Pictures : Olga Kuzmenko
Interview by: Alan Daly
Alan: It’s great to meet you. We saw your set earlier today. It was great!
Alex: Thank you! It was awesome.
Alan: So today was your second time playing at Bloodstock. How do you think it compared with the first time in 2013?
Alex: It’s really cool to see our career growing over here. We love playing in the U.K. We love coming back because everyone appreciates the fuck out of metal here. I feel like in the U.S. it may not be so much like that. It’s really cool to come over here and see our fans continue to grow with us and continue to love every album. We did Our Endless War after that Bloodstock, so it’s cool to see everybody that was into that plus our new record Mark of the Blade.
Alan: I was looking around, and there were lots of people singing along, so they were obviously already fans before this morning. But of course, festivals are an opportunity to win over some new fans…
Alex: Yeah, we just did the signing session at the signing tent, and there were a handful of people that were like “I never heard of you before today, but I’m a fan now”, so it’s really cool to see that.
Alan: Will you get some time to spend here at the festival and relax?
Alex: I’m really stoked to go and see Decapitated. That’s the band I’m looking forward to seeing.
Alan: You’ve done Bloodstock and Download. How would you compare the two festivals?
Alex: I definitely find that metal is a very small subsection of Download because it has so many different genres, whereas Bloodstock is completely focused on metal. I think it’s really cool to see even though this festival is solely focused on metal, it’s still so massive. It just goes to show how strong the metal scene is in the UK.
Alan: So Mark of the Blade was released just over a year ago. What are the future plans for Whitechapel?
Alex: We’re finishing up the tour cycle for Mark of the Blade. We have this tour, the European tour, and then we have a U.S. headliner in the Fall. And then after that, we’ll be going back into the studio around March. So we could probably see a new release late Summer or early Fall 2018. Hopefully, it’ll be somewhere around there.
Alan: Do you write and record on the road?
Alex: Absolutely. We always bring our laptops and our recording interface with us so that we can put down an idea whenever it strikes us.
Alan: When you’re writing new material, do you all normally participate.
Alex: Yeah, so, me, [Ben] Savage and Zach [Householder] all have our own little recording setup. And we’ll record stuff by ourselves and then bounce it off each other through email or whatever. Then we’ll decide what riffs we like the best and what works the best. Sometimes one person will write a whole song, or sometimes one song will have all three of us writing on it. It really just depends on what the song calls for. There’s no certain law of the road for us with writing.
Alan: Is there any particular song on Mark of the Blade that you feel is mostly your input?
Alex: The song ‘Tremors’. I wrote pretty must all of. And then ‘Mark of the Blade’ was Savage, and Phil actually wrote some guitars on that. He used to play guitar, so if he has a really sick idea or riff, then we don’t limit the writing just to the guitar players.
Alan: There are clean vocals on some of the tracks on Mark of the Blade, which might be a new departure for the band. How do those work out live?
Alex: Usually we reserve those for more of the club settings. We feel like the song ‘Bring me Home’ really needs mood to go with the mood of the song, so we need the lighting and the haze and all that. We just don’t feel like that song really translates very well, especially at like an open-air metal festival. People want to hear the fast and the hard and the heavy, so that’s what we give them. If you want to see that side of Whitechapel, then come see us at a club show, because we usually play ‘Bring me Home’ and more of the lighter songs on those shows.
Alan: And having experimented with clean vocals, do you think that style will feature on future albums?
Alex: Oh yeah, for sure. Whitechapel is always going to sound like Whitechapel. It’s going to be hard and heavy, but I think we found out by doing that song that we tapped into a whole new sound that we never even knew we could do before. That’s definitely something we’re going to look into doing more of in future records.
Alan: You mentioned a European tour. Can I put in a request for a stop in Ireland?
Alex: Absolutely, we’ll see if we can work it in. It’s been a while since we’ve been there. I think the last time we played there was with Trivium, maybe. That was like 2012 or 2011. [Ed: I don’t recall this gig]
Alan: Music and Art can’t be blocked by a border. Do you think Trump’s wall is futile?
Alex: I feel like it’s a lot of talk. At first, he said he was going to make them [Mexico] pay for it. He’s just talking out of his ass. He couldn’t make them pay for it anyway. It still hasn’t happened. It still hasn’t even started. To me, I feel like that was just something he was trying to do to secure his presidency. Which obviously worked.
Alan: Are you happy with the current state of US politics?
Alex: Absolutely not. I don’t think the majority of the US is. There’s obviously the people who do support him, or he wouldn’t have won, but I think there’s a lot of work to be done for sure.
Alan: Mental issues have been talked about a lot recently following the suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. Undoubtedly Whitechapel must have fans who are going through dark times. Could you offer any advice to fans in those situations?
Alex: My advice would be to just talk to somebody. The only way out of that darkness is to grab onto somebody’s hand and let them help to pull you out. You can’t do it by yourself. It needs a support system. I just feel when people try to fight it by themselves, they end up like Chester. If he just reached out to one of his band members or one of his friends, like “Hey, this is serious. I really need to be with somebody now”, things could be a lot different.
Alan: I wonder if it’s a bit like the boy who cried wolf. A lot of Chester’s lyrics and Linkin Park’s music deal with dark topics and self-harm…
Alex: Yeah, it’s like a lot of people should have seen it coming from all of that. But that’s the thing. It’s such a taboo topic, that people don’t like talking about it and they don’t like addressing it. It makes them feel uncomfortable, but it’s one of those things that have to be addressed or suicides happen.
Alan: So what’s the plan for the rest of this weekend? Will you be here for Amon Amarth tonight?
Alex: We’re leaving at about 7 pm, so probably not. We’re going to the Netherlands tomorrow to play the Into the Festival.
Alan: Unfortunately, we’re out of time. Thanks for chatting. We look forward to seeing you in Ireland soon.