Interview: Alex Erian Of Obey The Brave
Canadian five-piece metalcore band Obey The Brave have released their third full-length Mad Season today on Epitaph. With its raw passion and furious determination, the album affirms Obey The Brave as a major heavyweight in the metalcore genre. The follow-up to 2014’s Salvation, this new album came to life during an especially tumultuous period for the band (vocalist Alex Erian, guitarists John Campbell and Terrence McAuley, bassist Cory Wilson, and drummer Stevie Morotti). But after a lineup change and a series of false starts in the studio, the band emerged with their most ambitious yet viscerally potent album so far. We spoke to frontman Alex about the new album, his past with Despised Icon, an Australian tour, his iTunes playlist and much more.
First off, congratulations on your third album Mad Season. Are you excited to show the world what you've been working so hard on?
So excited man, long overdue. We spent way too much time working on this record, I don't know if you are aware of the whole drama surrounding the album production? But it was quite an obstacle, and long story short, we had to re-record the entire record because the producer disappeared with majority of what we had made for the new album. So we had to get creative and we called in our friend Dean who produced Parkway Drive's album Ire as well as a few other great records. He hooked us up and now Mad Season is ready and it's here now and it's a great feeling man, especially after going through so much to get it done.
From what we've heard so far, there's a lot of progression and also you've added clean vocals into the mix which is a bit different for Obey The Brave. What made you guys want to try and experiment this time around?
This is our third records and we are celebrating our five year anniversary since we formed the band. We just wanted to keep on evolving and sort of push forward with some of the ideas that we had on Salvation and just bring it to the next level. I guess we had to step out of our comfort zone and I do a lot more melodic screaming and there's more melody to our music on this one. But we haven't lost that heavy element that caught our fans attention in the first place you know? It's still an Obey The Brave record but it's refreshing for not only the fans but for us as a band as well.
Definitely. When writing the new album, did you have an idea going into Mad Season for a lyrical theme or what the album was going to sound like when you started the writing process?
Losing that much money on the record with everything that happened, then losing more money on a previous tour where the booking agent just disappeared, it was very consuming mentally. So, I feel like after everything I just described and what went on during that time-frame was very well described by our guitar player John as Mad Season. We just wanted the record to be a reflection of all of that and we figured the name was very fitting.
You've gone from being a death metal drummer early on in your career, to the frontman of Despised Icon and now you've got your own band with Obey The Brave. What made you transition from drums to vocals?
I played drums for about 10 years or so, I started when I was about 13 and did my first tours with this band from Canada called Neuraxis in which I was the drummer and we were a melodic death metal band. That's how I got the itch and that's how I developed that passion for music and touring, I've been doing it ever since. At some point along the way, I got injured and I had to step away from drums for a while but I figured that I still want to play music and I want to be in a band no matter what role or what instrument I play. So I tried out vocals and that's how I happened to switch from drummer to vocals in Despised Icon and just kept in that direction. I love my drumming background and it has definitely contributed to some of the lyrical flow and rhythm that I spit out and all of that. It was a smooth transition and it's worked out quite well.
You get to see the world by touring some amazing countries with some amazing bands, do you have personal favorites that you love playing shows with?
I love touring with Carnifex, they're pretty easy going and I've literally toured the world with those dudes and I consider them family above all. Despised Icon just did a North American tour with Carnifex and we did Impericon Festival with them as well over in Europe which was a tonne of fun. We've been touring together for around 10 years now and they're definitely the type of people that we appreciate having around. There's too many bands to name really. The crew members don't get enough credit actually, so I would like to give a shout out to my friend Thaddeus who did merch for Despised Icon and I've know him for around 10 years also, I consider him to be one of the greatest dudes and the best merch guy around. I love touring with him and he is someone that I've been thankful to have with on the road for sure. Those unsung heroes that help the band get from point A to point B are some of the coolest people you'll ever meet and we talk too much about the bands themselves. I care about the guys behind the scenes that help us out everyday when we are on tour.
You're gearing up for your next run of shows back home in Canada alongside Deez Nuts, are you guys excited about playing those shows with some rowdy Aussies?
Definitely man. We just got back just back from an East Coast run of Canada with Miss May I and now we are spending a week at home getting ready to tour Canada again, but this time all over. Deez Nuts are our Australian friends and we are very excited to play with those guys again, we haven't toured with them for a while but we have in the past a few times. Looking forward to that man, I'm just thankful for all of these opportunities and we fly to Europe right after that to do a bunch of festivals, so yeah it looks like we will be busy for quite a while.
What's more likely to happen? An Obey The Brave tour of Australia or Despised Icon tour of Australia?
Both actually. I'm trying to make sure that both happen. It's a slow process though when it comes to Despised Icon because most of the other guys have families now and work obligations. So we more or less only tour a couple of weeks or a month out of an entire year. Regardless, every show and every event counts and my other guys consider tours to be sort of like a vacation away from work so I'm sure that could happen for sure. It's just a matter of when, not if. It will happen and so will Obey The Brave when it comes to an Australian tour. If an opportunity happens where it works out for everyone then we will be sure to take it.
I was at the 2010 Despised Icon Farewell Tour in Melbourne, that was one of the best shows I've ever been to actually. So it would be great to see you guys back here again.
Sick! Was the with Signal The Firing Squad and Thy Art Is Murder? We played with some very talented bands on that tour. It was amazing.
Yeah, there was Signal The Firing Squad, The Red Shore, Thy Art Is Murder before the became the biggest deathcore band in the world.
Yeah man, we had a blast on that tour. Australia has some incredible death metal bands.
During my early 20's I used to watch the Montreal Assault DVD at home almost every weekend instead of going out to parties. I just used to sit there in awe of the performance and your vocals. Is there a particular band or artist these days that you're really impressed by that gets you pumped up and ready to go?
Well thank you first and foremost. That Montreal Assault DVD, we filmed that like 9 years ago, so yeah time flies. As far as what I've been listening to lately, let me check my Apple Music playlist and I'll see what we have here. Alright so, a lot of old Freddie Gibbs and a lot of old Kendrick Lamar. I am trying out the new Body Count album and I like it so far. The new Paramore which everyone is hating on but I think it's pretty original from a musician standpoint, and it has that 80's vibe, so yeah I'm digging that one. This band on Relapse Records called Nothing and their album called Tired Of Tomorrow, it's fucking sick, check that out. The Blue Album by Weezer is getting some serious plays lately. The new Malevolence, any fan of metal like old Pantera or old Sepultura, or even Crowbar and Type O Negative, picture like that mindset but also throw in modern, technical, slam with some death metal parts. This new album of theirs called Self Supremacy is fucking sick dude, go and listen to that when you get a chance. It's probably my favourite heavy record right now. The new Dying Fetus from what I've heard is sounding really fucking brutal also. Then there's a lot of French rappers from back home that you've probably never heard of (laughs).
Some good stuff there. Unfortunately we have to say goodbye for now, thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. We hope to see Obey The Brave here really soon for some shows. Any final words for you Aussie fans before you head off?
We will make it back ASAP and we hope to see you guys soon. We hope you enjoy the new record and as always thanks for the support.
Mad Season is out now via Epitaph Records. Purchase now on iTunes or stream on Spotify.
Written by Steve Jenkins
Watch the official music video for the track 'On Our Own' below: