Check out the song: “Monster Eats The Pilot”
Barrett Klesko, vocalist and guitarist for the Canadian metalcore band All Else Fails, recently sat down with me to discus the band’s newest release, The Oracle: What Was, Is, and Could have Been. The record is an all out assault on the senses; it’s brash, aggressive and will have listeners snapping their necks in no time at all. Here’s how the conversation went.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Barrett: It’s a powerful feeling, but humbling at the same time, hard to put into words for sure, but there is really no other feeling in the world like having a crowd react strongly to music that we put so much of ourselves into.
Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Barrett: We don’t really have a formula for that, everyone puts in riffs, and sometimes it’s a mix of all our work, and sometimes one of use will come out with a whole song. We really try not to limit ourselves at all in that regard.
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Barrett: We all have vastly differing tastes in music, I grew up in the 90’s so, it was metal, grunge and industrial, but our bassist is into punk, our drummer death metal, and our guitarist jazz, so really, it’s all over the place; it makes the writing process interesting, that’s for sure!
If you could jam with any famous musician, dead or alive, from any century, who would it be and why?
Barrett: I have always been curious as to why everyone who ever worked with Kurt Cobain said he was one of the greatest guitarists ever. I love Nirvana, but I just don’t hear that, so I would love to jam with him to see what the deal is!
The name of the band All Else Fails is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Barrett: Let’s just say it revolves around a 5 gallon jug of ice cream, 4 issues of national geographic, a gopher, 6 pencil crayons and a sex act gone wrong, and leave it at that.
What is the meaning behind the albums title, The Oracle: What Was, Is, and Could have Been?
Barett: It is literally what the album’s content is, the songs that make up this album are from the entirety of our career so far. “This World In Flames” and “Fallen” are our oldest songs, (Was), many of the songs are brand new (Is), and the acoustic version of “World In Flames,” “Robots!!! KOLTG”, and “Sludge Factory” are other versions, covers, generally odd songs (What could have been). So we called it The Oracle because it is a glimpse into our past, present and alternate selves as a band.
Now that your brand new CD, The Oracle: What Was, Is, and Could have Been is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Barrett: Immensely! Not only are the production values through the roof, but I’m extremely happy about the depth of the album, it’s darker and heavier, but the music itself feels like it has layers upon layers, both in lyrical content and in the music itself. This is easily a high point in my career not only as a musician, but as an engineer and a producer as well.
Are there any tracks on the disc that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Barrett: I really like “This Burden Of Life,” I feel like it has a great vibe to it, especially the moody ending. As for good story, “Robots!!!” For sure. To keep the story short, a video company asked us to provide a song for a game of theirs, and wanted to use “The House At The End Of The World,” but kept sending us ideas on how we needed to revise the lyrics to suit the game. Eventually we just said fuck it and literally transcribed the last email they sent us into the lyrics of that song. Still haven’t heard back as to whether they liked it!
What kind of touring plans do you have in support of the record?
Barrett: This summer we are doing a month-long Western Canadian tour starting July 14th, then over the winter, the plan is to go overseas to support it in some brand new markets. Still in the planning stages, but we are eying the Philippines and Europe.
What artists would fans be surprised to find on your iPod?
Barrett: Probably David Bowie’s songs from the ‘Labyrinth Soundtrack’. So very awesome.
Tell me about a book or two that you’ve read that you think other people should read?
Barrett: I really liked the ‘The Grand Ellipse’ by Paula Volsky and I am re-reading ‘Memnoch The Devil’ by Anne Rice right now which I think is fantastic. The first one isn’t the heaviest read ever, but it was really imaginative, and the second offers some great thoughts into the whole origin of man and religion thing, though it’s clearly meant to be taken as fiction.
If you had not become a musician what other career path would you have liked to attempt?
Barrett: I think acting would have been cool. There was a time when I needed to make the decision between acting classes and guitar lessons and I think I made the right choice. If you’ve ever seen a Studio Space episode you would know that acting really isn’t my thing!
What three words best describe your band?
Barrett: Metal, beer, metal.
If you were a superhero, who would it be and why?
Barrett: Does anyone ever choose anyone other than Batman? I bet they don’t, though that would actually be a crappy choice in real life. Could you image the level of obsession one would have to have to be able to hold a grudge for that long? His parent were killed when he was like 8 or so… Anyway, I’m going to go with Battle Pope. Why? Do you really need to know more than Battle Pope?
Any closing words?
Barrett: Yeah! Check out our band, like us on Facebook, watch our semi-handicapped YouTube videos, and come see us live if we are in your town. You won’t regret it, and we need more drinking buddies!