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Interview - John Laux (Warbringer)

Interview with John Laux from Warbringer
by Dorothy Cheng at 09 January 2014, 1:10 PM

WARBRINGER once has been one of the toughest contender of the new wave of Thrash Metal, however, over the years they broke off into a sort of innovation cycle, with their tryout to be more that they show for. Releasing “Empire Collapse”, via Century Media, might be different but it is still them pounding hard. Dorothy talked with John Laux of the band about the new album, Thrash and more…

Greetings, John! I hope this interview finds you well. First off, I really enjoyed IV: Empires Collapse! Congratulations on such a great release. How do you feel about the response the album has received so far? How would you describe the music or direction of Empires Collapse?

It’s Warbringer but we’ve taken things to another level. We didn’t want to feel restricted by the limitations of the scene and just allowed everyone in the band to bring in their ideas and we built a record we’re very proud of. It sounds more diverse and more mature and the playing and production is the best we’ve ever attained. It also has far more influences without fear of alienating our fanbase. We’re happy that it has been embraced so well by the media and fans.

WARBRINGER is considered to be part of the Thrash Revival or Re-Thrash movement. What are your thoughts on this movement?

We are fans of thrash but despise the assumptions made about new bands playing thrash metal. We never were a band that just played a tongue-in-cheek tribute to old ‘80s thrash bands and we never had the cliché lyrics or image of some other bands. We’ve always taken our influences, combined them with others and attempted to create our own style and I think you can tell it’s Warbringer. We have felt that lazy journalism has often given us reviews that throw around references like Anthrax and Forbidden, for example that have nothing to do with our sound. Even on this new album, which is more diverse and adventurous, we can still tell the reviews of people who didn’t really listen and those that did. So it’s frustrating sometimes and we wish we were judged more as just a metal band and not have these preconceptions and immediate stereotypes that some people have of the style.

Do you think many "new-school" bands get unfairly pigeon-holed or judged in a certain way just because they're signed to bigger labels or have a different way of doing things?

In general, there are a lot of assumptions and classifications made about bands that may not be relevant. With so much music out there people look to quickly describe and categorize bands.

I understand that you guys are travelling for your tour now. How does it feel to have toured with some Thrash giants? 

We’re in a little while ago on tour in the US with Kreator and Overkill. The tour has been great. We’ve toured with both bands before and were looking forwards to doing this again. We’ve been really lucky landing some amazing tours and I often can’t believe who I’m talking with and sharing the stage considering just a few years ago practicing in the garage we never imagined how far we’d come with this band. We’ve played with bands like Megadeth, Exodus, Iron Maiden, Testament, Napalm Death, Suffocation, Nile, Obituary, Destruction, Pestilence and so many more.

Is there any one band you would love to tour with, and why?

It would be cool to tour with Kreator or Exodus outside of America. I’d also like to tour with Napalm Death or Megadeth again. It’s easy to say it would be great to tour with bigger bands like Metallica or Slayer or bands outside the genre like Black Dahlia Murder, Children of Bodom or Machine Head to expose the group to different fans that would probably like us.

Seeing as you're on tour quite often, what has been your favorite and most memorable moment while on the road? Also, what is it you tend to miss most about home, aside from the people?

Yes, sometimes the touring can be fun and sometimes it can be very demanding. We had the past year off, which was incredible, considering we toured virtually non-stop year-round for the first three albums with breaks at home only long enough to write and record a new album. After that we needed some time apart to recharge our batteries and come back to the band with a fresh perspective. I look back fondly on our first US  tour with Exodus, as we were fans and naïve and they really taught us a lot. Also, our first European tour with Napalm Death was great and we also learned a lot from those guys. Anytime you go to a new place is cool, and getting to see the world and how different cultures are and how alike fans can be united by music. We’ve had some great trips to Asia, Australia, Central and South America. I also really enjoy playing some of the festivals and getting to see bands like Entombed live. Touring and living in a van for months on end with 4 other guys can be rough, especially on long drives or when everyone is sick or getting on each other’s nerves. I miss the conveniences of home, sleeping in my bed, and of course my friends and family. Also we often come home with no money from touring. Sometimes I think I’m getting too old for this nomadic lifestyle.

It's been floating around on the internet that Empires Collapse was leaked. How do you feel about streaming sites, file sharing, and people who justify illegal downloading and how do you plan to work around these issues as a band?

We’re always concerned about the album leaking early but it’s an unfortunate reality nowadays. Actually the new album only leaked less than a week before street date so we were pretty happy about that and immediately the word-of-mouth from fans was good. Being a musician is very difficult nowadays as there is so much competition and people don’t value it as much as they used to because there is so much music out there readily available and so many bands touring. In order to make this work and support the band we need fans to buy our albums and/or come out to the shows and buy some merch as that is the only way we get from town to town and have something to live off of in between tours. Also the sales of a band warrant them keeping their record deal or getting decent budgets to make good records or promo videos and to get on bigger and better tours.

There have been quite a few lineup changes in WARBRINGER over the years. How do you guys adapt to one another and different songwriting styles?

Yes, unfortunately there have been too many member changes but it’s a reality sometimes touring under the conditions we do and having such little money to show for it. But we’re very happy with the current line-up and we have some of the coolest guys and best players in the band now. Traditionally I’ve written most of the music and Adam Carroll would write about 3 songs per album. With Carlos Cruz coming into the band he contributed a track last time, Echoes of the Past, that we really liked. He was encouraged to bring more to the band this time and he actually wrote 5 songs for the new album, which all turned out great. We encouraged the others to bring in ideas and Ben, Jeff and Kevill all brought in musical ideas that we fleshed out and arranged together so it was fun and more collaborative this time around.

WARBRINGER's lyrics mostly focus on issues of war, violence, etc. What is about these issues that most intrigues you?

I would say that may have been the case on the first album, but we’ve really gotten away from that on the records since. We titled the second album, Waking into Nightmares, and defined it as conceptually the album detailed the horrors of mankind in different ways. Kevill has written about an array of topics since, some historical and some more personal. So once again we’ve tried to break away from the limitations and stereotypes of thrash metal.

Back to touring, is there any chance of WARBRINGER ever venturing into Asia?

Yes, we’ve been there twice already and we’d like to get back there again next year. Our first time was a few years back and we spent two weeks in Asia beginning with a Japanese tour with Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust. We then did our own headline shows in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. This past summer we went back over quickly for a festival in Taiwan and another show in Thailand. We’d like to get back to the other countries we’ve played before, as well as getting to China, S. Korea and India.

Finally, for my final question: it's no secret that you were pretty young when you founded WARBRINGER. What was it that first got you into Thrash Metal?

We were bored and uninspired by the current music at that time so we looked back at more classic bands. What really changed my outlook was hearing Megadeth’s Rust in Peace. That led me to learn to play guitar and to search out other older thrash and death metal. Kevill and I bonded over Kreator and we decided to form a band. We really just started for fun and played some parties which led to more opportunities for local area shows when Century Media saw us and eventually offered to sign us.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you the best of luck for Empire Collapse. Have a blast on tour! 



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