August Burns Red Interview 2016
Metalcore 5-piece, August Burns Red, is coming to South Africa! Yes, and for two big shows in Cape Town and Joburg. The band will perform at Oppikoppi 2016 and One Night in Cape Town during August (you can win tickets here).
Russel Jones spoke with drummer, Matt Greiner, about their music, being nominated for a Grammy and Oppikoppi…
Russ: Hi Matt! Welcome! Everyone in South Africa is super amped to see you live! First of all, how’s the tour going?
Matt: Hi! The tour is actually going really well. I’ve been writing in my journal, this morning, about the tour and how much I’ve been enjoying it compared to our other European tours. The reason for that, I think, is because it is a combination of festival shows and club shows. Like, we’ve been playing here in Poland – it’s just a club show – and we’re headlining while our friends Silverstein and Beartooth is opening. And it’s fun – It’s just to a couple of hundred people. And then on Thursday we’re going up to Sweden, and we’ll be playing with Rammstein and Bring Me the Horizon. So, I mean, you go from playing for 300 people the one day, to 5000 the next – I really like the type of diversity that this tour has provided for.
Russ: Absolutely! So, would you say, over the last couple of years, you guys have been well received in Europe, or did you have to kind of fight to get to the top?
Matt: [Laughs] I guess it depends who you ask, but I think it’s been a fight; it’s been a bit of a struggle. But I think we are starting to see the fruits of our work here. We’ve been touring here for about 8 years, and we did a lot of support tours. We didn’t make money on a lot of those tours, but it is starting to become a better market for us. And that has just been a product of us coming back here time and time again.
Russ: Definitely. That’s the only thing that works in this industry, right?
Matt: Right. That has definitely been our experience here.
Russ: So, let’s talk Grammy Awards. First of all, congrats on the nomination last year – Definitely well deserved.
Matt: Thank you!
Russ: Would you say that it has played a significant role in, for example, the crowds you pull on tours?
Matt: I don’t think so. I think that the nomination was significant to us outside of touring. In other words, when we do a show, I think people just come to see us play, and they know our music from Youtube, from buying the CD or Itunes. I think the Grammy nomination was significant for us personally, and for us in the broad music industry but, as for our tours and shows, I don’t think it made a huge impact. It obviously had some “wow’-factor for us and our families. Just being there, in Los Angeles, watching Justin Bieber the one minute and Adele the next… [Laughs] and you’re there because you were nominated, you know. So, it was a real neat pat on the back.
Russ: Absolutely – You guys are better musicians in any case, so you do deserve to be there.
Matt: [Laughs] Thank you… Thanks.
Russ: So, did the nomination set the bar higher for the next album?
Matt: I don’t think it changes a thing as far as how we write and our mentality. If it changes anything, it is simply the encouraging factor – That people are starting to take notice of our style of music.
We didn’t have an actual ‘sit down’ and decide that we wanted to get back to the Grammys, but I think I can speak for the band when I say; we want to go back to the Grammys. [Laughs] We want to win… So, hopefully there will be a song on our next record that gets us there. But we’re not going to change anything because we want to win a Grammy – We’ll just stick to what we’re doing and see where that takes us.
Russ: For sure. So, Matt, let’s talk about the depth of your songs. I know you write a lot of the lyrics, right?
Matt: Yeah, I do contribute with lyrics.
Russ: So, do you guys sit down and talk about what to write about – Maybe what’s troubling the world or the band at a certain time…
Matt: Ummm, yes and no. I think since we are pretty tight as friends, we’re constantly talking about things… and our personal take. My lyrics usually stand from a personal experience. For example, the song Majoring in the Minors, was originally called Found In Far Away Places… But when we were trying to come up with a name for the CD, I looked at songs we’ve written and thought that it would be more fitting, so I changed the song’s title.
The song itself is actually about a speech impediment that I’ve had as a kid. It was completely riveting and shook me to the core for years and years… and I could not get passed it; I couldn’t get help from anyone, so I just had to get through it… We started the band when I was 17, started touring when I was 19 and, part of being in a band is being able to communicate to your fans. And, yeah, one day I woke up and I wasn’t stuttering anymore – I couldn’t remember when the last time I did, but it just kind of went away. So, that song, in particular, is about how there will always be some… insecurity. But what’s important is that you can figure a way around it, and that life is full… you realise that you can overcome things that seem like a big deal at the time. For me, it was going to my foreign property, figuring out what I needed to do, and then come home… And I felt confident again. So, Found In Far Away places are about how things aren’t always what they seem – You might say, for example, a person is really not good at something, but you will never know their journey… you don’t know what they are going through. So, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Russ: I agree completely. That’s why so many of your fans can relate to your songs; it’s typically things that affects all of us.
Russ: So, coming back to the touring side of things: you guys travel a lot – and you probably get this a lot – but what do you do on the road to beat the blues.
Matt: Actually a good question. It’s different for all of us. Personally I like to be productive, so the hardest thing for me is that touring and travelling makes it very limited. I like to walk around and explore, and see how people live. I enjoy listening to podcasts… there’s a pastor called Timothy Keller who makes podcasts, and listening to him is like my church away from home’s church. He’s a very inspirational pastor, writer and speaker. So, I get some fuel in that way. And, obviously family is very important, so I am also in constant contact with them.
Russ: Of course. Do you ever host drum clinics in different locations in the countries you travel in?
Matt: I do. I actually want to do one in South Africa when I get there.
Russ: That would be absolutely fantastic. We’ll see who we can hook you up with.
Matt: That would be great – Please do so. Thank you!
Russ: No problem! So, will this be your first time in South Africa?
Matt: Yes, our first time – For all 5 of us! We are so excited. We can’t wait to play there.
Russ: So, anything you are really looking forward to?
Matt: I was kind of hoping to leave that up to the locals to show us! [Laughs]
Russ: Yeah – We will definitely.
Matt: Obviously really looking forward to Oppikoppi and One Night in Cape Town.
Russ: Oppikoppi is definitely in one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa, and always a massive party.
Matt: Nice! I can’t wait.
Russ: So, how did South Africa land on your radar?
Matt: We’ve actually always wanted to travel there. We were just waiting for the right opportunity.
Russ: And at last it’s here. One last thing, do you have anything to say to your SA fans before they see you?
Matt: Umm… yeah: I can speak on behalf of August Burns Red… We are SO thrilled to come to South Africa, to Oppikoppi and One Night In Cape Town. More thrilled than we’ve been in years! We really hope that many of you come out to join us at the two shows!
Russ: So looking forward to it! All the best for the rest of the tour. We’ll see you soon.
Matt: Yes, all the best, man!
Russ: Thank you.
5,6 & 7 August 2016
10 August – Assembly, Cape Town
JOIN MATT’S DRUM CLINIC
Massive thanks to the DPC boys, Russel and Jacques, for their input!