Dustin Davidson is walking through the dusty fields of New Mexico State University in the early evening, trying to escape the raging heat. “I don’t know what the temperature is right know, but earlier today it was 107 degrees Fahrenheit at one point,” he says. “I’m trying to beat the heat, but it’s not really working.”
The bassist for metalcore outfit August Burns Red spent most of his day in the sun, having drawn that day’s 2.30pm slot on the Warped Tour’s famous random set time lottery. Though Davidson and his bandmates had to endure the heat today, he still understands the merit of the setup. “You don’t find out when you’re playing until 9.30am that morning,” he says. “I understand why they do it. There are certain bands on the tour that have a bigger following than others, and for their fans to come out and watch them play in the evenings and then leave, that wouldn’t be too fair to anyone.”
Equality and towing the party line have become something of a talking point as of late with August Burns Red, who’ve recently acknowledged on Rescue & Restore, their latest full-length, how banal and generic the genre has become. The band has even gone so far as to take other bands to task. Guitarist JB Brubaker called out other metalcore acts in a recent Alternative Press interview, stating that ‘Creative Captivity’, one of the more eclectic tracks, is “about how boring our genre has become and how we all need to try hard to break out of the slump that is currently plaguing metalcore.”
When asked to clear up the “we” that Brubaker was referring to, Davidson states simply that it’s “anyone who wants to contribute to doing something creative and different.” August Burns Red has been criticised by the press for allowing their recent releases, including 2009’s Constellations and 2011’s Leveler, to lack any diversity whatsoever. Evidently, this Pennsylvania five-piece has become one of the leaders of their genre, but still couldn’t move past its conventions. Eventually, something had to give.
‘Creative Captivity’ is one of the many leaps for the band, as it includes violins, Chinese harps and even trumpets. And as Davidson tells it, that song was just one of the many left turns the band felt compelled to take. “We want to do things differently to be different,” he states bluntly. “We don’t want to stick to the guidelines of metalcore: breakdown, riff, breakdown, chorus. That can get very old. We like to throw different things in there like whistles, trumpets, just to show other bands that you can indeed be different and really do your own thing.”
Rescue & Restore is the sound of a band with a vision, but no clear idea where that vision will take them. Their future direction may be unclear, but the steps taken on Rescue & Restore are healthy and signal a band interested in expanding the genre as a whole.
If nothing else, the more experimentation August Burns Red brings to their sound, the less time they’ll have to spend actually defining what genre they sit within. And that suits Dustin Davidson just fine. “I’ll be doing interviews with people, especially in Europe, and I get asked what genre we’re in. So I tell them metal, but they quickly disagree with me. They tell us we’re a metalcore band, so I always say, ‘Isn’t that the same thing?’
“I don’t think about it that often,” he continues in earnest. “I can see differences between punk and metal, sure, but between metal and metalcore, I honestly can’t hear a difference.”
BY JOSHUA KLOKE
Rescue & Restore out now via Solid State/Shock.