Greetings cretins! Once again, I bestow unto you my endeavors as I try to bring you closer to the musicians you love and adore. In this interview, I talk with Brent Rambler from the monolithic juggernauts, August Burns Red. Its not every day my phone rings and someone says “Hi Nich, its Brent from August Burns Red.” I had to reboot my mind after it stalled for a moment and then get to work. We talked about their upcoming release from Solid State“Leveler,” which will be released June 21, time off while recording at Audio Hammer Studios, interests in psychology and finance, and his ever present Polo shirt.
Click here for the interview.
You guys are heading to Europe for a bit before you head out on Warped Tour. How are you feeling about that?
Good. We’re leaving saturday to head over there. We’ve been touring Europe since 2008 so this is not a new endeavor for us and we go about two or three times a year. I’m definitely excited about touring Europe.
How would you compare European fans to Americans?
You know, I’d say its all pretty similar as far as how they act at shows. One thing I will say is, that in Europe, they seem to take metal more seriously than we do in America. It’s more of a lifestyle there rather than just being the style of music you listen to. As far as the shows and stuff go, they’re pretty similar. One is not more crazy than the other.
Let’s talk about some more recent activity. You have been with the band since the beginning. From Thrill Seeker to Leveler, how have you refined your sound?
We as a band try constantly to get better and better. When we first started this band, we could barely play instruments. When we went into the studio to record Thrill Seeker, we were totally unprepared. While Matt [Greiner] was tracking drums, we pretty much just sat around playing guitar and learned a lot from Adam D [producer on Thrill Seeker] during that recording experience, it was probably the best thing we could have ever done. He showed us a lot of proper ways to play stuff and ever since then, we have always tended to write things we can’t play yet. Everything gets tabbed out into a program, then we can change the tempo of it so we can learn to play it as fast as we originally tab it out. We have to sit there and learn and learn and learn. We just try and push ourselves with each record, making sure that this stuff is hard for us, so that we know we are progressing.
So how is Leveler different than Constellations?
It’s a lot heavier and it still has a lot of melody like Constellations had. I’d say it’s also more riffy rather than having lots of straight up chords. There’s a lot more tough riffs and little quick stuff and there is a lot more guitar solos. It’s a more aggressive record, probably the most aggressive record we’ve written since Thrill Seeker.
I saw all the online studio updates with you and Jason Suecof, and it looked like amidst the hard work, there was some fun to be had at Audio Hammer. So what did you guys do to unwind after a rough day of tracking?
We had an awesome, awesome hotel. One thing we learned, is that when you’re recording, you need to leave. The first two records we were living in the studio pretty much, and through that process we learned that the last place you want to be after a tough day of tracking is in the same studio where you were all day. So we had a really nice hotel in Orlando, we’d go swimming in the heated pool and go out to eat. We just did stuff to blow off steam, go out and have some good food and hang out. Jason is fun to record with anyway. That moment when you first get there and there and you have to catch up to his pace of life. Once you get to that point, he’s just a bunch of fun to record with. He never takes things like too seriously that get you really pissed, so there weren’t really too many of those days, but there are some days you need to leave the studio and go out to have some fun. We went to a couple shows and saw some friends that were playing in Orlando.
Cool, who’d you go see?
Chariot, Haste The Day and My Children My Bride. This was Haste The Day’s farewell tour.
So what was something Suecof worked with you the most during this recording process?
He changes a lot of harmonies. He can just hear your riff and just say “Ok, play this over it” or point to it on the guitar what he wants you to play, lots of stuff like that. He loves to change around and add harmonies where there wasn’t any. We just went over a lot of finding the right notes on the guitar because he knows everything. He knows so much about every riff and can show you anything you want on the guitar. It was a lot of him throwing around harmonies you never ever would have thought of being there. Other times he’d just say “no, I don’t like that at all.” He definitely liked to spice things up.
You guys just wrapped on filming a video for “Internal Cannon.” Why did you pick that song?
We picked that song because we all really like it. It’s a different song for us. It has parts that remind us of a cruise ship and then others that sound like a salsa party. We felt like we could really make a fun video out of it. Its also our manager’s favorite song, so he was super excited for it.
I also saw that the deluxe issue of Leveler will have an acoustic version of that song.
Yup, it translated real well to acoustics.
If I started a band today, I would cite your band as an influence. How do you feel about that? Kids will be like “Man, I want to play like Brent Rambler, I want to play like August Burns Red, I want a band that really channels that.” How do you feel about being an influence?
It feels good to have that influence over people, but if you really want to do it, you need to drop everything and just do it. I understand that most people in bands need that other job to support themselves, but you just can’t give up. It’s important to play locally, and that was the biggest support for us. We had a bunch of local bands we looked up to and we learned it is so important to build a local fan base. That’s the biggest thing I advise people to do is build that local fan base. People ask me for advice and I reply “Can you sell out your local 500 person club?” That’s where you need to start.
That’s really good advice. That is a perfect answer. I see scores of videos on YouTube, people covering your songs. What do you think of those? Are you ever thinking “oh, that guy just butchered my song” or are you actually impressed?
[Laughs]There are definitely both of those. There are some that can play the song better than I can and others that just don’t have it yet. In all honesty, I personally would never ever have thought of learning a song and then posting a video of me playing it on the internet. If I had messed up, I would instantly wish I hadn’t put that on the internet. It seems nowadays, kids have a little less shame [laughs]. There are some that are really, really good. There was this kid that did a piano cover of “Ocean Of Apathy” and we actually put that on our facebook page we liked it so much, we were so impressed. That’s cool to see when someone takes a song and makes it their own for the instrument they play, if they don’t play guitar.
If Ibanez gave you a signature model guitar to make, what would it have on it?
[Laughs] I’m actually going through that right now, well not a signature model, but they give us custom guitars and we tell them how we want the built and ugh…I have no idea. I’ve been wrestling with this for a couple months now. I can’t decide if I want to make it that its so personal to me or that other people will like it. Do I want to make some ridiculous guitar I hang on my wall or do I want to make a really nice guitar that I can play live. It’s really really hard to do it. I was thinking about doing a pearl white guitar with light blue pick ups, but our manager Chuck, who thinks we have a pretty crazy color scheme for a metal band already, said “If you do that, it’d look like a Nike shoe”[laughs]. Yeah…I have no clue what I want to do with that. Good question.
[Laughs] Well we all hope to see the Brent Rambler signature RG sometime soon. I was looking at your facebook page and saw you studied psychology. That’s pretty amazing.
Yeah, only got two years into the degree before I dropped out to play in this band. I’d love to go back sometime though. I love that stuff. I’d love to go back for that or finance. Those two are something I could see myself really enjoying, but psychology is something that I have always been into.
What got you into pshych?
My favorite teacher in high school taught all the different pshych classes and I took them all four years and did really well in them and I picked the material up really fast. It seemed I had a knack for it.
Tell me more about finances. My next question was going to be tell me something you are into that people might be surprised at, but you kind of already answered it in the last one. Anything more you want to share on that one?
About financing? [laughs] I guess I blame my dad, who has always been into the stock market and investing money wisely. I’ve had stocks since I was 15. I actually ended up buying my first car with stock earnings. A flooring company went bankrupt and their stock went down to fifty cents a share so I put in $500 from my summer job. In two years, it went up to two dollars a share, so I ended up making $3,000 and I bought my first car with the money when I was 17.
What kind of car did you buy?
I bought a 1991 Chevy Blazer. Since then, I have always been interested in. If I invest wisely now, I can retire at 45 with a whole bunch of life left if I prepare for my future and do everything right. I meet with my financial advisor twice a month and he teaches me lots of stuff. It’s just interesting to me how the world works and how finance affects everything and everything affects finance.
I also saw that you are a fan of Explosions In The Sky. All Of The Sudden I Miss Everyone is one of my favorite discs of theirs. Any other bands outside of the metal genre you’re into?
I actually don’t listen to too much metal [laughs].I guess, once you play in the genre for so long and you listen to it and play it every night on tour, it gets a little stale. Most of the bands I listen to are not metal bands. I love Explosions In The Sky, I love Mogwai, Against Me is going to be on Warped Tour this year so I’m extremely excited to see that. I can’t sit down and listen to metal anymore unless it’s awesome, like Architects or Between the Buried And Me.
Here’s another thing I noticed. While other musicians are rocking another band’s shirt on stage, or they are wearing a tank top or whatever, you have chosen the Polo. Why the Polo?
[Laughs] It’s just what I have always worn. The same goes for the other guys too. We’re not going on stage wearing anything different than we would in our normal lives. I think a lot of people like that cause you can relate to us more maybe, I don’t know. I wear exactly what I wear on stage, well not the exact same stuff cause it’s gross and sweaty, but I ware the same stuff at home. I don’t really feel the need to put on a black t-shirt and black skinny jeans to play a concert.
There you have it. I also read that you are married. How long now?
Two years in August.
Nice. My girlfriend and I are celebrating four years next month. Woo hoo! Hooray commitment!
Ok, so these last five are just some goofy questions and you don’t have to take them seriously:
What did you have to eat last?
I ate a mahi mahi taco
Do you have any pets?
I have a pet. His name is Gunner and he is a beagle Rottweiler mix.
What is the coolest thing you bought recently?
I just bought a car yesterday. I bought an Acura TL type S.
Nice! What was the last text you got?
Do you want to go out for wings tonight?
Sweet man that’s all I got. Thank you and I’m stoked to see you guys on Warped tour.
No problem man! Thank You!