Converge's new video for the song "Eagles Become Vultures" is finally out! This is the most insane video you will see for a long time so be sure to check it out href='http://www.epitaph.com/bands/index.php?id=361'>HERE>!
NOVEMBER 2004 - As far as musical intensity goes, it's difficult in the year 2004 to find a band that outshines CONVERGE. Blistering, acidic, and brimming over with fiery passion, the band has created a unique sound that takes some of the most commanding characteristics from classic metal and punk and adds a thousand layers of personal, modern rage. The latest record "You Fail Me", released this year on Epitaph Records, finds Ben, Jacob, Kurt, and Nate tearing things up much the same way they did in 2001 with the landmark "Jane Doe" record. In addition to the scalding power laid down on "You Fail Me", the band has found ways to grow their overall sound with some new dynamics and experiments with tempo, making this one a keeper around the dogsite for sure. We caught up with Jacob Bannon last week, and spent a few minutes finding out about the label change, initial reactions to the record, and a little about what keeps this musical roller coaster rocketing along the twisted tracks.
Peacedogman: Jacob, thanks for taking time to talk with us. First off, how has the reaction been to "You Fail Me" so far?
Jacob Bannon: People have been really supportive so far. It's been a great experience for us.
PD: The album moves into some different directions than "Jane Doe" in tracks like "In Her Shadow", etc showing some longer, more subdued arrangements. Have you encountered any fans that find the record "too radical of a departure" from past releases?
JB: Well, I think the key is to respect your audience and give them the credit they deserve. Know what they like and what they dislike. They empower you and they support you, and the progression and evolution of your work and your art. It seems like a lot of times there's always that core group of people that might say, "Hey, you should have put out something more like the record you did five years ago..." or whatever. I mean, there's very few bands out there that can put out the same type of album again and again every single time. A lot of times, that doesn't do anybody any good.
PD: CONVERGE right now is in an interesting place. How does it feel to be appearing in both the mainstream and underground publications simultaneously?
JB: We've always sort of teetered on that edge. One thing that we have going for us, like some other heavy bands, is that we're not really accessible. We're abrasive. We're too emotional, and we're heavy in that way. There's too much stuff going on in the music.
PD: For mainstream rock to embrace a band, the music often has to be homogenized to a certain degree.
JB: Exactly. I mean, we've been together as a band for such a long time, our sound and approach is refined to the point where it isn't going to change. It hasn't changed over a decade and it's not going to change now. Sometimes we get the support of certain "larger publications", which is great. Sometimes I question their motives, and sometimes I don't because I know them personally. But every once in awhile, you can tell the ones that "just heard about you", or are interested because of ulterior motives. I mean, that's partly what their job is, and unfortunately it seems like there's more "uninformed press" out there than "informed press". The only thing you can do as an artist is make sure you represent yourself wholly and fully. Tell people what you are about, or they may make it up themselves.
PD: Let's talk a little about the label change. How do you guys feel about being on the Epitaph label. It seems like the label is getting more variety these days (TURBONEGRO's last album, now CONVERGE) from the NOFX and BAD RELIGION-type bands I always associated with it.
JB: Yeah, there was a time when I saw it as a sort of pop-punk rooted label, pretty much at the forefront in the huge pool of pop punk after the commercial death of grunge. And they were responsible for a lot of the success of a lot of the bands at that time. But they stayed independent, and they stayed open-minded...as much as you could after selling 5 million records! Well, after awhile, that world died down, and like any other business, they were interested in branching out and reaching out to other parts of the community that they saw quality in, and that they were interested in. They want to do other things. Brett from BAD RELIGION and Epitaph has been an engineer for a very long time. They all have the ability to look in other places after the 5 million sellers, the RANCID records and the OFFSPRING records and stuff. They started looking in other places for artists that they respected and wanted to work with. And now, we're part of that. It's pretty amazing that we can be label-mates with THE LOCUST and NICK CAVE, and other artists like that. It's really an amazing thing.
PD: I'm glad you know more about the evolution of the label than me. You can tell I'm more of a "metal guy".
JB: Yeah, but really I am too. I was more familiar with their commercially-oriented stuff, but I was also a hardcore/punk guy, and I watched a lot of older hardcore guys start bands like Wayne Kramer from MC5, and Dave Smalley from DAG NASTY, etc. I paid attention to that stuff for a very long time, so I knew they (Epitaph) were at the forefront of something.
PD: The punk purists can be rather crippling in an anti-metal kinda way. I don't really see the line between hardcore punk or any other type of punk rock and metal...
JB: There isn't a line. People put that line in there because usually they're uneducated about it. It's easier to try to classify something than it is to just accept it. A lot of people won't see the beauty in a SATYRICON record or a DARKTHRONE record, y'know? It's all valid....just different.
PD: Agreed. It seems that the more stringent critics often don't actually play music either. Sometimes it's about being part of a "scene"...
JB: Another thing is fanaticism. When people are into something, they can become fanatical about the things they love and cherish. In all actuality, punk wouldn't exist without metal, and metal wouldn't exist without punk. The two types of music are constantly feeding off one another, and that's the way it has always been.
PD: I remember swapping MERCYFUL FATE records with the skinheads in high school that had shoplifted the latest CRO MAGS and GBH tapes. It was a perfect union.
JB: Yeah, I remember similar kinda stuff. I think what you have today with a newer crowd sometimes can be that folks are completely unaware of the history of what they're involved in. I remember when I was sort of growing up in the community, and paying attention to every single record that came out. I wanted to know who every band was, and what they were about...
PD: The lineage.
JB: Yeah, It was essential!
PD: The younger folks may not be able to trace the lineage or the history, but that is probably not a big deal right now to them. When I was younger, I wanted "my own music", and not to hear about how it had all been done before, and was all linked together to older stuff, etc.. And that's the same way it is now.
JB: I mean, we'll tell people that we're the bastard sons of stuff like ENTOMBED and RORSCHACH...stuff like that.
PD: (laughs). But CONVERGE is part of "today". That may be all the kids know or care about right now. It's like that new PIG DESTROYER....lots of "Reign in Blood" riffs on that slab.
JB: Well It's funny. If you talk to Scott (Hull), he'll tell you all about the stuff that influences him, and all the bands he's crafted his sound from. But there's a certain amount of kids that purchase their album, the same as they purchase our album. And they're not interested in anything but that heavy riff, and may not care about record A or B that shaped that PIG DESTROYER record.
PD: Yeah. A lot of them are sure savvy at getting new music. I'll mention an album, and the kids seem to have it instantly! I run this webzine, and I can't get the music as fast as some of these kids with their downloading sources.
JB: That's the results of living online. Hanging on forever just to get a taste, a flavor of that new music before anyone else hears it. Sometimes it's a fanatical desire to be able to be first to criticize things as well!
PD: Well, I guess as long as there's interest, it's a good thing.
JB: A very good thing.
PD: Well, hey man. Congrats on the new record. "You Fail Me" is excellent.
JB: Anytime. Take care, man and thanks.