Act of Defiance’s Chris Broderick: My Metal Influences Keep Changing With the Times [Interview]
Act of Defiance guitarist Chris Broderick was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. He spoke about stepping out from the shadow of Megadeth with the band's latest album, Old Scars, New Wounds, how his metallic influences have changed over the years, the collaborative songwriting process and what to expect from the group as 2017 winds down and the new year begins.
We're here to talk about the new record from Act of Defiance, and the focus of attention for the first album, which was mainly two guys from Megadeth: you and Shawn Drover out on your own. How has that first touring cycle and now this new album changed the perception of the band?
I think it's really showed us to be a cohesive band on our own and not just some project that two guys wanted to do to just to say, "Hey, we can do another project." We're committed to this band and every member in it.
The first Act of Defiance album began with you and Shawn before Matt Bachand and Henry Derek Bonner made it a band. How did the songwriting process change for this new album, having built that band relationship?
That's really, to me, one of the biggest changes that occurred. With Birth and the Burial, it was very much Shawn and I getting together going, "Ah we really want to get this material out." We just felt a huge pressure to try and have it out in a real timely fashion. During the whole creation process of Birth and the Burial, Shawn and I were writing. We were hunting down labels, trying to get label interest. We were forming the band, we were talking to different singers, we were talking about potential bass players. Even the logistics, trademarks and things like that.
We were just so under the gun to get the product out, whereas for Old Scars, New Wounds this was very much - we toured as a band, we basically lived together for months on end. We got to know each other. Everybody in the band plays guitar. They all write, we all write lyrics. We wanted to make this a really collaborative effort and get everybody's thoughts on the table as far as the music and the lyrical content. That was probably — and the fact that we had time to go back and look at the songs and really think about their flow, structure and the direction of the melodic lines, things of that nature, that really was different on this CD. I think it helped take it up a notch or two.
Metal has always been evolving and changing. What are the biggest similarities and major differences between the bands you loved as a kid and the music you make as an adult?
That's an interesting question, because I have many different influences, especially as a kid. You know, obviously time is a big factor and the music that inspired me to get into the music that I love in the first place. So, when I first started listening to metal it was bands like Dokken, then quickly - even Van Halen, bands like that. Then quickly I went into King Diamond, Metallica and heavier bands from there.
I had that kind of sensibility. I always loved the shreddy guitarist from that era and the technicality of that era. But I think as I progressed into my 20s and my influences became Pantera and heavier bands — Meshuggah for example. That influenced my playing as well.
So, at the core, I can still hear the influences of when I first started playing the guitar, but I also hear the influences from heavier music and contemporary music of this day. Great thrash metal bands, like Revocation, that are just up and coming that to me, really bring a uniqueness to the table that I like to think that I can incorporate in my music as well.
Chris, Matt Bachand plays bass in Act Of Defiance, but he was a guitarist in Shadows Fall. How has his music background benefitted your approach to writing songs and playing guitar?
It was really quite funny because I didn't even consider Matt to be an option at first when Shawn had brought him up to be a bass player. Like, "Wait, he's the guitarist of Shadows Fall," and exactly what you said. Shawn had said that he had been out touring with other bands filling in on bass and stuff, so I always thought it was awesome. Matt is a great musician. He plays guitar, he's a great guitarist. He can sing really well and has a very good talent for writing a great song.
So, on this new album Old Scars, New Wounds we really utilized that and he ended up writing three songs musically on the new CD. He brings, in my mind, just a huge variation through the idea of metal in the sense that — I have more of a progressive background. More heavy in terms of some of my influences. Matt kind of brings a bit of that East Coast vibe to the songs, also very heavy at times. He wrote one song off the album that's got almost a bit of a doom vibe. He's also got a few songs that definitely have that East Coast breakdown that you get, that I would have never been able to write on my own. It's not an influence that I had had. He just bring his influences and his style to the table and he's a great writer and great player.
You actively participate in guitar clinics and retreats. Why is that important and what's most rewarding to you about providing a musical education to other players?
I think that is, in a way, one of the most rewarding things I see when I know — for example: one of my happiest moments in my music career was when I had this fan come up to me and tell me that he had used a classical guitar piece that I had written called "The Downward Fall" to audition at Berkeley. I just couldn't believe it that somebody saw my music as such a great source of inspiration that they would use it to try and hopefully, and I hope they got in, [laughs] to apply and audition at a very prestigious music college.
For me, it really makes me happy to know that when I see a student that genuinely is interested in the knowledge that I have and they take it and make it their own. They really develop it in their own style and sensibilities on the guitar. So that's huge for me. That's one huge aspect of music that I love doing.
Tell us about the plans for touring and what's to come for 2017?
We're mainly just setting up the CD. We're going to be pushing that hard in terms of advertisement, media content and then come early 2018 we're gonna hit the road in North America and then from then on, we've got our booking agent and tour manager looking in South America, Europe, of course for the festivals and maybe even the Pacific Rim.
Thanks to Chris Broderick for the interview. To pick up your copy of Act of Defiance's 'Old Scars, New Wounds,' head to the Metal Blade webstore. To keep up with everything the band is doing, follow them on Facebook and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show at this location.
Act of Defiance, "The Talisman"