I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Martin, guitarist of the band All That Remains, as the group made their way through town on the Jagermeister Tour with Buckcherry, Hell Yeah, and the Damned Things. Here’s what Mike had to say on the topics of the current tour, success (or a lack thereof), UFC, VH1, nerdiness, and their new album, For We Are Many.
Mike Martin and Jason Koerner (Photo by Chris Armold)
LMN: What has it been like being on the Jagermeister tour with Buckcherry and others?
MM: It’s been awesome. We don’t tour with a lot of rock bands; it’s been really cool to play for different people that would normally not come see us, or ever even hear of us. Everybody in every band is really nice, and the shows have been fun… besides the ones that have gotten canceled!
LMN: Do you guys get to associate with the other bands a lot? Do you get to do things outside of the shows, or is it mainly show up-play, show up-play?
MM: Depending on the night… There are certain nights where everyone has to leave early for long drives or whatever, but a lot of the nights in the dressing rooms everyone is just mingling back and forth trying to find some sort of trouble to get into! Everyone is very personable; no one is really hiding out on the tour or too cool to hang out. I’m boring, personally, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
LMN: Has anyone you’ve met on the road ever made you star-struck?
MM: Yeah, we did some radio festivals in 2009, and I got to chat with Duff McKagan. Guns N’ Roses is my favorite band ever. I met him, and I was just like freaking out. (Mike went on to share experiences involving Alice in Chains, Zakk Wylde, and his extreme hopes of meeting Slash in a few weeks when they tour in Australia together…)
LMN: I saw that you guys are on tour in the states until February 20, then you are off to Australia with bands like Slayer, Avenged Sevenfold, and Devildriver… later Russia, Sweden, Denmark… what is it like touring in other countries?
MM: It’s cool, they all have their different kind of thing happening. We are doing two shows in Japan on the way home from Australia… The Euro Fests in the summertime are really cool… You don’t get to play for that many people at once usually in Europe… They don’t see you as much, so you can tell they’re slightly more enthusiastic just because they really are taking it in and appreciating it while you are there. They’re a little bit more wild.
LMN: How has success changed your personal relationships outside of the band… Is it hard to find time for friends and family?
MM: No, we’re not that successful, first of all! Everything’s the same. Everybody in this band lives with their parents, so there’s no success to brag about! Your friends don’t have to look at you differently, that’s for sure… Perception is a weird thing sometimes. People see us doing music videos or playing a festival for 20,000 people and they think we’re driving Bentleys and making platinum records. That’s not the case, we can barely even live! There’s no rock stardom yet, that’s for sure. I wish the days of platinum records weren’t over!
LMN: What is the best moment in All That Remains’ history?
MM: The one that has stood out the most is when we played Metaltown (a festival in Sweden) two summers ago. This band started because of all of those Gothenburg metal bands like At The Gates and Arch Enemy. There were like 20,000 people… And it wasn’t just like 20,000 people watching, it was 20,000 people that were way into it. We were playing with the Haunted, which are good friends of ours. It was one of those things where we were just like, “WOW.” To play in Sweden with all of those bands that we grew up listening to for that many people… It was the best show this band has ever played. We’re really excited to go back and do it again this summer.
LMN: What is the worst moment?
MM: I don’t know, there are so many situations you get put in that you are just like, “Arggggggg…” The years where you are touring in vans… There are so many bad moments I can’t think of just one! We had to cancel half of a tour once because Phil blew his voice out real bad, and it was an amazing tour. We’ve never had to drop off a tour. The shows were going really well, but two weeks into it, Phil had some real bad throat problems, and we had to cancel. That just wasn’t a good feeling… That one is up there on the crappy list.
LMN: What do you like to do in your free time?
MM: I’m a big sports/fitness guy. When I’m at home, I’m either at the gym, or just in front of the TV watching whatever sports I can get my eyes on. All of baseball, hockey, football, basketball… I’m at sporting events or watching them, or at the gym doing some physical activity. (At this point, I noticed Mike’s Boston Red Sox T-shirt, and he talked about his support of all the New England sports teams.)
LMN: Do you follow UFC?
MM: We were watching it on the bus, actually, before I came in. I don’t follow it religiously, but I really enjoy watching it.
LMN: Who is your favorite fighter?
MM: I don’t have one really, but I really like watching the freak fighters. Love watching Brock Lesnar because he’s so big and I think it’s fun to watch those fighters that look like superheroes. It was actually disappointing last time I watched him fight because he got the shit kicked out of him. It was really weird to see a superhero like that get beat up. I still watch professional wrestling! I like the cartoonish entertainment value, no matter how old I get, I don’t care, I still think it’s fun.
LMN: Do you have any guilty pleasures? (Mike expanded the professional wrestling discussion with his best Napoleon dynamite voice, “What is wrong with you, you’re an idiot!,” he said.)
MM: Musically, there’s a million. I love John Mayer. I’m a big pop fan in general, I like VH1 pop way too much. It makes our fans really mad! If it’s on VH1, I probably like it.
LMN: How much time do you think you spend together as a band a year?
MM: On a year like this, probably a good nine months together… It sucks! We’re used to each other; everyone is used to each other’s quirks. The beginning of the tour is fine, the middle of the tour is fine, but when you do those two or three month tours and you get to that eight or nine week mark… If someone sneezes the wrong way you just wanna’ punch them in the face!
LMN: When you guys are not touring, do you hang out with the band a lot?
MM: Nobody in this band has anything in common whatsoever. I’ve never met a more opposite five people in my life.
LMN: Is there a role each one of you has in the band (someone is the partier, someone the nerd, someone the peacemaker)?
MM: Everyone is a huge nerd. I’m the sports jock, everyone else in the band is Star Wars, Lord of the Rings garbage, super nerd stuff. Jason plays World of Warcraft for nine hours a day. It’s 4 on 1, basically. Four super nerds, and me, the jock guy.
LMN: Do you ever try to hit them with some sports trivia to try to balance the nerd-dom?
MM: No, I don’t even bother. If it’s not Harry Potter, they don’t want to hear about it. (He went on to add that the band is pretty tolerant if he puts a game on TV, but he does not extend the same generosity when they put on their favorite movies…)
Mike Martin performing at Expo Five
LMN: What does All That Remains bring to listeners that other bands do not?
MM: I think we are more versatile heavy music. Some of the stuff that we do, I think other heavy bands would be afraid to try, as far as a lot of styles of metal and rock. Singing, screaming, different kinds of screaming, death metal, high screaming, acoustic guitars, heavy guitars… Just a different mixture of things, we don’t get to stagnant. We’ve put five albums out now. If you just keep putting the same thing out over and over, it’s like, “I’m over it, I get it.” I think each one of our albums has a very different sound, which is something I’ve always thought was really cool about this band. Basically, just keeping people interested. (Mike goes into the influence of their radio play as well, which helps them to reach a wider audience and be invited to play more shows and festivals… Additionally, we discussed how touring with a variety of bands, such as Buckcherry, furthers the cause too.)
LMN: What goals do you have that have not been met as a band yet that you’d like to see happen this year?
MM: Doing Download (a UK festival) is something we’ve been wanting to do for years, and it’s just never happened (the band will be playing it in June 2011). Other than that, I don’t know. We have done everything. We’ll just try not to go crazy doing so many shows. It is going to be mentally exhausting year or so than physically. I think we might to South America this year for the first time. There is no out of the ordinary goal, just get through the tours and hopefully not kill each other!
LMN: What can you tell people about your new album, For We Are Many?
MM: Adam D (Dutkiewicz) was available this time to produce it, which was cool because we didn’t even have to travel to record, which we hate doing. We got to stay calm while we recorded, which was amazing. It’s not a concept album, or anything like that. No rock operas, nothing fancy. We actually had a good amount of time this time to do it, way more time than we usually have.
LMN: What is your favorite song off this new album to play, as a guitarist?
MM: “Some of the People, All of the Time” is my favorite right now. It varies, because you get sick of them really quick because we play them every night, but that one right now is my favorite… Especially on this tour because it is really heavy, and some of the older moms on the Buckcherry shows get really frightened in general when we play that song. It is really fun to see their reactions! We’ve been taking pride in the fact that we are the really heavy band on this tour. You see some people with their ears covered on the front row that are scared to death… That’s my favorite song.
LMN: Is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans or potential new fans?
MM: No, not besides the whole, “stop stealing music thing.” We’ll be on tour all year, so stop e-mailing us asking us when we are coming to your city when we were just there three days ago! That happens all of the time, and it’s annoying. There is the Internet, which I’m sure everyone has heard of… All of our tour dates are always on the Internet… Just look. We get so much mail from people that are like, “When are you coming to Denver?” We were there four days ago, you should have looked. So just keep an eye out, we will be on tour all year… ‘in a city near you.’
All That Remains