Act Of Defiance Interview

Act Of Defiance
Stephanie Cabral

Old Scars, New Wounds is the second album from Act Of Defiance, the band formed by ex-Megadeth members Chris Broderick (guitar) and Shawn Drover (drums) along with vocalist Henry Derek Bonner (ex-Scar The Martyr) and bassist Matthew Bachand (Shadows Fall). Drover gives us the lowdown on the record, touring, building an audience, the state of the music industry and other subjects.

Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Old Scars, New Wounds compare with your debut?
Shawn Drover: It was different in the sense that on Birth And The Burial during the writing process, only Chris and myself were in A.O.D, so while we were writing that record, we were also looking for band members, a record label, management, and all the other things that go along with creating new band, which was not easy, believe me! With Old Scars, New Wounds, all four band members took part in writing music and lyrics, and we also toured and played around 110 shows, so we had a much better idea how to function and create as a full band. Overall, I think you can hear a bit more growth musically on the new record, but that’s only natural, really.

How did you decide to work with producer Dave Otero?
Chris actually recommended Dave Otero, as Zeuss was not available to work with us this time, so the search was on with finding a suitable producer/engineer to work with. Dave has worked with Cattle Decapitation and Allegaeon, among other bands, and he liked the production value on those records, so we all took a listen and agreed that Dave was the guy to go with this time. I’m glad we did as he was great to work with and understood what we were looking for!

Did everybody recording their parts in different studios complicate the process, or was it pretty seamless?
Nowadays its quite normal for bands to record in their respective places they live in, and we did this for our first record as well, so the process for us was business as usual. It doesn’t make sense for us financially to all fly to L.A. or wherever and have to rent hotels etc. and pay an exorbitant amount of money when we write the music in advance, just to have demoed them from where we live anyway. With the advent of ProTools it has made it a lot easier to create and record music in different places. We are a prime example of that, certainly.

How has the band’s sound evolved from your debut?
Honestly, it’s just a batch of new heavy metal songs that we wrote. I think that because we know each other more than when we recorded Birth And The Burial, we all shared the same musical vision as to what we want Act Of Defiance to be, so perhaps that made these songs a bit more concise as to where we are going, musically. Then again, as long as each song is heavy, we don’t have any musical parameters to the songs we write, which makes each new record interesting to us.

What inspired the album title?
Henry actually came up with both Birth And The Burial and Old Scars, New Wounds as record titles. He seems to have a knack for coming up with interesting titles, which lends a hand with Travis Smith to create the awesome artwork that he has done for us. There is really no thematic or magical reason why we chose it – we liked the title and decided to go for it.

How does the collaboration process with Travis Smith on the cover art work?
We give Travis lyrics and possible record titles and he goes off to the races and comes back with several options for artwork at various stages of completion. Its almost like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, really. We give Travis a bit of feedback on certain things and whittle it down from there to ultimately choose what we all think is best. It’s a fun thing to be a part of and we all love Travis’ work that he has down over the years, and he’s a super cool guy as well!

How important is cover art these days?
For Act Of Defiance, we all think that it’s an important part of the overall product that we are putting out for people to buy and enjoy. We try to make every part of what we do the best that we can. Chris, especially, is quite particular in a very detailed way, which is a good thing, really.

“Broken Dialect” talks about how instead of debate or conversation about issues, people just stick to sources that reinforce their views. Has social media caused this, or does it just amplify what was also the case 10 or 20 or 50 years ago?
I believe it has to a certain degree – you can’t argue the fact that the way in which people communicate now through the internet and social media, emails, text, etc. is far different that we did in the ’80s, lets say. Like everything in life, there are good and bad aspects about what technology has become, so I think “Broken Dialect” is a reflection of that, lyrically.

What is music’s role in bringing together a very divided country and world?
I don’t think music does that at all, really. Even in the heavy metal community now, our demographic has segregated our genre into 50 different sub-genres and a lot of people only like two or three of them, so if a band makes Swedish death metal, lets say, and certain people only like doom metal, then they will say they hate the band who creates Swedish death metal without even listening to one note of their new record, which to me is ridiculous, as I love all kinds of metal music. I don’t see any unity in this at all, unfortunately. These are examples of course, but you get the general idea here. Act Of Defiance make music for ourselves and the people who enjoy what we do, that’s all you can really do at the end of the day.

How challenging has it been to build Act of Defiance’s audience, even with the fairly high profile of your members?
It’s a very different musical scene than it was 25 years ago, believe me! Back then everybody bought music from the bands that they love and supported, and the metal scene was thriving in huge way with MTV’s support, fans going to concerts, etc. These days, you can hear a band’s entire record on YouTube, Spotify, etc. for free, so record sales are way down across the board, which has affected every facet of the industry.

So unless you are already an established band, it’s not going to be easy to get the proper tour support and push needed to really get the word out there. Any band (signed or not) can make a video and put it on YouTube, which is great, but now there is so much content from bands that people’s attention spans are often so small that if they blink, they will miss a band’s new video. It’s a very bizarre time in music, if you ask me.

Do you have a general plan of how you approach putting together a tour cycle for an album as far as countries, festivals, headlining vs opening, etc., or is it completely dependent on the offers that come in?
For Act Of Defiance being a relatively new band, it’s important for us to reach as many people as possible in a live setting, so that means it’s better for us to be in a support slot situation. We played over 110 shows in support of Birth And The Burial, often with headlining shows, and we discovered that going forward it will be better for us to be a support act on bigger tours, which we have no problem with at all. Festivals are of course another great way to reach a huge amount of people. We played a festival in Manila, Philippines last year and it was massive!

What is your favorite way to kill time on the road?
Which city we are in somewhat dictates what we can do. For me personally, playing golf on any day off is a great way for me to enjoy the day and get away on my own for a bit, then I just usually find a bar and meet up with Matt and Henry for a few drinks.

As someone who has worked with different labels, what makes Metal Blade different?
I started my musical career with Metal Blade back in the late ’90s with my old band Eidolon, with whom we released four records on that label, so coming back to Metal Blade after all these years was a real homecoming for me. I have always had a good relationship with everybody at the label.

What will the impact of the industry model continuing to move from buying music (CDs, MP3s) to renting it (Spotify, Apple Music) have on artists?
The problem is not the people who buy music on iTunes, Spotify, etc. its the people who steal music from torrent sites and many other ways for them to get music without somehow paying for it. That is what has led to the exact reason why bands are selling a fraction of what they did back in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.

Read anything interesting lately?
I have a bunch of audio books that I listen to on the road, which has been a great way to pass the time. “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is an interesting book and the movie was fantastic, I thought.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I’ve been listening to Possessed – Seven Churches and Adagio – Life a lot lately. I really love the new Adagio record, a lot!

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Support music by buying music!

You can order the album and various bundles at this location.

(interview published September 28, 2017)

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