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         Metal Singer Sets Princess Jolene Aflame
         Friday, October 27th 2006

     I have a new crush. Sigh. Is it unprofessional to have crushes on interview subjects?  Like…crushes that make you blush? Thank god it was over the phone and he couldn’t see me throwing my head back, batting my eyelashes and gazing longingly into the distance. Who is this new crush, you ask? It’s Phil Labonte, singer of metal band All That Remains. 
     It was a timely interview because the movie Saw 3 was released today. And All That Remains claim the first song on the soundtrack. The soundtrack is pure metal mayhem and features bands such as Slayer, Disturbed, Helmet, Lamb of God and Avenged Sevenfold.  I’m not afraid to admit I’m more thrilled about the soundtrack than I am about the movie. 

     The fact that the All That Remains song, “This Calling” kicks off the album is definitely a plus. Labonte’s lyrics start on an intense note:
  I secretly crave, crave that scent again
          Still feel it pressing on me now
          Now with the onset, my flesh is weakening
          I steel my nerves for temptations at hand again      Those are some pretty stiff lyrics that set the bar high for the rest of the album. Labonte has been writing lyrics since he was a teen. As for a process to coming up with the words, he usually just sits down with the music, listens to it, and puts words to it. 

He makes the whole thing sound so simple but after explaining his process he said, “I’m not a hippie. I’m a conservative dude. I’m a metal guy,” Labonte said. “I hate to say things that sound new-agey.”

     Come on, now, I don’t think anyone would listen to his music and think “new-agey.” That’s probably one of the last fucking things that would pop into my mind.

     People often ask Labonte about the lyrics he writes. He doesn’t like to get too in depth about any of his personal meaning because people can form a variety of opinions on the meaning of a song.  “Music is all about interpretation.” He’d rather people find their own personal meanings in the music. That’s what makes songs so special, right?
     I saw All That Remains when they opened for GWAR a couple of years ago. I ended up buying their CD, “This Darkened Heart.” The tracks never fail to bring a smile to my face. Their newest CD, “The Fall of Ideals” came out in July and is a bit different than “Heart.” “This record is the best we’ve ever done,” said Labonte. It is more polished than anything they’ve ever done.

     With the addition of their new drummer, Shannon Lucas, they’ve kicked up the double bass and completely stepped it up in the metal department. Not only is it more aggressive in metal, there is more singing. “This time we made the vocals stand out,” Labonte said. “I’m really fuckin’ proud of it.”

     Also new to the lineup is bassist Jeanne Sagan. 

     Always curious about metal singers’ vocal chords, I asked Labonte what he has to do to keep them healthy. The two main things he mentioned: he tries to be quiet and tries not to get drunk…because he gets loud when he gets drunk. Of course, a good break always helps rest the throat. Recently, he and the band had been looking forward to taking a 5-week break, but were just added to the Killswitch Engage tour. Unfortunately, this leaves little time for the vocal chords to rest (and, honestly, Phil, if you need me to make you a hot cup of tea for that throat, I’d be happy to any time). 
     So how long will Labonte keep rocking it out as a metal star? “As long as I can. As long as I don’t look like an asshole – a parody of myself,” Labonte said. According to him, when people start to look like cartoons of themselves, it’s all over (picture any old washed up metal band and you’ll know what he’s talking about). Basically, when you start to become cartoony and lose that true metal edge, you become a joke. 

     It made my heart flutter when Labonte shared with me that he was definitely a big horror fan. After telling me that George Romero and old zombie films were his favorite, we had a brief discussion about Halloween 3, my new obsession. He even knew the Silver Shamrock melody from the movie. Sigh….oh, Phil. 

     My suggestion: go out and buy the soundtrack to Saw 3 and keep All That Remains on tour. Maybe then, Phil will think about stopping by for a cup of tea in Hollywood.



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