Having survived trends, member changes and record label bullshit, Bleeding Through is one of the true mainstays of the Orange County punk/hardcore/metal (or whatever the fuck you want to call it) scenes.
A lot of bands talk a hard game when it comes to their level of passion and dedication to their music and their fans, but BT front man Brandan Schieppati is one of the most sincere musicians I’ve been lucky enough to interview. But don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.
Hey Brandon, how are you today?
I’m good man, thank you so much for doing this for us.
Any time, are you guys at home at the moment?
Yeah man, we just got off tour four days ago so I’m just trying to relax for about a month or so and then we’re going to hit Europe.
Sounds like a well-deserved break. We’re going to get straight into coz I know we’re pressed for time. Declaration was officially released this week, so now that you’ve had a solid amount of time to sit with the record, how do you feel about it, i.e.: is there anything you wish you could differently if given the chance or are you 100% with how the record has turned out?
There’s nothing I would’ve done differently at all actually. I feel that this record is… we were in Vancouver for a good amount of time, so if we wanted to change something then we definitely would have, but we think it’s our best record for sure. I know it’ kind of cliché because bands always say, “this is our best record”, but it really is man, and I haven’t heard anyone that says different, ha ha.
Musically, Declaration is a really cohesive sounding record: Would you say the line up change you guys made prior to and during the writing of the album has ensured that the entire band is now pulling in the same direction?
I think Jona coming into the band kind of helped, well, not so far as the songwriting aspect, I mean, he did write a fair bit of stuff on the record, but I think all of our collective frame of mind was the same, so when we went into the studio to write we just really wanted it to be aggressive, and I think having Scott not be in the band in the more took some of his influence out and made us all relax a bit and become a bit more excited about writing and recording again.
I don’t know, I can’t really describe why the record sounds like this; it’s just how we feel right now.
Do you think you would’ve got the same results with this record if it had been written with the previous line up?
I think it would’ve been close. I think the fact that we did have a new member in the band kind of influenced it to get to the point where it is now. We probably would’ve been able to get close to that sound but I think Jona’s influence pushed it a little bit further
Having Devin Townsend produce your record was always going to ensure that Declaration sounded great as far as pulling huge sounds for you guys etc… but did he have much of an impact on the actual writing and structuring of the album, or did he leave you guys to run free with it?
You know what? I think his influence was subtler for us. We went up there with all the material and he… his influence is more along the lines of performance based. He changed some things here and there when it came to song patterns, but not as much as on “The Truth”. “The Truth” was kind of like seventy-percent of our producer taking over the record, whereas this one was more along the lines of Devin just making us feel comfortable in our ability and confident in ourselves and that what we were writing was good, so he just wanted to make some minor tweaks in it, rather than making it over the top.
He did some of his best work once the songs were already recorded and then he just added his little tricks to the overall sound of the record.
Putting aside the impact Devin has had on the record from a production perspective, would Declaration have been the same if a different producer was at the helm, or did you guys (as a band) really guide where the songs and the record as a whole was going?
That’s one thing that I do think. If we worked with anyone else on this record then it wouldn’t have come out the same way. I think he’s the reason the record came out the way it did, you know? It was the right time frame for us to record and we felt that we had the right line-up with the addition of Jona and the subtraction of Scott and we had the right producer, so I think that all played a factor in us getting the sounds we wanted for that record.
The tension of where the band was as far as our record label goes and business wise, and it was just a combination of us going there and having been a band for so long and adding someone new like Jona, who brought this new and intense and positive vibe to the whole thing really helped bring it all together.
The last few months have seen a very public feud between yourselves and Trustkill come to prominence, but I’m not going to get into that because I’m sure you’ve been punished with those questions a thousand times already.
Ha ha, I appreciate that.
I’m more interested to know if the title and lyrical content of Declaration came about as a result of the issues with your label, or if the themes and concepts contained within the record were something you’d been working on for a while?
You know what? I don’t think anything in the lyrics stems from the dispute with our label. The general direction that I wanted to go with the lyrics of the record were just about being in this band and going through, well, everything. We’re an older band now, you know, we play with bands that are still in fucking high school, know what I mean, ha ha? It’s like alright cool; we’re the older band. It’s kind of a hard pill to swallow for a lot bands, but at the same time it kind of fueled me to take my writing in a different direction, where I just wanted to write about the stress and everyday struggle that it is to be a band. I wrote about what this band has gone through in the past over the last seven, eight, nine, almost ten years of being in this band and going on tour and being in different places and having people’s attitudes change. You know, people can be so all about your band and then the next moment they don’t care about your band, so there’s a lot of stuff about people following trends. It’s about just motoring through all that shit, you know?
We’ve been getting the same criticism for Bleeding Through since we fucking started practicing in our drummer’s bedroom. It doesn’t change, it doesn’t get any lighter, people are always going to want to be experts on your band and tell you what you should do, and how you’ve changed but I think that the lyrical vibe on “Declaration” is about trusting your own ability and no matter what people say and no matter what bands are around now, and whoever’s the new hot-shit band, and who’s the new-jacks around, and what some sixteen-year old kid is saying how you play the guitar wrong, or how your voice isn’t good enough and you know, it’s just about that.
It’s about having a chip on your shoulder these days, that’s what it’s all about.
That ties really well into the next question actually. Five records into the band’s career do you still feel like you have something to prove, be it to critics, other bands, fans or even yourselves?
I mean that attitude of having something to prove is like… well, I feel like we’ve proven enough and I feel that once you’ve been a band for almost a decade I feel that you don’t really have to prove something. At one point people thought Bleeding Through was a trend band, and then at one point people thought this or that about Bleeding Through. But you know what? We’ve gone through fucking five different hot, band trends, and we’ve still stayed the same and toured at the rate that we tour at.
It’s sort of like the first song can sum up the whole attitude of the record. The name of the song is “Declaration: You Can’t Destroy What You Can’t Replace”, and it’s sort of about how every couple of years we hear about this new band or new thing that’s going to wipe Bleeding Through off the map and change everything, but nothing’s changed!
We’ve kept level headed and trusted ourselves and been confident in ourselves and doing this throughout the years, which is important, because a lot of bands get discouraged and that’s why a lot of bands break up. You know, within three years they’re hyped and life is all good, but there’s going to be ups and downs, and that’s sort of the vibe we’re trying to sell with this record.
Many of your musical peers have fallen by the wayside in recent years, what do you think it is that has allowed Bleeding Through to continue to grow and stay motivated as a band?
You know what? It’s weird, because we have seen a lot of our friend’s bands and peers kind of disappear, and kind of maybe lose faith and hope, but I think for us, things haven’t died. I think what happened with a lot of those bands is that the excitement from the kids for those bands died a little bit, so their touring and merch business died, but for us it’s never really gone anywhere. We’ve always had a strong connection with the kids at our shows.
People come to us and let us know our band has a part of their life and is important to them, so as long as people keep saying that we’ll keep going, that’s a motivator in itself. Record sales and merch sales and all that bullshit aside, if some kid comes up to you at a show and lets you know that your band has been like a fixture in their life and it’s important to them, then that’s the pay-off right there. So I think if a band stops hearing that then they give up.
That’s an awesome way to look at it all man.
Over the last few years you’ve toured with everyone from Slayer to Marilyn Manson, and you’ll be heading out with Bullet For My Valentine in October. Has touring with these “larger than life” bands forced Bleeding Through to up the anti with your stage show, as you guys have always been a stripped back, no bullshit kind of band that just rocks out and puts on a good show…
You know what? I think that if wanted to do something on a big-scale as far as production goes we would’ve done it a while ago, but it comes down to two things. At one point, our punk-rock mentality kind of gets in the way of that kind of stuff. We have very minimal production, because we feel a lot of production can mask how bad a band is on stage. I’ve read a lot of Henry Rollins right, and he always said that if a band can’t play under one white light, and if you can’t intimidate people under that white light then you’re not worth shit. So we kind of have that mentality, but at the same time, we’ll got Europe or see Manson or In Flames in France and have all this pyro and shit, and we’ll just be like, “dude, one day we’ll have all this fucking shit and it’ll be the best shit ever”.
For us it’s more like a joke though, you know? It’s more like a rock star fantasy and we know it’s never going to happen. Anyway, that shit costs way too much to make it happen anyway, ha ha. I think that as much as people want to see the hoopla of production I think there is a fine line where people just want to see the band perform, you know?
Totally agree. I would definitely rather see a band put their head down and just rock the fuck out than have to rely on some huge stage show.
For sure man. I’ve seen tons of bands where I’m like, “I don’t even understand what’s happening on stage right now”, ha ha.
One thing that caught my attention on your tour schedule was a trip to Russia. Not a lot of bands make it over there, so how did it end up on your tour itinerary?
Dude, it’s like, after those shows, if this band broke up I’d be completely fulfilled. It’s a place I never thought this band would ever go to and I never even thought we’d have a fan base over there. It’s crazy, but it’s so awesome that our type of music has gone that far and played that much of a roll in a place likes Russia. We get a lot of emails form places like Israel and Turkey and I’ve even gotten emails from places like Iraq from kids that listen to our music.
It’s really strange to me but at the same time it’s awesome, because I remember saying to myself when I first started playing music that – I think it was when I was playing guitar with Eighteen Visions – if I could ever get to Europe then that would be the highlight of my life. The band has brought me to so many different places that I thought I’d never go to and it’s just really inspiring, because I think Russia is just that place that’s the ultimate inspiration for me.
With a new record comes extensive touring commitments, so when will be hearing new music from your latest side project, The Innocent?
Oh man. Well right now we’re kind of working out some details with labels that are going to possibly put it out. I think we’ve narrowed it down to Ferret to release it actually.
Brooks, the guy who is meant to be playing drums, can’t really do it because he sort of has a lot more obligations… I hate to put it this way, but to his real bands that make him a lot of money, ha ha.
Yeah, Bad Religion will do that to you…
Ha ha, yeah man, that and Tenacious D and then on top of that all the studio work he does. We totally understand because that’s been his life and his job for so long, so we’ve added Adrian from At The Gates to play drums so we got a pretty good drummer, ha ha.
I have no idea when we’re going to have time to actually record. Right now we’re sharing music files with each other so when we do hit the studio we’ll have a better understanding of what we’re going to write.
That’s about all we’ve got time for mate, is there anything else you’d like to add?
We’re cruising over to Australia in January and we’re looking forward to that. Hopefully we see some familiar faces out there. Touring is all fine and dandy but it’s always good to see some familiar faces when we come back out there
I’ll spread the word. Thanks again mate.
Take care man.
For all things Bleeding Through hit up the bands Myspace page.