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Hanging out with All That Remains' Mike Martin

Friday night found All That Remains returning to Michigan to play a show in Pontiac at the Crofoot.

Mike Martin on stage at the Crofoot 12-6-13
Tracy Heck

The band has been out for the last year touring behind their sixth studio album, 2012's A War You Cannot Win.

Before the show I got another chance to chat with All That Remains' guitarist, Mike Martin.

Q: How are things going?

Mike: Very well, very well.

Q: Well the last time we talked you guys were just getting ready to work on the last album.

Mike: Yeah and that's just about to happen again now. It goes in cycles.

Q: Well as far as for the current tour, I know you guys have been out for awhile but how is this current leg going?

Mike: Good. It was two tours in one. The first five weeks was Asking Alexandria and Sevendust and us and then that ended on the West Coast so we just started doing some headlining shows on the way back with Motionless In White and Soil. It's been good.

Q: What should people expect from the show tonight?

Mike: Well, I heard tonight was going to be good. Every one has been good so far. There hasn't been any like "Oh my god this is a nightmare show!". Well there was one but it was L.A. and L.A. is just a complete waste of a place anyways! [laughs] You can put that online. It's fine.

Q: Before this you were out on the Rock Allegiance Tour with Airbourne, HIM and Volbeat. Did you enjoy that?

Mike: Yeah that was cool.

Q: It had a really different type of lineup.

Mike: Yeah it was a super weird lineup and the venues were ten times too big. It was weird playing a ten-thousand seat arena with just 1200 people there. It was cool and the Volbeat guys are great. We had done a tour with them earlier in the year already. I just think the venues were too big. Other than that it was a great time. I still liked the big venues just because there was catering. I love food. [laughs]

Q: That is always a good reason though! I know a lot of people are coming out to the show tonight because you guys had to actually cancel on the Detroit date when you came through.

Mike: Yeah, yeah that sucks. Every once in awhile you know when Phil [Labonte, vocalist] gets sick to the point where he can't speak you know, what are you going to do? I know they say there's no sick days, and for the most part there isn't any sick days with this job, but sometimes there's just forces beyond our control. He's completely, deathly sick tonight too. There's something about Michigan. He's so sick tonight too but we're not cancelling the show!

Q: Well we actually had spring weather a couple of days ago and now it's jumped back into winter so it's not surprising.

Mike: Yeah he's out in the bus right now just hacking his guts out! This part of the country is just bad luck for him.

Q: So you need to stay out of the Midwest?

Mike: Yeah but we'll play it. We'll get through it.

Q: As far as for the songs you are playing right now, is there one, maybe one of the new ones, that you are enjoying playing live the most?

Mike: Well we're playing a ballad for the first time on this tour which is really weird because it's actually kind of fun. I think once you get used to that vibe. I mean we're always so used to people beating each other up while we play so it's kind of weird that everybody just stands there and stares at you but everyone's singing and like putting cigarette lighters up.

Q: Is that the new single [What If I Was Nothing?]?

Mike: Yeah. That's been pretty fun to play that live just because it's been something different. That's cool and you know all the other usual's. I still like playing "Two Weeks" just because people just freak out so much every time we play it. I love playing that song. It doesn't get old to me. A lot of the songs we want to play end up being like the duds off the album so we can never play them. But we always throw like one or two in just to keep ourselves satisfied. There's one or two in there that people are just going to stand there for anyways but we just play it because we just like to. Just try to find the balance and make everyone happy.

Q: The album has been out for a year now but for you what do you feel this album meant to the band?

Mike: Oh, um I think it was just the logical next one. You know it was cool and everything has been great. All the tours have been good. The first single [Stand Up] went number one. It was our first number one song on the radio. I think it was just another lucky couple of years. We've been lucky for a long time now and this album just kind of continued it.

Q: And as far as where you are going for the next album, do you have an idea?

Mike: It's just going to be you know whatever. Everyone thinks that we have these like big meetings and plot out this big master plan about what we're going to do but it just doesn't happen. We just go and write twelve songs that we like. The first twelve songs that we like we keep and then we record them so there's no, "Oh we're going to write a bunch of soft songs!" or "Oh, we're going to write a bunch of death metal songs!" It's just whatever happens, happens. It's just very simple and it's always been like that but people think there's this other master plan that we're kind of like mapping out ahead of time but we're not. It's just, "Oh, that sounds cool, we're putting it on the album!" That's just a little snapshot.

Q: Do you get tired of listening to the people who say, "Oh, it's too soft!" or "Oh, it's not metal enough!"?

Mike: It's so constant. I don't care, it's fine. We're getting more people now that don't want to hear screaming, you know? So it's like you got all those people who were pissed at first that there was too much singing because we sold out and now there's a completely different crowd that when we write a heavy, heavy song are just like I don't understand what he's saying. So it's two different worlds and these shows are funny too because the fanbases are different. You know you've got us with the more like radio-crowd now and Motionless In White's fans are all like thirteen-year-old girls. I've never seen so many thirteen-year-old girls at a show in my life! It's funny to watch the two clash. The shows have still been really good though. Noone has thrown anything at us!

Q: What do you have coming up for the new year besides working on the new album?

Mike: Oh, just writing. We've been through the U.S. like five times this year. If we keep playing here then no one is ever going to come see us again! So we're going to go away for a little bit. We'll play some shows next year like festivals or something if it's offered but that's it for awhile. We're just going to stay home and wait for the winter to go away and record another album.

Q: Do you have a New Year's resolution?

Mike: No, I don't. I don't like to do that because those are just destined to fail. I like to start resolutions at random times that noone notices so then you can just do it and not worry about people going, "Oh yeah, you're not going to do it!". Yeah so I don't bother with the new year's resolutions.

Q: Looking back on all your years as a band, is there a moment you would want to go back and relive?

Mike: Something we could redo?

Q: Sure.

Mike: No, not really. We signed one really stupid thing where as young people at the beginning of our careers was some publishing thing that was just such a bad idea. There was just this one piece of sh*t in our area that just ripped off every band and it caught us all before any of the bands had fan bases. It got like four big bands out of our area and just signed us to this crappy deal. If I could have that one back I would get a lot more money! [laughing] As far as what we've done touring-wise and how we've gone about everything I think has been fine. We've been really lucky. I wouldn't change anything. Obviously, it would be cool if the music industry was different and we could be playing football stadiums and be huge rockstars but that doesn't really happen anymore unless you're Taylor Swift. I'm happy with the way things are.

Q: You are famous for your wide range of musical tastes. What are you listening to right now?

Mike: Right now the new Eminem album. I know that's very white of me! I love that. Oh, I just think Eminem is so good! I thought the new Alter Bridge was really good. I think the new Devildriver is really good. I even like some of the new Avenged Sevenfold songs which is weird because I never listened to that band but we did a whole bunch of festivals with them and I watched them live a bunch of nights and their show was so fun to watch live. It like made me like their new album. Now when I hear their new album it reminds me of their live show. I'm just not familiar with their stuff but I actually found that a lot of the stuff on the new album is really good. I'm trying to think of what else. Everything else would just be embarrassing!

Q: Well last time we talked we talked about what you would be doing if you weren't doing this and we talked about teaching guitar. You said you were going to have to have Oli [Herbert, lead guitarist] teach you first.

Mike: Yeah teaching guitar would be awesome but I would just have to know about it. [breaking into laughter] I'm a total hack; I have no idea what I'm doing! I just play. I can barely even turn my amp on! It's hilarious. We've had techs for so long now that when I go to rehearsal when we're home and I have to plug in all my stuff I'm just sitting there with all my chords and pedals. I'm just like, "What the hell do I do with this stuff?". I have to call people! I think it'd be cool to teach guitar but I'd have to learn music theory and uh, I'm lazy! It's going to be Subway sandwich artist for all of us after this. Put on those green shirts and work at Subway.

Q: Is there one more goal for the band that you guys haven't gotten a chance to hit yet?

Mike: Nah, we've done everything beyond what we expected. Now it's just a matter of how long can we keep doing this. I mean we would have never thought that we'd still be doing this now so now it's like can we squeeze another ten years out of this? You know turn it into one of those Slayer-like bands that are around forever and people are always going to go see them. I think Hatebreed's going to be around forever and a band like Killswitch Engage and Slayer. They kind of have those fan bases that just are going to be around for a long time. You're always going to be able to go out and tour. We just want to do that. We don't have to be millionaires, we just want to keep doing it like we're doing it now. I don't want to go back to a van! If that happens then blech! I'll go to Subway. [smirking]

Q: Eat at Subway a lot, do you?

Mike: I don't know, for some reason that's just always been the joke that we're all going to go work at Subway because everyone calls us artists because we're musicians. So since we say we're artists, we might as well be a sandwich artist.

Q: Well there is that fast food protest. Maybe you can start out at $15 an hour!

Mike: Solid!

Q: When you're not on tour what is a typical day like for you?

Mike: Oh that's great. Oh god, I can't even wait and that's going to happen in a ten days! I wake up at noon and sit around for two hours and then go to the gym for a couple of hours and then I go out with my friends and just do whatever I want. Do actual human things, which hasn't happend in a long time. It hasn't happened very much at all this year.

Q: You guys always have a really grueling tour schedule.

Mike: Yeah it's really going to be cool to go home and like go out to eat with my friends. It's just, "Oh hey, we're going to do this, you want to come?". It's like, "Yeah, I can!". I had to turn down everything all year. You know, "Hey, we're going to see this band." or "Hey, we're going to this baseball game.". I was just turning everything down because, no, I'm not going to be home! No, I'm going to be in South America. Nope, I'm going to be in Japan. My birthday was in Tokyo this year. Yeah it'll be nice to be able to do some stuff and I bought a condo so I get to move in when I get back.

Q: Any final words for the fans?

Mike: Nope! I used to always say you know stop stealing music online and go buy music somewhere so that the bands that you like can stay bands longer but it's not going to happen. [more laughter] People will just think of Spotify or whatever so it's fine. Bands aren't going to make any money anymore doing that. Yeah I don't have any deep messages.

Q: Just come out to shows...

Mike: Yeah, come to the shows. That's the only thing that keeps them going now. Shows and t-shirts. It's the last hope.

Check out footage of the interview here:

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