August Burns Red: Backstage at Club Nokia

augustburnsdaze1_350xAugust Burn Red recently concluded a cross country headlining tour, making a stop at Club Nokia in Downtown Los Angeles.  Sonic devastation would ensue, as August Burn Red performed songs from their recently released Rescue & Restore endeavor as well as other classics from their various albums.  Prior to the show, we caught up with bassist Dustin Davidson backstage for an exclusive interview.  Read on as we discuss their new album, life on the road and how it affects girlfriends and wives, which member of the band is currently single, their unique Christmas album, and other topics of intrigue.  And now presenting the one and only Dustin Davidson…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in August Burns Red, and what’s the most embarrassing song you have on your IPOD?
I’m Dustin Davidson, I play bass for August Burns Red. I’m not really embarrassed by it, but I guess I would say some early Jackson 5 stuff. I don’t have any Justin Bieber. I was trying to think if I had Justin Bieber, but I don’t. I like Michael Jackson – I’m a Michael Jackson fan. Some people might be like, really? He’s in a metal band and he likes Michael Jackson? But I can’t really think of any embarrassing stuff off the top of my head.

How does a tour like this compare to the Vans Warped Tour, which you’ve done twice?
Oh, man! There’s a lot of differences! They’re both really cool! People always ask me, do you like playing festivals outside like Warped Tour or do you like in clubs? And it’s hard to answer that question, because it’s so different. At Warped you only get to play 35 minutes at most if you’re on the Main Stage like we were. And when we play in a club, the sky’s the limit so you could play as long as you want. This set we’re doing tonight is like 15 songs – like an hour and 15 minutes – to me, that makes it more fun. I can get out there – I could play a long set – kids can hear some songs they’re not gonna hear – because when you’re playing for 35 minutes, you gotta pick the most popular songs – you can’t play the deep cuts on the record. And another thing, this is our first tour where we’ve done a programmed light show – we have a lighting guy as well for the first time. When you come see us in a club, it’s a different feeling – it’s a different vibe. I tend to like that better – it looks better –it sounds better being inside most of the time. Warped Tour is fun, but playing in a club and being able to play that extra-long set is more fun to me.

abrnokia1_350xHow does Rescue & Restore compare to your previous releases?
I like to think of each record as like a progression. Some records are bigger than others. On Rescue & Restore, we always try to do things different. The first track on the record – Provision – is in B. So we experimented with some different tunings on the record – there’s a couple songs on the record in B – there’s one that’s in like C-sharp standard. I personally see Rescue & Restore as a darker sounding album. And I think Provision is the best opening track we could have, because it really set the pace for the record. From what I’m hearing, kids seem to like it more than Leveler, which is great – because I was super stoked on Leveler when it came out. And when we did Rescue & Restore, I was like “Aw, okay” and then it really grew on me – it really did, the lyrics and everything – after listening to it when it was done and hearing it come together. Because in the writing stages, you’re just practicing with four dudes in the basement and you don’t get to hear how it’s going to sound until you get into that studio and start recording it – and that’s when it came together for me. And I was like, “Okay, this is good! I like this!”

At this point, would you consider August Burns Red to be a Christian band or ministry? Why or why not?
We are a Christian band. We are Christian dudes in a band more so than saying we are a Christian band. Because me personally, I’m not here to shove anything down anybody’s throat – that’s not the kind of band we are. We’re not here to say “This is what we believe in and you should believe in that.” That’s never been us – but we want people to know that we are Christian.

Can all this touring wreak havoc when it comes to girlfriends or wives?
(Laughs) You know what – a couple of our guys are married. JB is getting married. Brent is married and just had a kid – so that’s getting interesting. It’s going well. And then Matt’s talking to a girl. I’m the only one that’s single, so it’s funny that you’re talking to me (about it).  I’m 25 – I’m enjoying my life. It’s hard to get to know somebody when you’re on the road and when you’re not at home. Me personally, I don’t want to try to get to know somebody when I’m not there. Say I met somebody right before this tour – I’m like “It’s good to know you. I’m out. See you in like 6-7 weeks!” So yeah, it’s really difficult – but everybody seems to do it well. So I’m just waiting for that day…

abrlive2_350xHow does your singer feel about being left out of the Christmas album Sleddin’ Hill?
(Laughs) I mean, all the melodies for the singing parts are on the guitar. We wanted to make a record that didn’t have to have screaming on it. I feel like those Christmas songs sound awesome the way they are. And that’s the way it’s always been for us. We did Carol Of The Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Little Drummer Boy – and all those songs didn’t have vocals and no one ever really complained. The cool thing that I saw was people would do vocals on YouTube – they’d post a video of the song and they would scream their vocals over it. But it’s just something we never really wanted to do – is to put screaming on a Christmas song – and my grandparents say thank you for that!
If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I’m just going to say Jimmy Eat World. I thought of that because there’s a poster in the hallway and I just saw that. They are one of my favorite bands. And again – it’s kind of weird for somebody to think “he plays in a metal band – why does he like Jimmy Eat World –why does he like John Mayer – why does he have Michael Jackson on his IPOD?“ You get sick and tired of listening to metal all of the time – and I like all styles of music – except for country. I would say Jimmy Eat World – they’re one of my favorite bands. We’re actually doing Soundwave this year, and they just announced that they’re doing it as well. Jimmy Eat World would be an awesome band to open up for. It’s a different genre of music too, so it would be kind of weird, but who knows…

What’s up next for you guys in the New Year?
We have off after this tour up until January 20th or so. Then we head over the U.K. We missed the U.K. on this last European tour that we just did, so we’re doing a very extensive U.K. tour – I think it’s like 14 shows which is pretty unheard of for us. I’m excited because we’re going back to Ireland –I haven’t been there since 2009 so I’m really excited to go to Dublin to check it out again – and Belfast. It will be cool to see the U.K. in that way. And then we leave right after that to go to Soundwave – so it’s like you gotta pack for winter and at the same time you gotta pack for summer – because you go from the U.K where it’s cold to Australia where it’s their summer time. That’s a first for us to do Soundwave, so I’m very excited to do that. After that, we don’t have anything set in stone – we’re talking about things and figuring it out – but we’ll be around.

Any messages for August Burns Red fans who are reading this right now?
Thank you for your support! We couldn’t do this without you.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Edward Brandon)

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