Regret Not

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As I stated in my review of All Thats Remains’ latest album Overcome, I was a little nervous talking to vocalist Phil Labonte, considering my lukewarm feelings toward the album. However, after meeting Phil in the tour bus before All That Remains headlining show with Trivium, The Human Abstract and 36 Crazyfists in Columbia , MO, all fears were set aside as we had a lengthy interview and Phil proved to be the consummate professional…

First thing I’ll ask right away – the press guy, Bob Deutsh, from Prosthetic Records,told me that Overcome is the that you wanted to make. What did he mean by that?
We’ve always had a lot of different elements in our stuff. We wanted to go ahead and have a lot of solos. We wanted to have a lot of different styles of singing, whether it be screaming, highs, lows, regular singing – and I think on this record, at least vocally, I was a little more able to go ahead and have the melodic singing and screaming kind of more…I guess…I didn’t want it to seem like this is the spot for singing, this is the spot for screaming. There are songs that are almost all singing, there are songs that are all screaming , there are songs that have singing in the versus, and then screaming in the pre-chorus, then singing in the chorus or singing in the verse, then screaming in the chorus. So, we wanted to make sure that, or at least I personally wanted to make sure that the vocals were just, you know, it wasn’t really boxy and square and placement-wise, I wanted to feel like melody would flow through the whole thing as well as screaming and singing. It’s not…there’s a couple songs where there is layers – we’d sing a line, then I’d scream a line, and we’d try to just mix them together with different levels compared to each other – some parts are singing was higher and there was screaming underneath, some parts the screaming was higher and the singing was underneath. But yeah – I think we really wanted to go ahead and make sure that we spent time on that and got that right especially seeing how this does have – I mean if you’re going to go ahead and have the singing go through it’s gonna have more singing on it, you know what I mean? Which the record does…

I agree-it seems like, when you compare this record to The Fall of Ideals and This Darkened Heart, there is a lot more singing. Obviously, being a vocalist, that is something you would lobby for and you want, being the front man. What was the response from the rest of the band when you present the idea to have little more layering, a little more melody in the vocals.
Everyone was cool with it – they were like “yeah – we want to”. Although, when you hear it the first time you’re like “WHOA”…all of us were like “Whoa, really?” Then, after you listen to it a couple times, you’re like “OK, yeah… this is cool, this is working out, this is going to sound good”. So, no one was against it at all, no one was like “nah – I don’t know if we should do it”. We were careful about what songs we released first, we were careful. The first thing we did was we put up “Before the Damned” and we put up “Relinquished” on our MySpace page long before there was even any press about it because we figured the people that are going to the MySpace page already know the stuff. So, we were like OK – we’ll go ahead and put the heaviest stuff out so people know we’re still the same band…we’re still gonna have a record that’s still mostly screaming – there’s more screaming than there’s singing on it, even though there’s more singing than there ever has been, it’s still – if you listen to the record – it’s way more, definitely…probably…60/40% or 70/30% more screaming than singing. Something like that. So, we wanted to make sure that people knew that it was the same band. You know -like, being a kid that came from like a death metal background – I know that there are going to be kids out there that are like “your singing? I don’t like it”. Just because!

Thats true-metal fans can be very fickle about singing.
Yup – so we do everything we can to remind people – hey! We’re still going to be the band that you think we are, but we’re always going to be the band that changes from record to record. If you listen to the Behind Silence and Solitude and then listen to this record…

It’s a different sound? And we’ll get into that but first, how do you find a balance, being an artist, there’s always that hanging over a band – like you’re commercial or a sell out once you start using clean vocals. How do you find that balance between the aggression in the death metal and the melody.
I just don’t sweat it. I don’t worry about it – there are 5 people that have to be happy with the record. Hopefully other people like it – hopefully people buy it – hopefully people dig it – hopefully people come out to shows, stuff like that, but there are 5 people that have to go ahead and say “we like it”. We don’t worry about the label, we don’t worry about our management, we don’t worry about…and not to knock the fans, but you can’t write music catering to your fans, you know what I mean? You can’t write music trying to please your fans. Because that’s when you’re a band that…

You’re not going to please all of them.
Exactly..Especially when you’re a band that can go from a song, like “Two Weeks” on this record to “The Week Willed” on our last record. Or, something like, I don’t know – “I Die in Degrees”, off This Darkened, or “Behind Silence and Solitude”, the title track to Behind Silence, they’re very, very different sounding songs and different sounding records and we covered a lot of ground. It’s a very wide range of metal that we do. We’re all really cool with letting outside – like other types, other forms, other genres of music that we all listen to…like we’re cool with letting it influence us because that’s, I think really, when the bands really write their best stuff is when they stop writing to try and please the genre but write to please themselves.

Sure. What would you say – what’s changed in the outside influences you allowed in, for mostly in Behind Silence and Solitude to this record we got now?
Well first, we’ve had at least one member change, from This Darkened to The Fall of Ideals. I mean me, Mike and Oli are the guys in the band – I started the band and we got Oli about a year later, so I’m the only original member left, but Oli was the first lead guitar player to have that position, so…um – but yeah, I mean the outside forces are things like the label pushing us. I mean writing the record was a nightmare. It was really compressed, time-wise. We wrote and recorded in 4 months. We wrote the whole thing and recorded it.

As opposed to what, for the last two?
The Fall of Ideals, we probably had 3 or 4 months to write, and then we were in the studio for a month and a half. And this one, we didn’t have that luxury because we toured so much out on the road.

So, the time crunch was due to touring, due to time constraints, due to label pressure?
Label pressure first. They wanted it to be out in the summer time – and we had to do – we were like we have a head liner in January. Starting in January, ending first week of March…and we were like “we have to do this” cause there is no way we can go home, and write a record, and expect to be able to put food in our mouth. Just like any other band that’s this style of music, we don’t get paid off record sales, we get paid for touring, so it’s like – if we’re not out there playing shows, we’re not making money and if you’re not making money, you can’t keep the lights on.
How do you prefer the writing process – the time constrained, got to get it released in 4 months, or the slightly more relaxed process? Does the pressure make for better song writing or does the “hey – we can write this in our own time” allow for better song writing?

I think that we’re – the people in the band and the way that we are as individuals – we need a deadline, we have to have a deadline. We have to or it will just forever. I mean, it will take forever. Now, the recording process was another thing that took a lot longer than we thought. There would have been more singing on the record, had we had more time.

Really? More singing?
Yeah, cause like I said, there were layers that will never be on there – that obviously aren’t on there – and every time I hear the song, if I’m listening to the CD, I hear the melody in my head, and I’m like “oh – I wish I had more time”. So, it was all label pressure saying, “hey, look – we gotta get it out by this time”.

How is it being with Prosthetic? I’d say they’re one of the better metal labels out there. I ask this to a lot of the bands I talk to especially considering your ties to Shadows Fall and the jump Shadows Fall made to the majors. Is there a part of a band like All That Remains or yourself personally, that’s like “I’d like it with the majors” or “I’m good where we’re at”?
Nah – I mean, we’re the biggest band on the label. We’ve got Razor and Tie that’s distributing and they’re also involved with the band. Razor and Tie and Prosthetic have a deal worked out for distribution and stuff like that. So, we have a label that has pretty much as much money as you can want. I mean it’s Sony BMG and Razor and Tie. They put out Kids Rock and they put out Monster Ballads, that doesn’t cost them hardly anything to make or produce so it’s basically like having a money printing machine in the basement. So, it doesn’t matter that it’s a “quote – unquote” independent label or whatever because they’ve got the backing that we need but at the same time, we’re the biggest band on top.

Yeah – you’re the big dog on Prosthetic.
(Smiling) It’s nice to be a big fish in a little pond.

Any of the other bands on Prosthetic really leap out at you? They’ve been on a big signing binge.
The Acacia Strain, I mean those guys, I’m a little biased cause they’re like, from my home town. They’re Massachusetts boys and stuff, but yeah – I really dig that band a lot. Other than that, Through the Eyes of the Dead is cool. I haven’t heard anything from them cause I know they’re kind of in limbo I guess. Other than that, I don’t know any other bands on Prosthetic right now that are really…

What about Gojira?
Yeah – they’re cool. Jason loves Gojira. I’ve heard them, I’m like “yeah – it’s cool – it’s heavy”. Um, it’s a little big musically for me. I’ve got a really short attention span. And that’s the reason the songs are…I think the shortest song on Overcome is like 2 minutes and 40 seconds and I’m like “that’s great for a song cause I’m sick of playing it.”

Yeah, Gojira has those nine minute, sprawling, big songs.
Yeah, and I’m kind of over big long songs. I’m gonna write something, I want something to be 2 – 3 minutes, maybe 4 minutes and that’s it. 5 minutes and I’m like, this is a fucking long song you know what I mean?

I do. So, lets talk about Shadows Fall….you were the second vocalist of Shadows Fall…. Do you ever look at what Shadows Fall is doing over your shoulder a little bit and wonder what would have happened if I’d stayed there or you and Brian – you guys are all from the same area around the East coast. Were you all good friends? Was there a little bit of rivalry, especially considering you were their vocalist.
You know, I’ll tell you this much – it’s nice to be in all the rings. It’s been a long time coming for us. We’ve been working for a long time. The band’s been a band for 10 years now. This year…when I first started writing 10 years ago, I started writing stuff for All That Remains. So, there was a lot of time in between when it was like nah – I just want to be able to play and be able to pay bills and be able to, you know. And I thought and I wondered what would have happened and stuff but it’s like I never really made a big deal of it, I never really let it get to me much cause I really kind of just focused on my band try to get my band to the point where… cause this is my deal. So I was really focusing on this one and now – now days…I’m really happy…I mean I get numbers every week from certain – from a bunch of different bands and I see our numbers compared to certain bands numbers and it’s good to be a common name now.

Personally, I don’t care for them. Somber Eyes to the Sky was the only album I really liked.
I thought Of One Blood was good and I thought The War Within was an amazing record but some of the new stuff they’ve done I was kind of like….I mean, at the same time…If you want to get down to brass tacks really what I think? I think they need to let Matt Bachand sing more and let Brian do the screaming and that’s it. I think Matt Bachand is an amazing singer and I think that, when you’ve got someone that’s that talented in the band, you let them go ahead and do what they’re talented at doing. I don’t know what they’re thinking or anything – I assume it ‘s because Matt’s got a really clean, really clean not rock and roll kind of voice and I think they want to have that kind of more rock and roll sound. And so that’s why I think the amount of singing he does is probably – and this is just speculation…but he’s an amazing singer and I think that he doesn’t sing enough.

With this record, another drummer, right? When Shannon went on to Black Dahlia Murder. What difference is there between Shannon and the new drummer, Jason Costa?
Our drum fills don’t sound like…(makes machine gun sound) all of our drum fills on Fall of Ideals are 6 beats. Jason’s got a ton of tapes. He’s a really, really…he puts a lot of thought into doing something as simple as fills. Sometimes it’s frustrating writing with him, cause he’ll do something dumb just so he can get it and he’s like “I’m not sure what I want to do” and we’re like “it doesn’t matter what you want to do right, think about it later, we’re just trying to write the fucking song and the drum set doesn’t matter. Worry about it later”. (laughter) But at the same time, Jason’s contribution to writing, is not something, its unquestionable – he helped shape the sound of the record. Shannon came in and there were parts where he was “I was thinking about doing this” or “I was thinking about doing that”, but every beat he did was in response to a guitar or in response to somebody saying “I don’t like that”. There were times when Jason was like “what do you think of this beat” and Oli would come up with something on guitar: “Before the Damned”, the first song on the record, Jason helped with writing. I think writing that way is a much more comfortable way to write because everyone is actually, everyone was taking a part in the shaping of the music that way. Where, with Shannon it was really, the most difficult or the biggest part he had was “well, do you want me to play double bass or do you want me to play single bass?”

He seems a little more suited to Black Dahlia’s style.
Yeah, he’s a grind drummer, which is cool. It was fun to have a grind drummer in the band, but Jason could play, and Shannon could play, but Jason’s way more varied than Shannon.

The cover songon the album – the Nevermore cover- ‘Bleive In Nothing”. What prompted that?
Nevermore ‘s awesome!- that’s about the long and short of it. I mean, Oli and Mike are huge Nevermore fans.

You can tell by their guitar work a little bit I think?
Oli specifically, I think probably more than Mike even, but they’re both Nevermore fans and I really love the song. I think it’s a phenomenal song. It’s funny you brought up Shadows Fall – the first time I ever heard that song , believe it or not, was when I was driving to a show with Matt Bachand and we were like “that song’s amazing, that song’s perfect”. I mean this was like years and years and years ago, like 10 years ago, or whatever. We talked about doing a cover and we kicked around a couple of ideas.

You don’t have any covers on any of your other albums, right?
Right. No covers…this is actually our first cover. We talked about doing it – we kicked around a few ideas. There was a cover that we had talked about doing for awhile, and then come to find out another band was doing it, so were like “yeah – we don’t want to”. Then we do the Nevermore cover – come to find out Firewind did it and it came out right about the same time, on their tribute album, or whatever. But whatever, we just wanted to go ahead and basically play a song that we thought was really a kick ass song.

Do you play that song live?
No, no we don’t play it live. Actually, there are only 4 songs that we do from Overcome right now. And we’re not going to be able to put anymore into it until we actually go and rehearse. Because a lot of the songs – a lot of the songs weren’t actually solidified until we went into the studio, so I’d be willing to bet that Jason hasn’t played Overcome since he played it in the studio. And Overcome was one of the songs we kinda weren’t quite sure about how we were doing this and that, so there will be a lot of rehearsing before we go ahead and play more songs.

So- what’s next for you guys?
Tour, tour, tour

So, just touring huh?
Yeah – we finish up this one then we go support In Flames for US Media Markets and then we go home for Christmas. Then January – we’ll probably go to Europe in January, do Europe – then we’re talking Australia, which will be neat – I’ve never been to Australia.

Have you toured Europe before?
Yeah – we’ve been to Europe, I think, 5 or 6 times.

Any major differences between European fans and fans in America?
Well, yeah – I mean obviously, we’re a much bigger band over here than we are in Europe just because of the fact that, like, we’re from here and we’ve done, I think we’ve done probably 25 or 30 tours in the US and we’ve done 5 or 6 in Europe. So, we’re a significantly larger band here, so it’s a little more work to go to Europe and then you throw in the fact that it’s across the ocean and a lot of times there’s a language barrier…

What about Food?
Food is a nightmare over there. (laughter) I wish that they were into ice as much as we’re into ice over here in the States, but they’re just not. We’re like “can we get some ice” and they bring you A cube. And for some reason I really believe that ice – that water freezes at a higher temperature over there. I think it’s probably somewhere in the 40’s, cause as soon as that ice hits your drink, and then you have a watered-down drink!

Yup! Being from Europe myself, I can agree with that. So, you’re excited about the record – excited about the tour. I ask every musician I talk to this; you’ve done the cover which means you obviously got some branching out, some experimentation in there. Any ideas of side projects, stuff you’d like to do, people you like to work with.

For me personally no – but that’s because I spend so much time with this band. I mean it’s like I’m the guy that does all the business, I do all the press usually. Um…and then I also, I write all the lyrics, I sing. I also write some guitar stuff too, so I don’t have a whole lot of – there’s not a whole lot of type of creativity…

Everything you want to do is in All That Remains, right?
And also because the band is, I mean we are capable of doing whatever we want and it’s like, we’re cool with it. Nobody’s going to be like we don’t want that style in our music. So, if like on the next record I’m like you know what – let’s do a grind core song, or let’s do a song that sounds like a black metal song, or whatever…

So, alll your creativity is in All That Remains…no need for another outlet?
Yeah – it’s like the outlet is here because it’s a very free and open writing situation.

What about something like an Acoustic or unplugged album?
I don’t think there will be an acoustic album but there may be an acoustic EP cause we actually worked out “Two Weeks” as an acoustic song and we worked out “Not Alone” from The Fall of Ideals as an acoustic song, so we were talking about doing, like, 3 songs that already exist in acoustic form, and then doing 3 songs – like maybe writing 3 new songs.

Would that be through Prosthetic?
If we were to do it, it would be through Prosthetic. Don’t get your hopes up, but it’s something we’ve kicked around. Use that quote – “don’t get your hopes up…don’t go looking for it on store shelves anytime…if it happens, don’t be that surprised.”

Understood. Alright…well, that’s about all I’ve got. That pretty much covered everything I wanted to do. This interview will go up at used to be
Really?-I used to read Digitalmetal all the time. I was a big message board internet hound, and thats was like one of the three main places I would check out!

*Special thanks to Michele Byers for transcibing this interview.


  1. Commented by: Staylow

    Seems like a cool enough guy, but I still don’t like Overcome. One of my biggest disappointments of the year.

  2. Commented by: mike

    Yes, Overcome was a disappointment. Now I know why the album was relatively short and used uninteresting song structures.

    Would’ve like some questions regarding the production of this album without Adam D.

    And Shadows Fall at their prime (Art of Balance and the amazing War Within) are definitely the superior band to these guys.

  3. Commented by: Scott

    I don’t think overcome was a disapointment atall i loved it as much as i have any other track they’ve released, everybody changes there music at some point otherwise all the songs sound the same and i think they have done this pretty damn good with this album

  4. Commented by: faust666

    I think Overcome is a great album..

  5. Commented by: faust666

    Shadows Fall is one of the most mindnumbingly boring and uninspired bands ever. Highly overrated too. they’ve written maybe 5 memorable songs till date…

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