If you can believe it, April 3rd marks the release of the eighth August Burns Red studio album, Guardians (read our review). Released via Fearless Records, the recording is yet another worthy entry into the band’s vast and growing catalogue, with eleven tracks structured around a loose theme; an individual who reaches out for help from another person who eventually saves the day and, in turn, acts as the “guardian.” The idea kept coming up as the album started to take shape and it ended up turning into a thematic outline for what is now set to drop this week.
Guardians was written in pieces throughout the entirety of last year and, instead of tracking everything in one period of a few weeks, the guys spent more time than they ever have to compile the music. Recorded in two separate sessions at Think Loud Studios in York, Pennsylvania with producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland, the second session did not take place until months after the first which allowed for the band to really look at everything with a more critical eye.
Guardians is heavy, driving, and loaded with fist-pumping moments; a perfect album for next workout session. In fact, since frontman Jake Luhrs is such a health nut, we spoke with him about his affection for exercise, what bands he listens to while at the gym, and the lowdown on his daily diet and fitness habits.
Why and when did you got into fitness in the first place?
Jake Luhrs: “I got into fitness back in 2013, I was in a really abusive relationship and I started to realize that I needed something in my life to bring some sense of peace. I needed to work on myself and found exercise as a form of therapy and healing. I’ve been training ever since and it has become a foundational piece for my mental health and well being.”
What about exercise, health and fitness makes you take it seriously?
“I love to see my body transform, I was a really skinny kid growing up and often in school was bullied and picked on so to see my body transform and grow is exciting for me. I also feel on top of the world after a great lift, it makes me more conscious about what types of foods I put into my body. It changes my perspective on the day, if I’m tired or upset, I’ll go workout. It’s like the healthiest drug to be addicted to (joking), but I take it seriously because I know it’s good for my physical and mental health.”
Weights, cardio, callisthenics, CrossFit, MMA… what’s your jam?
“Just your old school bodybuilding. I love lifting weights, listening to music, having peace in my day or going out with the boys for a lift.”
Describe your weekly routine and/or an average workout for you?
“My routine fluctuates due to touring and being home, finding a gym on the road, eating habits, etc.. but when I’m home I work out about five to six days a week, throwing in fun hobbies that exert a lot of energy like Airsoft or hockey. I lift one to two muscle groups a day and try to incorporate legs twice a week along with some cardio on the bike.”
What music gets you extra pumped when you’re exercising?
“I’m a metalhead so I listen to a lot of metalcore, hardcore and sometimes worship music. A brief list of bands I love to jam while ripping into iron is As I Lay Dying, Kill Rob Bailey, Defeater, After The Burial and Comeback Kid. I’ll throw in some other styles like Witt Lowry or Eminem but usually stick to the tough stuff Harms Way, Varials, and I’m lifting solo and just need to find some peace and take some time to self-reflect I’ll listen to worship music the main one I’m jamming now is Anthony Evans and Jesus Culture.”
Do you ever listen to your own band’s music when working out?
“I do! I love our music and if I didn’t that would suck. I listen to my band’s music mostly to practice muscle memory. I will listen to our setlist on tour and while lifting I’ll mouth the words so that my lips fall into the line mouthing each lyric until it’s just automatic. It helps greatly with live performance so that I don’t have to consciously think of the lyric I need to scream next, my mouth just moves in that direction automatically and then I just subconsciously scream it while I can be thinking of how to move on stage, where to go and how to engage the crowd.”
Being a touring musician, how do you stay fit on the road?
“I burn about 800 plus calories on stage a night. I eat fairly healthy on the road and I take vitamins. Milk thistle, one a day for my heart (CQ10), glutamine, magnesium, joint formula, electrolyte powder and green superfoods. I don’t take much protein powder and when I do I prefer the plant-based as it’s easier on my stomach and doesn’t get me bloated, I also incorporate dry oats with my powder to absorb the protein in which I believe my stomach then breaks down better. I sleep about nine to eleven hours a night to ensure rest for my body and voice, and I work out about three to five days a week while touring.”
Some people go vegetarian and vegan while others slam steaks, whole poultry farms, and a kitchen sink in regimented six-meal sittings. Where does your diet sit?
“I like to eat anything… I try to stay away from things that have sugars above 10 g and less than 10 g of fat throughout the day, however, that’s difficult after an hour and a half-long show and coming onto the bus to five pizzas and buffalo wings! (laughs) But I try to fight the urge to indulge and opt-out for the Caesar chicken salad that my tour manager gets me every night. A lot of my crew and some band members are vegan/vegetarians so sometimes I’ll go out with them and grab a veggie meal.
Chickpea is a great source of protein and I personally believe in getting protein from many sources is the way to go. I love my steaks and I’ve recently been eating Bison steaks which are fairly lean in fat and carry about 40 grams of protein in each steak. Not to mention they taste great. I don’t eat six meals a day, I tried that and it just wasn’t for me, but I commend any human being who can scarf down chicken and rice six times a day. That’s the real champ.”
Supplements, yay or nay, and why/why not?
“If I do protein it’s plant-based (RunEverythingLabs by Rob and Dana Bailey) is my choice of supplier. I’m friends with them and know that they don’t go cheap on their product. I will rip a C4 on occasion but I’m also a coffee drinker so I tend to try and not over consume for heart reasons. I do use BCAAs but rarely do I ‘feel’ or ‘see’ much of a difference, more like ‘they taste great and I think they help.’ (laughs) I do like having my super greens for antioxidant and I mean… if you are using supplements you should have something to help assist your body in cleaning it out and perhaps a probiotic to keep a healthy gut…
I will say, I don’t think you need them, and I most certainly hope that for beginners understanding they do not make your ‘gains.’ You can get just as big without them as mother nature has created all we need for those big muscles to grow bigger or for that stomach to get flatter.”
Morning, noon, evening, night… when do you like to exercise? Does it even matter?
“Because of my schedule, I just get it in when I can, but when I’m home I pick either 6 pm after I do my work for Heart Support and the band, or noon with my roommate.”
How do you find your healthy lifestyle impacts your music and/or live performance?
“It for sure helps with being on stage, able to breathe and move around a lot easier. I work a lot on aesthetics as it’s part of my job as a performer so it helps me portray the look I’m going for. No one wants to see a big beer belly skinny/fat guy trying to be an aggressive screamer… it just doesn’t connect.”
Do you balance the “rockstar” lifestyle with being fit/healthy? Or is it one or the other for you?
“Don’t understand the question ‘rockstar’ lifestyle with being fit/healthy. Many musicians are healthy/fit rockstars, but if you mean like partying and such, I don’t drink or party on the road.. I don’t do drugs, I don’t sleep around or do any of the assuming ‘rockstar’ stuff. I’m a business man, my band is a business and we don’t have time to be rockstars. Rockstars don’t last fifteen years in the business. That attitude and lifestyle will dry you up, I use to live like that and it was just very unhealthy, besides, my fans deserve a dry, fit, well disciplined, focused and powerful frontman. They pay good money to see a show, and I’ll be damned if I don’t give them one.”
Have you ever tried steroids?
“No, I haven’t, I’ve had lots of friends who have.”
What’s your opinion on performance-enhancing drugs?
“I believe it’s up to the individual. Lots of reasons to do lots of things in our lives. We all choose and we all deal with the repercussions. With all respect, I don’t think they are healthy. I don’t have as much respect for a man or woman who walks around thinking they’ve achieved their goal and look down on others when they cheated.
I may not be the biggest guy in the room, but I know I’m all-natural, and I know I worked my tail off to get to where I am. I’m more proud of those who don’t cut corners but who cares what I think? (laughs). I just think like if you cheat, then did you ever really win? But who knows, maybe I’ll see you in a year with a needle in my ass. Never know!”