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All That Remains Vocalist Shares His Experience of the Japanese Earthquake

Razor & Tie

On the afternoon of Friday, March 11, Japan experienced the worst earthquake in its country’s history. The earthquake also caused a massive tsunami which wrought massive destruction along the Pacific coastline of Japan’s northern islands. While most of the world watched the horror unfold on television, Massachusetts metal band All That Remains experienced some of the effects of the quake first-hand. When the quake struck, the band was in Tokyo promoting their latest album, 2010′s ‘For We Are Many.’

In this exclusive interview, All That Remains vocalist Phil LaBonte talks to Noisecreep about his experience during the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Noisecreep: What were you doing in Japan?

Phil LaBonte: All That Remains had just finished playing the Soundwave Festival [in Australia] and we were in Japan to do our first headlining shows there. We were in Osaka the day before the quake. We took the train to Tokyo, and we weren’t even in the city for more than a couple hours when the quake hit.

Where were you exactly when it happened?

I was in the dressing room at the venue. The rest of the guys were sound-checking. I think it was the fourth floor, so I’m not sure if that intensified the effect or not, but it was like nothing I’d ever experienced in my life.

(The photo below was taken by LaBonte during the earthquake)

Razor & Tie

Was there panic around you when it was happening?

In Tokyo it was registering around 5.5. It was obviously significant, but not nearly the level of intensity that Sendai and its surrounding areas felt. You could see buildings shaking and stuff falling off shelves in stores. At first, I was quite excited.

I know Japan is one of the most earthquake-prepared cities in the world so I felt pretty secure that there wouldn’t be buildings falling down around us. Once we got out to the street I noticed that the locals weren’t so calm, and that started to make me a little jittery.

Was that the first time you’ve ever been in an earthquake?

That was my first time ever. We’re from the northeast part of the US and earthquakes up there are very rare, and usually barely noticeable.

How bad were the aftershocks?

There were some that were pretty bad, but because the epicenter [of the quake] was quite a good distance [away] from us, we didn’t really get the maximum force from the aftershocks. The rest of the time we were in Japan it seemed like there were almost constant aftershocks that made you think, ‘Did I just feel that?’

Are you guys still a bit shell-shocked from the experience?

I don’t think so — I’m a bit of a preparedness-minded guy so I try to remain calm.

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