Phil Labonte - All That Remains, Shadows Fall - Back
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 things mate?

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 band?

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, & rap.

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 again.

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 or www.myspace.com/melissacross

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 tour?

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:

Phil Labonte:

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 & why?

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 to date?

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 dime.

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 our readers?

Phil Labonte: Thank you very much, Smoke Pot

For the latest ‘All That Remains’ news, check out the following websites:

http://www.allthatremains.cc - Official All That Remains Site
http://www.myspace.com/allthatremains - All That Remains MySpace Site
http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com - 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.