Blessthefall Interview + Exclusive Track Premiere
It’s almost time: metalcore maniacs Blessthefall are just two days away from blessing us (heh) with their fifth full-length, To Those Left Behind. So far, the band have released three teasers from the record – the fist-pump commanding “Walk On Water”, the energy-dripping “Up In Flames”, and the absolutely mesmerising “Dead Air”. As the Arizona quintet prepare to drop their latest work of art abrasiveness, we’ve scored an exclusive first listen to a new track, “Keep What We Love & Burn The Rest”. Grab ya headphones, clear ya surroundings (moshing is non-optional for this one), and check out the stream below!
Hear our exclusive stream of the new Blessthefall track, “Keep What We Love & Burn The Rest”.
Beau! How are you, man?
I’m doing well! I’m in Ottawa [Canada] right now; my wife is playing a show at a college down the road. I’m actually just watching my daughter right now. I’ve got Cat In The Hat on my iPad for her, so she’s all taken care of for now.
Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with BLUNT! So, we’re now just a few days away from the release of To Those Left Behind, and to say that we’re stoked would be a massive understatement. How are things going in the band as you guys prepare to launch this thing?
It’s crazy because we’re not on tour or anything while the album’s coming out, so that’s kind of weird. Eric’s [Lambert, guitar] in Hawaii, Elliot’s [Gruenberg, guitar] in Japan, I’m in Canada, and then Matt [Traynor, drums] and Jared [Warth, bass] are in Arizona, so we’re all kind of doing our own thing and celebrating from afar, watching it all unfold. We’re not playing any kind of release shows or anything like that, but we’re pumped to see the reaction that kids have over the album. We just put out a new song, just to do it. I was like, “Man, I just want to put out another song! The record feels like it’s dragging…” We announced it before Warped Tour, before the summer, and it seems like it’s taken so long, so now we’re like, “Here it comes!”
So between the release of Hollow Bodies and now, a whole damn lot has changed in your life. Most notably, of course, you have a kid now! First of all, how have you been enjoying the whole “parenthood” thing thus far?
Yeah man, it’s crazy! She’s an amazing kid, so that makes things a lot easier. When I’m on tour, I try to get home as much as possible on my days off. I really try to make it a point to fly home on those days, and it can get a little bit costly, but honestly, it’s priceless to make sure I’m there at least every week or every two weeks to make sure I’m seeing her. And then when I’m not on tour, I’m with her 24 hours a day. It’s kind of a different balance than a regular lifestyle would be – some parents leave their kids at 7am and don’t see them ‘til 5pm, and they’ll leave them with a nanny. It’s a different way of being away, so when I’m home, all of my attention is on her and we can go to the park, go swimming, whatever. I think as she gets a bit older, too, she’ll start really realising that I’m leaving. Y’know, like now I’ll leave and she’ll go “buh-bye,” and not realise that I’m not going to see her for a few weeks.
I can only imagine how difficult it must be having to spend a lot of time away from her. Have you ever thought about maybe bringing her along on tour when she gets a bit older?
Oh, absolutely! I hope I can. Right now, she’s only been away from her mum a couple of days at a time. So when she gets a little bit older, I really hope she can come out and hang out with us, hang out with all the boys!
How much of an impact did the introduction of Rocket have on the way you approached the writing for this album?
A lot of our songs are pretty sombre, pretty heavy tracks – not heavy in the sense that, yeah, they have breakdowns, but also pretty dark vibes – so I was trying to channel when I felt my most depressed, and that’s when I was away from them. We spent, like, a month or so in Europe, and that was the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing her since she was born. So just being away from them kind of puts me in a really shitty spot, and it helped me channel that melancholy that needs to go along with the music. That helped to bond the whole idea behind the record. It’s not a concept record, but it’s kind of a themed record. A lot of the theme is this person that’s passed on, trying to connect with the ones that they left behind and get revenge on the ones that did them wrong.
I was reading an interview from last month over on Revolver where you said that you had looked to some of your favourite horror movies for lyrical inspiration. Can you tell us a little more about that?
There are certain movies that I’m obsessed with, that I just watch over and over and over. Kill Bill is one of them, Lucky Number Slevin is another one… I also just recently got hooked on American Horror Story. So all of these were influences on the writing process, they all went along with the themes on this record. Kill Bill and Lucky Number Slevin are obviously some of the greatest revenge movies of all time. It’s such a cool concept. Especially with Lucky Number Slevin – Josh Hartnett is dead, as far as everyone is concerned in the movie, and then he comes back and avenges his death and his family’s death. I was like, “Man, this is so cool!”
I was listening earlier to the three singles that you guys have put out for the record so far, and I noticed that there’s a really broad spectrum of sounds and styles between them. What can we expect to hear, musically, throughout the rest of the album?
One of the things that we love to focus on, with every album actually, is even though kids nowadays just buy singles or listen to shit on Spotify, to us, having an album that you can listen to all the way through and take you on a journey… That’s what we want to create, a full record. You can hear all of the songs separately, and they all sound cool, but when you listen to the whole thing, I think it makes more sense. It takes you on a ride, and all of the songs tie into each other. We killed ourselves on the track listing! It was the last minute, and [our label] was like, “Guys, we need the track listing, we need to get everything ready!” It was down to the last possible minute, and we were re-arranging songs and going, “Where does everything fit?! No! This doesn’t feel right!” The way it all ended up felt right for everybody – we can listen to each song back-to-back and it all goes into each other really well. And like you said, some songs are super different, but when you listen to it as a whole, they lead into each other.
At the moment, I think we’re seeing a lot of bands in the metal and metalcore scenes wildly change their sound and really embrace experimentation. As a key player in the metalcore community, where do you think the genre is heading?
It’s hard to say! We love to push ourselves as musicians, but there’s still a sense of Blessthefall when you listen to the album. I feel like we’ve experimented, but not like some other bands have [laughs]. A band like Bring Me The Horizon, who are going for a whole new sound – and it’s working for them – they sort of stamped their legacy into this whole genre, so they can do this kind of thing now. I feel like we’re sort of the underdogs in everything, we’re always trying to prove ourselves, so I don’t know that if we did that, our fans would be like, “What the hell is going on?” Because I think the type of music that we write, we write it fucking great! It’s hard to tell where the genre is going. I wish I could tell the future, ‘cause then we could be ten steps ahead of everybody, but that’s kind of the fun of it, going, “Well okay, where is music going next? What’s going to happen next with our scene?” It’s fun to watch all of these bands evolve and try new things, and hey, maybe our next record will be an experimental record and we’ll have 10-minute songs and shit!
Prog The Fall! That sounds awesome.
[laughs] I don’t think I could sing on a 10-minute song!
When you look at the writing and recording processes from a distance, how different is it making a Blessthefall album in 2015 than it was a few years back?
Oh man, it’s hugely different! One obvious thing is that everyone can use computer programs now. We can record on our laptops at home, on the road, things like that, and that’s been a huge part of us and our writing process now. Eric and Elliot will actually have these whole songs with drums and bass and everything, and they’ll send them to me and I’ll be like, “Holy shit”. Whereas if you look back to ’09 or whatever, they would send me these terrible, terrible recordings, and I would try to record over them on Garage Band. Eric would send me a VoiceNote of a guitar riff, and I would send one back going, “Well, I kind of want to sing something like this…” It took so long. The other way to do it would be to just sit in a room. When I first joined the band, we all sat in a room and just jammed. And we’d spend hours and hours and hours just doing that. But now, we can expedite the process and I can get five or six full songs in, like, a month, whereas that would take six months if everyone was sitting in a room together. So it’s happening a lot quicker, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily a great thing for everybody. Bands can just shoot out a record every year now, and I don’t think that’s a good thing.
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask: when are Blessthefall gonna come back Down Under to destroy us all with these new tunes?
Fuuuuuck, dude! I wish I could come right now, to be honest [laughs]. We love it down there so much, like, the last time we toured there, we hit it real hard! We were doing cliff jumps, we were hitting the beach… It was so fun. So hopefully this record does alright for us down there and we can come back, maybe play some bigger rooms and just kill it again!
By far, my favourite thing to come out of Warped Tour 2015 has been the stories of all of the shenanigans that you got up to, like doing bike stunts with Lynn Gunn from Pvris and having a prank war with Pierce The Veil. I mean, tell us about all the shit you guys got up to on that tour!
Yeah man, Warped Tour is just one big summer shenanigan. All of the bands play 35-minute sets, and then we just fuck around all day. You gotta find something to get up to, you know what I mean? It’s awesome. We started a ‘bike gang’ and we all just cruised around together, everyone tricked out their bikes with crazy bells and lights and shit, and we just rode around causing trouble. And then Pierce The Veil… We won the bowling tournament. We beat out every other band on the Warped Tour. Pierce The Veil’s probably a little bit jealous, y’know, they’re coming first in the tournament and then here comes Blessthefall smokin’ them, right, like they had no chance! So we had our trophy hanging out in the back of our trailer, and I’m sure Vic [Fuentes] or one of those dudes was walking by, and they were like, “Oh yeah, we’re stealin’ that” and they totally stole our trophy, and used the abusive power of social media, which they’re all very good at, and they used their social media powers to post it online. We were just like “Holy. Shit”. And we all freaked out, so Eric immediately ran over and stole their Xbox without them seeing, and then we posted that online. Right away, they were knocking at our door, and we were like, “Yeah? Can we help you guys? What’s going on?” and they brought our trophy back. They were like, “Okay, no more shit. Here’s the trophy, give us our Xbox back.” They didn’t want any part of it [laughs]. So let it be known that Blessthefall wins every prank war, and we will never take second place!
When you’re off doing headline tours and the like, do you guys still get up to mischief or is that more of a professional setting for you all?
We’re always messing around; it’s hard for us to be serious. But yeah, headline tours are a bit like, “Okay boys, we need to sound good, and we’ve gotta take ourselves seriously for a little bit” but that doesn’t last very long. We’ll probably steal Stick To Your Guns’ van tyres, or something like that.
So outside of Blessthefall, you also run a crazy awesome clothing line, Golden Hearts Shine Forever. How has that been going?
Dude, it’s going well! Thank you for asking! I kind of do things out of cash-in, and when I feel like it. A lot of these brands will be like, “Okay, so we’re doing the fall line, and the winter line and the spring” and I’m just like, “Uhh, what day is it? Okay, yeah, I’ll put it out on this day”. I just put a line out a few days ago! It was supposed to come out two months ago, but Warped Tour was going on and our record was going on, so I kind of lagged on it. It actually benefitted me in the end because nobody else is putting anything out, so I got to put it out in this weird middle-ground. Some kids are going back to school, so it’s doing well in those areas. Basically, I took a bunch of shirts and dip-dyed them in ink, and let them hang there, and they look so sick. I’m super proud of it.
I needed another creative outlet. With the band, we all share everything five ways – it’s all of our band. And so this is something that’s all mine. It’s my baby, I get to do whatever I want with it, nobody can tell me what to do, and I get to create something cool. I create things that I dig, things that I would wear. It’s terrible that shipping to Australia costs so much, but people down there buy my shit and I’m so stoked when they do. Like, kids will show up to my show wearing one of my shirts!
I think it’s just insanely impressive that you’re able to juggle marriage, parenthood, touring, band politics, recording and running a clothing line. How the fuck do you do it?
There’s not enough hours in the day! It can get challenging, but I can’t just sit still, I have to be doing something, so it all fills my time. I’m not saying that my clothing line isn’t a priority, but there’s gaps for everything.
Obviously having a family and being a full-time musician means that your professional and personal lives will clash and conflict quite a lot. I mean, with that in mind, do you think we might be coming up to the last few years of Blessthefall, or is this still something that you see yourself continuing on for as long as possible?
Since I joined the band it’s been a steady progression of things going up, which has been awesome. And as much as it is work, it’s also a lot of fun, and it always pays off when I hear people’s stories about our songs and how those songs affected them, and that always reminds me that this band is bigger than us. It’s bigger than just five people making music, it transcends language barriers and all that. And the way it helps people, there’s nothing else like that. As long as people are buying our music, as long as people keep coming to our shows, as long as people need us, we’ll be around!
Just before I let you head off, what would you say is the most interesting factoid or tidbit about To Those Left Behind?
Okay, so we put out a song a couple of days ago called “Dead Air”, and my wife was kind of helping me write some melodies for it. I wrote this chorus, and I was like, “Hey, can you help me wrap this up?” …She’s like a melody machine! And so we were in this hotel, and she was recording me with her laptop and a little mic, and I had a towel over my head to absorb the sound. I was singing my arse off, just belting out, and I guess we got all of these complaints, people were like, “This guy is yelling! And singing! And there’s a girl singing!” But if they had known that we were creating something so fucking awesome, they probably wouldn’t have complained, they would have come and listened.