Warbringer – John Kevill
Interviewed by Alan Gilkeson
Warbringer’s second full length album, WAKING INTO NIGHTMARES, pounces you with ten slick, heavy hitting, super riffing rageful songs. A modern Thrash record that harkens back to the genre’s heyday, yet makes it sound brand new. In spite of Gary Holt’s emphasis on guitars, and they do crush, the real star of the record is vocalist John Kevill. He’s ferocious and agressive and hits all the pockets. Here’s my interview with him.
What’s up buddy, What’s going on with you?
Not to much. We’ve been doing rehearsals for the past few days, back with Nic on drums. Getting ready for some headline shows we’re doing starting tomorrow.
I’ve been jamming the new record everyday…
Thank you man…
What’s it like working with (producer) Gary (Holt) and why did you use him instead of Bill (Metoyer)?
Well we were looking for a different kind of sound. There was a lot of stuff we liked about the production with Bill but then there was some stuff that we would have done differently. Everything we wanted to do differently last time we tried to get right this time, and for the most part I think we did. We already knew Gary from the two tours we did with Exodus and they have been friendly with us since day one. People always ask "was Gary like a teacher?" No he was more like a pal really. He was mad cool. We’d get stuff done all day then have a beer afterwards.
I thought he really brought out the guitar sound…
Definitely, and that was like the first thing he said when we started. He listened to the old record and said the guitars "have to be more crushing". That’s exactly what he said. They spent a whole day on the guitars. That’s actually the single thing that took the longest in the whole recording of the record since we did the whole thing in twelve days.
What did you try to do different vocally?
Well, if you listen to the EP, it’s a really sloppy vocal timing wise and that’s what I’ve been working on ever since. On the first album the timing was much tighter, not perfect but much tighter, but I think I lost some of the aggression. So I was trying to get both of them together, but I’ve been touring a lot so I practiced doing everything trying to get better.
I think this record is so much better than the last one. The band is tighter. Do you think all the touring played a part in that?
It made us way tighter musicians. If we recorded the first record today it would come out so much better than it did when we recorded it.
What’s a Warbringer show like?
We play fast and headbang the whole fucking time. We aim for huge mosh pits. Out of hundreds of shows there’s been like two shows where no pit got going. We were like, ‘you guys are bitches man’.
Where are the best places for you guys to play, and what places have sucked?
All House of Blues are nice because they sound really good. It never matters to me whether a place is big or small as long as it sounds good I’m happy with it cause it makes a good show for whoever the hell is there. Pretty much most of Canada, Edmonton, Calgary… they’re all pretty good. We always hit the cities but it’s like a nine or ten hour drive sometimes to get to the next show. We do Canada every time, drive through Canada north of Montana or Idaho…
Does it ever get to be a drag being on the road?
We got home like a week and a half ago from the longest tour we’ve ever done, just short of four months long with like a hundred shows. That can get to be a drag at a certain point cause you’re ready to go home anytime now. But then you hit a point where we’re so used to it that it doesn’t even matter. When we were touring with Kreator and Exodus that went by really fast…
Anybody you toured with that you didn’t like, or fight with?
No fights except for the ones within our band. We never fought somebody from another band but it’ll probably happen someday.
You guys are always getting compared to old school Thrash, but I think there’s much more to it than that. You’re old school but you have your own vision for what you want to do.
We’re aiming to be old school Thrash, but what we’re trying to do is like… people compare us to every old school thrash band whether we sound like them or not. If they say Kreator, there’s some things there. Slayer, yes. But then people will compare us to someone like Anthrax and we’re like no. What we should be trying to do is if you put us in 1989 somehow, some sort of time warp, people should say, there’s Kreator, they sound like Kreator. There’s Slayer, they sound like Slayer. There’s Warbringer, they sound like Warbringer. There’s stylistic differences between us and all the other bands that we are influenced by.
So Who writes the songs and what are the main themes and topics you cover?
The songs come from Adam and John primarily, mostly John, but it is collaborative. Everyone does their own parts. It’s very collaborative but most of the time it’s John who is the root of songs. This album actually, Adam may have done a little more. Ben did one too. And I kind of throw in my two cents in everything too. While they work on riffs I work on a vocal idea. I did all the lyrics on this album except for the song Ben wrote.
How’s the band changed since your E.P.?
We’ve grown tighter and more professional as musicians and because of that I think we can be a bit more diverse in our approach. The EP was pure shotgun to the face thrash, and we’re still doing that, but also there’s more progressive and technical leanings as well. We don’t go to far with it but we want to spice it up a bit so we don’t do the same record twice.
What has been you biggest challenge as a band?
Really it’s just getting along with every body. Sometimes we want to kill each other. We’ve over come it though. We’re still here. Nobody’s dead yet.
What’s the deal with Nic and his arm?
For the entire Kreator and Exodus tour he did not play a show because his arm was broken, so we’re rehearsing and he’s just really getting back into it.
I hope to catch you guys in September in NYC?
We’re the first band on that tour so show up early. BB Kings has a habit of advertising doors an hour later than when the bands start to play…
Is it tough being the first band up?
We haven’t been the first band in a while but yeah, it can suck. We’re the first band on this tour but hopefully we won’t have too on anymore tours. We’ve done that a few times…
You’ve earned your stripes…
Yeah, we have, but it’ll work out, we’ve done it before. People will show up and we’ll give them a show. This last tour they were starting shows early and venues would advertise doors at the wrong time. We’d have all these people asking when we went on and we’d be like you missed it man, we started early.
Do you have any pre-show ritual you do for your voice, like UDO told me he likes to have a cigarette before he goes on?
Ha ha, I don’t smoke cigarettes but I’m pretty much a dedicated pot head. But I do that hours before so that I’m all cleared up before I go on. I don’t drink or anything before I go on, but I’ll have a beer on stage, that’s where I start for the night. I take it pretty seriously. I try to get the best vocal I can every night. My ritual is to just hum four or five times (makes a sound of a hum, stretching vocal cords), then I yell at a wall a couple of times, and if I have a bunch of snot in my throat I’ll do some Bathory Quorthon screams and that clears me up.
When did you realize that you could sing like you do?
When we first started the band we were horrible. It was our first band and I had never sang for anybody before. None of us at the time had a lot of ability but I was the only one that had the balls to sound really bad, really loud. Eventually I figured out how to be really loud without sounding really bad. We plugged away at it. Some of us just started to learn our instruments when we started. I’ve never sung for another band so the vocal style I have, it’s the only way I know how to sing and it’s for this band. I couldn’t sing for anybody else.
Warbringer video AT THE CRACK OF DOOM