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Life On the Bus With All That Remains: Protein Shakes, Left 4 Dead, Shoosh

It’s 2 PM on a sweltering Friday in Camden, N.J., but on Bus #19 the members of Massachusetts metallers All That Remains are as cool as cucumbers. The air conditioning on their 2002 bus, which its driver has christened ‘The Legend 2,’ is on full blast, fogging the insides of the bus windows with condensation. Frontman Phil Labonte is pounding away on his laptop. A sign in the bus reads, “No one is here to clean up after you. If you spill something, clean it up. If you drop chips on the floor, sweep them up.”

A small printer sits atop a table, covered with office supplies and CDs. Guitarist Oli Herbert is also on his laptop, and checks the time on the Cannibal Corpse clock that hangs inside the bus. For some odd reason, the 1995 film ‘How to Make an American Quilt’ is on the huge flat-screen TV, suspended on the wall behind where the driver sits. A dry-erase board, with the tour schedule and other information, is affixed to the wall near the bathroom. There’s a joke written on it: “What do you get when you mix PMS with GPS? A crazy b–ch who will find you.”

“This is it,” Labonte says, of what life is like on the road for the band. He shrugs off the mirrored ceilings of the bus, when this writer cracks wise about what they could be used for. “Every bus in the world has mirrored ceilings, because it makes it seem bigger. But, yeah, this is life on the road. A lot of sitting around, and just hanging. You’ve got stuff to do, and it’s all crammed into three hours. And then, there’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait.” On this particular day, All That Remains will speak to 17 other journalists — all before they hit the stage later on that evening.

The bus that’s taken the band to and from each stop on this summer’s Rockstar Mayhem Fest is a significant step up for the band, who had to share a clunker on the 2006 Ozzfest. “You’re talking about almost a different band,” he reflects. When asked to compare Mayhem to Ozzfest, Labonte says “This is run closer to the way Warped Tour’s run, because its run by the same company. So it feels a lot like Warped Tour.

“We had some great shows on Warped and got a great reaction, and it was awesome and stuff, but this is easy,” Labonte adds. “It’s obvious. We’re a metal band, so the metal crowds react to us really, really well. Other than the crowds, it’s really similar to Warped Tour. There are fewer bands, so you’re not waiting as long for food or the shower. I think it’s closer to Warped than Ozzfest. I enjoy it more than Ozzfest. Not that it’s better. It’s just that we’re a far more established band with a far larger fan base. So people are coming to this show because they want to see us. The majority of the people in front of us when we play, they know who we are. They probably have some of our albums, and on Ozzfest, we were still just trying to get our name out there.”

Are the crowds that different, though? “Marilyn Manson brings out the weirdos,” Labonte says. “It’s so weird.” There were many Manson fans in attendance that day, showing their loyalty by wearing Manson shirts. “Some people understand that wearing your own shirt on stage is kind of gay,” Labonte starts. “Its all the way gay,” says guitarist Mike Martin. “You don’t wear a band’s shirt to the show.”

“I’d say we see way more Trivium shirts at our signings than our shirts,” Herbert comments. “It’s funny, because they’re coming to our signing while Trivium is playing,” comments bassist Jeanne Sagan. “That’s the f—ing payoff right there.”

On All That Remains’ bus, you’ll find protein shake powders and dietary supplements — they belong to Labonte and Martin, who also bring weights and a bench on the road with them, so they can maintain their training. There’s plenty of DVDs, including the complete ‘G.I. Joe’ cartoon series and ‘Watchmen.’ In the back of the bus, which is a mobile home for 10 people and has a dozen bunks, you’ll find the lounge, where there’s an XBox 360 hooked up, and a number of glass pipes … for smoking what my pal the Goat calls “shoosh.” Labonte says he brings his entire collection of games on the road.

“We live here,” he says. “You’re gonna see a lot of slippers, and just all kinds of stuff to entertain you while you’re driving, because there’s a lot of driving. We have satellite TV, we watch sports.” But Labonte says he needs two games on tour: ‘Left 4 Dead’ and ‘Far Cry.’ “I love ‘Left 4 Dead’ because it’s mindless zombie slaughter. That’s it,” Phil says. “Shooting zombies … you always win. Even if they kill you, you still win.”

With two weeks to go, the tour is about to wind down. Labonte isn’t thrilled about that one bit. He’s had a great summer, and can’t wait to tour this fall.

“It’s just too much fun to believe,” he says. “The guys in Killswitch Engage are on the tour, and they’re good friends of ours, and the shows have been amazing. It’s easy to have a good time when things are going well and people are going to your shows, and you’re not dying anymore … you’re making ends meet. It’s easy to enjoy doing this when things are good.”

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