Q&A w/ All That Remains’ Oli Herbert
Tell me about your writing process, both personally and as a group
Personally, I try to come up with one solid idea, as a guitar player and then I write variations based on that. Usually my ideas stem from some sort of a rhythmic idea. Then I fill in the blanks with the melody and so forth. I always write in two-guitar style. I never just come to the table with a riff with one guitar. I try to orchestrate as much as possible. When that gets brought to the table, we start to arrange it and make modifications as a band. Yeah, It’s pretty cool. It’s the same thing with the rest of the band; when other people bring a riff of their own…I’ll take that and try to expand upon it. I try to find the smallest element of an idea and do as much as I can with it. That way it’s as collusive as possible.
You guys come to Denver often. What has been your favorite venue to play at?
Oh, easily the Fillmore. That’s one of my favorite venues in the whole country.
You recently played a couple of festivals. What are the pros and cons of festivals are, other than the awesome catered food?
We just played a couple festivals this past weekend – Aftershock and Knotfest, and they were both amazing. The pros of a festival are that you’re playing on a big stage for people that have probably never seen your band but have probably heard of your band. So you’re able to get some new people interested as long as you do your job up there. I think the cons might be that some people who are already die hard fans…they want to be able to see you in a more intimate surrounding, to be able to get up closer. Sometimes in an outdoor festival the sound doesn’t always agree wth you because the wind and it has a mind of its own. There are way morwepros than cons to playing a large festival. We’re always up for it.
What is it like to see some of the bands perform? Is it fun to watch some of the bands that may have influenced you or that you may have influenced yourself?
Absolutely. Watching SlipKnot, both at Aftershock and Knotfest. At the first day, they had half of what they usually had as a stage. I was talking with Jim Root’s guitar tech. He was kind of bummed about it. I told him that they sounded good and then I saw them the next day, when they had the whole stage. They sounded twenty times better. I said “Oh, okay. Now I see why he was being hard on it.” They sounded the best I’ve ever seen them play. It was just great.
ATR has gone through a couple lineup changes and you’re only one of two original members. With those changes, how would you say your sound has changed as a band?
I think the biggest change for us came when we got Shannon in 2006 and incorporated double bass into our sound. And of course Jason coming into the band…that was the biggest success we took overall. Having Aaron in the band, now on bass…?It definately creates a visual dynamic and I’m looking forward to what’s coming ahead. I think that as far the core writing of the band that it’s just evolved naturally overtime. I don’t think there’s been a drastic shift as far as members of the band concern.
After spending ten years together with….., was it hard seeing her leave?
Yeah. After having someone in your group for over ten years, it’s sad to see them go. She’s getting married and I understand…she’s choosing a different way of life. It’s cool….we all have to be happy. That’s the most important thing.
You’re about to wrap up your current tour in your hometown of . Is that by coincidence?
Well, because it’s a co-headliner with We Came as Romans, we started off in their home state of Michigan and wrapped around and ended up in our home state. They’re playing a couple of shows to get back home. Because it’s a headliner, you’re setting up the convenience of touring with a major band.
Do you and the other bands hang out together on the road?
We talk in passing. It takes a little bit of time to meet people and everything. We’ve been really busy on this tour with the meet and greets and trying to get to the gym everyday. It’s a more structured day. At the end of the night we might hang out and have a couple drinks or whatever. I think that before the tour is over we’ll get to know each other a little bit better. Every band on this tour is very good, but different from each other.
How do you decide on your singles?
Usually once everything is laid down, we all sit down. While we’re writing we have an idea, but definitely when we hear the finished product, it’s like “Ah! This song has got to be a single.” Obviously when you’re writing thrash/metal tune, you know “Okay, that’s not going to be a single,” but you’re still putting your heart and emotion into it. You’ve got to keep in mind what you’re crafting and who you’re crafting it for. That’s all.
Do you write on the road?
Yes. Every time i sit down to practice I basically have a Garage Band setup. It’s just a simple 4-wheel mic? and I’ll either use it to practice with or I’ll write new ideas. I don’t really judge my ideas when I write them in that capacity. I just want to get some ideas out, we’ll go back to them later and see if they’e still cool. If they’re cool a week from now then we’ll build on that. If it’s not really hitting me then oh well. You should always be in the process of being creative every time you pick up your instrument. Sometimes with my phone I start singing ideas into my voice recorder. That could translate into something later on. All you really need is a rhythm and then you can fill in the blanks as far as what the actual pitches are going to be. You would be surprised…..if I don’t record my ideas, then they’re gone. Every time I have something that catches my interest, I’ll record it immediately, label it, and then I’ll be done with it. Now I have a catalog of so many things to listen to that it’s unreal. So when it get’s time to start organizing those ideas more, I’ll have a lot to work with.
Plans for future?
We’re going to continue putting out music and touring. Indivually, I’m going to be at Shiprock this year in January…it should be cool. I hope to get out there and try to do a lot of guitar lessons from the road. That’s something I like to do.
All That Remains has two upcoming shows in Colorado before 2015 comes to an end.
November 19 at the Black Sheep (Colorado Springs) – click here for tickets.
November 30 at the Aggie (Fort Collins) – click here for tickets.