It’s been sixteen years since Pennsylvanian metalcore greats August Burns Red formed back in 2003.
With eight records under their belt and a reputation for a stellar live show built from extensive touring over the years, the band are considered to be a key influence for many modern bands in the scene. Third record Constellations, produced by Jason Suecof (Death Angel, Trivium), marks a crucial turning point for the group, with their transition to a more melodic but still hard-hitting sound.
August Burns Red are set to come to Australia in October with Constellations turning 10 this year. Rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler sat down to talk about why both he and many fans resonate with the record, why a band’s third record is often a game-changer, and his experience working with the women at Fearless Records.
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So thinking about the band’s history with Australia and the personal experiences you’ve had here, how’re you feeling about the tour?
“I feel great about it. It’s been far too long. We’ve tried to come back to Australia numerous times, but it just hasn’t lined up. We wanted to do Messengers in Australia, but what happened was at first they didn’t think anyone wanted to see it. Then when they saw how successful it was everywhere else, they came back really late in the year and said, ‘You can come do Messengers now’. We’re said, ‘Well that’s after our new record comes out. We can’t do that’ (laughs).”
You know, the first gig review I ever did was of Northlane at the Roundhouse in 2015, and that was the first time I saw you guys as well. So this Constellations tour is a bit of a throwback!
“That was a great show! We did our own tour with Northlane at the beginning of 2015, so they reciprocated and brought us down to Australia at the end of the year. That was a really good time, and I think this will be too.”
Now reflecting on Constellations, I understand that album was when you were starting to push boundaries in terms of adding cleaner sections and more dynamics, right?
“Exactly. I think that was definitely the record that forayed us into what became our sound as we have it now. It was our first look at adding cleaner and softer parts, instead of straight-up balls to the wall all the time. Obviously the record is still very thrashy-sounding, but it was the first time we introduced clean guitar in the middle of songs. Before that it was aggression all the time.”
How challenging did you personally find it going into new territory?
“It wasn’t too difficult. I think it felt kind of natural to go that way. When we were doing Messengers, I remember our producer Tue Madsen just said, ‘This record doesn’t have any breaks. You guys need to add some’, and we said, ‘No, that’s why it’s cool’ (laughs). But for how many records in a row can you do exactly that? I think that with Constellations, we were finally ready to explore [new things] a little bit, and the parts that came out were really good.”
For sure! You go and listen to Found In Far Away Places and Phantom Anthem and you can really hear those elements from Constellations bleeding into those records.
“Yeah! That’s 100% a true statement. I think that’s why a lot of fans look back and say, ‘Constellations is the record that got me into you guys’. That’s the one I look back at as my favourite, and a lot of it has to do with that. If you like August Burns Red now, you probably got into us with Constellations or later.”
You know that phrase ‘Third time’s the charm’? It does seem that third album in, that’s when a lot of bands hit their stride.
“It used to be that you had a sophomore slump, I guess (chuckles), but I don’t know if that’s the case anymore. In a previous interview, we were talking about the state of metalcore today, and it seems like the bands that were there from the beginning are now doing better than ever. You have Architects who put out their third record which was incredible, and Bring Me The Horizon‘s third one was really big for them…”
Then there are some bands or artists who can hit the ground running with their first release. I think that’s a testament to them taking on mentors who’ve been in the business for a long time, and didn’t necessarily have the knowledge and tools they’ve got now to pass on.
“Now it seems like when a new band comes out, you get to be on social media and that really helps. When we first came out, the only way to get anyone to know your name was to go play concerts locally. That’s just not what you do anymore. You makes songs, hope they’re really good and put them on the Internet, and then people tell you if they’re good or not (chuckles). It doesn’t seem to be a thing where you go out and cut your teeth in a local band setting anymore. It’s not exactly what happens these days.”
Finally, what’s your experience been with women in music, whether it’s meeting other artists or working with women behind the scenes who make different parts of the industry happen?
“Personally my experience has been on a marketing level. With August Burns Red, I manage the band with the other guitar player. For me and the band, we’ve always had this lady named Amy, and she’s amazing as far as marketing goes. Everyone we work with at our record label for the most part is female, and it’s awesome. We came from a label that wasn’t that way and they were great, but then we moved to a new perspective of one that’s run by females. The first person who brought us there and helped form their way at Fearless Records, Jenny, is now the president of the label, which is awesome to see.
“I have no idea why, but women in the music industry seem to be so much better at marketing than any man (chuckles). They do such a good job, and I think females are definitely taking over the marketing aspect as far as the promotional side of the music industry goes… Since we made the switch as far as labels go, the band’s career has gone even better. So for us, working with women has been a huge blast.”
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Check out the dates for August Burns Red‘s upcoming tour below, and gear up for one of metalcore’s finest bands playing their seminal album Constellations in full.
Interview by Genevieve Gao
August Burns Red – Australian Tour
11th October – 170 Russell – Melbourne
12th October – Metro Theatre – Sydney
13 October – Cambridge Hotel – Newcastle
14th October – The Triffid – Brisbane
16th October – Capitol – Perth
17th October – Lions Arts Factory – Adelaide