Volumes has certainly come a long way since I first saw them perform a few days after new years in 2011 in a run down youth center in Salem, OR. They're a great example of a band that continuously gets better after each release - 2011's Via was a good progression from 2010's The Concept Of Dreaming, and now in 2014, the band is set to release No Sleep on July 15th, which does a fantastic job of building off of Via. I sat down with vocalists Michael Barr and Gus Farias at the Warped Tour in Chula Vista, CA where we talked about the album and more.
First off, how has Warped Tour been for you guys?
Michael Barr: It’s been good, we’ve had a really good reaction, it’s like summer camp. It’s fun to wake up and see all your friends and then kill it on big stages with a lot of people watching.
What bands have you guys been excited to watch on this tour?
Michael Barr: This year? Definitely Bad Rabbits, Issues…
Gus Farias: Bad Rabbits, Anberlin, Attila, Chelsea Grin…a lot of homies.
What’s your take on the signs on the top of the stages that say “No Moshing/Stagediving”?
Gus Farias: That’s honestly up to Warped Tour, I’m not trying to get involved with that, haha.
Michael Barr: I mean, it’s not that big of a deal for me, kids are still having fun. If you’re smart, you’re going to know how to have fun and still release that anger that you want to. I still think people should come out and have a good time.
Let’s talk about your upcoming record, No Sleep. I think it’s fantastic, but why did you name the album that?
Michael Barr: We chose that name because it’s the best way to express what we’ve been doing for the past four years in all aspects – recording an album, touring six months out of the year. We also indulge in nightlife, and that’s a huge part of us as a band, we all come from Los Angeles. It’s kind of a party theme in a sense, not really a “party album”, but we wanted a fun name that could mean a lot of different things.
Gus Farias: This album was all life experiences, there’s no really tricky poetry like a lot of these bands are doing, it’s straight up life experiences and straight-forward.
And you guys kept it DIY as far as production, I remember Michael telling me that in Portland on the Of Mice headliner.
Gus Farias: Yeah, my brother (Diego Farias) did all that.
Was that still the right call, or do you guys wish you would’ve brought someone else in for outside input?
Gus Farias: I think that was the right way to go. My brother handled it with Brandon Paddock, Misha Mansoor (Periphery), as well as Casey Sabol. But it was Diego’s project, and we did it in the studio in my house, it came out great.
Michael Barr: Yeah, we’re pretty happy with the end result. We’re glad we pretty much did it again in-house.
What were some new risks or techniques that you tried on this album that you haven’t tried in the past?
Michael Barr: I think we had a took a different approach, a pop approach to writing this album, working with our producer Brandon Paddock. And I think that was a big step for us, bringing in a producer – at first we didn’t know if it would really work, but in the end it ended up working beautifully. A lot of the writing process was done in a pop way. We didn’t really understand it in the beginning, but we learned a lot about songwriting and working in the studio, and it just made sense. I think that was the biggest risk, having an individual from another background – someone working with major stars (Karmin, Conditions, Natives) and then working with us, giving us new ideas about songwriting and metal in general.
Yeah, and songs like “Up All Night” has more of a pop feel to it, but it’s one of the best songs you guys have written to date. Can you talk about that song a little bit?
Michael Barr: Yeah, it’s my favorite song off the record too, and it’s the most poppy as well. It’s a love song, being in a relationship with a girl and it not working so well. It kind of has to do with tour – being on tour, coming home from tour and picking things back up awkwardly or know where to start. It’s a great song, we really worked hard on it and we really wanted to show off our poppy side.
Gus Farias: Brandon really brought that out of us, he’s worked with artists like Avril Lavigne, just to name one. That aspect and energy he brought to the table.
How hard was it to write “Vahle” from a lyrical standpoint? I know it’s a personal subject for you guys.
Michael Barr: It wasn’t that hard, that song came really easily because that’s one of those songs that are handed to you. It’s an unfortunate situation and obviously what the content is about, but I had so much to work with when writing the song because I personally knew him. The concept is already there for me, so writing it was easy but it was also rough at the same time, because you’re writing about someone close to you and involved Volumes, and he’s gone now.
Gus Farias: The bit I brought to the table came real natural, there was no writers block at all. James Vahle is a very dear friend of Volumes and Raad especially, I’m very happy that the song came out as powerful as it did.
How did fans react to that song? I feel like anyone who has lost someone can connect to it in some way.
Michael Barr: A lot of people, especially recently have come up to us and thanked us for putting a song like that out, a dedication song, and we’re like “That’s our friend, I’m sure you’d do that for your friend…”
Gus Farias: It’s been a great response…
Michael Barr: It’s been a really humbling response, and a lot of people are touched by that song, and we’re glad, it reminds us everyday to take things day by day.
Gus Farias: A lot of people can share in that song because how many people do you know that have died in car accidents? Family members, friends, all over. Kids really recognize that and come up to us and show and appreciate the love.
“The Mixture” is a critique of the music industry. Can you go into that a little bit further?
Michael Barr: Yeah, we’ve gone through a lot in four years putting out this record and touring. That’s kind of our statement as far as where we’re at now and how we feel about certain things in the music industry. It’s not really calling anyone out specifically, but it’s kind just letting people know everything is not what it seems to be, there are some things that aren’t right. It’s definitely one of those songs that let you know that not everything is okay, you know what I mean? It was a fun record to write, and I felt like some things needed to be said and touched on.
Gus Farias: I feel like on this record - people bit our style from Via and The Concept Of Dreaming and with this one we really wanted to be careful with it. And what we have with No Sleep is exactly what we wanted, it’s different.
Yeah, it’s different, but you guys retain your own style and build on it.
Michael Barr: That was one of the first songs we wrote when we began the writing process, and it was like “Okay, this is what I’m going to say on this record” and that was IT, that was the first thing I wrote down lyrically. I think that’s more of a release from the past four years and what we’ve been through. A lot of people think we’re this huge band and we make a lot of money, and we don’t – we generate a lot of money, but what we walking away with…we’re humble people…
Gus Farias: And the fact that we do all of our own recordings with Diego, it’s very hard to find time between tours. Because when we’re on tour, Diego needs to be there, and then when we get home, Diego needs to be writing, he doesn’t get a break. Not to mention that he did some work for Chelsea Grin and Animals As Leaders, he’s doing work with Veil Of Maya, he has a lot on his plate as well.
Are there any music videos coming out soon?
Michael Barr: Yeah, there’s a music video coming out for “Erased” that we’re filming on the east coast…
Who’s directing it?
Michael Barr: Scott Hansen
Gus Farias: I would have to say that the band is also involved as well, it’s a lot of our ideas as well. So I would also say that we’re also directors in this project as well.
When people first hear No Sleep, what do you hope they walk away with?
Michael Barr: I just hope they walk away with an understanding that it’s a different era for us as a band. Yeah, you want people to feel good when they’re listening to a record and they’re done with it, which I think will happen, but I want people to understand that this is a whole different progression for the band and we’re trying to move forward as people and musicians.
Gus Farias: The Concept of Dreaming and Via – we did it, we love it, we’ll always play songs from them, but this is just the next step.
What are your fall tour plans?
Micheal Barr: We can’t really say yet, but we’re on a direct support tour with a band that’s currently on Warped Tour and is also part of the Outerloop Management family. Expect a headliner in the winter. [Interview Note: A few days later, it was announced Volumes will be direct support for Crown The Empire in the fall].
Anything else you guys would like to mention before we wrap up?
Michael Barr: Come hang out on Warped Tour, No Sleep comes out July 15th!