„No one expected it to be that successful”- Interview with Brent Rambler, guitarist of August Burns Red

On the 23rd of November, August Burns Red returns to Budapest. On their recent tour the American metalcore band celebrates the tenth anniversary of releasing their third album Constellations, that they performed in its entirety at their current concerts, including songs that have never been heard live before. There are exactly two weeks left until the concert in Dürer Kert, and we had the pleasure of interviewing the band’s guitarist, Brent Rambler.

You are on the road right now since June, celebrating the tenth anniversary of releasing the Constellations album. After almost 50 tour dates, how does it feel to recall every songs from that period and evoke the spirit of the band back then?

The reason we liked doing this tour is because we get to play the record front to back, which is how we envisioned it when we wrote it. This is really the only time you get to perform an album as almost as one piece of music.

Many songs from Constellations became a stable favourite in your usual setlist, but there are some of them that you haven’t played for many years, and you play a few like Paradox or album closer Crusades for the first time alive on this tour. How was it like to learn that songs again? Did you have to do many rehearsals or more or less you remembered them?

We all practiced a lot at home. We had to completely relearn a lot of material, but most of that was done at home. We then got together for 5 rehearsal dates before the tour started to go over our production and set with all of our crew members.

Without doubt, Constellations was a milestone in your career – the album was charted at No. 24 on the Billboard 200, and has brought you a wider public awareness. Can the album title itself be comprehensible as a self-fulfilling prophecy or prediction? Did you have any preconceptions about that something special is happening, or that was some sort of good – as the title says – constellation?

I don’t think it was any sort of prophecy, but I think it was just an album that came out at the right time, and it was different enough from Messengers that fans felt it was a good progression.

If you look back, what was the main difference between Constellations and the first two albums? After all the music itself was not radically different in the early albums.

I think on Constellations we opened the door for more experimentation within our sound. You have songs like Marianas Trench and Ocean of Apathy that include longer clean guitar sections which was something we hadn’t done much of before.

In your opinion, in which sense did the band develop mostly at that time? Did you become more mature as a band, better songwriters, or you were simply in the right place at the right time?

I think we matured as a band. It was our third record so the members of the band were better at song writing at this point. We had some good experience under our belts.

Back then, did the album represent a new chapter for you musically or in popularity? How did you realize that you reached a new level with Constellations?

I think it was just the right follow up record to an album that people loved. I think we knew things were taking off when we heard our first week sales. No one expected it to be that successful.

It was the first time that you worked with Jason Suecof – after Thrill Seeker produced by Adam D. and Messengers by Tue Madsen. How did the idea of working with Jason first come up?

The idea was suggested by our record label who had done some other things with him in the past. They thought he could help take our songs to the next level.

Were there any particularly memorable events during the recording process – a defining moment, a sense of achievement, or even a funny story – which is good to remember so far?

We always went to this restaurant that Jason loved, and all the waitresses and waiters knew him by name. The one day they didn’t bring his order out right and he was joking with them, but eventually he wheeled himself – he’s in a wheelchair – back to the kitchen and razzed the staff.

Is there a song on the album that you think about that wouldn’t have been written by August Burns Red a few years before that time?

I don’t think any of them would have been written a few years prior. I don’t think we would have been capable or able to play them.

Which is your favorite song from the album?

I really like the song Escape Artist.

During the writing and recordings of the album did you have any kind of musical or other inspirations what would be surprising to the audience?

I think JB was listening to a lot of John Denver.

The so-called metalcore genre became really popular that time. Did it help, or on the contrary, made your job harder? Anyway, what do you think about that expression? Did you consider yourself as a metalcore band back then – or even today?

I think it helped. I think to a lot of people we sounded different enough in that genre to stand out from the pack. Yes, we are a metal core band.

What’s the main difference between August Burns Red then and now – in sense of attitude or even musically?

The main difference is that we continue to get better at our instruments, and we aren’t afraid to try new or different things. We also have accepted the kind of band we are and are happy within the niche we have created for ourselves.

Is there anything that you would change on Contellations after ten years, or are you still satisfied with the album?

I’m satisfied with the record. I wouldn’t want to change it.

If you look back, what did you learn by the making of Constellations and the afterlife of the album? How did a successful record influence a band’s career or the music and lyrics of subsequent albums?

I don’t really know what we’ve learned. Our songs are hard to write, and it’s usually what we come up with is what you get because there’s not much time to change stuff around. I think it was just another building block and another experience that helped us along the way.

You’ll play in Budapest on 23th of November, with the full album in the setlist. What else can we expect on that night?

You can expect a handful of other songs, and a normal hot, sweaty, and fun ABR show.

Your latest album, Phantom Anthem was released in 2017. The first part of my last question is when we can expect the next one? The second half: what do you think the secret of a long term, successful career as a band is? I mean, after Constellations you didn’t become some kind of “one hit wonders”, you could keep – or even increase – the level of your popularity, and still touring with such intensity like now. What’s the most important? E.g. good connections in the band, hard work, being devoted for music ifself, or something else?

I think we’ve always had a more DIY mentality as band and been willing to work hard and do what needs to be done. I think that has helped our band grow. We are currently in the studio now working on our next album. You probably won’t hear anything from it for at least six months though. Sorry!

For more information see the event of the concert, and the Facebook page of August Burns Red!