Warbringer Have Finished Recording 2020 Album
New age thrash vets Warbringer are grinders. With four albums under their bullet belts and a new one in 2020's crosshairs, they've cemented themselves as one of thrash's premiere bands and it doesn't come without relentless hard work.
Frontman John Kevill discussed Warbringer's tenacity as a guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program after the band completed a maddening run of 54 shows in 54 days. While being in a touring band may seem like an escape from the daily grind so many other working adults experience, the singer is quite cognizant that this is his job and went through extra measures to ensure he did it well all throughout that nearly two-month stretch. No drinking, a responsible diet and exercise were the key to maintaining peak performance onstage.
Having persevered through numerous lineup changes, Kevill rejoiced in the band's two-year period of stability. He looked forward to the fifth Warbringer album, which he said is "done and recorded."
As for what you can expect, the singer, who has ambitions of being a history professor, states that the world at large has plenty of lyrical fodder, which will hit at multiple levels regarding meaning.
Read the full chat below and get Warbringer's latest album, Woe to the Vanquished, here.
Warbringer recently released the song "Firepower Kills" and the tour with Enforcer featured 54 gigs in 54 days — a very demanding schedule. What is necessary to maintain yourselves throughout such a demanding itinerary?
Well, we were on the tour bus, so that makes it livable — we had a shower and a fridge. Honestly, I had to be really disciplined to pull this off. I was not too thrilled to learn that I was doing a schedule that everybody who hears about it calls it "ridiculously demanding."
When I don't have any days off, I have to bring myself to a new level as a singer and as a live performer, so I didn't drink the whole tour. I do drink, but I didn't on that tour at all. I did all this physical exercise every day and I tried to eat really well. It was basic stuff, but it gets really hard to do that when you're in a mobile home and you're in a different city every day and you have to deal with whatever is there.
Getting that done was sort of a, "I lurk in my bunk and have a no fun" tour. I didn't do a whole lot of rock 'n' roll stuff at all besides the actual rocking 'n' rolling. It was funny because I felt like the mentality it forced on us was like competitive athletes before the big game or something. That's kind of the mental state that it put the band in, and it really brought out the best in the band. I was really proud of everyone's performances, and I was proud of myself for getting through it. My voice was pretty strong throughout and usually I have a tough time maintaining a level that I'm really happy with throughout a long tour.
After much disruption the band has remained relatively stable for a while with bassist Chase Bryant coming up on two years in Warbringer. How did the new album benefit from that consistency?
Oh, greatly so. We had a working, existing crew. Myself, Carlos and Adam were kind of in the driver's seat [regarding[ songwriting, as we were with the last record, and we had a pretty unified vision for where the band's going and what it's doing.
We've had problems with that in the past — just arguments when we were making the record about what the record should be. The last record, Woe to the Vanquished, got such a great response and we were all so proud of it that it really brought a lot of stability to the band. The other thing is, with the exception of this tour we just did, we hadn't been doing these kinds of tours for a while. In 2008 through 2011, Warbringer really burned the candle at both ends and a lot of people went by the wayside just because the band was grinding so hard.
We aren't so relentlessly active and people have some time for their own lives. It keeps the whole thing a little more stable.
You've studied to be a history professor. In what ways is being the frontman of a thrash metal band also been a teaching opportunity?
I should point out I just have a Bachelor's Degree right now and I need at least one more degree before I can teach as a professor, so I've got a long road ahead of me still, but I'm a good way along with it.
I get to see so much of the world [by playing in a band] and that really helps connect it when I read. Most of the places I'm reading about, I've been there and I've met people from there. You can see what's there now and what they end up like.
As a teaching opportunity, when I'm out on the road, sometimes I'll get in this mode where I'll just talk to random people and tell them about whatever I was just reading about. I'm one of those people that loves a chance to figure something out and then explain it to other people. I do that kind of casually with people I'm touring with, or just with random fans from the show on any night when I have the energy.
Sometimes I learn stuff from other people. There is a legal expert who told me about the exact legal technicalities around Brexit and how it's this weird unprecedented thing that has never happened before, where they are hacking it out pretty much. I thought this was very interesting.
So I get to talk to people sometimes, but I'm learning from people by being out there among them all the time. I'm always watching and listening. Anybody who's got something interesting to say I'm all ears.
There's always been an intellectual component to your lyrics. In what ways did the academic side of your life inform the new songs even more than before?
If you want to write music about evil, the real world gives you all the source material you could ever need. You don't need to conjure some made-up figure with horns or whatever to represent evil. People, the ones you know around you have it in them and that's the stuff. I guess the academic part of my life really gets me interested in those questions. So there are a few songs on the new record that delve into this.
There is one that deals with what you might call the colonial impulse, which is something we live in the shadow of today. A lot of the debates you'll hear on the news go back to that in their roots. [The song is] a long, proggy, dark number.
The closing track on the record is something where I deal with the war scene, but from a very first person, emotional state — not the battle itself, but what motivates the individual to take part in all this and what I got out of it. I wanted to make the song hurt emotionally in family ties -- father, family, country — this idea of making those who came before you proud and all that. And that's juxtaposed with a World War I battle that the speaker of the song eventually goes in, where he dies ingloriously and then asks what it was all for.
I have this very intellectual component to what I'm trying to get at, but I'm still writing songs. They are supposed to hit on an emotional level. I really try to walk that tightrope between those two things and make it so the depth is there if you look for it, but that it just hits you on the first listen as well. My writing is really geared towards trying to walk that tightrope.
Warbringer have shared the stage with some of the architects of thrash metal such as Megadeth, Testament and Overkill. What commonality is there, regardless of generational differences, both musically and personally?
Exodus would treat us with exceptionally great warmth in this regard. I remember on our first tour in 2008 where we were by no means the professional outfit we are now, they were like, "Man you guys are, you're kind of wild. You're just like we were." And I found that the music often comes from a similar place. Everybody in this genre, one way or another, ended up being onstage playing this loud, aggressive, angry music. I think there is a commonality.
Whatever stew of personalities ended up in thrash metal, we're not so different than these guys are in terms of who we actually are as a people, what we feel that makes us make this music. I don't see an enormous gap there. And also, from these bands, many of them have compared us to themselves, which I can only take as a compliment. It's very, very humbling.
That's awesome. There will be a new Warbringer album in 2020, yes?
Yes, absolutely. It is done and recorded.
Thanks to John Kevill for the interview. Follow Warbringer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s radio show here.
The 50 Best Metal Albums of 2019