By: Song River
For Vents Magazine
Song River: According to the 'bible' source, New Wave of American Metal, the source for metal comes not from a blues sound, but more from a thrash/punk metal sound. Since the beginning of All That Remains what side of metal have you drawn from?
Mike Martin: I would say this band has always learned more towards the Swedish style of influence, like: At The Gates, In Flames. Phil when he first began already leaned towards the European style of metal. I know before I had even joined the band you could just hear a lot of riffs that were in that Swedish style.
I do remember at the time when we were all playing towards our beginning we would play with a lot of other hardcore bands. Of course, there was a huge mixture going around, and everyone at that time wanted to be able to play the “Super Metal” sound, but also out of nowhere wanted to go into a hardcore breakdown, you know. That all turned into the metalcore thing out of Massachusetts, and it got a bad wrap.
SR: Why do you think it got a bad name?
MM: Well, I think it just got watered down. Killswitch, Shadows Fall, Unearth and all these big bunch of bands came out of Massachusetts. You'll notice that a lot of the music not just from the states, but out of other countries was all sounding like this style. I remember hearing a band from Germany and it was like a couple of the songs were exactly like Killswitch songs. The influence from this area was so wide-spread. I was listening to the new Parkway Drive record and you can hear so much Unearth influences in there in the breakdowns and such. I texted the guys of Unearth and asked them if they heard this song that sounds like them. They're like yeah, what can we do? It's a shame really because Unearth is such a great band and I feel they don't get the credit they deserve.
SR: It is interesting how two bands can have the same style and sound (maybe even copy a bit) and one band will take off and ride the wave over the other.
MM: A long time ago we were touring with As You're Really Dying and Unearth. I remember As You're Really Dying just kind of going on to the next plateau. It was weird because I thought they were both really equally good bands. You can't really explain it. We used to get compared to Killswitch in the beginning. If you had screamed at all in it, you got lumped in. It was and is really just metal with mechanics. Killswitch and All That Remains are still going strong. We aren't a trend; we have been here over fifteen years. Music has to be more than tattoos, or hair for longevity.
SR: Do you feel it's the fans who demand a definition or the record companies? Who is demanding the sound to be called something, a label?
MM: There’s never really been a style of music I think over produced. Many bands will be influenced by the internet. Bands will read something online and let it destroy them. You can't do that. Don't go online and just take what is said there. Get back on the road and you'll find all your friends/fans.
SR: Is a guitar riff or a three-chord strum always going to be the defining mark in music?
MM: I hope so! (laughed) Many bands today seem to know their instruments. They know how to use the computer. You have to execute it. I think it's becoming a new way of doing music, though. There are so many different ways to do it now. But the computer driven ones at times don't translate live. There is a wide range of approaching it all, but I still think coming in with the three-chord approach is the best way to get it all going.
SR: Are you still playing your Charvel Desolation?
MM: Yes. Actually, I have several guitars of course.
SR: Is there one you favor while touring?
MM: Actually I have three of them right now with me on tour and I can't decide! (laughed) I, of course, have the Charvel and I have PRS that I had specially made and I have a Les Paul with me, so it's like, I just kind of alternate. I basically take three guitars with me on the road and rotate them, giving them all love.
SR: Are you able to be married to three guitars and give them all the love and care they deserve equally?
MM: Before no. Now YES!
SR: How important is it for you to have the precision sound in the studio?
MM: In the studio, yes, precise. Live- like I was watching old GNR videos and they were loud and terrible, but they were live. I don't think you should expect precision live. It's that moment that will never happen again. I mean band members get sick and people drink and stuff may happen. Live, there should be some sloppiness. Its meant to be that moment.
SR: What about in studio? Would you consider doing something that sounds like it's raw, not so smooth?
MM: I would consider it. I grew up on that. We had Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch who produced four of our albums. He didn't like it if it was polished. He said it was shit, which I don’t mind. I don't mind a little bit of attitude in there though. It doesn't bother me.
SR: Your latest album, The Order Of Things, was produced by Josh Wilbur. How did he approach it?
MM: Josh had a different approach; he had different arrangements and stuff. He was involved more with the vocals and lyrics. He even had lyric ideas to add in. Really fresh arrangement and vocal ideas. We really liked it. At the time Josh was available, we still love working with Adam, but he was just busy. I think we may even do the next album with Josh too. We will see who is busy.
SR: Do you already of plans for beginning the next album?
MM: I think this next year we will get to writing it for sure. We will probably have January and February off just to sit around and get some of it done then. We know we are going to tour some more next year, probably come out earlier in the following year 2017.
SR: Talk to me about the latest album, The Order Of Things. When I was looking at your discography and the titles it seems like it all has this linear feel to it. Is there an order of things in what you all do?
MM: (laughed) You probably know better than I do. I have never actually paid attention to it. That title was, I think, Phil's way of saying, “Shit Happens, DEAL With It.” I think that's what I heard him say.
SR: Do you have a favorite song on the album you like in particular?
MM: It switches out all the time, but I really do like playing “Pernicious.” It's such a great song to play.
SR: How has the transition gone? As Jeanne Sagan left, and Aaron Patrick has entered.
MM: Really well. We couldn't have asked for a better fit. Aaron already knows us, as he has been our tour manager. You could just tell, when Jeanne got engaged, it wouldn't be long. We totally understood. We received a text message from her, and we had a little while for him to get everything down, but hey, he is now totally solid.
SR: You all obviously like to work out. How do you figure that in while touring?
MM: When we first started out, of course we couldn't afford nothing. Couldn’t afford to even eat, but all the sitting and what little fast food, it wasn't good for any of us. Working out, with all the sitting, really helps you out. It helps with stress on the road and such. It gives you a space to go and blow off steam. Most of the guys at some point or another go to the gym during our touring. I mean, we do have a Play Station 4, and that's good for passing the time while on the road touring too.
SR: On the average, how many people are in your entourage on the road?
MM: We have 11 people currently on the bus. Five in the band, six crew. We are at that point though, if we have one or two more crew members, we will have to get a second bus.
SR: Any thoughts related to the terrorist attacks at the music venue in Paris?
MM: Our friends, Five Finger Death Punch, were over there and during that time they were on and off as to what was going to happen. They were on the list that got turned into the FBI as targets in Italy. I mean, you can't shut lives your down. This is our livelihood. You have to keep going.
SR: I understand you are now engaged Mike. Have you all set a wedding date?
MM: Yes, October 2017. We want to take our time, save our money and do this right.
SR: Anything else you would like to share about your love for guitars?
MM: I have a custom 4 Paul Reed Smith (PRS) that they made with a special finish. It's called 'Vampire Charcoal Blood' or something like that. It's charcoal black in the middle and blood red around the outer.
SR: Is it here?
MM: Actually yes. You want to go look at it, plus the other ones?
SR: Heck, yes!
MM: The two I have now, will definitely blow your mind, so take pictures.
SR: No, worries. I will.