schleibaum of Darkest Hour In A Dark Corner; Video Available

Darkest Hour rose to the top of metal popularity through years of hard work touring, making album after album, and involving fans in many aspects of the music. And the rewards have been sweet, including a long tour with the illustrious Machine Head. I caught up with guitarist Mike Schleibaum before their show in New Orleans, LA, and before they did sneak away for a popular local beverage to talk about line-up changes, new songs, and Theremins. A transcription follows the video.

Buick Mckane: How are you doing today?

Mike Schleibaum: I’m good. We’re in New Orleans, and apparently it’s Mardi Gras pretty soon. Is that true?

Buick: It’s very soon.

Mike: And so everybody’s excited and we don’t get to play here that often so this is an exciting day. I’m going to run around the corner and get Hand Grenades right after we play.

Buick: I can show you exactly where to get those. Or the Horny Gator or the Jester.

Mike: I know, we got it locked in the GPS. We gotta do something touristy, you know what I mean, when you’re here.

Buick: If you want to catch a parade, there’s one not far away soon.

Mike: We’ll see what happens. There’s a lot of things that need to happen once the rock gets going. We’ll see. We’re only here for a short time ‘cause we got to get to Houston. Tito’s, our tour maganger, parent’s make a killer brisket and we got to get to that brisket.

Buick: That sounds really good. Especially in Texas; it’s the best BBQ.

Mike: It is really good. We gotta get to H-Town, but we love New Orleans.

Buick: Awesome, well how has the tour been with Machine Head been so far?

Mike: It’s been awesome. We’ve been on tour with Machine Head since the beginning of November. We had a break in the Christmas holiday, so we already knew them after that tour, and Suicide Silence we’ve known for a while. It’s kind of just a big party of guys that all know each other anyway, and getting to know Machine Head’s been awesome; the tour over there was super fun. Those bands Bring Me the Horizon and DevilDriver, we hung out with too. So it’s been a pretty Heavy Metal Summer Camp that lasted all winter. And, you know, we had a great time.

Buick: Right, and during that winter break, you did lose your drummer Ryan Parrish…

Mike: Actually, Tim played on the tour with Machine Head because the split with Ryan happened before that. So before that, we did that, and also Aaron Deal, our good friend, has been playing bass since I think before March. But it’s a good show, you should some check it out, dude. They’re unique members of a field of outcasts that we feel fit to fall into the fold of playing the Darkest Hour. Trust me, if you come and party backstage, you’ll know that they fit right in.

Buick: That’s very poetic of you. Have you made any permanent choices about your drummer yet?

Mike: No, it’s a really personal, close thing to us, and there’s no reason at this point to make a fast, rash decision. Being in a band, you’re forced into making those all the time, like, “Do you want to do this tour? You have to decide right now,” “Do you want to record with this producer? You have to decide right now,” “Do you want to make your video with the director?” So this is not a decision we want to be forced to do that with. So I think it’s going to take some time, but we’re working on new material and we have plenty of touring plans. I think it’s going to be worth it to see the band because it’s metamorphosizing a little bit, and I think it’s fun to watch. And feel free to come out, and I’m sure everyone has an opinion on the internet.

Buick: Yeah, you came out with that album pretty much a year ago. You’ve written new material, is it kind of going in a different direction?

Mike: No, I would say that on “The Human Romance” there are some things I would have done a little differently now looking back at it. But I really still like it a lot. So I think the next record will be, like, a progression in that direction. There’ll be still plenty of melody, but there’ll be some super heavy songs. I really, personally, want to do a double-record, something crazy. But once you get in there, it’s always hard to figure out what’s going to get hashed out. But I can tell you that the material is all Darkest Hour, this is the seventh full-length, “The Human Romance” is. It’s not going to become a ska band, but I do think the sound will progress.

Buick: Do you know any guys who play trumpets or anything?

Mike: We do. We know plenty of trumpet players, and plenty of Theremin players as well. So we can get real experimental, but I don’t think people really want that in the next Darkest Hour record, so I don’t think you’re going to see a crazy avant garde death metal record.

Buick: I have to say, I’m a huge fan of a Theremin. That is the coolest thing on Earth.

Mike: Yeah, well, like I said, we got some players. So we know some people who can [mimics Theremin.]

Buick: Awesome. Well, you did do something somewhat experimental this past summer. You released “The Human Romance” instrumental.

Mike: Yeah, I guess that’s weird. We’ve done it before; there’s been instrumental versions of tracks. When Guitar Hero happened, everything changed because then you could get the stems. You could get the bass line on Youtube, you could get the vocal line, you could get anything. If that material is going to be out there, why not put it out there for everybody in a different way. Also, I think the songs…you hear them in a different way without the vocals; not that it’s Darkest Hour without the vocals on it. I guess to me, the music makes a little bit more sense sometimes, if you hear it that way and then with vocals. Also, if you’re in a certain situation where you want to jam to some blaring heavy metal, but you don’t want screaming, crazy vocals, it’s good. I don’t know, it’s kind of an instrumental soundtrack in that way. And the records are made to flow together like that, so I think it works by itself. I mean, me personally, I don’t jam to instrumental metal ever, but some people who like to jam to them do. So we just put it out there as an option.

Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Mike: No, just check out “The Human Romance” if you haven’t, and there’s also the instrumental version, you said. And there’s also plenty of things that go along with it; the tab book, there’s a bunch of music videos. We’re a pretty serious metal band and want people to go check out the band and hate it or love it for what it is. It’s five pretty intense dudes who are pretty serious about what they’re doing, even though I might not look like it.

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Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.

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