INTERVIEW: Rody Walker – Protest The Hero

Protest The Hero

 

Canadian progressive metal rockers Protest The Hero tour Australia in April in support of their latest release “Pacific Myth”, an experimental idea released via a subscription-based serial distributed through the online music subscription service Bandcamp. We talk to vocalist Rody Walker about the idea to release music through different formats as well as the upcoming tour.

 

Andrew: How’s things with you and the band at the moment?

Rody: Oh yeah good! We’re in Atlanta, Georgia, raining like crazy but relatively warm so I can’t complain  because basically it’s much warmer than where we’re from right now.

Andrew: Oh yeah that time of the year! Are you guys on tour or something right now or just taking  abreak?

Rody: Basically when winter comes around in Canada we make sure to be on tour somewhere warm hence why we  are coming to Australia!

Andrew: {laughs] Yes good to see you coming back to Australia again, it’s been sometime since you’ve been  here I think?

Rody: Yeah it’s been a minute. I think we’ve been there the last 2 years, we did a headliner over there not  too long ago but not recently.

Andrew: I remember catching you at one of the Soundwave Festivals a few years back.

Rody: We played Soundwave 2011 maybe?

Andrew: Something like that yeah. So how has previous experiences been like in Australia?

Rody: Well my first time was a little troublesome. I got over there and I lost my voice so badly that it  didn’t come back for 2 weeks after until I got home and it was just absolutely fucked, I don’t know what the  fuck was going on. It was kind of a miserable time because I could barely speak and every night I was just  screaming the set and that’s not how I love to perform, so nothing to do with Australia but the second time  we came over I had a blast man. I mean you guys know how to drink it up and have some laughs and that’s  kinda all we do.

Andrew: [laughs] Well when you have trouble like that with your voice, do you do a lot of things to maintain  and look after it?

Rody: I mean I tried! That instance was by far the worst I ever had, I didn’t speak, I just laid in bed all  day and drank tons and tons of water and it just never came back. It was really weird.

Andrew: Yeah quite unfortunate but hopefully this time when you come back to Australia later this year it  won’t happen. Obviously this is a new tour for the new EP, what can the fans expect this time around?  Because the circumstances around the EP are quite different so can we expect something different from the  tour itself as well?

Rody: Yeah I mean we’re going to play a handful of those songs from the EP and a good mix of all the other  stuff. The thing is the EP doesn’t really go over well live! People have contacted us and said, ‘Oh you know  we really like it’ and it seems to be doing well but then we play the songs live and their long and really  progressive and it just sucks the energy out of them [laughs]. So we’re going to try and mix in some of our  “classics” – and I use air quotes because our classics are not that old and they aren’t that good [laughs] –   But people can expect us to play some songs [laughs].

 

Protest The Hero Australian tour 2017

 

Andrew: It’s interesting you say the songs don’t go over too well live when you play them. When you sit and  write and record these songs, you don’t really think about how they will translate live then?

Rody: We do but you just never know how it’s going to go when you play it. There’s huge singalong choruses  in the songs but it just seems like it’s too long to hold people’s attention and that’s something that people actually ask for. We ask on the bandcamp, ‘What do you guys want to hear?’, and they  said long songs much to my chagrin. So we wrote these fucking 9 minute songs and they’re not going over  correctly I don’t think.

Andrew: Well that’s a bit unfortunate but I guess that’s part of the nature of progressive music I suppose  but I’m not really sure why the reaction would be like that. Do you have any idea apart from the length of  the songs why fans are not responding to it in the live setting?

Rody: I kind of think it might have something to do with this tour a bit, like this is the first time we  haven’t been headlining in a long time so we’re main support and a good portion of the audience don’t  actually know our material. It’s a kind of metalcore tour so they’re not expecting the really complicated  stuff and it’s probably very boring to them.

Andrew: Ah well that’s their loss I guess! The circumstances behind the EP is quite interesting to me  because you do this in a way that sort of combats the way that the music industry is at the moment. You  released these songs individually through a subscription service, tell me a little about that whole idea and  how it came through and why you decided to do it that way.

Rody: Well since we were young we were all big fans of NoFX and they did a vinyl of the month club and we  always wanted to do one of those but financially it’s not responsible or feasible. So instead of doing that  we just figured with the digital age being here and we can do anything we want and it’s much cheaper, so  that’s where the idea was born from. And also with things popping up like Patreon and Bandcamp and stuff  like that, it was just an amalgamation of all these things and we married them into the one idea which  turned out to be this digital subscription series.

Andrew: And it’s obviously been quite successful for you guys, do you think you would do this again? Because  I know in the press release you stated that this was purely an experiment so would this be something you  think you might do again or is it just a one-off idea?

Rody: Yeah I think it’s just a one-off. It was fun to do, it was a little stressful trying to get a new song  out from conception to birth every month but it worked out and it was fun but I don’t think we would do it  again. It doesn’t really leave any room for growth or the band because it kind of isolates just the most  hardcore of our listeners.

Andrew: It’s interesting how the music industry is now where it gives you the ability to do things like  that. In the time that you have been in the band, how do you think the music industry has changed at your  end from your perspective?

Rody: Well things are finally starting to swing back in the favour of the artist which is not been that way  for a very long time. The actual industry side of it has been taking advantage of the artists for a very  long time and finally the artists can start to kick back so we can fight it, as long as we’re independant we  can circumvent the industry and just go directly to the fans now. And that’s a huge advantage for all  artists, the big problem is it’s much easier to produce music than it was back in the day so there’s a lot  more music out there. Not all of it is fantastic but everything is super saturated with a billion different  bands doing a billion different things so it’s hard to become a much more popular band.

 

Protest The Hero - Pacific Myth

 

Andrew: Yeah I certainly agree with that. I think the marketing and promoting of bands is a lot harder now  because it is as you say, so much out there. How do you get around that kind of thing? Doing different  things to try and combat that?

Rody: Yeah I mean the first thing I would say is to be unique. I don’t want to see people trying crazy hard  to be unique but have your own sound, be different than everybody else so people can’t go, ‘Oh this band  sounds like this band, sounds like this band’. If you are genuinely unique, you’re going to stand out in the  crowd for better or for worse.

Andrew: Yeah and I think you guys have done that with the progressive nature of your music. Listening to  your music there is also a lot of melody which I’m interested to know where a lot of that stuff comes from,  who do you consider to be some of your biggest influences?

Rody: We listen to a lot of skate punk and it’s always melody first and almost pop punk at that point and I  always thought that progressive music doesn’t have to be difficult to listen to and that’s kind of what  we’re attempting to do. To make something that is catchy and listenable but also very complex.

Andrew: Yeah I agree with that and you kind of remind me of a band called Periphery which I think you’ve  probably toured with, just that very melodic but also proggy kind of stuff.

Rody: Yeah we toured with those boys a while ago, they’re friends of ours and good guys.

Andrew: Yeah great band! So why vocals? What was it about singing rather than say playing a guitar that you  decided to go into?

Rody: Well we all started playing guitar together and within a series of months they all got a lot better  than I did so I said, ‘Fuck it I’ll do the singing’.

Andrew: [laughs]. Was there any particular singer that you looked at as a bit of an inspiration for you as  far as your voice and your singing style?

Rody: Yeah there’s people all over the place that influenced me for different aspects of my voice like Chris  Hannah from Propaghandi, he’s got this vernacular and speed and ferocity that I really admire and try and  take! And then different aspects like Colm Wilkinson, an Irish singer who was the very first Jean Valjean,  he has the tombre and the notes and just the way his vibrato falls I find very beautiful and intense. I’ll  also go to the standard guys like Queen, I love Freddie Mercury of course. You can’t be a singer and not.  And Jeff Buckley as well for his technical abilities as a singer. But those are the big guys for me for  sure.

Andrew: OK cool! Before I let you go I have to ask you about your previous release which was also crowd  funded as well, but it had Chris Adler (Lamb Of God) on the drums and I have to know what it was like to  work with such a legendary drummer like that?

Rody: Oh it was cool man. He came in, he killed it and he was so nice and earnest and calm. When you think of  a band like that, he could of been a million different ways. He’s in a huge ass band and he doesn’t  necessarily have to be nice to us, he could be crazy [laughs]. But he is the most calm, down to earth, cool  guy in the world.

Andrew: Yeah that’s good to hear that he’s a nice guy as sometimes like you said, you hear about certain  people being a little whatever. Chris is certainly a great drummer, how did you get in touch with him? Was  he someone you knew already or was it through a touring thing?

Rody: Yeah we had known him for quite some time, he had reached out to our former drummer to tell him that  he was fond of our second album and he came out to shows here and there. I wouldn’t say we were tight with  him but we really liked him and he liked us as well so when the opportunity came about that we needed a  drummer, he was the first one on the list.

Andrew: And you also have 2 new members in the band, how are they working out with you guys at the moment?

Rody: Oh they’re great. I mean Cam (McLellan, bass) is an old friend, he’s been touring with our band for 10  plus years. Mike (Ieradi, drums) is an old friend as well who toured with another band we played with for  quite some time. They’re good guys, they’re fitting in well and they’re both amazing players so I’m proud to  share the stage with those guys every night.

Andrew: Awesome! We are glad to see you coming to Australia with them and look forward to hearing the new  songs as well as the “classics” as you say. Thanks for your time today, really appreciate it.

Rody: Awesome, nice talking to you man!

 

Protest The Hero Tour Dates
With Closure In Moscow *

WEDNESDAY APRIL 19 – KINGS ARMS, AUCKLAND
FRIDAY APRIL 21 – THE CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE *
SATURDAY APRIL 22 – THE FACTORY THEATRE, SYDNEY *
SUNDAY APRIL 23 – THE SMALL BALLROOM, NEWCASTLE *
TUESDAY APRIL 25 – THE BRIGHTSIDE, BRISBANE
WEDNESDAY APRIL 26 – AMPLIFIER BAR, PERTH

Tickets through Select Touring

About Andrew Massie 824 Articles
Manager, Online Editor, Publicity & Press. A passionate metal and rock fan with a keen interest in everything from classic rock to extreme metal and everything between.