You know the story about All That Remains, particularly the fact its dynamic frontman Phil Labonte was the original singer for Shadows Fall almost a lifetime ago. Not that folks bring it up much anymore as Labonte and All That Remains have come up through the ranks of contemporary metal through four albums to stake their own claim as one of the genre's top draws.
Coming a long way since their debut album Behind Silence and Solitude, All That Remains, now fortified with bassist Jeanne Sagan who picked up with the group in the middle of their tour for The Fall of Ideals, the band is right where they want to be as of their latest release Overcome.
Labonte, whose vocal range has expanded in increments with each All That Remains album, has to be considered at this point one of metal's most diverse growlers and crooners. Overcome is his comeuppance statement as it is the bearing of fruits for guitarists Oli Herbert and Mike Martin who have kept the All That Remains machine thrumming with some of the most sparkling fretwork on the scene.
The Metal Minute caught Phil Labonte for a quick exchange as All That Remains begins the Rockstar Mayhem tour already having to address adversity with the sidelining of their drummer Jason Costa...
Metal Minute: You guys are kicking off the Rockstar Mayhem Fest tour and some temporary personnel adjustment with Jason having broken his hand. You recruited Nile and Dimmu drummer Tony Laureano to fill in for Jason, and certainly there’s no question Tony can keep up with All That Remains, particularly on the double kick segments. First, what happened with Jason, then how did you get Tony locked in for the gig? Do you think his customary bpms might force the band to step up what is already mostly faced-paced music on your part, using “Chiron” for example?
Phil Labonte: Jason is really dumb sometimes when he drinks and he misjudges things. This time he misjudged how hard he was hitting a table. Dummy. I'm not worried about Tony playing; he's a great drummer.
MM: I’m looking at Billboard these days and seeing a lot of metal bands crashing the gates held sentry by corporate rap and pop fluff, Killswitch Engage and Dream Theater being two of the most recent high charters. All That Remains also debuted quite solidly when Overcome was released, much like The Fall of Ideals. I know a lot bands feel they’re not in this game for chart positions and sales ranks, but given the very tough market we’re in with hard copy album sales dwindling as Generation Tech is gradually forcing change in the industry, I’m sure it’s not altogether terrible to see Overcome strike hard on Billboard, right? Also, what are your thoughts to metal making a dent on the charts?
PL: It's great to have people care about the band. It seems to me that if people care about a band, the music they make, how they treat their fans, stuff like that, then they'll go out and buy a disc. I know I personally buy tons of songs, but if I'm into a band I'll buy their whole record to make sure I'm supporting the band. So I feel like it's our fans kinda saying, 'Hey, we want you to make another record!' (laughs) I'm humbled and grateful that people do buy our discs. As for metal making a dent in the charts, it's awesome. I mean top 20 is usually no place for heavy rock, nevermind metal, so yeah, it's great for the whole genre.
MM: I am loving the maturity of Overcome not so much because of the escalated melody gracing the album, which has always resided within All That Remains’ music, but I really appreciate your band taking risks such as the soft acoustic intro and interludes between the harder agro sections on “A Song For the Hopeless” or the aggressive harmonies on “Relinquish,” one of All That Remains' best-written tunes in my opinion. How much effort do you feel goes into All That Remains' work nowadays before you feel you have the proper stamp on things?
PL: We have a pretty good idea what we are looking for when we get started writing. We usually have most of the riffs written and we just get together and arrange it. We try not to over-think things, really.
MM: Pick the song from Overcome you feel was the hardest to, er, overcome from pen to final mix and have the entire band believe in it?
PL: I don't know, I think "A Song For The Hopeless" was rough to get done. It took a bit of work.
MM: You guys covered Nevermore’s “Believe in Nothing” at the end of Overcome, which I think is cool considering most metal covers these days are from the eighties and late seventies. One, since “Believe in Nothing” is almost a decade old already, coming out as metal revived itself in North America, do you feel we’re now at a spot in time where honoring groups of this era is apropos Two, I’d say little has changed in society to make “Believe in Nothing’s” lyrics irrelevant. If anything it’s probably gotten worse as a whole. What are your thoughts there?
PL: We are just into that band. We didn't think about the era too much. We did avoid an 80's song intentionally cause everyone does that. As for the lyrics I feel like Warrel was stating his lack of belief in a god, and that's not really something that is dated.
Copyright 2009 Ray Van Horn, Jr. / The Metal Minute