All That Remains’ Phil Labonte Names Band’s Fill-In Guitarist, Talks Future Plan
Where has the time gone? All That Remains are releasing their ninth studio album today (Nov. 9), a new disc titled Victim of the New Disease. It's a heavier album, darker in lyrical tone due to some of the events in Phil Labonte's life, as the singer reveals in our chat below.
The album comes less than a month after the death of longtime guitarist Oli Herbert, and Labonte also reflects on his longtime musical cohort while also revealing the news that Chelsea Grin and Born of Osiris guitarist Jason Richardson will be filling in for the band on their upcoming dates, a move that would have met with Herbert's approval. The singer also discusses the band's plans to move forward after Herbert's death and talks about the plans for the months ahead. Check out our chat about the new album and other key milestones in the band's career below.
Looking at what you just did to where you are now, Madness was a little more radio friendly, where this one is just really heavy. Was it a conscious decision going into this record to make it a heavier release?
Yeah, we definitely wanted to make it heavier. That is something we actually discussed. I kind of felt that way because with The Order of Things and with Madness, both of them had kind of gone in a similar direction, so after The Order of Things, I think Madness made sense as a record. It was kind of down a less heavy path, but given how we have worked historically, we wanted to make sure that we kept surprising people, so the best way to do that is two in a row kind of leaning one way and then go ahead and change it up. That's the best way to throw them a curve ball.
First thing out of the gate — "Fuck Love." Such a heavy and energetic song. Can't wait to see that live and I was wondering if this is perhaps one of the closest moments you've come to capturing that live energy.
It's pretty high energy. I've always like those kind of short little high energy metal songs, something like "Blinded by Fear" by At the Gates. It's not a big opus. It's got a cool bridge, but it's just aggressive through the whole thing. So that's kind of what I liked about songs like "This Darkened Heart" and "For We Are Many" -- just sort of those little short aggressive ones, so that's what I really dug about "Fuck Love" is just matching the music and seeing how aggressive I could make it lyrically, you know.
Digging into the album a bit, "Fuck Love," "Everything's Wrong," "Alone in the Darkness," "Just Tell Me Something" -- all songs on soured or flawed relationships. What led you down this darker path lyrically for this album?
Yeah, divorce (laughs). I've always been the kind of dude that writes about what's going on in my life. I think the ideas that I come up with are things that I can relate to and most people are able to relate as well. When I've gone through it, I'm able to articulate it most of the time in ways that people can relate to. That's probably the best way to say it. I try to be honest in lyrics and I try to be honest in general, but I'm really honest in the lyrics.
One of the tracks that's already arrived, "Everything's Wrong" is definitely one of the standouts on this record. Let's get into a little on how that one came about.
I guess it's a little self-reflective about when a relationship breaks down, but I don't want to get too specific about that kind of stuff, because I don't want to take away from what the listener perceives. If you explain too much or get too much into the philosophy of things, then you start taking away from the listener who might get something totally different. Once you put it out there, the reason a song matters is because of how people interpret it.
The track "Just Tell Me Something" finds you working with Danny Worsnop from Asking Alexandria. What made this the right pairing for the two of you and how did it come about?
I just gave him a call. We had done a bunch of touring with Asking Alexandria and they are super sweet dudes. Me and Danny have a bunch of the same friends and we keep in touch and chat and I just shot him a text and said, "Hey dude, we've got a song. Do you want to sing the second verse and the second chorus? I'll send you the MP3 now." So I sent it and he liked it and I said, "Go ahead and do it," and he sent it back and it was like a home run. It was super easy.
The album is titled Victim of the New Disease and it's the album closer. Is there a particular reason that ended up being the choice for the title?
Well, it was a line in a song and I'll be honest, I was trying to get our management and our label to clear calling the album Fuck Love, but they were just like, "No." (laughs) They were like, "How are we supposed to market it?" I'm like, "Everyone says 'fuck love.'" I mean Robert DeNiro just said "fuck" at an awards show. It's fine, nobody will say anything. It'll be great. But they're like, "No." So then we had to find another title and I had had my heart set on Fuck Love, so I wasn't really vibing on anything else, but our manager hit me up and said, "Hey there's this cool line in this song. It's a cool line and would make a good title, so why don't you go with that." So we kind of owe it to our manager for not letting us call the record Fuck Love.
This record in particular I know is a bit of a bittersweet one for you with the immense loss of Oli Herbert. There are some great guitar moments on here, and I was wondering if you could speak to the contributions that Oli made on this new album.
I wish I could elaborate more, but kind of the way it goes with us is that we do our stuff and then we get together when we're on tour and go through the record and talk about it, so I can't really tell you the things that really stood out to him as we hadn't had that talk yet. I do know that he was pretty proud of "Misery in Me" and I’m pretty sure he was really digging "Broken."
There’s a couple of other songs that we didn’t put on the record that will be heard someday, but I can't really speak to what his favorites were or what he was vibing on. He and Mike kind of did their thing with the dailies and the demos and stuff and I'd come along and write lyrics and we'd get together once in a while and change arrangements, and a lot of that stuff was done in the studio as we were recording it, but I didn't really get a lot of time to sit down with Oli to discuss what his favorite parts were or what he was thinking. I really wish I did.
You and Oli have both been here since the early days of the band. Can you take me back to the first meeting of the minds and when did you know this was a guy you wanted to make music with?
The thing about it, Oli was a really shy kind of dude, so it really took two records for Oli to feel kind of comfortable to start writing songs. Oli would come in with some stuff. Behind Silence and Solitude, Oli wrote one song on it, and then on [This] Darkened [Heart] he would do a lot of the solos and leads and stuff, but the meat of the song he didn’t come up with. But The Fall of Ideals is when he really started feeling comfortable bringing stuff and being, ‘This is an idea I have.’ We were eating it up, so because of Oli’s personality it was something that I really think took time to develop. He had to grow into the role of writing most of the riffs and music and stuff.
Looking at All That Remains socials, there's been a call to fans for guitar covers as it's something that Oli truly enjoyed ....
That's obviously bringing up some reflection, and I wanted to know in looking back if there was a particular song or his work on one of the albums that really stands out to you as your favorite Oli contributions to the band.
Probably The Fall of Ideals, and that might be a little bit obvious, but he came up with some really cool stuff on that record. One of my favorite things that Oli ever wrote was a song called "Not Alone," and the guitar work in that song is super cool. It’s aggressive, it’s heavy and the guitar picking stuff is super cool. I think that "Not Alone" is probably my favorite thing he’s ever done.
Looking ahead, I know there are dates coming up for the band, and I was wondering if there's a plan in place of what to do to fill the void left by Oli's absence.
We’ve got Jason Richardson who played with Chelsea Grin and Born of Osiris and he’s going to be filling in and that’s the dude that Oli would’ve wanted. We toured with Born of Osiris for I think two tours. Oli was always talking about Jason as like that kid is the best guitar player I’ve ever seen. Jason was like 18 at the time, and Oli was like that kid is just insane, he’s the best guitar player I’ve ever seen. So he gets Oli’s approval.
We kind of locked that in as soon as we could. As soon as we decided that we’d talked about carrying on, once we decided we were going to, we locked in someone to fill in for this tour we’ve got coming up and then we’re going to look for a permanent replacement. Once we decided we had someone locked in for the tour, then we realized we could take our time to find a permanent replacement, and I know we’ve got stuff planned for 2019, I believe in January, so I’m not sure if Jason would cover for two tours or if we’d find someone for that, but we will be busy next year and we will be filling out the roster with an actual replacement full time All That Remains member.
One thing that's popped up recently... Congrats are in order as All That Remains have their first gold record for the song "Two Weeks" from the Overcome album.
Yeah, It's awesome. It's super cool. To think about it, we had just put out The Fall of Ideals that had kind of got us on the map, and then we did one of those surprise changes that people have come to know us for and it got us a career at rock radio. A gold record, I can't believe that that actually happened to be honest with you. That makes me honestly happy. It's pretty cool (laughs)."
With the mid-terms happening this week, I know you're very politically minded. Was there anything that surprised you from the elections? Were you following any of the races or keeping an eye on the propositions?
I don't feel like there was anything that was a surprise. I guess the Republicans picking up seats in the Senate was a little bit of a surprise, but there was talk about that for a while. Maybe that the Democrats didn't get as many seats in the House as was expected was a little bit of a surprise. I think the Republicans had a good night, considering that the President is a Republican and the mid-terms are usually when the opposing party picks up a bunch of stuff after a President is elected. But I wasn't shocked. It's kind of standard Washington stuff and it wasn't a blowout by any stretch of the imagination. It is what it is.
I saw your tweet and I'm sure you were as surprised as many to see Trump's supportive comments about Nancy Pelosi and being so magnanimous.
I couldn't believe it. I was surprised. There are people who are going to look at that cynically and stuff and that's fine, but if you want to cool the temperature politically in the U.S., that's a good way to do it, at least before saying, "Eh, screw that."
With the end of the year coming up, also wanted to see if there were any album, songs, new acts that stuck out to you as being really outstanding from 2018. What was on your radar?
The new Bring Me [the Horizon], and I also really like the new Unearth. That's a killer record and that band delivers all the time. If you're looking for a good heavy, heavy metal band, I just don't think I can say enough good things about Unearth. They deliver and every record is solid. That's a great metalcore band.
What's on the horizon for All That Remains at this point?
There will be another video next year and another song that will be one of the more radio kind of tracks coming out. We're talking about doing some lyric videos and there will be a video after the single comes out, so we're dragging out the release of the record. We're getting the album out now, but we have other milestones we want to hit in the new year to keep it fresh and new in people's minds.
Thanks to Phil Labonte for the interview. All That Remains' 'Victim of the New Disease' is out now and available to purchase or stream at this location. Look for All That Remains hitting the road in December to support their new album, with more shows expected in the new year. Stay up to date with their touring here.
All That Remains, "Fuck Love"
All That Remains, "Everything's Wrong"
All That Remains Albums Ranked