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August Burns Red’s Matt Greiner Talks ‘Rescue and Restore,’ Schoolwork, Future Music + More

Gene Smirnov / Black Lodge PR

August Burns Red have had a busy touring schedule since their latest disc ‘Rescue and Restore’ dropped last year. They kicked off 2014 as part of Asking Alexandria‘s tour in the States. The band is also playing numerous shows and festivals in North America and in Europe over the summer. To see a full list of dates, check here.

Loudwire sat down with August Burns Red drummer Matt Greiner during a stop in New York City. We caught him comfy in his moccasins, studying for classes he was taking, but he took a few minutes to discuss touring and the ‘Rescue and Restore’ album.

Greiner also dished about a tentative timeline for when the band will work on brand new material as well as balancing life on the road and his academic studies. He also revealed what inspired his love of percussion and exactly why his moccasins are so important to him. Check out our interview with drummer Matt Greiner of August Burns Red.

I walked in on you doing some school work. How is it balancing school and touring?

It’s great, I actually love it. I’m always looking for stuff to do and doing different things at once. I’m doing online classes.

What are you studying?

You ask me now [Laughs] we’ll see in a year. I’m working on going to a college for Theology, so hopefully I would be teaching at a collegiate level. A year ago it was agriculture, so it can change.

I know you mentioned you like doing different things but with studies, touring, performing, practicing, soundcheck, interviews, how do you manage?

It’s actually pretty easy. My only responsibility on this tour is to be onstage 10 minutes before we play. You just have to be good with time management and wake up early enough to get everything done. I find I do better if I’m more productive in a day than just sitting around. It’s refreshing.

With all of the touring the band has been doing, if you could tour with any band that you haven’t been on the road with yet, who would it be and why?

The Killers, which will never happen, maybe on a festival one day. On that day I will think about this interview. [Laughs]

You’ve been able to sit with the songs off of ‘Rescue and Restore’ for close to a year now. What was your favorite part about creating the album?

Looking back, my favorite part was getting time to work on the material at home before even getting into the studio. I hadn’t done that since ‘Messengers,’ which was 2007 and back then, as a drummer, I wrote every single part before I got to the studio. I sat down behind the kit, the click track started rolling and I knew every single part, every single fill and it was kind of neat. It requires a lot of time and practice in your own space, on your own time with no one watching and no one listening.

I hadn’t done it since then and on this record I did it again and it was great. I got in there, set up, said “Go” and almost every single song I knew exactly what I was going to do and it made it easy. Of course the time leading up to it was tough but it was very rewarding. My favorite part is to be able to hear back the parts when it’s actually recorded. You hear it in your head, you hear it when you’re playing it but to be able to sit back and listen to it, it’s a great feeling.

Last year, you guys entered Loudwire’s Cage Match Hall of Fame with ‘Fault Line’ by beating out Trivium, For Today, Blessthefall, We Came As Romans and Asking Alexandria. What do you think it is about the music of August Burns Red that causes people to gravitate towards it?

I guess there are a number of reasons why. Some of the reasons I’ve heard are that it’s technical and so it’s fun musically to figure out why we did certain things. You don’t get everything the first listen through. Ten times later you’re hearing a new part. It has a bit of depth, I hope, both musically and lyrically. I think people are drawn to the element of surprise which is, we’re a heavy band that screams yet when you read the lyrics you find something that’s encouraging and uplifting.

Hopefully it’s organic enough that it’s something people can relate to. It’s not an ideology or something we dreamt up, it’s personal experiences that we’ve gone through. People can tell stories and everyone can relate to them because we all have stories to tell. I think a lot of our lyrics are stories, in a way, that are ambiguous enough that people can discern their meaning. Musically speaking too, I think there’s something for everyone. There’s melody there so it’s fun to listen to, then there’s this heavy abrasive sound that people can mosh to.

Did you go to shows as a kid? Was there one show you went to that inspired you to want to be in a band?

Absolutely, I went to big festivals in Pennsylvania, so I would see a hundred bands in three days. Then I started going to small shows so one end of the spectrum to the other. I didn’t go to too many before the band though — the band was my way into this whole music industry. I think it was the Newsboys that did it for me. They’re a big Christian band from Australia, they’ve probably been around for 20 years.

I just remember watching the drummer, like in a lot of the bands I watched, I would try to figure out why he’s doing what he’s doing and how he’s making all those sounds. I remember seeing him do a solo and I just loved how all those parts sounded together and looking at everyone going crazy, that was part of it. It wasn’t until I got a drum kit of my own and sat down and played I realized it took a lot of work to get there. That’s part of the reason why I love metal because it’s challenging. I love working hard and striving towards something. Drumming was and still is something that’s challenging.

Even though ‘Rescue & Restore’ only came out last year, are the gears turning for new material already?

Actually yes, we are going to be writing and recording this year. People forget you if you don’t put out music often, as far as I can see. It’s very important to support the record you just wrote and recorded by touring and then as soon as you can find the right time window to start a new one, do it. A record only lasts a year, a year and a half, maybe two years until you say, “Okay maybe now we need new content” and then that’s going to take six months. It’s all about trying to stay ahead of that curve, looking ahead and seeing when you want that new release and then pulling back six months and saying, “Here’s where we need to start.” We’ll be heading home this fall and writing and recording over the winter.

Do you guys write on the road or prefer working on new material at home?

JB [Brubaker] actually writes at home and so do I, I don’t write anything on the road. It’s tough. We’re not a jam band so we don’t even get together in a room and play. People are individually putting content together and then we collectively get together and play it through once we all know it. It takes time and a quiet room two things which touring isn’t very conducive towards.

With all of this touring, what is one thing you must bring on tour with you? It cannot be electronic.

That’s a good question, that’s also a good contingency — no electronics. [Laughs] My first thought was my computer. I would say my moccasins and here’s why — if I put my sneakers on I feel like I’m about to play because I typically am. It’s sort of like Pavlov’s dog, it’s conditioning. When I put moccasins on it means I can relax and then I switch gears as soon and as I put my sneakers on I’m ready to roll. My moccasins are my conduit to sitting back and relaxing on tour, which is a must.

Our thanks to August Burns Red’s Matt Greiner for the interview. You can pick up the band’s ‘Rescue and Restore’ album at this location.

Check Out Photos of August Burns Red Performing in NYC

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