Apart from being a quartet of truly down-to-earth, kind, and hospitable guys, Life of Agony is also one hell of a seriously amazing heavy music band. They have playing together since roughly 1989 and after breaking up nearly a decade later in 1999, they have reformed and come back stronger and more powerful than ever. The band recently released a brand new album entitled “Broken Valley” and are currently touring North America performing in Gigantour; one of the summer’s largest tours. Well, fortunately for PGA, this gigantic tour passed through Toronto, Canada on September 3rd and consequently gave me the awesome opportunity to catch up with the group. I talked in brief with Alan Robert, the group’s bassist and here are some of his thoughts on the tour, playing together again, and what Life of Agony has lined up for the near future.
How does it feel for the four of you to be back on the road, traveling, touring, playing, and partying together after so long?
Alan: It definitely feels great you know. We grew up together as kids and made this thing out of nothing, so for us to be back together as a family, writing and touring, it’s a great experience. We’re doing things that we’ve never done before, being part of this tour, headlining second stage, you know, we’re trying to reach new levels with this record.
If compared with similar tours you guys did in the earlier LOA years, is there anything noticeably different about the way in which this particular tour is going?
Alan: [Laughs] Not really. We’ve had bus problems like always. We’ve had same kind of scenarios. We had a couple of shows cancelled ‘cause of the weather on this run. We got hassled at the border coming in. You know, some things never change.
When playing shows now, do you guys feel a similar energy or connection with each other on stage like you might have in the past?
Alan: I think it’s a different energy ‘cause I think we’re better friends now and we know more about each other and what each other wants. I think we’re more on the same page now in a lot of ways, musically and also on a friendship level, so the time that we spend together is even more important.
Have you guys played any tours this big since LOA got back together?
Alan: No. You know, we did the Mudvayne tour which was about 3000 people every night in smaller venues, so the shows were packed most nights. This tour is playing a lot of large venues and the attendance has been a lot smaller. I’d say on average we play in front of between 1000 to 2000 people a day, but we’re in arenas, so it’s a little strange sometimes. But it’s been great for us. We’ve been making a lot of new fans on this tour. A lot of people that never heard of us are coming to check us out and I would say a much better reaction on this tour than on Mudvayne.
How did you guys come to be added to the Gigantour line-up?
Alan: Dave Mustane asked if we were available and we actually did two Megadeth tours in the past and we got along with Dave great and he always treated us awesome. So when he asked, it was an honour to be a part of it and it’s been great so far.
What is it like playing with so many bands on one massive tour as opposed to one smaller gig?
Alan: It’s a lot of fun you know. Especially in the beginning of the tour we were in spots with really nice weather and we set up a Tiki tent after the show and everyone would hang out and play dice, and drink and party and it was a good way for us to meet the rest of the bands and hang out on a personal level. At the end of the day people just wanted something to do after they play.
Of the bands on the Gigantour line-up, was there any one group in particular who you were really stoked to be able to play with?
Alan: Megadeth of course. Being around Dave is great; he has so much experience under his belt that you can only, just being next to the guy, learn about your own career. Someone with that kind of longevity obviously knows what he’s doing and there’s a lot of respect there for him. Anytime that he’s taken time out of his day to come hang with us and talk to us has been great.
Many of the loud music fans who have come out to the Gigantour shows are probably too young to truly know about Life of Agony. In general, young or old, how has the crowd been responding to your music?
Alan: I’d say in general it’s been a mixed kind of crowd, young and old. You have the older Megadeth and Dream Theater fans and then you have a lot younger fans that are coming for Fear Factory and Dry Kill Logic and us. I’d say the majority of the people have never heard or seen Life of Agony before. We are coming from a different element and a different scene and I think when we first started we were playing with a lot of Hardcore bands and we were on a lot of Hardcore bills and this is like progressive metal. We’re kind of the odd ball on this bill, but it’s been great, that’s what we’re here for, to turn on some new people to the music. We’ve been playing a lot of new material from “Broken Valley” and we’ve playing a lot of old material from “River Runs Red”, we’re trying to give people a full spectrum.
Even though it’s not over, overall how has the Gigantour tour been so far?
Alan: It’s been great. It’s been a great experience. We learned a lot about how we should approach our set and things like that, with this kind of crowd. At the end of the day we’re just trying to be ourselves and it’s okay to stand out and be the oddball; which we always seem to be. Even on the Mudvayne tour, it was Bloodsimple, American Head Charge, and Mudvayne and we were only band on that bill with a singer that sings and for that crowd it was a little too much I think. They didn’t want to hear that kind of stuff. But, on this bill you have a lot of melodic bands and I think that even tough we’re doing something different, it’s easier for the kids that don’t know us to get into it. So it’s been great. We’re actually really looking forward to the next bunch of dates on this tour when Anthrax comes out ‘cause we’re good friends with those guys. Me and Frankie Bello have been friends for a long time, so that’s ‘gonna be great when they come out.
If there was one thing in particular that you could have changed about this tour what would it have been?
Alan: Like I said, a couple of shows got cancelled ‘cause of the weather. In a perfect world maybe most of the venues would have been indoors. Maybe that would have been better. But overall, I wouldn’t have changed anything. We had a great time and second stage is where it’s at.
Do you guys have anything particularly special planned for your last show or your last couple of shows?
Alan: On this run?
Alan: After Gigantour is over we do a bunch of headlining shows going back to the East coast and it actually ends in New Jersey in a place called Starland Ballroom on September 23rd. We played their once before to a sold-out hometown crowd and it’s just a great venue and we’re really looking forward to that, to ending on a high note.
Since you’ve reformed, your schedule has been seemingly hectic. What do you have line-up up for after Gigantour?
Alan: We are gonna take a couple weeks off to regroup and take a breath and then in November through December we’re gonna headline Europe. We’ll take that right up until Christmas and then we’ll be off for the holidays and then figure out what’s next!