Bleeding Through are currently on tour in the UK spreading their infectious mix of thrash, hardcore and punk influences all over our dedicated metal masses. As the band’s ‘Never Say Die‘ tour draws to a close in this part of Europe, we catch up with the band’s drummer Derek Youngsma to talk about how it’s been going on the road, influences on the latest self-titled album and plans for the end of the year.
“The new album is about lasting for ten years as a band!”
S] How has the tour gone so far, and what are you looking forward to for the rest of it?
DY] The toour is going great. We are having a lot of fun and the response has been fantastic. It’s been great for us to hang out with a bunch of friends too. Going into the tour we are close with most of the bands that are out with us now already. So, we just got here and started hanging out – really it was just like old times, and we have been having a really good time. To top all off, the crowds at all of these shows have been really cool. Everybody’s really happy and I am looking forward to the rest and the bigger shows in Manchester and London as well. After that, we are going back into Europe. It’s very cool.
S] You’ve been everywhere, how important is it for the band to play smaller cities like Newcastle and Portsmouth in contrast to just focusing on bigger cities like London and Manchester?
DY] For us it’s very important. I think that we have a strong history in the UK and we’ve been a ‘favourite’ band for the metal scene over here for a while. It’s good for us to come and cover everywhere, including a lot of the smaller towns so that we make sure we spend our time wisely. It’s great for us to play in all of these different places. It’s been a while since we have played in front of a ‘hardcore’ crowd and some of the kids into that type of music. I mean, we’ve been over with Machine Head and then Bullet For My Valentine which was great, but now it’s good to get in front of the type of crowd that we are more used to. A lot of the kids that will hopefully have seen these shows maybe couldn’t afford to come out to the Bullet or Machine Head shows.
S] What’s the dynamic like between your tour mates on this run?
DY] We have made a few new friends. We’ve got We Came As Romans [from Michigan] and Your Demise out with us who are from the UK and we haven’t had the chance to tour with them yet, and so we are having a good time with them. As far as the ‘old friends’, we have got a long history with Parkway Drive and with Comeback Kid. We’ve also played with Emmure and War From The Harlot’s Mouth in the States, Australia and in Japan before so, we got off on the right foot this time and everyone was comfortable.
S] From your perspective, how do you feel the latest record represents the progression of Bleeding Through’s sound away from previous efforts, there seems to be a lot more symphonic elements on this one which work well with the black metal and thrash parts?
DY] It does [show progression]. It’s just were we were at that moment in time. I think that with any record we try to stay true to our overall sound and the message of the band, but there are subtleties to each record that represent where we are at at a certain time or place. This record was the first with Dave [Nassie] who is our lead guitar player and is very skilled at doing solos – that aspect came across a lot on this record. We had Zeuss [Chris Harris] produce this time instead of Devin [Townsend, Strapping Young Lad] and that turned out great. It’s good to make sure that every record has a little bit of its own personality and not completely repeat what’s been done before.
S] As a drummer, what’s the most challenging track to play from the new record and why?
DY] If anything is going to be challenging it’s the faster stuff. On that side of things I would say that ‘Anti-Hero‘ is a very challenging one to play for me. ‘Your Abandonment‘ has got some really interesting stuff as well. We’ve been playing ‘Breathing In The Wrath‘ which is a little more simple on the drums, but I like that one as well because it has this real heaviness to it. There are others that we haven’t gotten around to doing live yet which I think we will eventually start to bring out.
S] You’ve said before that this album after ten years defines what the band Is about – at what point in the recording process did you realise that?
DY] I think that part of that is the lyric-writing and as I said, it was very much a reflection of where the band was at career-wise. I mean, at the point where we went into the studio we said: ‘We’ve been a band for ten years, we’ve just finished a long drawn-out contract with Trustkill and we are free to do something for ourselves’. We were trying to start over as a band business-wise, not really musically. We were at a crossroads where we had become an established ‘older’ band on the scene and we had longevity – managing over ten years is a big accomplishment for any band! A lot of the lyrics on the album are about that and that is why the record is called ‘Bleeding Through‘ because it is about us.
S] What’s the story behind the opening track ‘A Resurrection’ from the self-titled album released earlier in the year – what inspired it?
DY] Any time we have done an opening track we look at it as a prequel to the record. We want people to hear it and get a feeling for the tone of the record before they hear the full band kick in. The other part of it stems from our love of black metal and it is kind of a tradition in black metal to have a symphonic-keyboard-driven introduction and I think it really sets the mood for the whole thing.
S] Another favourite of ours is ‘Your Abandonment’ – how was working on that track?
DY] That is one of my favourite ones to do on the drums. It’s got everything in it, because there’s a lot of heaviness in it and there are some technical elements and fast parts too. For me, that’s one of the more fun ones to play. There’s lots of drumming!
S] Talk us through the art for the album, that’s pretty cool?
DY] We approve it! The art was actually done by Ryan Clarke who had done the art on previous records for us while we were on Trustkill. He came to us and explained how he didn’t work with them anymore and how he wanted to work with us again for this record. He wanted to do a hand-drawn bit of artwork and he showed us the idea and we were really happy with it. We thought it was perfect for this record.
S] You guys have toured with a range of bands who are involved with many different genres from gothic acts like HIM to metallers like Slayer via punk with bands like AFI – what do you think makes you appeal to fans of bands from such a variety of genres?
DY] Oh yeah! Some of it really is just our ethic you know? We are based in punk rock and that’s where the band came from. We have actually been very fortunate in that because although we play metal we can actually be respected by punk and hardcore bands. We are able to tour with them and get along just because we understand each other and we come from that world. A lot of metal bands really have no idea about the punk world. I mean, talk to your average metal band about Black Flag, Agnostic Front or The Misfits and they wouldn’t have anything to contribute to that conversation because all they know about is the metal scene. It’s a completely different world in terms of how bands conduct themselves in the metal scene and while we play metal we have always conducted ourselves as a punk band even though our sound isn’t really like that. I think that is part of the reason why bands like AFI have taken us on tour and why we are friends with bands like Rancid because we have that connection.
S] In your time as part of this band how have you developed personally and professionally as a musician?
DY] It’s definitely weird to think back to how I have grown up on the road. I spent all of that time touring and getting a first hand look at all that stuff travelling the world. I get to play music on five continents and I have seen both the good and the band of the music industry. It’s a real eye-opener, especially when you can look back over 10-to-12 years. I have seen myself go through quite a bit but I am really thankful for the life-lessons I have gained!
S] Your random question now, if you could lift the soundtrack from any film and replace it with Bleeding Through’s sound what film would it be?
DY] I could see us doing a soundtrack for something like ‘Saw’ or ‘Fight Club’ – some kind of war or horror film. I think we could do a great soundtrack for a film like that!
S] What’s next for the band as we get ready for 2011 – will you be having a break after this tour?
DY] We are going to take things as they come. Right now we don’t have any sort of plan apart from coming home from this and doing some special shows in California – we’re going to play some old songs and have different themes for the different nights that we play. We are also talking about the next record and the next step. We have a little bit of time, so we will take a break through the holidays and then next year we will see what happens when the ideas come!
S] A question from Natalie (of Onslaught Radio) – what was the defining moment for you as part of this band where you released that you had really made it.
DY] In terms of high points, one would be when we came over to Europe with Sick Of It All a few years back – that was when we got our first taste of big crowds over here and then in the States when we did Ozzfest for the first time in 2004. I remember standing outside after we had played, and that year there was a bunch of friends of ours on the show – there was Throwdown and Every Time I Die, and we kind of had this moment together where we were like, ‘All of our favourite bands are here’. At the time we were watching Black Sabbath play and we stood their with our minds blown and we were in awe of the fact that as a band we were allowed to do this and that for me, was really cool. We’re just regular guys and we don’t see ourselves as rockstars, but it was a great opportunity – I mean, look at what you can do if you pick up an instrument, give up your life and go on the road! You can really see some awesome stuff.
S] Do you have a message for the fans who have come out to see you on this tour?
DY] Just a huge thank you! They are the reason that any band can make it these days. It’s really true that without them there are no bands or tours. We appreciate them and we are always going to do our best to give back to them every way that we can.
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