The Fallacy of Faith

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On Another Breath’s The God Complex it is all about the energy. And we’re talking nuclear-powered energy on this hard rockin’ hardcore/metal gem. It is an album on which the group also takes a deeply philosophical view into questions of faith; the answers found not necessarily uplifting or especially optimistic. The Fulton, NY crew has created what is sure to be one of the year’s best and, in all likelihood, most overlooked hardcore records. Your mission then is to check it out and see what all this raving is about. Vocalist Ted Winkworth answers the questions.

As The God Complex represents my first exposure to Another Breath, give me some insight into the band’s catalogue and/or development since forming in 2003. I know you released a couple of albums prior to this one – 2003’s Not Now, Not Ever and 2005’s Mill City on Rivalry Records.

I think this record represents a lot of growth for us from the time that we started. Not Now, Not Eve was our first shot. We wanted it to be short, fast, and loud. It was. People took to it much better than we would have guessed and we wanted to up the ante with Mill City by making it a longer, more musically diverse, and more mature record. We got the right idea, but I think when all was said and done there were things we thought we could have done better. With The God Complex we accomplished what we set out to do with Mill City by borrowing from strange influences, cutting out the fat, writing more riffs, and making the record completely cohesive.

Incidentally, how (and why) did you end up on Seattle’s Panic Records, a label at the complete opposite end of the country from Fulton, NY?

We did our first two Records on Rivalry but when this new one was done they didn’t really have an active roster. Kyle basically said he wasn’t sure he could promote our band the way we needed to be promoted anymore. So we went label shopping. Panic was a great choice because

of its size relative to our band and the things Tim is trying to do. It also doesn’t hurt that he was in Trial (we used to listen to Trial on the way to every show). So basically he made the offer and we jumped at it. It’s been a great fit for us.

To my ears, what passes as “hardcore” nowadays has been trend- trounced and filtered through the American Mall Machine. The God Complex is not one of these hardcore albums. Rather, one can hear a vibe that is as much derived from classic 80s bands as from the 90s/early 2000s wave of melodic hardcore bands.

I agree that we’re not a mall hardcore-synth-rap band. We really got most of our influence from late 90s/ early 00s bands like American Nightmare, Stay Gold, Modern Life is War, and The Suicide File. That’s our foundation. Since then we’ve had our hands in a lot of different genres and our sound represents the fact that we have diverse musical tastes. We don’t pull a lot from the classics. Instead we’re ripping off bands that have their roots there.

Some of that has to do with the sheer energy of this album, which is something that can’t be taught.

Energy and emotion is what this record is built on for us. I know that my personal hope is that full engagement in the record will bring you through a lot of different emotions. We wanted it to be pissed and suddenly give way to being really sad and hopeless just to turn around and create some “fuck yeah” energy. Music is supposed to speak to a deeper consciousness regardless of the genre. That’s what separates the real guys from the shallow mall rock. Those bands write songs that got a good response in a focus group. Great. That sells records. I want our songs to make you want to puke. That’s success for me. Less sales. More emotion. I’ll take that trade any day.

And much of that energy has to do with the fact that these are not merely songs of hardcore riff-bludgeon, but rock ‘n roll infused rip snorters, if you will. Other bands in recent memory have incorporated that hard rockin’ vibe into their hardcore, but The God Complex pulls it off by making the marriage a seamless one.

I’ll take “rip snorter” as a compliment and say thank you. As far as a seamless marriage goes, I’m not sure. At least that wasn’t our intention. I think we’ve all gotten bored with hardcore. At the same time we still love it. Years of playing shows with get low or get pretty or get cool bands can suck the passion for the genre right out of a person. So Jon wrote some riffs. We got psyched and changed the vibe of our songs. It’s still hardcore, but it’s modified to be something we can still get behind.

It doesn’t hurt that Kurt Ballou’s recording gives the album a certain raw, in your face edge. What was the experience like recording with him at God City Studios?

We did most of the record at Moresound studios in Syracuse with a guy named Jocko. He’s a sonic ninja and does not get the attention or credit he deserves. Kurt recorded our guitars and bass, but Jocko did everything else. He also mixed it. Both guys rule. Jocko is a real energy guy, which I like. He needs to feel the vibe to work on a record. Kurt is a sound and precision guy. He runs his studio like a prison camp and demands excellence. He also demands pretzels. He’s the only one that’s allowed to fart in his control room and he gets pissed when you clog his toilet. He hates it when I try to get his autograph or when I ask him to tell me about what it’s like to be in Converge.

Beyond the incendiary musicality of the album The God Complex is, if not a concept record, then certainly a thematic effort that seems to challenge popular notions of blind faith.

I think the record is more a challenge to the previous challengers. There’s still no god is a line that’s meant to imply that it’s been done. This is not a new topic. But our rhetoric is getting stale. It’s meant to take a different perspective on our disdain for religion through the lens of existential themes. It’s also tied into personal relationships that are tangible rather than taking a swing directly at the man upstairs. If I want a record about a guy who doesn’t exist I can get a Christmas album. This one is about me, my dad, and how I look at the world because of that relationship.

“No God” seems particularly dismissive of the presence of a higher power.

I don’t think so. I believe in a higher power. Christian God just ain’t it. It’s more about perspective than throwing everything out all together.

“I want to Live” seems to deal with personal freedom often being at odds with church edicts or am I off base?

No. I think it’s just more about wanting to live my life. Some people treat life like a test of faith and moral and the goal is to die and go to heaven. I don’t want to spend my whole life looking at the endgame. I want to live. Here. Now. Really it’s a contrast between Christianity and Buddhism, the latter being a real influence on my beliefs and my words.

The title track is a standout because of the raw emotion it conveys – as well as departing a bit from the otherwise fast and furious nature of most of the album – in its tale of one losing his faith based on trauma tied to personal circumstances. Is this a personal story?

Yeah. It’s a true story. There was a lot of drunken abuse in my house when I was a kid. Really this record is about how or why one loses faith in the things that are supposed to protect us. Why don’t I believe in God? Because the real life people who I needed to count on let me down. So now I’m going to put my stock in an invisible superman? Fuck no. I’m going to rely on me.

But then the conundrum is that I’m a product of my parents. Even if I take responsibility for myself I risk being guided by the same things I rebelled against. That point is sort of elaborated on in ‘”Belly of a Whale,” which is about how I tried to be my own god and was my own devil because of where I came from.

Is it accurate to say that most religions teach, without the invitation of intellectual challenge, the application of black and white principles to a decidedly gray world?

Sure. And that gives people comfort. People can look at two choices and decide that one is surely bad so the other must be good. Now they can sleep at night because they don’t have to be worried about what’s right. It’s the same logic used by Bill O’Reilly. He’ll take a grey issue and turn it into an either/ or scenario even though his logic is faulty. It’s frustrating for people who actually think about things.

Though the questioning of the concept of God is the theme, are the members of Another Breath of the Christian faith or some other faith?

Um, I’m sort of Buddhist (reformed catholic). Steve is Jewish. The other guys are atheist. Or they are just very good at not cringing when I say fucked up things about god and religion.

Your home of Fulton, NY has been dubbed “The City with a Future.” A true statement or a bright shining lie?

The place isn’t so bad. We all got out, but it’s really all about perspective. It could be hell if you want it to be. We always found a way to have fun there.

What does the remainder of 2010 hold for Another Breath?

We just confirmed Rain Fest in Tacoma, Washington. After that is a two-week tour with Soul Control with a few dates with Dangers. After that is Europe. We’ll be busy.

www.myspace.com/anotherbreath

www.panicrecords.net

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