We here at ThrashHead are big fans of WARBRINGER. To me they capture the aggression and angst that Thrash Metal first tore into the metal scene in the 80's with. This fury has propelled them to the forefront of the new wave of thrash metal. With 3 full lengths under their belts they are poised for a leap to the next level.
Their latest release 'Worlds Torn Asunder' (reviewed here) is a brilliant statement in thrash metal and certain to make our year's end "best of" lists here at the ThrashHead compound as it is one of only a few albums that have earned the coveted 5 star review from ThrashHead.
We were super stoked to get this opportunity and there were a few of us that contributed to the questions in this interview. Thanks go to Parker Ridgley and Rene for helping on this one.
ThrashHead: Let me start with that I had read somewhere that a couple of you had signed a pact in blood to play true metal. That rules! Can you elaborate on that?
John / WARBRINGER: It is true. Me and our very first drummer, Evan Reiter, forged a pact and signed it in blood, Manowar style. This is before I met the Laux's or anything like that. That was my beginning as a metal singer.
ThrashHead: Warbringer has experienced several lineup changes but the band hasn't missed a beat and only gotten better. How do you bring new members up to speed?
John / WARBRINGER: It takes about a month of intensive rehearsal. That usually brings everything very much up to speed.
ThrashHead: John, your vocals are rippin' on all 3 albums. In a climate where the trend is to be low-pitched and gurgly, or both low, then high pitched, you are straight on, old- school, singing and screaming....avoiding the low pitch stuff all together. Was this a conscious choice you made? If so, what brought you to the decision to embrace the vocal style you have adopted so well?
John / WARBRINGER: It came sort of naturally; I spent some time at the start with some vocal styles that didn't quite work. When I started trying the more venomous, rapid-fire style, it just worked better, and I went from there. I've never been too into indecipherable vocals, enunciation is really important. Sure, growling is brutal, growling out a clear and hearable thought or idea has the potential to be much more so, and it makes everything more memorable as well.
ThrashHead: What precautions or what practices do you do to keep from blowing out your voice on the road?
John / WARBRINGER: Try to keep the partying in moderation, warm up, tea, water. This tour has been rough until I got "over the hump". Recently it's been easier. If anything, sometimes I just gotta take it easy on the high screams one night and I'll regain my powers by the next show.
ThrashHead: With the new album you included an explanation for each song with the lyrics. This isn't something you typically see with a metal album, but is something that is fairly common with very political punk. Why did you decide to do that?
John / WARBRINGER: Well, I did try to write this album to be full of interesting ideas, and different ones for each song. I figured doing that would prevent so much "hey, so all your songs are about war, right?". It's something I put some real effort into, so a little explanation made sense.
ThrashHead: As you go about you days and "bump elbows " with bands you were inspired by, how do they treat you? Any specific encounter that was overly encouraging? Any specific situation bum you out?
John / WARBRINGER: Usually pretty good. We are respectful and know how it's done on the road, so very few bands have really been dicks to us. At worst usually it's the kind of band that just likes to keep to themselves, and I can respect that. For me our encounters with Kreator and Exodus have been my favorite. Drinking and hanging out with those guys and hearing their support of what we are doing is really encouraging. I played a chess game against Ventor once. That was pretty awesome.
ThrashHead: In the 90's certain media outlets latched onto Heavy Metal and deliberately shifted mainstream attention towards bullshit Nu Metal. Metal appeared to be stuck in a stagnant pool of mediocrity which seemingly even made thrash metal heroes of yore turn their backs on their roots. But, in past few years there seems to be a renaissance taking place; how do you feel now that once again hard hitting, no b.s., straight up power and thrash are finally re-establishing themselves as the preeminent forms of heavy metal in what appears to be an epic battle for the spirit of the music?
John / WARBRINGER: Well, I think that the spirit of metal is worth fighting for. Metal is way more than the superficial values that you get from modern metal. "Sick scream! Sick breakdown! Sick solo! Sick blast!". There's a lack of focus on the songs, and the soul of the music. I think the traditional styles aren't the only viable way to play heavy metal, but are well worth continuing.
ThrashHead: Do you think that's because people yearn for a passion which has been missing from metal?
John / WARBRINGER: Yes. Absolutely, 100 percent. Heavy metal is all about having the power and intense passion.
ThrashHead: As oldschoolers who were there back in the day when thrash metal shoved the conventional aside, we can say that we are very excited about the thrash metal movement again. As a musician, can you describe what you feel when you hear people say that Warbringer is one of the groups returning metal to its rightful place?
John / WARBRINGER: Well, that is a great feeling in general to hear that. We set out to play real metal, we ended up as a thrash band but started out as like a speed/power metal band. The goal isn't imitation of anything though, we write our own songs and try to carry the torch for heavy fucking metal in general, or at least do our part in that effort.
ThrashHead: You guys are from Ventura, back in the day, that town had been known for it's surf punx scene, plus with the Oxnard "Nardcore" crew close by , were you guys influenced by some of the HC coming out of the area? Do you know any of the LAST PRIORITY guys?
John / WARBRINGER: I think so. Me, I've never been much of a hardcore guy, to me it does much the same thing emotionally as metal does, and I generally just like metal better. But some of the other guys are into that, and I know full well that since we are playing thrash, that there is always going to be some indirect hardcore influence in there somehow.
ThrashHead: Lame question, but one our guys want's to know, any of you surf? What's your favorite break and why?
John / WARBRINGER: Nope! I was never a surfer dude. I used to be into long distance backpacking with my friends in the scouts, back when I was a teenager. I want to get back into that some day, the mountains and forests are my truest home.
ThrashHead: I love the way you guys have embraced the roots of Thrash. Any concern of being "typecast" so to speak, and thus limiting any creative expansion?
John / WARBRINGER: It happens all the time, where we'll get a review or comment or something that just compares us to other thrash metal bands, and doesn't really attempt to talk about what's different about our brand of thrash metal. To me thrash metal is actually a much wider genre than people give it credit for. Metallica sounds very different to Slayer, who I can immediately tell apart from Kreator, Sodom, Coroner, Artillery, etc for instance.
I think, sure you can compare what is similar about us to any of those, "this part in this song sounds a little like that part in that song", etc. You can also just as easily compare what is different, which is a better mentality to take if you want to stay excited about music in general.
ThrashHead: To us, it seems some of the "legends" of thrash metal seem tired (won't say old 'cause we're the same age and we aren't tired hence the creation of ThrashHead to help bring the stoke back). With that said, how important is it for the new crop of thrash masters to rise up to the carry the mantle?
John / WARBRINGER: There's a kind of reckless youthful energy that is really central to what makes thrash work, and I think a lot of the old guys just aren't in a place in their life where they are gonna be able to harness that the way they once were. Not so say none of the classic bands are still making good records, many of them are. I think it's totally essential that new bands come up and play thrash metal, and do it in vibrant, inspired ways. Without that the genre simply cannot continue. All the original greats are in their 40's, and a guy can only play thrash for so long.
ThrashHead: As previously mentioned, the big thrash bands of yore hit a brick wall when they approached the 10 year mark or even around the third or fourth album. METALLICA and MEGADETH became more progressive, SLAYER adopted a more hardcore sound and ANTHRAX got completely lost. It seemed that thrash metal had played itself out. Even as some of these bands try to recapture some of the early angst, they fall short. How will today's thrash bands and WARBRINGER in particular steer away from these same pitfalls? How will you keep thrash interesting as you approach your next album even and beyond?
John / WARBRINGER: That remains to be seen! I think we are gonna have to try something pretty different on the next record. I think this recent one was a tightening and perfecting of our existing formula, with some experimental touches. I think the next one we need to go make it different somehow. I want to do it in such a way that still keeps our band's core values intact though.
ThrashHead: As major players in the new thrash movement, you guys have seen quite a bit and may have a lot to still learn, as we all do in life, but what would you say to a little kid picking up a guitar or microphone for the first time and thinking about becoming a musician; what should they know about being a rock n roller?
John / WARBRINGER: It's a long, long way! As much as we have done, we still have so far to go. It's crazy to think that.
ThrashHead: Final words of wisdom?
John / WARBRINGER: Keep it metal, rock eternally!
Check the vids and image gallery from the Warbringer's Halloween show below! Also, have a look see at their video for Shattered Like Glass. Huge thanks also goes out to John Laux for taking a moment to give us a shout out!
WARBRINGER vs the VIKINGS
BRING THE WAR