Keen for that August Burns Red album? We know you are. With Guardians set for release very soon on April 3 (our review here) we caught up with Brent Rambler and geeked out over comics and the band’s Marvel-inspired single ‘Defender‘. If you’re patiently/impatiently waiting for this one to drop, make sure you read all about it first!
So what I wanted to start with is Guardians, particularly your Marvel-inspired video for ‘Defender’. I had an in-depth run with it and there’s a lot to unpack. How about you pick a point that sticks out for you about the video and go from there?
So we’d talked about actually naming the album Defender, but a couple of the guys didn’t really think that would fit. We ended up picking the title Guardians. ‘Defender’ was the track that everyone knew would be a good lead single, definitely very fan-friend for the band. There’s nothing extremely complicated about it, but it’s a fun listen and really fun to play.
I thought the words [from ‘Defender’] fit perfectly for a good story like that [what you see in the video]. Defender to me also sounds like a superhero (laughs). I’m a pretty big comic book fan and have quite a collection. I sent a text over to JB (Brubaker, guitar) – he and I manage the band – and was like, ‘What would you think about a video where it was the pages of a comic book coming to life, and then the band are just inserted in and out as the background music of the story?’. JB really liked that idea.
I didn’t think they’d be able to get it done in time – a lot of art and animation obviously needed to go into it. So I suggested that and we shot it over to the team at Fearless (Records) and to Dan Fusselman who’s done our last couple of videos. He loved the idea and said, ‘Yep, start working on it straight away’.
It was also a great way to allow them to start working on a video before shooting the band. The video was in the works for like a month before they even shot the band for the little performance cuts. That’s always really helpful, because it’s hard to get five people together around the holidays to come in and shoot a music video for a day. It came out insanely well (laughs), better than I ever anticipated or dreamt up in my mind. When I first saw the initial drawings, I was like, ‘This is legit. These guys knocked it out of the park’.
Just to chime in, you are nerding out hard right now and I bloody love it.
Yeah! It’s awesome. The team did such a good job, and we kind of knew this was going to be a hard video to have edits for. Usually with a music video, you’re all, ‘I don’t like how it looks there. Use a different shot’. But for this, it was like, ‘Okay, if we don’t like how it looks, what are we going to do? They’d have to redraw everything’ (chuckles). It turned out really awesome, and I think we had them edit like one thing, and that was it.
I’m such a Marvel fan too, and with other things going on like people writing things about whether, for example, the X-Men movie universe is dead, and movie directors working so hard on a lot of projects, it kind of speaks to the state of the world right now. Particularly pop culture.
I don’t think we were going for that grand of a scale (laughs). But I think what the team did with the video, as far as what’s in it – like you see guys dumping pollution into the water and that kind of stuff – they were able to round it out into a more relatable and ‘with the times’ kind of concept than what I initially came in with.
So let’s talk about the rest of Guardians. Going on a broader scope with the record, tell me about your thoughts through the process, and your perspective as the album’s been coming to life.
So this record we did a little bit differently to what we’ve done in the past. We had eight songs written – or Dustin (Davidson) our bass player and JB did. Dustin’s also an excellent guitar player, so he actually wrote half the songs on Guardians. They had a bunch of stuff done in April of last year, so we booked some studio time and backed a bunch of guitar and bass then. We even kind of put fake drums to it so people could hear what the songs were going to be like.
So we started like that, and we had the whole month then, and then a whole summer while we were doing the Constellations tour to sit with those songs, and see what we wanted to change. That was really nice. Then we ended up tracking the other five songs. We did the drums, vocals and all that stuff in August and September of that year. We spent two-and-a-half months making this record, which is the longest we’ve ever spent on an album. So it allowed for a tonne of time to be creative in a very relaxed environment, I think.
For me personally, I write most of the lyrics for the band – Matt (Greiner, drums) and I have done all of them for the past couple of records. So we start ages ago and send over everything we want that we’ve written to Jake (Luhrs, vocals), and he looks through it and changes things around depending on what he likes and doesn’t like. Then he picks the songs.
For this record more than ever, I sat with Jake and every day we’d come in, start playing around with words to a song and start hashing out ideas. We had a really nice collaborative effort on the vocals for the record; we’ve done it in the past, we did it every single day this time. Because of the time we had with this album, we were able to make sure everything fit perfectly, which was awesome.
Interview by Genevieve Gao
Pre-Order Guardians here
August Burns Red – Guardians tracklisting
1. The Narrative
6. Dismembered Memory
7. Ties That Bind
9. Extinct by Instinct
10. Empty Heaven
11. Three Fountains