There’s no slowing down when it comes to August Burns Red. Already armed with a consistent reputation and a solid fan base, the band has just dropped impressive studio album, ‘Rescue & Restore’. Killyourstereo.com recently chatted with bassist Dustin Davidson during the band’s Warped Tour run to get the lowdown on the new record.
Hello Dustin, how’s it going?
Great, how are you?
Yeah, not too bad thanks. How’s Warped Tour going?
It’s going well so far. Today is the absolute hottest day of the tour so far. It is extremely dusty here today [too]. So, those are my two complaints for today (laughs). But the tour has been great for us. We’ve had big shows, we see seem to be getting more and more song chants after every single set. It has been wonderful.
On the songs, are you noticing fans are becoming more familiar with the new songs now that it’s the week of the album’s release?
Yes, absolutely. We are playing two new songs on this tour. We are playing a song called ‘Provision’ and [also] a song called ‘Fault Line’. ‘Fault Line’ has been out for a while, as you know. We’ve had it streaming for a while before the album came out. However, ‘Provision’ we’ve been playing that song before the album was out and before the song was even released online, so kids didn’t really know it. They still connect with the song, but the record has been out for a day and it had been streaming a little bit before that, so the kids have had time to familiarise themselves with that song. The two new songs are going over really well live. They are two of my favourite songs to play too. They are really heavy. ‘Provision’ is really dark and ‘Fault Line’ just feels like another song that is going to be one of the more popular songs we play in our set for years to come – it just goes over so well live.
I’m always interested to hear peoples personal take on things, but when an album comes out as a musician, what is the prevailing feeling? Is it more relief and excitement to have it out or is it a bit of anxiety and nerves because now people are hearing it and will scrutinise it a bit more?
It’s a little bit of both. With this album here, we did a lot of different things. We got some trumpets on the record, a lot of orchestral stuff, [and] some acoustic guitar on it – just a lot of different stuff. And, that’s just stuff we try to do to bring life to this genre of metalcore or hardcore or metal, whatever you want to call it? [We] just [want] to do stuff that is different and outside of the box. We never really know how it’s going to go over? Like, ‘Internal Cannonball’ we didn’t really know how it was going to go over, it went over well. With this new record here we have a song called ‘Creative Captivity’ that really stands out as a different song. It’s mostly instrumental and then it has got a really weird break with a bunch of whistles and a bunch of stuff going on. To be honest with you, kids are telling me they love that song and it’s really surprising me, but I love it. It’s reassuring to hear that kids like the weird stuff we are doing because we love to do it (laughs).
It’s good that you’re adding new elements and it’s all well received. This one is the fifth studio album, I guess the sixth if you include ‘Sleddin’ Hill’. It’s a pretty significant achievement for a band. When you reflect on that, what does that mean to you?
That’s something I was thinking about when we had time off to write this record. I was like, “holy shit!” I was trying to think of a band that I like, that I liked as a kid that was on their fifth album when I liked them because I couldn’t really think of anybody other than like Blink 182 or New Found Glory, there are two or three bands like that. But, other bands around like their third or fourth album even I’d be like, “eh, what are they doing? This isn’t good.” (laughs). The fact that we are on our fifth or sixth album, whatever you want to call, it was nerve wracking because I was like, “are kids going to like us? Are we still relevant?” Because we’re not old, I can remember when I was 18 years old playing in this band and I’m 25 now, so I guess I feel old in that aspect (laughs). It is really weird, no, I wouldn’t say weird…it’s different. Thinking that we have five or six albums to pull songs from, we only get to play when we are headlining for an hour-and-a-half at the most, so it’s like, “what songs do we play?” (laughs). That’s the biggest question because you’ve got to play new songs off the new album and luckily our fans seem to like this new album, so that will make it better for us to be able to play a bunch of new songs off the album to support it when we start touring this fall for that record, but we’ve got to keep the old fans happy too.
August Burns Red and a lot of the bands in the genre these days, even though you’re playing heavy music, you’re having fun and you’ve got smiles on your faces – it’s a real positive message. A lot of neutral observers [though] still go by the metal stereotype and think that people that play in metal are just angry and bitter. Do you still encounter that observation from certain people?
I do every now and then. It’s usually the older generation. For instance, my mum was telling her friend about my band and she was showing her friend my band. And her friend was like, “Well, they sound pissed off and angry, is this evil? Are they singing about Satan?” And [my mum] was like, “actually it is a very positive message.” (laughs). It’s really funny, when I first started playing in this band, my mum was like, “What are you guys saying?” And I [replied], “read the lyrics mum. I promise you they’re positive.” And she did and she sent me a text and she was like, “You’re right, I like the message.” (laughs). So, it seems to be that older generation that says that. I mean if you see us play live, as you said, we’re smiling, we are having a good time, we are not serious dudes. You look at us and see we are normal looking people. We are not wearing make-up, we are not scary looking. We look like everyday, average people. Somebody might hear the music and then see us, and be like, “there’s no way that is that band.” (laughs).
A few years back you released some baseball cards as part of your merch pack. I know about a month and a half ago they had a Metallica night at the San Francisco Giants game. If August Burns Red could have an ‘August Burns Red’ night at a sporting event – I’m assuming it would probably be Philadelphia based – where would it be and what code?
Where would it be? Philadelphia based game…
We are all huge Philadelphia fans, some of us bigger than others – JB [Brubaker, guitar] is a huge baseball fan. He would want the August Burns Red night to be at the baseball stadium [Citizens Bank Park]. Brent [Rambler, guitar] and myself would want it to be at the Eagles football stadium [Lincoln Financial Field]. Now, we’d probably want it at the Philadelphia Union’s football or soccer, whatever you want to call it, stadium. We all support Philly sports. The fact that Metallica did that in San Francisco is pretty awesome and you’ve got me thinking, now, I’ve got to start talking to management about how we can accomplish that (laughs).
Another thing we were talking about before about being five albums down and when bands get to two or three albums sometimes that’s when it’s hit and miss. Another aspect is your relationship with your record label – Solid State. They’ve been there pretty much from the beginning, what’s the recipe for success there?
It is wonderful man. We had an A&R named John Dunne for a while and we lost him a couple of albums ago on ‘Constellations’ and he moved onto do something better and we understood. Then we got this new guy, Adam Skitola for August relations and we were a little nervous at first because John Dunne was always our guy. But, we got this new guy Adam and he is spectacular – he is great! He is a great dude and the whole staff they are nothing but good to us. I have nothing to say about them. They have pushed us the right way and they’ve done so many things to help us out and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today at all.
On top of the studio albums, like we were saying before with ‘Sleddin’ Hill’, you’ve done Christmas based albums. Are there any plans in the future to do albums of that vein or seasonal stuff that differs from studio albums?
I’m not really sure if we’ll do another Christmas album or not? There is always other Christmas songs to cover and the reason we did the Christmas album in the first place is because we would always cover a new song every Christmas. We had multiple covers so we decided to do a full album. So I think in the future I can almost guarantee you’ll hear one to three, maybe even more than that, Christmas songs. They are always going to be on the radar for us and it’s a cool thing. It’s kind of like a staple August Burns Red thing to do now is cover a Christmas song and make it metal (laughs). You can look forward to hearing, not a full album, but maybe another song or two here and there in the future.
You’ve been to Australia quite a few times now. Are there any favourite experiences that stick out from your time down here?
I had a blast when we were down there for No Sleep Til. Besides the fact you didn’t get to sleep until you got there (laughs). The name said it all. That was a really fun tour. It was a cool package, it wasn’t strictly a metal tour, there was a bunch of punk bands on the tour like NOFX, and a couple of guys in the band love NOFX, so it was cool to play with them. That was one of my favourite experiences of being in Australia. There were a lot of good memories of hanging out with We Came As Romans. We have this inside joke with them because we did a tour with them down there – I think it was No Sleep Til actually? – and I have no idea where it came from, but we always say, Perth the city. Andy from We Came As Romans and myself when we pass each other we always says Per-ffff (laughs) just like that. I don’t know why but it’s an inside joke that came from Australia. So you can have it known we speak to each other in that weird voice every time we pass on this Warped tour even, saying Perth. I don’t know why, but it stuck from that No Sleep Til festival (laughs).
That’s awesome. Also going back to before when we were talking about the baseball cards, I had a look at the back and the stats on them. I don’t if they were just fun and serious facts or just tongue-in-cheek, but I know on your baseball card it said you had hopes one day to write a pop punk album. Is this still on the bucket list for you?
I actually did write a pop punk album. I recorded 12 songs this last June or July actually. They are all finished, they are all recorded. It has taken me quite some time to write some lyrics because I’m not really as inspired as I was before. Hopefully in the future I have time to finish it.
We were talking about how you still are young guys and you only just turned 25. How far into the future do you look being in a band?
Right now I’m just going to focus on the present. This is my job, it’s my only job [and] I love doing it. To be honest with you, I’m not sure what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing this? I don’t want to have to think about doing something else. It’s only been a day since the record came out. Seeing that kids are getting such a good reaction gives me hope this record will do well and will continue and in the next two years we’ll release another album because it always seems we release an album every two years. As long as we are doing well, I hope to keep doing it.
In terms of being a listener and just a fan of music in general, what albums are you listening to currently?
Currently, I’m listening to the new Jimmy Eat World record, ‘Damage.’ I listen to that a lot [as well as] the new Architects record, ‘Daybreaker.’ I’m really into that, I love those dudes, they are great dudes. They are on this tour actually too, which is awesome to tour with them. And then last night before I went to bed I was listening to a little John Mayer, ‘Any Given Thursday’, his first live album (laughs). A really big, different list there (laughs).
It’s good to have some versatility. Were there any final words you wanted to pass on before I let you go?
If you haven’t already, pick up ‘Rescue & Restore’. It’s out now…I guess it will be out by the time you read it (laughs). And, we will be back, I’ll put it that way.
Really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today. I’ve been listening to the album on repeat for the past couple of weeks. I look forward to seeing you guys when you come back to Australia.
Have a good day Dustin.
Thanks, you too.