Boston, Massachusetts 5 piece metal group All That Remains has been steadily climbing the ranks of the music scene in recent years, no small feat given the vast ubiquity of heavy music across the national and international metal landscape. As an original member, guitarist Oli Herbert has been with All That Remains for 15 years now and, through determination and constant touring, the group continues to pummel its way up the metal landscape with their own vicious brand of Boston heaviness.
Now on Razor and Tie, the melodic metal group is touring in support of their 2012 release A War You Cannot Win, and I caught up with Oli after his long drive to Syracuse, NY where the group destroyed 2013’s edition of 100.9fm’s Krockathon!
G- What’s going on, Oli, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today! How’s everything going, man?
O- Pretty good.
G- Not too bad?
O- Yeah. Cops are out in full force.
G- Did you guys get pulled over?
O- No, they’re just everywhere.
G- Yeah, it’s the bane of the radio rock-a-thon, if you will.
O- Yeah. Keep it under 15mph and you’ll be alright.
G- Yeah. So, how’s everything been going so far, man? You just got here, so you haven’t been able to check out any of the bands yet?
O- I just want to make sure my guitar gets an adjustment before we go onstage in 2 hours.
G- Get your tech, man!
O- Yeah. It’s already delivered to him.
G- Decent. So, let’s talk about 2012’s A War You Cannot Win. It’s been out for about a year, and you worked hard at it… Tell us about the reception to the new songs. Have you noticed any fan favorites or deep cuts that are most fun to play that people are catching onto?
O- Yeah. We play a few songs off of it. “Down Through The Ages,” the first track of it, I particularly enjoy. I think it’s a good middle point of what is on the album. “Stand Up,” of course, was the big radio single, and that’s fun to play and see people singing along with that, and our latest single on the radio is “Asking Too Much,” which is a cool tune.
My personal favorite on the album is a song called “Sing For Liberty.”
G- And you just answered a question I was going to ask later in the interview, but that’s ok… We’ll get back to that one.
So, what else is in store for you guys in 2013? Obviously, you’re here now, but I have a feeling this will not be your last event of the year… What’s going on?
O- We’ll be going to south America the 5th of August?
G- Nice! You going to Brazil or Argentina?
O- Yeah both of those places. Also Mexico City.
G- Decent! Well, the Brazilians love their metal…
O- We’ll find out.
G- Is this your first time going there?
O- Yes. Not Mexico, but South America.
G- Excellent! So, do you have anything else in the recording or pre-pro stage for a new release in 2014?
O- We will probably start doing some writing between tours after the next tour, and I hope to be in the studio probably next year, mid-year in Springtime. That’s just a tentative schedule right now.
G- Alright. Now, you’ve already alluded to it, but what is your favorite song from All That Remains for you to perform, or if you could give 1 song to someone who’d never heard the band before, to try and make a new fan, what track would you offer them and why?
O- Off the new one, or any album?
G- That’s up to you, man… You have a long career!
O- Yeah 6 albums. Well, every album is very different. I would say, to get someone into the band from nothing, if you play them “2 Weeks,” which is off Overcome, that was our first song to really capture people’s attention, and it’s still a very fun song to play. I was very inspired when I was writing it.
G- Dig it. Now, to delve a little deeper, 4 albums that every fan of All That Remains should have in their collection, and why.
O- 4 albums in general?
G- Yep, and they don’t have to be metal.
O- Well, let’s see. I think that everyone should own at least more good Bach. Cobem Fugue in D Minor. He was the first guy to really to the whole polyphonic thing to the max, as the kids say.
G- (laughing) He had infinite swag, folks.
O- Yeah, and I think he kind of laid the groundwork for Western harmony. For newer stuff, obviously you have your Metallica Master of Puppets, a groundbreaking album that blew my mind when I first heard it back in the day. I would say, being a huge king Diamond fan, Abigail is, like, the album to get.
Basically, you can go to the year 1987 and buy every metal/hard rock album, and you can’t go wrong. If I ever had a time machine, that’d be the year. That’s also the year I started playing guitar, so that has a lot to do with why I started playing, because a lot of music came out in that time period.
G- Cool. Now, you’ve already shared the stage with tons of bands, and you’ve had tons of bands play underneath you on your headlining runs, but what I’d like to know is if you could go out on the road with 3 bands to make your dream lineup, who would you want to go out on tour with and why?
O- Hmmm. Well, we’ve been on the road with so many bands, great bands, that to pick 3… Well, Dream Theater.
G- Nice. Portnoy or Mangini?
O- Oh Mangini.
(As a huge Mangini fan, I give Oli a high five, cuz that’s what I do.)
But I’m all about John Petrucci, obviously. He’s a huge inspiration for me and many others as a guitar player. The music is just wildly imaginative and fun, you know? The average person thinks it’s a little too much, but screw that. I enjoy it, and a lot of other people do, too.
G- So, Dream Theater. 2 more.
O- Well, again, Metallica, because they are the Gods of Metal.
G- Not an uncommon choice. I think All That Remains should be on Orion Music and more 2014.
O- How new is this festival?
G- 2 years! Metallica played Kill Em All front to back at 4:30 in the afternoon under an assumed name.
O- They played the whole album?
G- The whole thing.
O- That’s pretty cool!
G- I had a good time! And Chino was super drunk and it pissed me off, so keep Chino away from the open bar.
O- I actually have a story about an open bar. 2, actually, if you’d like to hear it.
G- Whatcha got?
O- This was in Australia, in Perth at Soundwave Festival.
O- What they do is they call the bands into the hotel, and you get a group rate or whatever. SO, we get all these band members waiting to get their rooms and, of course, they mess up the reservations. This happened twice, by the way.
So, we have some angry dudes here, so what do they do? Open bar. So, that’s a mistake. So, within an hour, they were out of every alcoholic beverage in the hotel.
O- Everyone got their rooms eventually, but that’s what they had. The lesson is: Don’t give guys at a hotel open bar.
G- Yeah, keep open bar away from touring bands.
O- But it was the right solution, otherwise you’d have really angry people.
G- Free beer is always good!
O- Now I’m trying to think of a third band.
G- Dream Theater and Metallica is a pretty hefty lineup in and of itself.
O- Oh yeah. You know, we’ve played shows with Avenged Sevenfold, but we’ve never done a proper tour with them. I feel that that would be a great, great tour.
G- That’d be a good time, too!
And just one last questions for you today. You’ve been doing this for 14 years, and that’s a long time, and you’ve put in a lot of time practicing. The music dream never dies, and there are a lot of kids that love All That Remains in this crowd and all over the world, and they look up to you for inpisration.
What advice can you give to the kids that might want to try and make it in the music world?
O- Well, the most important thing you can do is write good songs, and I don’t mean that as a flippant answer. What I mean is write something that people can identify with, with melody and structure to it. If you write a collection of riffs to show off your technical prowess, you might gain some fans, but all in all, if you don’t have cohesive songs, then you won’t get attention from a lot of people.
Second advice I have is you have to think about the long term, you know? For most people, success doesn’t happen overnight. People think of Lady Gaga, and Lady Gaga was an abject failure for a while, and she stuck with it. People think if you’re not a success by age 25, then don’t bother. I joined this band at 25. At 16, I had the thought that if I didn’t get out to L.A. by age 18, I was a failure. That isn’t the case. You just have to persevere.
If you are lucky enough to want this for a living so badly that you’ll do anything to do it, then you will succeed on some level. That’s what it is… It takes some time. Bit if you don’t have patience or are doing this for the wrong reason, like fame or money, then you’re not going to stay in the game.
Another thing, too, is you have to give the audience something visual that is, not different, but a part of you. If you just stand there and play your instrument, thinking that people are going to grab on to every note, you’re delusional. Maybe there’ll be a guitarist in the audience watching you play, but if you move a little bit and show that you are giving of yourself, then you will capture a majority of the audience. They don’t care what you’re playing, it’s that you conveying yourself in your playing. You don’t have to jump around and do spin kicks and stuff, but you have to put yourself into the performance and look like you’re having a good time.
I can’t tell you how many bands I’ve seen that just stand there and act like they’re in their bedroom and not at a show. It’s like ‘How do you expect people to enjoy themselves? Your audience is there… What do you want them to do? Sit there with a notebook and study?’ No, you want them to drink and be rowdy. If you want them to do that, you have to project something of yourself into the performance.
G- Dude, that’s one of the best answers that I’ve had since I began this site, and I appreciate it very much!
That’s all I’ve got. You’ve had a long trip so go relax. Play well, travel safe, enjoy yourself in South America, and thank you again for speaking with Live High Five today! We look forward to having you back up here in Syracuse!
O- Thank you.