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Interview: August Burns Red - 06.25.13
 

August Burns Red - 06.25.13

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August Burns Red - 06.25.13Being completely honest, August Burns Red has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time, and it's been quite a privilege to get to know vocalist Jake Luhrs over the last few years; there are few vocalists in the scene that I respect more than him. Right as the band was hours away from launching into the Vans Warped Tour, I talked with Jake about their brand new album, Rescue & Restore, in stores on June 25th. Rescue & Restore is without question August Burns Red's finest release to date, and will further solidify them as legends of the genre.

First off, what are your thoughts on returning back to Warped Tour mainstage after a year off?

Jake Luhrs: Well, I personally think it's an honor to play Warped Tour, so I'm extremely excited and it's really cool that we were invited to come back and be on mainstage; there's a ton of great bands that are on the mainstage this year and we've got plenty of friends here on Warped Tour, so we're really looking forward to it - we're pumped, we're excited!

I know you're excited to have Blessthefall out with you guys, but what other bands are you excited to see?

Jake Luhrs: Me personally? We Came As Romans, those are good friends of ours...I'd like to see Bring Me The Horizon, we've toured with those guys before and they're pretty rad dudes, and I'm not sure, there's so many good bands on this tour, it's hard to think of them off the top of my head. Blessthefall obviously, because we've toured with those on four different continents. And then there's some older bands like The Used that I'm not friends with but I'm looking forward to watching their set.

Is there a band you haven't heard before on the tour that you'd like to check out?

Jake Luhrs: Not that I can think of off the top of my head.

What can we expect from your set on this tour? You only have 35 minutes, I believe?

Jake Luhrs: Yeah, I think it's 35 minutes. To be honest, we want to have stuff from all of our records, and then two new songs off our new record, Rescue & Restore, which we're excited to show kids and to help promote the album.

Let's talk about the new record. It's definitely your heaviest album to date, it's know that sounds cliche', but this is the first time you guys have dabbled in tunings like C#. Was there anything significantly different about the writing and recording process this time around?

Jake Luhrs: For me, it was vocally, there was a huge difference. I usually spend 7 days in the studio recording the vocals for a record, and I think that's pretty common, as I've talked to other musicians about it, and they usually spend a week recording vocals as well. I spent over 100+ hours on this album vocally, just with the lyrics, editing lyrics, figuring out with my vocals - Grant McFarland trying to figure out screams, tones, emotions, and other things we want to add or take out lyrically or vocally.

I mean, it was a lot of work, there were literally four different levels to each song: first, we start with basic whisper screams over a track to figure out what kind of patterns we wanted for the song; the second level was laying down basic vocal tracks on the song, taking it home and listening over it, picking different words or adding new things in; the third level was basically thinking of layers or dubbing vocals here or there; and then the fourth level was basically having the entire band go over each song with the lyrics in hand and talk about the patterns or the lyrics they didn't really like or feel were fitting to the song, and then having to re-edit and re-record those parts. So it was brutal man, it was definitely something that we took very seriously, and I did as well. If you want a good product, you have to work hard for it, and that was what I was determined to do with this album.

I think this album is going to be the album people commonly refer to 10 or 20 years down the road when they talk about the band. It was really obvious on the first listen that you guys had really sat down and took the time to hone your craft. Everyone came through in their own specific way, there wasn't a person that was mixed out at all. I think I'd also describe the album as "compelling", because it's hard not to get sucked into each song.

Jake Luhrs: That's really great to hear that, thank you.

I remember the last time we talked, we discussed not losing your sound. That being said, how did you really work on getting better since the last record, both vocally, lyrically, and so on?

Jake Luhrs: In the past when we did an album, I'd write a majority of the lyrics, Brent helps, Matt helps, and then J.B. here or there, and that's how the lyrics have gone. On this record we picked a lot of lyrics that WEREN'T mine, but that were Matt or Brent's; at first it was a challenge for me, it definitely was a humbling experience and knocked me down a step, but it was a good experience for me to go through that. But you know with that being said, we added a lot of different ways of life on this record.

For some reason, a lot of kids will say "Oh, this so overly Christian" or "this is about God, everything's about God..." and ultimately, a lot of my personal lyrics do deal with Christian morals or values. However, a lot of these songs aren't necessarily about God, it could be about our fans or something personal that we've gone through and it doesn't necessarily have to be about God. And what I've noticed with just these two tracks being released on this record, I've looked at some of the feedback that we're getting from our fans and it's funny, I see these Christians who say "It's too Christian-y", and "Dude, it's too many Christian lyrics, can you guys get over it? Write about something else"; but I see a lot of Agnostics or Atheists respond "Hey man, I don't get that from this, that doesn't matter to us. We love August Burns Red for their music, and their lyrics touch us, so it doesn't matter if they're Christian or not", and I think that's amazing. So I've never really heard that from any previous albums, so I think that's proof in the pudding that this record is something that we've never done before.

I think something that I've always appreciated about the band is over the last four or five records, you've always found new ways to convey hope, especially with songs like "Fault Line", which is one of the better songs off the album at conveying that idea. At the same time, I think it's funny that you get that criticism from the Christian community, because that's who you guys are as a band, and it may or may not be genuine to stray away from that identity. When people listen to your band, that's what they should expect.

Jake Luhrs: Right. To be honest with you, I think the media has kind of portrayed us as "Everything's Christian, Christian, Christian, Christian..." and I've noticed that especially in the past, because it's something good to talk about. However, for the sake of discussion here, that's not necessarily all that we have to offer, we're not just all these Christian lyrics - yeah, it's great that you can find our Christian faith, morals, and values through our music, however don't be so quick to assume that it's just some Christian lyric, because it kind of just takes the artistic part out of us when you do that, it puts us in a box and that's the exact opposite of what we're trying to do.

Yeah, I recently read an interview with one of the more prominent Christian rappers, Lecrae, and he said something to the effect of that he's not exactly as bothered with being labeled as a Christian rapper as much of the lyricism that he wants to bring to the table. People were upset with him because he started rapping about other things, and his response was that earlier in history when you wanted to get the best art, people went to the Christians, because they were engaged in the culture. He's saying that being labeled as a Christian artist isn't a bad thing, but it's how much effort you want to put into your work; you can write about whatever you want, and just filter it through a particular perspective that you have.

Jake Luhrs: Right. The thing is, just because it doesn't say "Jesus" on it, doesn't mean it's God's input or that it's God breathed, you know what I mean? That would be putting God in a box, by saying "Oh, this is too Christian-y" or "It's not Christian enough", well that's kind of silly, you're the one judging whether or not this song is going to touch someone's spirit, or if it has words about God, and that's not anyone's place.

Since you guys have been so open and honest with your words and your lyrics, what song was the most difficult to write lyrically?

Jake Luhrs: I'd have to say "Treatment", only because it's a very progressive song, in my opinion - there's a lot of technical parts in it. When we got the lyrics, we were kind of talking about them and working through them and due to the fact that it's a very progressive song musically, it's not easy to lay down vocal patterns for some of those parts. So I had to go back and take words out and put words in, and then there were some other lyrics and lines that I wanted to talk to the band about, saying "If this is the message we're going to bring, I feel like this is a strong line that needs to be in there to represent what this song is about". So some of those discussions took some time.

I really liked "Creative Captivity", it was definitely one of the better songs that I've heard in awhile. It's strong lyrically, but it has mandolins and horns. The line that sticks out is near the end - "This is a cause worth fighting for, we will rescue & restore" - how did you come up with that line, and furthermore, why did you guys decide to name the album the way you did?

Jake Luhrs: Actually, Brent wrote that lyric, and we had discussed that in the studio that this lyric was really powerful, because we want people to be artistic, we want artists to really express themselves and not get caught up in the trend or movements, and not replicate and to be themselves. That's really what that song was about, it was about art.

We've been a part of this scene for like 10 years man, and it's our home, it's our family, it's what we know, it's what we've been a part of for so long. We want to encourage the young guns coming up to step outside the box and to be artists and to create something that is theirs and has it's own identity, it's own color. With the other bands that are currently in this genre, it's to challenge them as well, as to say "think outside the box, and make something fresh and new", because this genre of music has been around for some time, and we feel like the well is drying up and the scene need to be restored and rescued; it's something that we believe in, and it's something worth fighting for, because it's a beautiful scene and it's got amazing music and there's tons of talent. And I've seen first-hand how this genre of music has helped people and has changed their lives, and why do we want to see that go? We don't, we want it to be restored. That's how we decided that it would be a good title for this album.

The next song I'd like to talk about is "Beauty In Tragedy", that was a heavier song lyrically, it was one of the harder songs to listen to. There's a line, "I'll be sure to write your name in the sand, where the waves can't wash it away", can you give us the background behind that specifically?

Jake Luhrs: That lyric I wrote basically because I was thinking about losing someone close to you. In all reality, I was sitting in a cabin where I was for a week to get away and write, and it popped in my mind about Vigil (Jonathan) from The Ghost Inside; he recently lost his father, and I've toured with him in the past and I really like that guy, I think he really has a good heart and I love him...and when I heard that, it really did break my heart. But when I was writing about the loss of someone, I thought of him and I thought of Dustin our bassist, how he had lost his uncle and I believe he has lost his aunt too. The premise of the song is basically to take what you know about a person you love, and to carry them on in your life, and to use what they've taught you and to take their wisdom and knowledge and to share it with everyone else; carrying that person's name within you as you'd carry someone's legacy.

So the one line "I'll write your name in the sand, where the waves can't wash it away" is essentially saying "I'll make an imprint for you in this world that's dedicated to you through what you taught me, and that won't ever go - that's permanent, that's forever". That's what that line meant to me.

It's sort of encouraging, in that you're driven to keep moving forward through that person's memory.

Now, what is your favorite song off the album and why?

Jake Luhrs: Personally? "Sincerity". First off, I love the energy in that song musically, and lyrically it's just a personal thing from my heart and it's about my father in law, and how much he's encouraged me and loved on me, and picked me up time and time again when I've fallen or I've needed help. So it's a big thank you to men in your life that are real men, that are strong and un-moveable, they can encourage you and teach you, and that's a good thing. I think that there's a lack of those type of men in the world; I know a lot of people who have been raised fatherless. And so when you find a man in your life who teaches you respect, honor, love, and truth, you really need to hold onto that, and he's done that in my life, so I really wanted to write a song about him and thank him. It's a special place in my heart.

This is the fourth album in which you've been a part of the creative process. That being said, as you approach the release of the album, do you feel like you've exhausted all of what you'd like to say at the moment? Or do you have a whole list of things you'd like to write about still?

Jake Luhrs: Oh my gosh! If you're a musician and an artist, it doesn't stop until you stop, so I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. The great thing about music and artists is that when they write a song, the minute that song comes out, they've already experienced other things that they're able to write about because life moves, and artists move with life. Through those experiences come about more wisdom, more knowledge, more pain, more happiness, anger and sadness. There's ton of stuff that I could write about, this isn't the end.

I know last time you were here we had talked about you guys re-doing a few songs off of Thrill Seeker. Are you guys getting any closer to that, or has that changed?

Jake Luhrs: You know, it's a cool idea, and we probably will do it. If we saw a huge gathering of fans that really wanted that to happen, we'd probably make time for it; but for right now, it's not really on the radar only because we're putting out this record and we're trying to focus on that for now.

Maybe you'll just do just one song as a single later on down the road, as opposed to do multiple songs...

Jake Luhrs: Yeah, it'd be cool to do "Your Little Suburbia Is In Ruins" or "Speech Impediment", you know? I appreciate those songs, and they have a place in my heart, and it would be cool to cover those.

What records and books have you been into lately?

Jake Luhrs: Right now I'm reading a book by Pastor Eric Mason, and it's about manhood, and manhood being restored ("Manhood Restored" by Eric Mason) It's a good book Christians (or non-Christians), but specifically guys who have faith in Christ because it kind of slaps them in the face a bit, because it asks "You think you're a real man? Well these are the qualities of being a real man" - not in an aggressive way, but in a way that definitely touches your heart and makes you think about "Who am I?", "If I stand for my faith, am I being true to my beliefs?" and "What areas of my heart do I need to work on?". I think that it's very important for Christians to work on their relationships with God obviously, but also open areas of their heart in which they have resentment or hatred or judgement built up in.

In the gym, I'll listen to certain bands/songs, like Architects (UK), those guys are great; their latest album (Daybreaker) is really good. And I listen to Bring Me The Horizon's latest record, which I really like - this is definitely a great progression for their band, I think it's a really awesome sound. Obviously the lyrics are against my personal faith, but that doesn't hold me back from learning from their lyrics, and absorbing them in a positive way.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Not really, we're really excited for this album to come out, and we're extremely thankful for fans that have stood by us year after year and hopefully we'll gain some new fans. I just hope from the bottom of my heart that whoever listens to our music gains something positive and is encouraged to do something great and good in their life, and I hope that our music brings joy to their heart.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 17
06:35 PM on 06/25/13
#2
ARo2431
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Lengthy interview and a pretty good one. Loving the new album I jammed it all day today. Not looking like I'll make it to warped this year but I need to catch these guys soon.
08:35 PM on 06/25/13
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Dizzy23
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His last response about listening to songs that have lyrics that he doesn't agree with is an amazing response. I completely agree.

Awesome interview.
09:46 PM on 06/25/13
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His last response about listening to songs that have lyrics that he doesn't agree with is an amazing response. I completely agree.

Awesome interview.
Agree. I truly respect the fact that he can just say, "I personally don't identify with the lyrics, but the music is great," which is honestly how I feel with both of those bands as well. I think Architects do it in a way that's kind of neat. They have these songs that are full of frustration, but then they have things like "Unbeliever" which, in a way, backtracks (for lack of a better term) over everything they just said on that album, and asks you understand.

anyway, great interview!
02:07 AM on 06/26/13
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theherox
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His last response about listening to songs that have lyrics that he doesn't agree with is an amazing response. I completely agree.

Awesome interview.

Yes

Great interview indeed!
11:08 AM on 06/26/13
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suicidesaints
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Hoping they do a headlining tour after Warped.
02:22 PM on 06/26/13
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AquaMan
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His last response about listening to songs that have lyrics that he doesn't agree with is an amazing response. I completely agree.

Awesome interview.
I agree with Jake 100% with everything he said. As a christian, I really don't listen to much Christian oriented music, and people are always wondering why. Me and Jake are on the same level when it comes to things like this! I love how Sempriternal sounds, but I don't agree with Oli has to say, It's as simple as that!
02:34 PM on 06/26/13
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Dizzy23
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I agree with Jake 100% with everything he said. As a christian, I really don't listen to much Christian oriented music, and people are always wondering why. Me and Jake are on the same level when it comes to things like this! I love how Sempriternal sounds, but I don't agree with Oli has to say, It's as simple as that!

Me too. Senses Fail is one of my favorite bands and people think its weird because Still Searching and other albums have lots of Anti-Christian themes. And I'm like I don't agree but that doesn't mean that these dudes don't have their own beliefs and I can't respect them and enjoy their music
03:08 PM on 06/26/13
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awakeohsleeper
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Enjoyable read. I think Jake is a pretty great dude - comes across as a humble man.
08:38 PM on 06/26/13
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Me too. Senses Fail is one of my favorite bands and people think its weird because Still Searching and other albums have lots of Anti-Christian themes. And I'm like I don't agree but that doesn't mean that these dudes don't have their own beliefs and I can't respect them and enjoy their music
Glad to find that there are more tolerable but proud Christians out there like me. It's sad, but the truth is that the majority of "Christians" in the scene either are too strict and close-minded to enjoy great music with different views or are afraid of what people think of their faith and stay on the sidelines with these type of discussions
08:33 PM on 06/27/13
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Glad to find that there are more tolerable but proud Christians out there like me. It's sad, but the truth is that the majority of "Christians" in the scene either are too strict and close-minded to enjoy great music with different views or are afraid of what people think of their faith and stay on the sidelines with these type of discussions

Yeah but honestly the biggest problem is the judgement and condemnation. We should be spreading love. Not hate. And that's why Treatment is such an awesome track because its so true
09:08 PM on 06/27/13
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Yeah but honestly the biggest problem is the judgement and condemnation. We should be spreading love. Not hate. And that's why Treatment is such an awesome track because its so true
This is also definitely true. It would be wrong of me to say that I'm a better christian or whatnot, because that would make me just as cynical as the ones that I try to reach out to. Treatment is beautiful, as well as Creative Captivity. I know Jake meant those lyrics to refer to the scene, but the best part is that they can interpreted in sooo many different ways!
06:43 AM on 07/15/13
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10:33 PM on 08/08/13
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"Obviously the lyrics are against my personal faith, but that doesn't hold me back from learning from their lyrics, and absorbing them in a positive way." I wonder if he could say the same for Autotheism

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