The ReAktion to Record New Album This Fall with Black Sabbath’s Producer

 

Heavy alt-Rock band The ReAktion has announced they are heading into the studio this fall to record a brand new album, their fourth, and their first since What A Day in 2018. Acclaimed veteran Mike Exeter (Black Sabbath, Cradle of Filth, Judas Priest) will produce the album. Exeter is also an ongoing collaborative partner of Tony Iommi, so expect The ReAktion’s trademark riffs and vocals to sound as big as ever. Their prior albums Similitude and Selknam generated a huge buzz, saw them tour internationally, including a standout appearance at Knotfest 2015. This will be one of the most anticipated albums of 2021.

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A Shift In Change – Phil Labonte of All That Remains

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Building a core but steady fanbase out of their roots within the New England metalcore scene, All That Remains have moved forward by revamping their sound and winning over new audiences. They found themselves performing at Knotfest 2015 in Devore, CA and Aftershock 2015 in Sacramento, CA where they were promoting their latest album The Order Of Things (out now via Razor and Tie).

Frontman Phil Labonte shared his thoughts on their weekend:

It was great. It was really, really cool. Playing a fest like this with all of these heavy bands, we haven’t played a show that consisted of mostly heavy bands in a long time. So we took our set list and adjusted it. We brought back some of the older, heavy ones and stuck them in there. It’s nice to be able to do that.

Yesterday we played Aftershock. Shinedown was playing so it was more of a rock…they had heavy bands without question but it was really more of a rock kind of thing and we adjusted the set for that. Today we’re playing with more heavy bands so we were set for that. It’s cool to have that kind of versatility.

Photo Credit: Melina Dellamarggio

All That Remains, by Melina D Photography

What was the highlight of playing Knotfest? “Playing the show was the best thing. Playing in front of that many people and having the kind of reaction that we had. Kids are singing along and going crazy. It doesn’t get any better than that. That’s the reason we do this.

He also shared his thoughts on Aftershock. “Same thing – very similar. A lot of the same bands are playing today that were playing yesterday. Bring Me The Horizon is playing. Slipknot played last night. They’re playing here tonight. [It is] a lot of the same vibe.

Following this weekend, All That Remains has been a regular playing the growing American festival circuit, and had previously hit some of the European festivals in the past. While the European ones have a storied past, he compared the two and how it affected the band.

We’re a much bigger band in the US than in Europe. We don’t really have a label still after all these years in Europe. We get a lot more press coverage and a much better slot on the bill and people know our stuff better in the US. So for us, it’s much more enjoyable and it’s much better to play the US shows.

all that remains the order of things album cover

Is there any weirdness playing more melodic tunes after their focus was on the heavy side for so long? “Nowadays no because we’ve been doing stuff that’s played on rock radio since 2008,” he said, on the subject of their stylistic shift. “Right now we’ve had a number one on ‘A War You Cannot Win’ and a number two on ‘A War You Cannot Win.’ We had multiple top fives and multiple top tens so we’ve had a real history at rock radio, so it doesn’t feel odd or weird. We’ve lived in both worlds for a long time now.

He shared his thoughts on whether he noticed if their audience has attracted more from their recent success at rock radio.

There’s a significant amount of our fans that come from rock radio. Metal fans are kind of finicky and even though they don’t like to admit it, they do follow trends. There’s a lot of bands that came out when we came out that really aren’t bands any more. It’s because the trend that we got caught up in or were part of, it ended. If there is a trend, there’s only a couple of bands that make it out alive.

Essentially you’ve got Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and you’ve got us. It’s really about it for all of the bands that came out at that time in the early part of the 2000s. We’re the only bands that are left. The fact that we managed to get out of the trend and have our own sound and have our own career independent of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, that’s cool.

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All That Remains, by Meg Loyal Photography

Over their past few albums, the band has visibly shifted away from their heavier metallic sounds in favor of incorporating clean singing and stronger harmonies. Labonte was quite open about his dislike of their previous album, 2012’s A War You Cannot Win, and felt working with producer Josh Wilbur helped bring out more of their strong points of their sound. Through that, he felt that helped attract a bigger audience for them plus allowing them to transcend their metalcore origins.

It was more of a challenge to come up with stuff that I was satisfied with. I was fairly dissatisfied with the last record that we did. There was a lot of stuff I had to criticize about it. So it was a lot more work with me and Josh [Wilbur], working on the vocal melodies, making sure that the stuff we were going to put down was really what we wanted to do and not forcing stuff in. If it seemed like it wasn’t working, then we’d change the style.

There’s a song on the record called “No Knock” that’s all screaming all the way through. We were trying to come up with an idea that was kind of Alice In Chains-y because the riff has a bent and a swing to it, but we could get something that we liked. We were like scream through the whole thing. That kind of versatility and having that ability is something that we really utilized a lot on this record. It worked out pretty well for the singing stuff that we came up with was really strong.

Photo Credit: Melina Dellamarggio

All That Remains, by Melina D Photography

One visible change within All That Remains is the loss of longtime bassist Jeanne Sagan, who left the band in September. Former Devildriver bassist Aaron “Bubble” Patrick came in and filled the role immediately.

We’ve been touring with him for a long time. The first tour we ever did with him was when he was in a band called Bury Your Dead. That was in 2006. We’ve known him for a long time. We have a lot of the same friends. He’s working with a lot of bands that we know. He started being our tour manager and working for us last year in June. He tour managed us for a year and some change and then Jeanne decided that she wanted to leave. It was a real easy fit.

We were supposed to play Japan. If you get someone that quits…getting into Japan you have to have a visa in advance so fortunately because we decided to go with our tour manager as our bass player, we didn’t have to cancel the show.

Former bassist Jeanne Sagan

Former bassist Jeanne Sagan

While they parted on amicable terms, Labonte clarified the reasons behind Sagan’s departure from the band. “She’s engaged. She met a guy and they’re getting married. She joined his band and wanted to focus on him and working on his band. We’re like…it’s cool. Totally amicable and I know what it’s like to be separated. I’ve been married for a couple of years now so I know what it’s like to miss home.

While All That Remains has made significant progress in the US, their overseas progression has been steadily growing but not quite the way they would like it to go.

We’ve been to Europe…maybe ten times? We just came back. We were there this summer and it was I think our eleventh trip. We do go over periodically but unless we get our label to get some heat over there, there’s not a whole lot we can do.

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Lastly, Labonte has drawn much attention for his overageous non band related comments in the press and on social media over many political issues, and has drawn public outrage along the way. He shares some of his favorite internet rumors he has learned about himself and his thoughts on fuelling the controversy.

I heard I did cocaine…a lot….and which I don’t. Every stereotype that people throw at people in bands they’ve thrown at me. Every stereotype you can throw at someone who has unpopular opinions, they’ve thrown at me. It doesn’t matter. My response is do more.

There’s this guy named Milo Yiannopoulos. He’s a brilliant guy. I heard something he said and I’ll get the quote wrong – ‘when you’re dealing with people who are outraged at everything, the only option you have being more outraged.’ If people get all kinds of upset because you had the audacity to think a thought, or say something on the internet or type that into your status line, they get really upset about that. The only option you have to say things to make them even more upset. [It’s] because they’re literally upset about nothing. They’re upset because someone might have a different idea in their brain than they do. They think ‘well…I have to let the world know that this person is, in my opinion is wrong. Your opinion of that person being wrong is no more valuable than the other opinion you’re upset about. So get fucked!

Once you’ve said something that’s offended them, then it’s easy to keep them wound up. That’s the fun part.

Being a Libertarian and often siding on viewpoints unpopular within the American public, Labonte claims his views often gets twisted and becomes the subject of web news everywhere. Considering how outrageous some of his comments is shared, he was not surprised by any of this.

Everything gets twisted. Any chance that someone can twist something around to make a headline on a blog they’ll twist it as much as they can just to get the click. The click is what they want. You click on the link, that goes to their views and that could sell their ads for more money. The more outrageous the headline is the better. But I’ve heard everything from I’m a racist to I’m a bigot to I’m a misogynist…every slanderous thing you could come up with.

I’m a Libertarian and I don’t think the government should be involved in people’s lives excessively. Maybe the government shouldn’t be taking care of the roads…you don’t want roads. No I didn’t say I don’t want roads. Maybe government shouldn’t be involved in education. You don’t want kids to be educated. No I didn’t say I didn’t want kids to be educated. So as soon as you say maybe the government shouldn’t be doing this or maybe this shouldn’t be something we should leave up the bureaucracy of whatever, then automatically you don’t want that. Maybe the government shouldn’t be paying for people’s healthcare – you want people to get sick and die. People always do that and twist it around to make it sound shocking.

By Rei Nishimoto

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Mikey Doling of Snot – Getting Some More

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It has been over a decade since Southern California alt-punk-metallers Snot made noise within the heavy music world with their highly energetic punk driven alt metal sound and caught the LA scene by storm. Led by their charismatic frontman Lynn Strait, the world got their first taste of their music through their 1997 debut Get Some and they charged towards the world head on and made a name for them immediately.

Knotfest 2015 was the band’s first high profile show since several attempts at restarting the band in 2008 and again in 2014 since the tragic 1998 death of Strait in an auto accident. This time with new vocalist Carl Bensley, the band played their hearts out in front of their semi-hometown crowd and paying tribute to Strait, who was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1998.

Guitarist Mikey Doling shared his thoughts on their set. “Intense set. My guitar rig wasn’t working for a lot of the show. I played half the set. I figured I would play it out and then smash the guitar at the end and threw it away.

So did he enjoy Knotfest? “This reminds me exactly of what we were doing. This is Ozzfest. This is the same thing. It feels exactly the same. It’s really fun.

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He also talked about their return and how much the band has changed since those days.

Back in the day we were so young. We were so reckless. We were playing music just to have a good time and party [with] girls and drugs. Nowadays we play because we really love playing music together. I love playing music with Jamie Miller and John [Fahnestock] aka Tumor. Mike Smith is great. Sometimes Sonny [Mayo] is around. You know what I mean? We’re all family. That’s what’s different is that we appreciate it so much.

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Being away from the scene, the members of Snot spent time in other bands over the years to hone their craft and tour the globe. He also shared how different the band’s mentality was back then as well.

Snot back then? We were young music fans. We loved punk rock music. We loved funk. I loved heavy metal. We were fans and we all picked up initially and mushed it all together and made Snot. It turned out we were good at it. Good enough to have a career. It turned into a passion. That’s it. It still is that way. It’s 20 year now. We’re still just as aggressive about touring and playing music as ever.

Speaking of Mayo, he clarified his status in the fold, and where he stands within the band today.

He has a non-profit thing for sobriety style rehab. He’s real busy with that and he doesn’t really tour as much. Mike Smith did a lot of touring with us back in the day. He wants to tour so whoever’s available…let’s go.

Doling recalled the old days and leading up to the making of Get Some. Fans from that era were drawn to the record through songs such as “Snooze Button,” “Joyride” and “I Jus Lie.” While much of their songs gave listeners a taste of their chaotic lifestyle, he admitted that a lot of that reflected on the way they wrote their songs.

Shit dude it was so fun. When we were writing it in our rehearsal space, it was right next door to a strip club. We all lived in the same house together right up the street. We’d right music, take strippers back to our house, party with them, bang them and that leaked into our music, which turned into our record Get Some. You can listen to that record and literally hear it – strippers and rock n roll and drugs. That’s what it was like making that record. We were just wild! It was fun.

 

Was he surprised the record got done with all of the debauchery happening around them?

Not really because we were very serious about writing. I like the way the record came out,” said Doling.

The shows they are doing now pay tribute to their fallen singer. Doling talked about Strait and the kind of person he was, considering many people discovering the band now never had a chance to see him person live or even meet him in person.

I’m proud to say Lynn was my best friend. We were roommates. Lynn had a ton of charisma. If you ever watched Happy Days, he was the Fonz. That’s all I could say. I’ve never met anybody like him….James Dean you know. He was a cool motherfucker – that’s all I could say. I’ve never saw him get turned down by one girl. He was like ‘I’m gonna pick up that chick…’ and he did.

As an artist, he was always writing. He always had his book with him and his pen. He’s a unique, badass rockstar.

In 2000, a record called Strait Up was released, based on incomplete songs originally aimed to become their never completed second album. What was released were songs with guest vocals by a number of their peers from the scene at the time, including Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber and Devildriver.

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While the record was well received at the time, Doling had different feelings about the release since then and was never in favor of including those tunes in the current set list.

Not really. I produced that record and honestly, if I could do it again I wouldn’t do it. At the time I thought I was doing something cool for Lynn. It turned into some bullshit record company thing. I don’t know. I think it lost its focus. Yeah it was about Lynn and it’s cool but I don’t think it was a necessity. I think we vented on that and…I don’t know…I wouldn’t do it again if I had a chance. With all due respect to Lynn, of course, but it turned into something I didn’t want it to be,” he said.

snot lynn strait and dobbs

In terms of a much spoken about new Snot album, Doling admitted to writing new songs towards their upcoming second album. While material was written back in 2008 with then-vocalist Tommy Vext, he said those songs would not be included because they are not where the band stands today.

We didn’t really attempt to write a record with Tommy. We just wanted to record a couple of songs. Those songs don’t count. We weren’t happy with those songs. I’m still not happy with those songs. Tommy did a great job but as the band Snot, I think we lost our identity at that point. I think we know where we’re at now.

I don’t think we didn’t know what we’re doing. Now I know. The record we’re going to write – it’s going to be funky, it’s going to be punk rock. I think we lost that edge when we tried to record before. We kind of got sucked into the whole, almost metalcore thing. I don’t know why we’re doing it [or] what was influencing us. We lost the recipe for what Snot does and we took a hard look at ourselves and know what we need to do now to sound like Snot.

Aside from Snot, the various members of Snot had kept busy with various projects and Doling had kept himself busy also playing guitar with Belgian metallers Channel Zero and producing other bands.

Producing records is going well. I just did a record with a band called Sunflower Dead. It’s getting really strong reviews. It’s getting a lot of radio play. I did the new Hemlock record. I’m getting ready to do a band from Japan called Gunship 666. I’m busy with that. That is fun. I love being in the studio.

By Rei Nishimoto