Heretics & Killers

feature image

As recently discussed here, I recently attended a Protest the Hero concert, and thought what better way to open the interview section of this new internet endeavor than to interview one of the most polarizing bands in metal today. And find out a little more about these Canadian kids (literally, they are all just 22-years […]

As recently discussed here, I recently attended a Protest the Hero concert, and thought what better way to open the interview section of this new internet endeavor than to interview one of the most polarizing bands in metal today. And find out a little more about these Canadian kids (literally, they are all just 22-years old). So after their criminally-short opening set for Chiodos and MxPx, vocalist Rody Walker and Arif Mirabdolbaghi were kind enough to visit with me on their rather pungent tour bus and discuss a wide array of topics….

First off, based on the feedback I have seen on reviews of both of your albums, it’s obvious to me that you guys are a love or hate band. However, it’s also apparent you are one of the few non-death metal/black metal/grindcore/extreme bands that seems to have garnered some amount of acceptance among those fans. Why do you think that is?
Rody Walker: A lot of bands like say Chiodos, don’t have the death metal background that we do. Death metal and grindcore are a big part of who we are and what we listen to and it comes out in our music. When you listen to a band like Chiodos or the other ‘screamo’ bands, you can tell that their ‘metal’ element is just more contrived and doesn’t come from those elements.

Is their some amount of satisfaction or appreciation when death metal fans like your music?
Arif Mirabdolbaghi: I think we take is as more of a compliment when someone who likes the more extreme metal is into our music. To enjoy or be a part of that scene one has to care about and appreciate musicianship and skill, and when we are appreciated on that level, as musicians it means a lot to us.

Is there an actual effort to reach out to fans of the more extreme genres, a designed attempt to get them into PTH with a death growl here or a blastbeat there. As heard in your material?
Rody: It’s not really an effort it just comes from out influences; bands like Aeon, Decrepit Birth…

Aeon, the Swedish death metal band on Metal Blade? That’s a really odd influence. Of all the death metal bands on the plant you chose them…
Arf: YES! They are hilarious! They are so tight and fantastic. We love those guys.

Is it also safe to say there’s some of the more progressive bands like Dream Theater, Rush and Between the Buried and Me in your sound?
Arf: Certainly. What goes in eventually comes out. And it’s certainly more of a complement if people hear those influences, as they are more metal than say any screamo or emo influences. It’s awesome to compared to a band like Between the Buried and Me. They are so unique and have their own style and that means people think that of us too.
Rody: We get the Between the Buried and Me Influence a lot. I think they were more influence in out earlier days when we were 18 and 19. I think we will try and get away from that a little more.

Rody, you are the absolute epitome of the dual personality metal vocalist. Not 30 minutes ago you were a snarling, screaming, gyrating dervish, with a look of pure psychosis in your eyes, yet here you are now, all meek and polite with your horn rimmed classes. Is there a certain persona you strive to take on stage? Is it all an act?
Rody: [laughing] I guess there is a persona at shows. But at shows like tonight where the show is full of 14-year old little girls with bad haircuts and boys that look like 14-year old little girls with bad haircuts, I just put myself in this hatred mode where I picture hurting them all. It’s not really a persona, it’s just my real personality blown up. God, I hate them. I hate them all!

Really? Even though these are the people buying your CDs and merch and coming to your shows?
Rody: That’s true. That fan base is a large demographic and I very much hope to alienate them.
Arf: Actually, we think the best scenario which has only happened a few times is when some parent brought their kids to the show, and is hanging out at the bar having a few drinks and we go to the bar and the parent says he really liked us! We end up hanging out with the dad at the bar and the kid gets really embarrassed.
Rody: We actually liked the kid’s parents more than the kid!

In my opinion, you guys are on the cusp of stardom, maybe on the edge of a Mastodon-like break into the majors and the mainstream. What are your thoughts on something like that?
Arf: Maybe we would like to do that eventually, but there is such a huge split between how we do in Canada and in the States. To give you some idea, here we are first of four on this tour. Yet in Canada we headline or co-headline. That might prevent some major label deal here in the states.

That’s’ a good point. How the hell are you guys opening before The Color Fred, Pierce the Veil and MxPx?
Rody: We dropped off the Silverstein tour recently and actually fired some people because of that tour and there’s just this thought in the industry that you have to be on the ‘hottest’ or most popular tour, but that does not mean it’s the best tour for us. This tour and the last tour our great examples.
The Warped Tour for example?
Arf: Yeah. I hate the Warped Tour. You spend all day out in the miserable sun, you are part of this traveling outdoor shopping mall, where the most important part is the merchandise and these kids walk around with shopping bags. Granted, it’s beneficial because most bands make their money on merch, and the evenings are fun because you just get wasted, but the show itself is secondary to everything. If I could forget the actual notion of the Warped Tour itself, the rest is fine.
Rody: I hated the Warped Tour, but it was fun because I got just fucked up out of my mind every night. That was the best part.

So what if Sharon and Ozzfest came calling?
Arf: I would rather spend the summer touring Europe or something. Wacken would be a dream come true. We would benefit from smaller venues tours with others bands we actually want to tour with that would benefit all bands.

So who are bands you would love to tour with?
Arf and Rody: Sikth!!!
Roddy: We love those guys and we have ripped them off to no end!
Arf: We have a tour coming up in October with Unearth. We are looking forward to that.

So what about one of the more extreme tours? What if you were given chance to do something like The Invaluable Darkness tour, where you’d be exposed to more ‘real’ metal fans?
Arf: It would be good, but by the same way you said a lot of metal fans like us. There are a lot of close-minded ‘metal’ fans that don’t like us and won’t like us. We recently did a tour with Dragonforce and we got booed, spit at and had things thrown at us. I think they expected a power metal band.
Rody: Which is ironic because Dragonforce hate being called power metal, and here were these ‘protectors of metal’ defending a band who hates power metal.

If there was a ‘classic’ metal band you could tour with. Who would it be?
Rody: [throwing the horns] JUDAS PRIEST!!!
Arf: [laughing] Yeah! Rody said a lot of in an Alternative Press interview about going down on Rob Halford if he ever met him, so he could taste ‘pure metal.’
Rody: [laughing] If we ever did go on tour on them I’d be getting calls from Rob all the time to come to his bus….

On to something else, Arf, you are the man lyricist, what is your main influence for your lyrics at all seems very biblical and epic yet really of the wall?
Arf: I’m fascinated with a lot of the Central Asian/Middle Eastern stuff. I’m Persian, my mother is Azerbaijani, so I have a lot of cultural and historical influences based in those areas. But also, there is a great documented history of psychotropic mushrooms in Central Asia and that comes together with my cultural background to form my lyrics. I have had some very eye-opening experiences with mushrooms, mushroom conscience and the vegetable mind. I’m convinced that mushrooms have their own personality and character and I have had enjoyed many conversations on that level.

A casual listener might confuse you lyrics for being Christian or religious at times…
Arf: I think we have really baffled a lot of Christians.
Rody: Seeing as I deal with the Myspace page, I can say we have baffled and angered A LOT of Christians.

I noticed, the new album, Fortress, is broken into three parts, is it a concept album?
Arf: A little bit. But when you say and album is a concept album, there is all the protocol about what it should be. Every album, could be a concept to any person.

Arf, as a person of Muslim and Middle Eastern descent, how has that affected you playing in a bands that has a predominantly whiter fan base?
Arf: I guess its affected me the same way as it has in my personal life where I feel like I’m a representative of the my culture. Everything I do becomes measured against all Iranians and when they see I’m just a regular guy, they sort of change their opinion of Iranians as a whole. Also, we have to wear the Canadian hat when we come to the U.S.

Speaking of Canada, that county has been responsible for some of the most complex and genre-shattering metal ever. Why is that?
Rody: Yeah, there are pockets in Canada where there is some great fucking metal. It’s mainly the Frenchies. Must be all the wine and cheese.
Arf: I think that metal thrives in alienated communities and the French Canadian community who were basically disowned by France, and now in clinging to their culture they cling to metal.

What’s next for you guys, musically? With such an array of influences, I’d really like to see you do a Between the Buried and Me-styled cover album.
Rody: We have thought about cover songs for a while, and actually if we get really drunk for a show we will play Extreme’s “Come Play with Me” or some NOFX and Propaghandi songs.
Arf: We have looked into covers. I’d like to cover a classic Cannibal Corpse song like “Hammer Smashed Face.” A song only a couple of people in the audience would get.

I can’t really think of anything witty or clichéd to end this with, so any parting shots for the readers?
Rody: TREK IS LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[Protest the Hero]


  1. Commented by: iliya

    Just look at his T_shirt


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.