Pick Your Rock and Metal

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

INTERVIEW: All That Remain axeman Mike Martin reflects on the journey so far as they get ready for Download

ALL That Remains have been on something of an upwards curve of late, with the release of 'The Order of Things' in February garnering critical acclaim and fan praise.

As the band prepares to hit the European festival circuit I caught up with guitarist Mike Martin as they continue on the US leg of the tour backing the album.

"We're in New York, Long Island, but I couldn't pronounce or spell where exactly we are," said Martin with a certain amount of amusement in his voice.

With this tour seeing them out in club and theatre venues with In Flames and Periphery, what's the difference was between touring versus the festival circuit was a point that had to be made.

"There's really not much difference for us as a band," he said. "You get to change things up a little, and when you're playing a club it's a little more intimate. You get up close and the fans get to see you in a more intense way.

"But, when it starts getting warmer, it's time to get out there and you get to play in front of 10, 15 or even 50,000 people it is a treat."

Conscious that for all bands there is a commitment to do publicity, it was nagging away with me that there must come a time when it all gets a little boring facing the same barrage from strangers.

"It's not too bad," said Mike. "We spread around, but at festivals it can be a little more intense. At some festivals you go into the press area and there's like 30 tables that you go round and you feel that you're going to be saying the same thing 30 times!"

Thankfully Mike didn't say that the questions asked in this interview were all the same when I wrapped up...or maybe he was just being polite...

However, the success of 'The Order Of Things' had to be probed...

I wanted to know specifically if the change or producer had been a factor in the direction of the sound, especially given some of the piano flourishes that bookends the album.

Instead of their regular producer, Adam D of Killswitch Engage, they had Josh Wilbur - whose credits include Lamb of God and Gojira.

"It wasn't necessarily a case where we were deliberately seeking a new producer," said Mike. "It was more a clash of dates."

However, it seems that it was a fortuitous diary clash as Wilbur seems to have brought about a fresh sense as the band moves to the next level.

"Yes, it really worked out. Josh worked really well with Phil (Labonte - vocals), and very closely on lyrics and melodies, which really helped.

For some All That Remains have been too easily pigeon-holed, as they emerged as the nascent metalcore scene emerged, despite them having a more varied repertoire.

"I guess if you have a kid who listens to a lot of metal who hears one of our melodic songs, they'll say 'that's not heavy enough for me', and if a kid who listens to a lot of more radio-friendly songs comes across one of our more death metal tunes they'll say 'I don't like all the growling' and that makes it difficult for a lot of bands, not just us," said Mike.

"You really can't expect fans to listen to all of an album today, with so many just downloading single tracks, but I think the overall album stands up and we've got a positive response on the road."

At the time of writing Mike and his bandmates are on the road with In Flames and Periphery.

"In Flames are part of the reason we're here," he said. "For 20 years they've inspired and helped us move forward. As for Periphery, this has been the first time I've seen them live. They're very precise, very fluid and great players, really progressive with a real Dream Theatre type of vibe."

As to who is an up and coming band Mike explained that there are too many barriers in the way for bands these days.

"We will probably not see the likes of bands the size of Metallica again, but then again there are bands that have suddenly become big. I saw Five Finger Death Punch earlier on this tour when we were on the same bill and they have become huge and have a huge sound. They really impressed me that they have developed so well and become so big, with a big sound," he said.

With Mike being so frank in his answers I wanted to explore one last thing. With more than 20 years as a musician and a long served member of All That Remains, if he could go back to his younger self what advice would he give.

"Patience!" he said immediately. "When you are starting off and you are getting a level of local success and you get signed to an independent label you think that you have hit the big time, without realising you have to go further.

"Then you get signed to a bigger label and you have to win over other fans and you spend a large part of your life in a van - so yes I would say you need patience."

For the brief period chatting to Mike he was open compared to a lot of interviewees I have had the pleasure of talking to. There is an ease and a professionalism about his attitude and responses.

Interview by Jonny
The Order of Things is out now
All That Remains play this year's Download Festival

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