Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com
Former Shadows Fall vocalist Phil Labonte
never realized that when he created ‘All That Remains’
back in 1998 that he would have such a successful band on his hands.
Since forming, the band has toured throughout the United States with
bands such as The Crown & Darkest Hour. Phil who is no stranger
to the industry has already released two fantastic albums with All
That Remains ‘Behind The Silence & Solitude’ &
This Darkened Hour’, as we speak the guys are in the studio
writing and laying down tracks for their third still to be named studio
album. I had the pleasure of catching up with Phil while he was at
home taking a break a few weeks back to discuss the possibility of
an Australian tour, the addition of Jeanne Sagan to the band, writing
material for the new album and much more. It’s time to take
a look inside the darkened heart of Phil Labonte!
Metal Fanatix: Hey Phil, how’s
Phil Labonte: Things are going great!
I'm enjoying the time at home.
Metal Fanatix: Good to hear, Mate thanks
so much for putting some time aside to answer the following questions
for our readers. Let's go back to where it all started! You formed
‘All that Remains’ while you were still singing for Shadows
Fall. Did you look at this as a side project in the beginning or did
you have a clear view at that time of leaving Shadows Fall to take
on the world with All That Remains?
Phil Labonte: Yeah, it was a side project.
I was looking to play guitar in a band is all really. It was really
just good timing.
Metal Fanatix: You guys have already
released two great albums, 'Behind Silence & Solitude' & 'This
Darkened Heart'. When it comes to the style of writing, what comes
first the lyrics or the music?
Phil Labonte: Music, always music. Lyrics
start as phrases that sound cool or portray a feeling or the way I'm
feeling at a given time & I'll write cool phrases down for later,
but I kinda let the song dictate the overall feel.
Metal Fanatix: As we speak you guys
are in writing mode & gearing up to hit the studio, how will the
new album differ from previous releases?
Phil Labonte: Well, we have a new drummer
& bass player so it's gonna have a different sound than ‘This
Darkened Heart’. It'll be more aggressive in the rhythm section.
But most of the music has still been written by Oli & I, so musically
it'll be in the same ball park. I'll be doing a bit more of a variety
vocally. I liked the majority of Darkened vocally, but I think it
could have been a bit more varied stylistically.
Metal Fanatix: Phil it sounds awesome.
Can you tell us any working song/album titles currently being thrown
around, if any artwork has been designed etc?
Phil Labonte: Yeah, we have one song
title "This Calling," it’s a song we were playing
on the Arch Enemy tour this past November. That one will stay pretty
much unchanged for the record. As for artwork we are going with Travis
Smith. He did the ‘Natural Born Chaos’ cover for Soilwork;
he's worked for Strapping Young Lad, Suffocation, a ton of great art.
I can't wait to see stuff because I only spoke to him a few days ago.
Metal Fanatix: These days in the business
it's hard for any band to last longer then one album & one tour,
you must be very pleased with the response you guys have gotten from
fans across the globe. Where would you like to see the band in ten
years from now?
Phil Labonte: I just want to be able
to play music for a living & not be told what to do. In ten years,
Oli & I will both be over forty, so I have no idea where we will
be. We'll keep doing it till we have to stop.
Metal Fanatix: Do you guys have any
plans to release a DVD in conjunction with the new album?
Phil Labonte: We do have footage, but
we are looking for the right show. I think cameras only catch us when
we have a bad show. So we are gonna get more footage of the recording
of this record & stuff, so it may come out some time this year.
Metal Fanatix: Phil, what do you think
most people would be surprised to learn about the other guys in the
Phil Labonte: Oh, probably the music
we listen to. Other than our drummer, we don't listen to much metal,
or at least modern metal. A few bands we'll listen to, but usually
it’s some weird mix of pop, hair metal, country, emo, &
Metal Fanatix: Oh dude you can keep
the Rap & Country o.k. [laughs]. Phil, I want to talk about the
latest addition to All That Remains Jeanne Sagan. Jeanne had been
filling in with you guys before becoming a permanent member, five
months on, how has she settled into the band?
Phil Labonte: She's friggin’ awesome:
Solid, super easy to get along with, a giant onstage. She is great.
At first I was like "No, I don't want people to think we are
a gimmick band with a girl," but she was filling in & after
a few shows I was thinking, "I would have to be an idiot to not
take this bass player." We have known her for years and years.
She has been in a bunch of bands around Massachusetts. She's originally
from our area, so it's worked out great.
Metal Fanatix: Phil, you have been quoted
to say ‘All that Remains’ is a metalcore band. What influence
do you think your band has in music & metal today?
Phil Labonte: I don't know, that metalcore
statement has come back to bite me in the ass. I said that probably
three years ago for a bio. That name has become something that we
are not. I mean, it brings to mind bands with Big Dead Skunk haircuts
& make up and shit that we haven't, nor will we ever do. I mean
we play metal, we have solos, & we have more thrashy fast stuff
than we do heavy breakdown parts. I think at the end of the day we
are a metal band. As for influence, oh I don't know man. You should
probably ask someone else how we influence metal. I don't think that's
something I can even answer because it's so objective.
Metal Fanatix: In your honest opinion
what do you think about the direction that hard rock & heavy metal
music has taken over the last few years?
Phil Labonte: Good, it’s much
better than it had been say seven or eight years ago. It's nice to
see bands that can play doing well. Bands like Shadows Fall &
Lamb of God are good quality metal. It's cool to see big metal bands
Metal Fanatix: I'd like to talk to you
a little about touring, what's the most ridiculous thing you have
ever asked for on a tour rider?
Phil Labonte: We ask for basics, and
we don't usually get those [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: [laughs] Wow, really?
Phil Labonte: Oh yeah! Our rider had
batteries & cigarettes but I don't think we have gotten any of
that stuff. Or at least we haven't gotten the cigs.
Metal Fanatix: Do you remember the first
show you ever played, if so can you tell us a bit about it?
Phil Labonte: I was sixteen, I played
guitar in a band called Perpetual Doom. I was wearing shorts &
I remember thinking, "I shouldn't have worn shorts, I'm sure
people can see knees shaking" I was so nervous. We were awful.
Metal Fanatix: How about the first tour
All That Remains did?
Phil Labonte: The first tour we did
was great. The tour was with The Crown and Darkest Hour. We must have
spent $3,000 on van repairs on that tour. It was a financial mess
but it was a fun time.
Metal Fanatix: As a vocalist it's so
important to keep your voice in tip top shape, do you do anything
specific to warm up & prepare for a show?
Phil Labonte: I work with a vocal instructor
by the name of Melissa Cross. She is amazing. I'm actually going to
shoot some footage for her new DVD. This will be her second one so
I'm happy to be a part of it. She gave me a warm up that I do before
every show. It's on the first DVD she put out. If your readers want
to check it out her web site is www.melissacross.com
Metal Fanatix: Do you guys have any
plans in the works to tour Australia?
Phil Labonte: We are hoping to get down
there this fall. I want to see Australia so bad. Everyone I know that
has been there said it was awesome.
Metal Fanatix: It will be fantastic
to see you guys down here for a few shows. Phil, you have shared the
stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with
the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the
Phil Labonte: Probably Killswitch Engage
in the U.K. It was the first time we went to Europe & it was just
a great time. We have been friends with them forever, Adam produced
our last disc & he is doing our next one, Mike D. did a bunch
of art for us & he did the layout for This Darkened Heart. So
it was like a vacation with your boys [laughs]. It was the first time
we ever did a tour on a bus. It was amazing; all the shows were sold
out. Just amazing!
Metal Fanatix: In a few words can you
tell us the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the following
All That Remains tracks:
Die In Degrees: F sharp minor. That's
the key the song is in & it's all I ever think of when people
talk about that song. We called that song F sharp minor for a long
time before I came up with a name.
For Salvation: This is one of the better
songs on ‘This Darkened Heart’. I think I like the songs
that showcase what the band members can do & still retain some
amount of structure & have a bit of a hook.
This Darkened Heart: Aggressive. That
song was written right after we did Behind Silence & I was a bit
disappointed in the way that disc came out. I was hoping it would
be heavier. So Darkened is a direct result.
Erase: One of the first three songs
I wrote for All That Remains. I went to (Shadows Fall bass player)
Paul Romanko's house three days after they kicked me out. Cause I
didn't have anything to record with & he did. I layed down three
songs: Follow, Shading, & Erase.
From These Wounds: This song’s
about my dad. He died of cancer in 2000.
Metal Fanatix: Phil, are you currently
working on any other projects?
Phil Labonte: Nope, ‘All that
Remains’ is a full time gig for me. It's my baby so I don't
really have any time for any other bands.
Metal Fanatix: What do you enjoy doing
in your spare time?
Phil Labonte: Video games. I play HALO2
online a lot.
Metal Fanatix: I think video games are
a great escape for us all once in a while. Phil it seems to me that
the only way to make it these days would be to go on a reality music
show like Idol or Pop stars (if you wanna call it that). What do you
think about the mass wave of reality shows looking for so called "Talent"
and do you watch any of them?
Phil Labonte: Well, I think they are
fine. I'm not anti-pop or capitalism & that's what those shows
sell. The more I tour & stuff the more respect I have for people
like producers & artists of all genres. I don't watch them, only
because I'm not really interested.
Metal Fanatix: From all the albums you
have appeared on what one would be your favorite to listen to &
Phil Labonte: Probably the First Killswitch
Engage. [Laughs] not even a band I was in! I think that's cause I
didn't have anything to do with the writing so even though I sang
a few lines in a few songs.
Metal Fanatix: There has been many highlights
in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements
Phil Labonte: Well I don't really know
about achievements, but the coolest things have been The Astoria in
London with KsE; Slipknot, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall and us in Atlanta,
Georgia: Seven thousand people biggest show we have ever played; Saratoga
Winners in Latham, New York this past December; & The White Rabbit
in San Antonio, Texas. Those shows will forever be my favorites. Mostly
because we were surprised at how well people received our stuff. Oh
& after the Slipknot show in Atlanta, Randy (Lamb of God vocalist)
& I hopped in a limo & went to the strip club on someone else’s
Metal Fanatix: [laughs] That’s
the only way to do it [laughs]. What advice would you give to up and
coming rock/metal bands?
Phil Labonte: Unless you are ready to
sell everything you have, don't try. If you are ready don't stop &
don't give up.
Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band
together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they
be & what would you call the band?
Phil Labonte: Vocals would have to be
Me (cause it's my dream), Guitar John Donais (Shadows Fall), Guitar
Joal Stroetzle (KsE), Bass Dave Miller (Devildriver) & Drums (Gene
from Strapping Young Lad)
Metal Fanatix: Phil thanks so much for
your time today, it's been a blast. Do you have any last words for
Phil Labonte: Thank you very much, Smoke
For the latest ‘All That Remains’
news, check out the following websites:
- Official All That Remains Site
- All That Remains MySpace Site
- Dedicated to 40 years of hard rock & metal music
© Cameron Edney February, April 2006 Not to be re-printed in
any form without written permission.