Local hardcore favourites and mosh lords, Confession are just days away from dropping their third album, ‘Life And Death’. It’s a far more powerful, emotive and personal release than anything the band has done before. We spoke to the group’s down to earth and honest frontman, Michael Crafter, about what is looking like becoming their biggest studio album to date.
In a couple weeks you’ve got the Rampage tour coming up with Deez Nuts and Hand Of Mercy, are you excited to see how the new material translates into a live setting?
We’ll only be playing a few songs off the album, maybe about half of it so there’s still room for the old songs in the set. It’ll be good to finally see how our hard work pays off. Hopefully people will still come out and sing along. I’m not one of those guys that goes ‘Hey, we’ve sold this amount of CD’s’, I don’t care about that kinda thing, but what I do care about is shows. I just care that people leave the show with a smile.
‘Life and Death’ carries a far more serious tone to it, do you think that makes it a far stronger release than the previous albums?
Both lyrically and musically I think that it’s a bigger, more mature CD. We put a lot of thought into it, we dropped any of the "pop" elements from it, we dropped the clean singing. I think we found something that was more real than what we’ve ever done before. I got to write what I wanted, in what was probably the darkest times of my entire life. I’ve gone through a lot of shit and I’ve got to get it down on an album and get it out. I think a lot of people will relate to it because I’ve got a lot more to say this time. I’ve written songs about being in a band and all the good times, and then there’s dealing with my parents having cancer, with going to the hospital and just looking at all these faces each time and seeing that they don’t know what’ll happen next. All of it is what I was going through and seeing at the time, so lyrically it’s a stronger release. One hundred percent what I wrote down was what I was feeling in the studio, the emotions I was going through, and the depression of dealing with my family being so sick.
With dropping the cleans, when Doyle Perez (D At Sea) was apart of the band and you released ‘This Means War’, did that experience help to assert where you guys wanted to take your music for this album?
When we were writing for the album, we went into pre-production with Doyle and it didn’t really work out. He wanted one way, we wanted another way. Jake, Russell and I were on the same page but he wasn’t. We thought that if we fill the album with this style, what would separate us from The Amity Affliction’s and In Hearts Wake’s and all those other bands with that style. So when Doyle and I ended up talking about how he was too busy for Confession, I felt like it was a relief. It was good to have him in the band, but he wanted to focus on the pop side, and it kinda felt like he was in the band, but at the same time, wasn’t in the band the whole time he was with us. D At Sea is his baby, it’s his thing, and when he was out we felt like ‘Yep, now we know where we are at. Let’s get this happening’. And we did! We scrapped over half a CD or more while writing this one. Our drummer, Jake, who is just unbelievable at guitar, he wrote ‘This Means War’, and he basically wrote this whole album. Which is pretty crazy that a drummer can write that well [laughs]. But he’s helped us so much with the music side of things and where we wanted to be as far as the band to goes.
That’s good to hear. Again on the topic of clean vocals, you guys seemed to be pretty adamant about not having them, I’ve seen that you have Ahren Stringher (The Amity Affliction) featuring on one of the new tracks, how’d that come about in the end?
Ahren does not sing on any part on the album. Ahren actually sings in a death metal voice on ‘Holy War’, with the lyric, ‘Burn your churches to the ground’ [laughs]. The only clean singing on the album is the choir, which we thought added more to the vibe of the song. It wasn’t there for people to sing along to, it was there to add more atmosphere to the song, so there’s no proper cleans. It’s just a choir holding a note over the top of a song about my daughter, which obviously means a lot to me, and the ‘Fuck cancer’ part, because we thought that this fills it out. It’s not like ‘The Long Way Home’ or ‘This Means War’ which had actual cleans. People are really confused about Ahren’s parts because when they hear it they go ‘what the fuck…?’ He swears a lot, and he sounds like he’s in a full on death metal band. I’ve had a heavy voice for a long time but he makes me feel like I’ve got a soft voice. I mean how good does that prick, fucking boy with a magical voice sound!? [laughs].
Including Ahren’s parts, there’s also fellow Amity band mate Joel Birch, Adrian Fitipaldes of Northlane, Karl Schubach from Misery Signals, and I want to know your thoughts on how these parts turned out?
Joel’s was just a quick part that I wanted, I’ve always liked his voice, even when he did sound like a bird in the old Amity stuff. He and I have been friends for ten plus years now and I just wanted him to sing some quick lines. Adrian was in San Diego at the time, and the song [Old Blood] is about being in a band or in a job for life. So I got Adrain in because he’s just at the start of the something big, like I was seven or eight years ago when Prom Queen was just starting to tour America and stuff. So it was cool to have someone who is the new blood, who is the new thing in metalcore in Australia. I loved his voice before I even met the kid, back when I first heard Northlane I thought ‘Holy Shit! This guy is psycho’. Then I got Karl in as he’s one of my long term mates and we’ve done multiple Misery Signals tours together, so I just got mates in who were cool, who had good voices, who I’ve hung out with and [have] known for ages now. With Ahren’s part though, it was meant to be CJ from Thy Art Is Murder, but CJ couldn’t get his shit together in time. He probably got stoned and went and ate food instead [laughs]. So I called Ahren up and asked him and he said yes straight away. I sent him the lyrics and in a couple hours, he told me he was on his way to this studio, and he was that keen that he went and did it and when I heard it, I was just so glad that it happened that way! It added so much to the song, which is already a pretty confronting song. It’s about people going to wars over religion and different belief systems. I just don’t give a fuck what people believe in. Like if you believe in something, I fully respect you for believing in that if that’s what you need, and I’d expect the same back. If I was Christian I wouldn’t need to argue with a Buddhist, or a Muslim, as I would just go to my place of worship and then go home to my family. But there’s just people who hate other peoples beliefs, and it’s like, ‘Why?’ You all believe in a higher power anyway. It’s not a good way to think and believe, I mean, just let everyone believe whatever they want and let them live their lives.
When you started the ‘Fuck Cancer’ campaign did you think it would get as big as it has?
I didn’t really think about it to be honest. We still sell a few of those shirts a week, which is cool, but it’s not flying out the door like when I first put them up. Then I obviously wrote the song about going through it all with my dad and wanted it to stand out and get out that emotion, because you build it up dealing with your family and friends who may have cancer. So it’s a good release for me and I’m sure it’ll be for a lot of people. I didn’t honestly think that I’d write a song called that, it just happened that way. We pressed record and that’s what came out. Now it’s a song and a lot of people have gotten behind it, but not because it’s cool or trendy, but because they’ve lost someone to it. It’s definitely great to see people supporting it and getting behind the band.
Did you ever think that this band would get to 2014 and with three albums when you first started it?
No, I didn’t actually. I just thought it’d be cool to play some shows and put a few songs up on YouTube or MySpace at the time. But then all of a sudden, it all got rolling. I just took it day by day as a band [and] I’m glad I continued it when times got tough. I feel like we’ve written the best album that this band’s ever done. Whether that’s just a bias because it’s the new one or not, I just listen back to it and think this is a really cool album. I’m really proud of it and happy about it all. I think when you’ve got your back against a wall, you write something that tops anything else you’ve done and I fell that’s what we’ve done here.
‘Life and Death‘ is out on June 20th through Resist Records and distributed via Cooking Vinyl.
Confession begin their national tour with Deez Nuts, Hand Of Mercy and Thorns this week.