Protest the Hero Guitarist Tim Millar Talks Latest Album ‘Volition,’ 2014 Touring Plans + More
Canadian progressive metal band Protest the Hero have been making waves with their fourth studio record ‘Volition,' which featured drum work from Lamb of God stickman Chris Adler. Loudwire caught up with guitarist Tim Millar, who spoke about working with Adler and recording the new album as a whole. The axeman also discussed Protest the Hero’s 2014 touring plans, among other topics. Check out our interview with Tim Millar below:
I recently caught your show at the New York show at Gramercy Theater. Any interesting touring stories you’d like to share from your latest trek?
It was our first tour for over a year and it was nice to get back out on the road with a new album and some new songs to play. As far as touring stories the tour was pretty tame and there wasn't a whole lot of issues. However, after we left New York our van broke down on the way to Worcester and it was also in a snow storm. We somehow got the van fixed, made it to the show change over and unloaded the gear through the snow and the crowd and got set up and onstage in time to play. There's nothing like cracking your guitar cases and finding frost on all the gear.
To you, what makes a great touring package?
Diversity is the most important thing. Nowadays, people don't want to see 4 of the same bands throughout the night so bringing bands that are similar but all bring something different to the table to me is what makes a good tour package. Also, I try to influence who gets put on our tours so I can get to watch bands I like and enjoy the show because usually a tour is going to be 30 nights of the same bands.
You guys have toured with so many different acts. Is there one band whom you haven't toured with yet who you'd like to share a bill with?
A tour that I'd love to do would be opening for Mastodon. I don't know how well we'd be received on a tour like that, but I love that band and it would be great to get to watch them every night of a tour. Also, it would give us exposure to another world of metal that we haven't had a chance to play for.
Congrats on the success of ‘Volition.’ What does the album title mean to you personally?
To me, the title means that at my own 'volition,' I've chosen to be a musician and continue living this different lifestyle. It's a lot of hard work doing what I do, but the rewards are definitely worth it. It's not a normal job or a normal life but I do like it and it's really the only thing I've ever known. There's a lot of highs and lows and sometimes you question why you do this and if you want to keep going so it seems like it's always a choice that you have to make.
Talk about the album art where the idea for the cover came from.
We wanted to have Jeff Jordan do the artwork and had liked what he had done in the past so we got in touch with him. He was eager to work with us and we gave him some ideas of themes on the album but wanted to let him run with his own ideas and what you see is what he came up with.
How was the recording experience for you on this album?
It was great. It was the first time we recorded in our home city, Toronto. It was nice to be able to go home and sleep in your own bed every night and not have to leave for 6 days and have one day home to have a break. The studio, Revolution was beautiful and all the people we worked with made the experience very casual and low stress. We were able to take our time and not feel like we were working against the clock and I feel like because of that we got the best results.
How was the experience of working with Lamb of God’s Chris Adler?
It was great working with Chris. I thought the timing would be good to have someone like Chris on the album. The trial with Randy was going on and I figured the rest of the band would be sitting around waiting to hear the verdict. We thought he would be an amazing guy to work with and we really saw what it was like to be a professional. We got in touch with him through our manager (who manages Chris's band, Lamb of God) and Chris was really into the idea and came up to Toronto to start rehearsing. I'm really happy with how it all turned out.
If you could work with any other musician on a record, who would it be and why?
Paul Gilbert. One of my guitar heros and one of the most versatile players out there. I've followed his career and he always continues to amaze me with his evolution. I'd feel like I'd have nothing to add to anything we collaborated on, but just to get to see him play with my own eyes and watch him record would be a dream.
The majority of members have been in the band since the beginning. What’s the secret to maintaining not only your friendship on the road but work relationship in the studio and onstage?
Not being too serious. We have a very nonchalant approach to our band relations. No one is particularly in charge and everyone gets to have a say. They’re very few things we do care deeply about so everyone is reasonable when it comes making big decisions and majority rules. We've watched a lot of bands have weird dynamics and sometimes there are people in bands that are very particular and you see a lot of tension between members and that's never really existed in our band. If anyone ever tries to boss the others around they get laughed at and put in their place and that's pretty much how it works.
What does 2014 hold in store for Protest the Hero?
We have a lot of touring in the cards. Pretty much a record cycle is about 2 years so there will be different tours planned throughout the year. I hope we get to make it to some places where we haven't been for a while (Japan, Australia, etc.) and get to explore some new territories.
With all of this touring that is coming up, what is one non-electronic thing your must bring on tour with you?
That's a really good question. I'm a super geek and have a ton of electronics with me. The best thing I can think of is running shoes. If you don't bring those, it's really hard to work out, or if you plan on going for a walk around a town it's nice to be able to get around and not have sore feet.
Watch Protest the Hero's 'Underbite' Video: