Canadian heavy-hitters Obey The Brave have risen from the likes of Despised Icon. Honest and no-nonsense, the band is preparing to hit our shores for the first time this month. Killyourstereo.com sits down with frontman Alex Erian to get the lowdown on the tour.
Hey, Kane. How’s it going?
It’s going well thanks. How are you?
Good. I literally just got home about five minutes ago (laughs).
Speaking of home, obviously you’ve got touring coming up, but when you’re not in band mode are you kicking up the heels or keeping busy?
Dude, we always keep busy. We’ve been literally touring relentlessly around the world more or less. We did maybe two-dozen countries in the past six months or so, but we got to enjoy some time off here in Montreal and Ottawa. We spent most of the summer off just hanging out with friends and family – our loved ones. We also had some time to write music, so that’s very fulfilling considering we hadn’t written any songs in a little while. Right now, we are about half way done writing the new record and we are extremely pleased at how things are coming along.
It has been a fast rise for Obey the Brave. You’ve essentially hit the ground running. How much has it helped being in a band previously?
We know what we want and we know what to do to get it. We’ve learnt a lot from our success, but we’ve learnt mostly from all the shit we’ve done wrong (laughs). We definitely don’t want to repeat the same mistakes twice. We call that “experience.” It’s definitely helpful when it comes to Obey the Brave and it definitely helps us speed up the process if I may say so.
The thing we are really excited for is the Australian tour coming up. You’ve been here once before with Despised Icon, what were your favourite memories from your first time here?
I’ve only had the opportunity to tour Australia once as you said. It was one of Despised Icon’s final tours actually, so that was a great memory. The reception in Australia, the people and the cities – everything was awesome in Australia. I was talking to my friend Daniel [Misztal] at Destroy All Lines and he was like,” hey man, why don’t you come again with Obey the Brave?” And I was like, “Dude, sign me up, I want to go back.” As far as the rest of the band is concerned, it’s their first time in Australia and everybody is extremely excited. Personally, I can’t wait to hold a koala and see a kangaroo (laughs). I know those are clichés and everything, but I’m still very much into animals and wildlife. Obviously playing music is great, I just love meeting people and seeing their culture, and experience the whole nine yards essentially.
Speaking of holding koalas, what else are you looking forward to doing down here this time around?
What’s cool with this run is we are going to be in Australia for almost two weeks. In certain cases, in a couple of cities we are actually going to be playing two shows in a row. That will give us time to stay in Perth for two days for instance and really do more sightseeing. I remember on my last Australian run we were literally playing the show, getting back to the hotel at two and it would be lobby call at five. We’d be very cranky with only two hours of sleep and then taking a plane to the next city (laughs). This time around, we are going to have more time to actually spend at various cities and actually do some sight seeing and hang out with friends and new friends. Dude, I’m fucking stoked.
How much say does Obey the Brave get in terms of the places you go when you come to Australia? For instance, you’re playing the Mordialloc Metal and Hardcore festival, which is a suburban suburb only about 15 minutes from where I live.
Dude, we are into metal, we are into hardcore, we are into punk rock, and everything in between. We love big shows, small shows. Whether it’s a floorshow, a big stage, small stage, just give us a show and we’ll play. We are all about diversity. We’ve just played a couple of festivals with Rancid, Deftones, Lamb of God, and so on. Obviously, that is a great experience, but I also like playing the small, DIY club shows, with no barricades, just the people right there in front of you. You get to hang out, scream in their faces, climb into the crowd. We are all over the place, but we come from the underground and we know where we are from.
Talking about how you like a good cross-section of heavy music. Obey the Brave is a band that supports positivity. How much does it frustrate you that neutral observers think because the music is loud, you are all angry?
It is tough to say. I think personally we are getting a little further away from that stereotype. I think that we are making progress, but I think there are still narrow-minded people in the world. What’s important though is to stick to what you do and stick to what you love regardless of what anyone says.
Social media allows bands to get their music out there so much easier today. You’ve got about 81,000 Facebook fans. How important is social media to a band like Obey the Brave?
I’m getting a bit old man, I’m 32. I remember back in the day with my first band here in the 90’s, we were doing tape trading and sending out letters and CD’s and stuff like that (laughs). My first recording was analogue. I’ve seen the evolution from analogue to nowadays digital and so many more possibilities. However, losing a bit of the essence and whatnot. But one of the positive things, as you said, is social networking is cool because it’s cool to have labels promoting and stuff like that (we are very thankful to have these people by our side), but it’s also very important we do connect directly with those fans, which are the reason you are doing what you do in the first place. I think Instagram or Facebook or whatever gives us that voice to connect with people – no filters.
I remember last year you had an unsavoury incident where some of your gear got stolen. What was the outcome of that? Where you able to retrieve the items?
No, but I guess it’s part of the game. You might as well look beyond that and move forward because we were playing a couple of shows with Madball, and we actually played our hometown show on that run. Someone broke into our van. It is what it is. Luckily they didn’t steal much, but it still sucks when you’re a struggling musician. You’ve got to look forward though.
That’s the thing. Particularly in a metal and hardcore band, you aren’t making much money. A lot of bands remark when they come to Australia how expensive it is to tour. How is it balancing the finances?
It is insane man. I noticed the other day, some people on Facebook remarked, “You have so many merch designs and so many merch stores.” They were trying to call us out on it, but we literally spend $32,000 on plane tickets to go to Australia, Taiwan, China, Japan, Vietnam, and so on. This shit costs a lot (laughs). We are just trying to get by – just an honest days work. We do what we do to get by definitely.
Another tour you did last year, you toured with Northlane. How was it playing with them?
It was great. They were really chill, down to earth dudes. I see that band blowing up – they’re doing really well. I’m happy for them, they are a hard working band. We are going back to Europe in November with other Australian bands, with Deez Nuts and Relentless. I’m definitely looking forward to meeting those dudes and getting to play with more Aussie bands (laughs).
On the topic of Australian bands, how extensive is your knowledge of heavy bands here?
I actually didn’t know who Relentless were so I went to check them out and they’re great. I really love what I’ve heard so far. I’m looking forward to playing with those guys. Back when I toured with Despised Icon in Australia we played with Thy Art Is Murder, they are an amazing band. I’m really happy because they’ve been at it for a while. I’m happy things are panning out for them. [The signing with ]Nuclear Blast that’s a big deal man. That’s an amazing metal label, so I’m proud and happy for them.
Speaking of labels, what’s your relationship like with Epitaph?
Dude, it is Epitaph (laughs). It is one of my favourite labels. I grew up in the metal scene, but I was also listening to a lot of punk rock. My favourite punk rock record of all-time is ‘Punk In Drublic’ by NOFX, which I think was their last release on Epitaph before switching over to Fat Wreck Chords. Whether it’s Pennywise ‘Unknown Road’ or Millencolin ‘Life On A Plate’ or Rancid ‘Out Come the Wolves’. The fact that we get to talk to Brett Gurewitz. Mr. Bad Religion. Mr. Epitaph [is great]. To have them on board and be very supportive of everything we do means to the world to me man. It just pushes us to go even further and worker even harder to get the results we want.
In that in between period between Despised Icon and Obey the Brave, was the emphasis always to return to music or did you flirt with any interests outside of music?
To be honest what happened with Despised Icon is a lot of the other members were at a point in their lives where they didn’t feel like they had that drive to tour and play music as often as we were doing it – making it your career. They had other job opportunities, they were getting more and more serious with their girlfriends, they wanted to start families. Ultimately, that’s what happened. I think on average they have two kids each now already. I’m really happy for them. They got great jobs. I saw where we were going and somehow felt pressured to do the same, so I tried it out. I got this great marketing job with a clothing retailer over here and I was still very involved with music promoting, but after a couple of months I was already missing the whole tour lifestyle. It’s not just playing music, it’s a lifestyle. I felt as though I wasn’t ready to turn the page. There were certain things I still needed to do, certain countries I hadn’t visited, and just the overall challenge of playing a new type of music. At some point, I was like, “I’m not happy just being at home doing the 9 to 5.” I started brainstorming what to do and the answer was simple – get back out there, start a new band, and do it all over again.
Would you like to pass on anything before I let you go?
I loved my first experience in Australia, I’ve missed you guys, and I can’t wait to be back. In a couple of weeks we’ll be hanging out. Come see us, we are just regular people. Talk to us, show us around, and I want to see a kangaroo, I really want to see a kangaroo (laughs).
Appreciate you taking the time today Alex. We are excited to be on the presents package. We work together and in the same office as Destroy All Lines, so look forward to hanging out in a month’s time.
Sick man. Looking forward to meeting you.
Killyourstereo.com presents Obey The Brave on their Australian tour. Dates and details here.