There’s nothing like going to a hometown Protest The Hero show. It’s a place to meet up with old friends, make some new ones and watch an entire room go bananas for the 5 dudes who grew up in Whitby, Ontario. Protest The Hero recently embarked on their headlining tour for new album Scurrilous and set off without playing the city where it all kind of came together for them, Oshawa. I had the chance to sit down with both bassist Arif Mirabdolbaghi and guitarist Tim Millar and chat over a nice cold beer about the new album, life and facial hair.
So how’s the Protest camp doing at the moment?
Arif: Fantastic, It’s great to be back and on a headlining tour for our new album “Scurrilous”.
Tim: And we are back in Oshawa where this all began for us as a live band.
What are your feelings about this tour?
Tim: This as been the first tour we have done in Canada for about a year and it feels really great to be back and this time with a brand new album we get to throw into the set.
Arif: It’s gratifying that we tend to defy conventions. People tell you that if you don’t play for a long time or take some what of a hiatus, the people will forget about you but I think we are fortunate enough that around our home town people remember us. Every time we play around here it’s a really great vibe and wonderful atmosphere and we owe that all to the crowd.
The new album, Scurrilous. How do you feel this album stands apart from your previous releases in sound and direction wise of the whole theme and feel?
Arif: You know it’s funny, if you asked me this exact same question upon the release of Fortress I would give you somewhat of the same answer. I think it’s a more concentrated effort towards conventional songwriting yet it’s still kind of pushing the envelope of what people consider a song. The songs still sound like Protest The Hero but hopefully just a little bit better.
I remember in previous interviews I’ve read that you tend to shy away from the mainstream, why do you think that is?
Arif: I’m not sure the mainstream would be too accepting of us. I feel that any commercial success we’ve had is remarkable because we aren’t exactly a band that has too much commercial viability. So it’s not so much shying away but rather we don’t fit the mold that they require of us.
Tim: I feel that the mainstream is always changing and we are trying for the most part to stay the same as in who we are and what the band stands for. If it happens that people from the mainstream listens to us that great but we aren’t going to change for them to like us.. they will find us when they are ready
Just say Protest The Hero never existed.. what do you see yourself doing at this very moment?
Arif: I flatter myself by saying I would still be playing music, I really do think it would be a part of my life either way but I had an interest in going into Library Sciences. That was kind of the field I wanted to pursue in life and I mean that’s not as Rock n Roll as the career path I have chosen but my guidance councilor never told me this was a viable option for the rest of my life but I am thankful that it is.
Tim: I was suppose to go to school for Engineering and made the choice out of high school to deffer that.. and I’m still differing, you know post secondary but I feel lucky that at such a young age we had budding career starting. We waved all our friends goodbye when they went off to school or started their career and we went on the road.
The writing process of this album, how did it differ from the previous records?
Arif: I think the chief difference is that our singer Rody is handling the most of the lyric writing duties this time and it’s cleared up past issues we have with phrasing. If anything is going to make the song sound like a singular point being communicated, it’s that the fact the lyrics can cater to little musical moments. As the music shifts so to the ideas behind the lyrics and ideas behind them.
Tim: I feel one of the biggest changes for this album is we had more time to write. We kind of let the songs come to fruition naturally rather then feeling we had a certain amount of time to write and a certain amount of time record it. So we let the natural process run and had about a year to sit on the songs and get to know them before we had to record them.
So how important is facial hair to you guys?
Arif: We get away with it! I have friends who work in banks and they can’t grow beards because they are contractually obligated not to and I haven’t heard of something so emasculating and humiliating then that, and I feel Tim is a better authority on the subject.
Tim: The best part about being self employed is that you are your own boss!! Well I guess the 5 of us are our own bosses so until the day comes where they come to me and say ” you know I think it’s time to shave, you don’t look good when you come to work” I plan on looking a rugged Canadian, wearing plaid and growing beards.
Arif: And Winger T-shirts.. I feel the Winger T-shirt and Tim’s Beard is responsible for a small percentage of our album sales.
Tim, you are part of the Canadian Beard team aren’t you?
Tim: Beard Team Canada. I was one of the founding fathers and it all started at the World Beard and Mustache championship. A bunch of Canadians went up to compete and we all met each other randomly in Alaska, we found it odd this has been in it’s 20th year and there was no Canadian team so we decided to follow the tradition and start one. We got some Hockey Jerseys going with “Beard Team Canada” and start the ball rolling. The captain is actually here tonight with his Beard Team Canada truck and he lives in Bowmanville.
What would you say is your bands greatest strength and biggest weakness?
Arif: I think you might even be able to say they are one in the same. The fact that we can accomplish certain goals with a detour that other bands take a direct route to, has kind of been your thing. We don’t sound like every other band yet we get a chance to tour with every other band. It is our strength and weakness. Strength that the people who like us, like us for who we are and even the people who don’t like us at least respect us. I’m honored to have that reputation.
What’s in store for Protest The Hero after this tour?
Arif: Pretty much keep doing what we are doing. This tour takes us to the middle of springs, we have some festival dates in the summer and the Maritime dates in the fall.
Tim: We plan on staying on tour but in a way that doesn’t burn us out. After this tour I plan on going to Norway for the “World Beard and Mustache Competition 2011.