Tuesday, June 21, 2011

August Burns Red's Guitarist Talks About Their New Album

Following up a breakthrough album is tough to do. August Burns Red was launched to the forefront of the metal core scene with their 2009 album Constellations. They seemed poised to follow it up with an album just as strong, if not even stronger. Mark your calendars and prepare to have your senses assaulted. August Burns Red is about to unleash their latest assault on the world of metal core on June 21 entitled Leveler.

I was lucky enough to catch up with guitarist and principle songwriter JB Brubaker and talk to him about the new album.

JP: Hey JB, thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to talk to us. We want to tell your fans about your new CD Leveler that comes out June 21. Can you give us a sneak peek? Tell us about it.

JB Brubaker: Leveler is our most diverse album to date. We incorporated some new sounds into the sound you’ve come to expect from us. This includes some gang singing, slide guitar, wah effects, way more backing vocals from our bass player Dustin, expanded clean guitar sections, full blown guitar solos, etc. While we’ve incorporated a lot of new elements, the songs are still heavy and fast. We have plenty of odd time signature breakdowns and crazy drum parts. I think Matt did a phenomenal job drumming on Leveler; his best performance to date, in my opinion.

JP: Your last album Constellations really seemed to push you guys to a new level of popularity. Did you feel any pressure going into recording the album because of this?

Brubaker: Not anymore than usual. We always push ourselves as a band to make an album better than our previous releases and that goal remained the same while we wrote Leveler. We wanted to write an album that pushed the genre a bit and broke some of the general ‘rules of metal core’ and I feel like we succeeded in doing that.

JP: Constellations……Leveler…..Compare and contrast the two albums.

Brubaker: Constellations is less diverse than Leveler. We introduced some new elements to ABR’s sound on Constellations (clean guitar, solos, more melody, etc.) and on Leveler we took some of the new things we tried on Constellations and ran with them. Leveler, while having maybe less overall breakdowns than Constellations, does a better job using dynamics. For that reason I think that Leveler is heavier than Constellations. I also think the song writing is much better. That’s simply a result of practicing and growing up.

JP: You worked with producer Jason Suecof again, who also produced your Constellations album. Why did you choose him again?

Brubaker: We knew Jason would make our album sound awesome sonically and we knew he would have lots of good ideas and tweaks to take the songs to better places. We get along with Jason and he’s pretty much a musical genius so it wasn’t a hard decision to make.

JP: Are there any surprises on the new album….banjo, bagpipes…that might shock the fans? Did you push the envelope any?

Brubaker: Yes, we pushed the envelope a good amount as far as traditional metal core goes. There aren’t any banjos or bagpipes, but there are plenty of random percussion sounds we’ve never used before as well as some sounds that aren’t close to what we’ve ever done before stylistically. I think people who have been hoping we’d push the envelope a bit on this record will be quite pleased upon hearing the entire album.

JP: Is there a particular track that you might be extra proud of or one that really stands out?

Brubaker: I’m most proud of the song ‘Internal Cannon’, it is possibly the most diverse and different song on the album. There are some parts in it that are really going to surprise people the first time they hear it. There’s a big section that has some tasty Mexican flavor complete with a huge saucy solo. It’s a fun positive song that is a real rollercoaster. I love it and can’t wait to play it live.

JP: We have seen a video for ‘Empire’ and your Facebook page mentioned that you have shot one for ‘Internal Cannon’ and the album isn’t even out yet. That’s a pretty aggressive marketing approach. Is that the label’s doing or you guys or a combo of both?

Brubaker: Well the “video” for ‘Empire’ is just basically the song streaming on YouTube with the lyrics so people can read along with the song. We did shoot one for ‘Internal Cannon’. We’re hoping to have it ready to go around the same time the album hits. We just want to have lots of content ready to rock when Leveler comes out. The label and the band are very much in tune with the approach we want to take in terms of marketing. We just want to make sure everyone knows about the album. We want people to be excited for it.

JP: You guys are going out on the Warped Tour this year. Are you doing the entire tour?

Brubaker: Yes, we’ll be doing the entire tour on the main stage. This is our first time doing the whole thing and we’re psyched! We did two weeks in 2008 and it was so much fun we didn’t want to come home. We are honored to share the stage with some awesome bands and some close friends. We all have high hopes for the tour and I think we couldn’t be luckier to have a new album coming out right as the tour starts.

JP: I have seen in the press that sometimes you guys get double categorized as a ‘metal core’ band and also as a ‘Christian rock’ band. Does that ever present a problem with having to feel like you have to represent both?

Brubaker: Well we obviously aren’t a rock band. Whoever says that is misinformed, ha-ha. I don’t feel like we have to represent both. We’ve always just done our thing. We don’t analyze the Christian vs. Secular thing. We’re here to play good music and that’s always been our goal.

JP: That leads into this question. You were nominated last year for Best Rock Album ay the Dove Awards. How was it to get recognized for the work that you created?

Brubaker: It was a nomination and I’m not sure who we lost to, but it really doesn’t matter. It was nice to be nominated. I think it’d be a lot more exciting to be nominated for a Grammy. The Dove Awards are cool, but it’s just limited to Christian music and it’d be a little more special to get nominated for an award that isn’t limited to a religion.

JP: Last question: Do you have a message that you would like to send to all of your great fans out there?

Brubaker: Thank you for the years of continued support. We can’t wait to get Leveler into everyone’s hands. It’s my favorite record we’ve ever written and I hope you feel the same.

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