Warbringer’s John Kevill Talks Touring, Latest Album ‘IV: Empires Collapse’ + More
Warbringer frontman John Kevill was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Kevill spoke to Jackie about the band’s energetic live shows, their new album and the contributions of their two most recent members. If you missed Jackie’s show, here’s her full interview with Warbringer’s John Kevill.
It’s Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show with us, once again, John Kevill from Warbringer. What’s up?
Hey, not too much, just got back from home a tour and we’re gearing up for the next one.
You guys always seem to have the best tours.
You did that big Iron Maiden show as well, yes?
Hell yes we did, that was sweet. The Battle of San Bernardino. It was a pretty epic day. First, I’ve seen Maiden a few times, and I got to see them front row this time so I was very satisfied. They played a lot of ‘Seventh Sun’ stuff and that’s my favorite album so…
Me as well. Talking about your live performance, I’ve seen Warbringer quite a few times. Your stage presence is super animated and really expressive to say the least. How much of that is forethought, or is it adrenaline and pure reaction to the music?
It’s pure reaction, that’s why like, people who know me, actually think it’s pretty funny. Because it’s just, it’s literally, if I’m listening to some of my favorite music, and like singing along or something, the claws and the gestures, it just comes out it’s like what I, I don’t know it just happens. That’s only, that’s one of the reasons I like performing onstage so much. It’s not really thought out at all and that’s some of the fun of it.
I love that, I’ve got friends like that when if we’re at a show and a good song comes on, you’d think they’re the one in the band. Whether it’s air guitar, facial expressions. I love that. You’re feeling it, clearly.
Oh absolutely, and you know that there’s another one which needs to be added, there’s air guitar and air drums and you kind of like sync between them like when the drum fill comes up you’ll switch from air guitar to air drums, and then there’s like air-lead singer poses where you’ll do the arm stuff, like you know, when the high note goes up you have to raise your hand and stuff like that. Even if you’re just listening to something and like watching, and mouthing along it’s another air instrument for sure.
Warbringer had spent the last few months out on the road with Overkill and Kreator. Next month it’s off to Europe with Iced Earth. What about this band makes you a good fit for any tour regardless of the different sub-genres on the bill?
The Kreator/Overkill tour is very very much a straight thrash tour, which was awesome. The Iced Earth tour is more like traditional heavy metal slash power metal and stuff, but you know, there’s thrash elements in their music too and there’s traditional heavy metal elements in our music. I think the new record especially has a lot of like just old, regular heavy metal and like rock and roll parts, guitar harmonies and stuff like that. And I think also most people who like heavy metal like thrash and vice versa, you know. They’re similar genres that are linked so it makes a lot of sense. And also I think that just anyone that comes to a show that wants to see stuff wrecked by loud guitars might like our band, you know? Because we pretty much, we do that.
The new album, ‘IV: Empires Collapse,’ really broadens Warbringer, adding different styles to the mix. Was it simply a case of what all of you were collectively listening to, or were you consciously setting up a blueprint for musical growth on future albums?
Oh, a little bit of both, really. You know everybody listens to all kinds of different stuff and we always want to be growing the band. We always want to take a step beyond where we were before, and we don’t want to make the same record twice. So, what I think the general game plan for this record was to expand the sound but keep true to the idea. So, you know, we don’t want to jump the shark or anything but we also don’t want to re-write another record.
So some of the stuff, like the melodic lead guitar stuff at the end of like ‘Treacherous Tongue’ from the last album, there’s more stuff like that because we did it once and we were like, “Hey, we really like that,” so we made it more a part of our sound. Some of the black metal elements from stuff like ‘At the Crack of Doom’ and ‘Demonic Ecstasy’ worked their way into songs and I’d say there’s a little more proggy stuff on there. John Lockes was getting, was just like really into punk stuff at the time so there’s two tracks on there that really show that. So it’s a mix of all those things really.
Ben and Carlos in Warbringer have had time to settle in and acclimate themselves in the band. What have they brought to the band that you may be only realizing now in hindsight?
Well Ben Mottsman’s the sweetest bass player we’ve had. Like, I think so. As far as his playing and performance, he just lays it down really hard and you know he has a lot of that old like rock ‘n’ roll jamming bass player feel to him. And, you know, he plays it loud. You can always notice, he doesn’t sit in the back at all. So, that’s a really good element for the band. And he wrote the song ‘Iron City’ on the record.
Carlos really came into his own in the band on this record. He wrote five tracks on it and was involved with the whole thing. Like the opener, ‘Horizon,’ is a Carlos song. ‘Black Sun, Black Moon’ and ‘Hunter Seeker’s a Carlos song. There are many of his tracks on there. So, and he tends, like he’s got a style of writing that’s his own that he’s brought into the band and it fits really well the way he does things. And he’s got a little bit more progressive taste to his writing, I think, so it’s a cool addition to have.
I know you’ve got this European tour planned but can we expect more U.S. touring in 2014?
Right now nothing on the books. We’re not too sure what’s going on in 2014 yet. We still have this European tour to deal with so we’re booked up until the middle of February. I think we’re going to Puerto Rico after that. I’d like to get some shows together in the U.S. for sure. We had a really successful show in Los Angeles at The Whisky last May and I’d like to do something like that again. We played the whole first record start to finish. Actually, in the new album there’s a DVD of that entire show. It turned out really cool.
Awesome, keep us posted on all of that and I really appreciate you being on the show again, thank you.
Thanks for having me. Keep it metal.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome High on Fire frontman Matt Pike on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.