by Ellen Gager / Schwegweb.com
I recently had an opportunity to chat with bassist John Campbell about their upcoming new album, touring experiences and upcoming shows.
WRITER’S NOTE: This interview was conducted live and has been edited for content and length.
Schwegweb: I had the pleasure of hearing a few songs off of Sacrament last night, and all three were pretty heavy, are there going to be any songs on the album that are lighter in nature or more instrumental, like on Ashes of the Wake?
John Campbell: “No, all the songs are pretty heavy. I think we did a good job writin’ songs that don’t sound like each other. Some of them sound like different songs off of different records, but no, all of them are heavy and brutal. We’re a heavy metal band, that’s what we do.”
Can I clarify the titles of the three? I know one of them was “Redneck”, what were the other two?
“To be honest, I’m not sure which ones you heard. There’s one “Foot To The Throat” and “Killing Time”, maybe.”
From what I heard, definitely the Sacrament album is going to be grittier and angstier than Ashes of the Wake. Is that something you agree with?
“Yah, I think it would be. One of the big differences, at least lyrically, is that Ashes is very political whereas Sacrament definitely does not touch on governmental politics. Ashes was written at the beginning of 2004 when the election was gettin’ geared up and there was a lot of stuff going on in the Middle East and such, it definitely charged the lyrics. But this time around, it’s definitely not a theme on the record.”
The Sacrament 2006 webpage (www.sacrament2006.com), with the preview of “Redneck” on it is really cool. Whose concept and artwork is that?
“I believe that’s all Epic’s doing. If you can believe that a monster company like Epic can have a creative side that’s cool, there it is. They’ve been an amazing label for us. Never being the stereotypical major label (telling us what to do) and they’ve been really supportive in doing a lot of cool stuff for us, like sacrament2006.com.”
What has your experience been like more recently on the Unholy Alliance Tour? Are things still going well?
“Absolutely. This tour is the best tour I’ve ever done, without a doubt. Everyone on the tour has a great time and is gettin’ along great. Everybody’s good friends and having a great time, and then a whole lot of kids are showing up, showing up early and checkin’ out all the bands and everything’s going off more or less without a hitch. So, it’s been an incredible time.”
Have you cemented any more tour dates for Europe and Japan?
“We have. There’s 8 in Japan and 4 in Australia, and then the Unholy Alliance continues in Europe. I know this is over July 26, and I get to go home for a few weeks and then it starts up again.”
How does it feel to be nominated for the first MTV2 All That Rocks award in the category of “There Are None Higher, Ultimate Metal God” category, especially since you’re up against tour mate, Mastodon?
“I would say that that’s probably blowing it up a little bigger than it is when there’s still true Gods of Metal bands still playing, like Slayer and Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Those are the Metal Gods, None Higher. At best, we’re little cherubs floating around them.”
I mean, it’s kind of cool that they’re recognizing the new generation of Metal.
“Absolutely, it’s very flattering, but not being a terribly egotistical person, I would definitely say they should have nominated Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Slayer. Those bands are pretty amazing and have proven themselves over the years to be Metal Gods.”
I had read that you guys practice a lot in order to keep up with the technicality of some of the other bands from your hometown area. How do find time to rehearse when you’re on the road?
“We don’t. When we’re on the road, rehearsal is the show. And we’ve been gearing up for it for, Lord, the twelve years we’ve been a band. When we’re on the road, we’re playing almost every day, which is a great practice schedule. When we’re at home, and when we’re focused on a task–be it getting ready for a tour or writing a record–we get in and we’re practicing five days a week because it’s what we do and we work really hard at anything we do. We’re just lucky enough to have this opportunity that our hard work gets to go into our band.”
Do you ever write on the road or is that mainly saved for when you’re not on tour?
“It’s pretty much stuff that happens when we’re at home. Some ideas might pop up, somebody might come up with a cool little riff of something, but we definitely don’t get into the writing while we’re on the road. When we write, it’s a very long, drawn out process of everyone chiming in on what they think about parts and changes and arrangements, and it’s really not the kind of thing that there’s time to do on the road, the way that we do it at home.”
Now that you’ve completed the video filming for “Redneck” and “Now You’ve Got Something To Die For”, are there any others from the new album that you’re planning on making videos for?
“I’m sure that we will, but as far as what that’s gonna be, no we don’t have anything on the table yet, I think we’re all just really excited for this record to be released, and then go from there.”
When you did the Myspace banner contest, were you flooded with entries? Is that something that Epic handed?
“We handled that, but we have people that handle that for us. Katie, she lives in Houston and she helps out a whole lot by running the Myspace page for us. Which is the kind of thing, [that] when we’re practicing five days a week and doing everything else involved in being in a band, there’s really not that much time to do everything there is to do, so we’re lucky that we’ve met some other cool people along the way who can help us out with stuff.
We definitely owe a good deal to the Internet itself for us being able to do what we do. We got our first record deal when we were on MP3.com, we were getting a lot of hits and a lot of listens, and it got us the attention of Prosthetic Records. The Internet has been good to us, so we try to be good to the Internet.”
Do you guys have anything else in the works at this point, other than the upcoming album and your upcoming tour?
“No, that pretty much occupies all of our time. Now that the record is done, we are gearing up to be on the road for a long time supporting the record.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“Thank you very much for covering this and spreading the word and I hope that all your readers are as excited as we are to check out the new record that’ll hit on August 22.”