Off the back of their third album Mad Season we caught up with Alex Erian and Cory Wilson from Canadian hardcore mob OBEY THE BRAVE. With them being midway through the European festival season it was a good time to find out how touring has been since the album came out as well as discussing the state of hardcore in 2017.
So to start, how have things been going since you released Mad Season?
Cory: It’s been awesome. The response to the singles has been great and we’ve been on the road pretty much since we released it. We started in Canada at the start of June. From that point up until now we’ve essentially been on the road with a few days off. But yeah it’s been great, people know the songs and are getting into them.
Alex: For me personally I had some apprehensions. I mean we stepped out of our comfort zone. Mad Season marks a musical shift for us. It’s growth and evolution but still has that raw OBEY THE BRAVE heavy sound. I did not know how our fans would take it. It’s sort of hit or miss when bands tend to evolve. But fortunately luck has been on our side and everyone has been super supportive. Seeing all the love live and seeing the fans not just responding to the old shit but the new stuff is definitely encouraging. We’re just riding the wave right now, making the most of it.
So what would you say really separates Mad Season from OBEY THE BRAVE’s last two albums?
Alex: Definitely the inclusion of more melody. For me it was a challenge learning how to sing. But in hindsight I’m glad I made the effort and put in the extra time. For me it’s something that makes it more exciting, you know I’ve been screaming for so long so now it’s a nice change of pace. It’s refreshing and I’m looking forward to writing more songs leaning in that direction.
Cory: As Alex mentions that another thing that sets it apart is that we had more minds working on it. Writing the music as well as the lyrical content. It’s also our first record we’ve done with a proper producer.
Alex: Yeah both musically and lyrically I’d say this is our first really collaborative effort where we put all five minds together. Yes we butted heads occasionally but the end result is a lot better as far as I’m concerned.
So do you think there has been a clear progression from each album to the next one?
Alex: Oh definitely, we keep mentioning the inclusion of melody and we tested the waters for that on Salvation. I dunno I think we’ll keep going in that direction without losing sight of where we started. Just trying to get that balance of the old and the new. I still love playing heavy shit obviously.
Cory: Yeah we all do, that’s not going anywhere.
Alex: I don’t think we’ll be a radio rock band any time soon.
So do you feel like there was a lot more experimentation on this album, like RIP is more of a hip hop track.
Alex: Yeah I think this album is more of a roller-coaster in a sense that there’s a lot more musical diversity. Obviously we are hardcore influence but we play metalcore. There’s that metal aspect but there’s also a contrast, We have some slower tempos now. I keep saying the word melody.
That’s fair though because it is such a big part of the album.
Cory: Yeah and with RIP, I think the hip hop or rap influence has always been there. Like if you listen to the way Alex screams its got that sort of flow.
Alex: You can definitely sense that hip hop influence in the lyrical flow. But also when you go to an OBEY THE BRAVE show, normally between songs we like to keep that party vibe going and keep the energy going so we put some rap samples here and there. We try to capture that party vibe. On the actual record we did a collaboration with Loud Larry Adjust who is a French-Canadian hip hop artist from Montreal back home. I’m definitely stoked on that track in particular. Without losing sight of who we are I definitely think we will keep experimenting in that direction.
I reckon there is a link between hardcore and hip hop, do you agree?
Alex: Yeah just think of the band COLD WORLD, they’re really half hip hop and half hardcore. I noticed a lot of people who are into traditional hardcore and also into old school hip hop
Cory: The collaboration between the two is nothing new either. I mean it goes all the way back to ANTHRAX and PUBLIC ENEMY.
Alex: I wanna say RUM DMC and AEROSMITH as well. Back in the day there was this horrible movie with Emilio Estevez Judgement Night. It’s not very good but the soundtrack was record breaking for its time. It was the first time you’d see metal artists like HELMET collaborate with HOUSE OF PAIN or BIOHAZARD and ONYX. So that soundtrack for me has been influential growing up in the metal scene. That’s how I got exposed to the whole hip hop scene. Yeah it’s just been a constant in my life ever since so I’m happy we finally trying to experiment with that shit. It makes things refreshing for the fans and for us. We wanna try and reinvent ourselves and not constantly put out the same record.
Do you think on a larger scale hardcore is in a better place now than it has been in recent years? With more bands starting to get wider recognition?
Alex: Yeah I mean you’re wearing an INCENDIARY shirt right now and their album has been getting loads of attention. Unfortunately in hardcore, metal, death metal or anything like that there are a lot of elitists who don’t like it when people mix genres. Like metalcore or hip hop, shit like that. I dunno, I mean really I don’t give a fuck. I just wanna play music and have fun with my friends. I wanna focus on the positives. Perception can be kinda weird sometimes.
Cory: Yeah it’s always been that way. There’s always gonna be those people Alex was talking about, but there’s also a shit load of people who are open minded. They get excited when they hear something fresh.
So are there any hardcore bands you’re really into right now or any bands you’d love OBEY THE BRAVE to tour with?
Alex: Who would I like to tour with? I’m gonna open my iTunes right now and tell you. I’m loving the new ABORTED EP, new SUFFOCATION and new RISE AGAINST. Even Kendrick Lamar and DECAPITATED. I’m all over the place, like Cory said we are all about open mindedness. I’ll jump from a pop record to a grindcore record.
Cory: We’re playing with a great UK band called POLAR right now and we love those guys. They are great dudes and a great fucking band so we’d love to keep touring with them more.
Have these European and UK shows been going well then?
Alex: They’ve gone beyond all our expectations, it’s been nothing but love. Every night we’ve jumped on stage and the crowd has got into it and I’ll just keep on doing this as long as they are there. Like I said earlier we’re just riding the wave taking these opportunities while they come. I just love touring Europe in general. People are so kind and so supportive, it’s a good place to be
Cory: Europe’s the shit, it doesn’t matter if we are playing club shows with CHELSEA GRIN, NORTHLANE, COMEBACK KID…
Alex: Yeah we’ve done a bit of everything this time. We were playing a couple of smaller festivals and then we’ve done With Full Force and Resurrection Fest playing on massive stages. Thousands of people watching but then we did a headliner in Zurich in small club. 200 kids packed into a tiny venue and sometimes those shows are the best. It’s not always about the quantity but the quality.
Finally what else have OBEY THE BRAVE got planned for the near future and are you hoping to get back to the UK again during the Mad Season cycle?
Alex: Yeah we’ve been submitted for a tour taking place in January and February but I can’t mention who with right now. We’re also submitted for a tour in April so hopefully we’ll land one of them.
Cory: Or both.
Alex: Probably not both, we’re not that lucky. But yeah we definitely plan on coming back the UK and Europe in the near future. It’s always in the plans.
Awesome, well thanks so much guys
Alex: Cool, thanks we appreciate it.Cory: Yeah thank you.
Mad Season is out now via Epitaph Records.
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