Our intrepid metal scribe Sean “That Black Metal Dude” Genovese caught up with Bob Meadows of A LIFE ONCE LOST recently. Sean caught the band live a few weeks back in Allston, MA at Great Scott, where the band was on tour with REVOCATION and KEN MODE. ALOL is out on the road supporting their new album Ecstatic Trance, (Season of Mist) which you should all go get asap!
MA: When you guys first started out in 1999, where did you guys expect to be about ten years from that point?
BM: I guess I just expected to be more on a different train of life, y’know? You don’t really expect ever to start a band with a bunch of kids and then eventually it kind of unravels and unfolds into something 13 years later. It’s just kind of a surreal experience in a way. But man, it’s pretty awesome, I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Actually, a lot of other friends of mine are moving along, moving past, and kind of starting these new lives and here I am, still chasing down this thing, this dream that I call music. It’s pretty wild, man, I never really expected it all.
MA: Right. So what are some of you guys’ main influences, and what are some artists or bands might be surprised shaped your sound?
BM: You can hear the BLACK SABBATH and the MESHUGGAH influence for sure, but in (the) Ecstatic Trance record there’s definitely other influences we’re pulling from, anywhere from FELA KUTI, and TI PEYI A, and ORCHESTRA DE POLYRHYTHMO from North Africa, to the German Krautrock scene, bands like CAN, KRAFTWERK, AMAN DUUL, things like KING CRIMSON. Anything within that little hiatus that we took where we ended up exploring a lot of different things in music. It’s always been an interest of mine with music; the more obscure, the more different and weird it was, the better it was for me, that’s kinda what I got off on. Being able to pull from those influences, and finally being able to let it hang on my sleeve, it’s a pretty cool thing, it’s definitely very unique, and I definitely think we’ve developed a unique sound with the Ecstatic Trance record.
MA: Let me ask you something that I’m sure most people probably ask you; What are your attitudes on the “djent” craze, as many cite you guys as innovators of poly-rhythms in Metalcore and related genres. Have you any love for bands like PERIPHERY and AFTER THE BURIAL that are expanding on that formula?
BM: I don’t have any feelings towards it. I’m not really interested in that music. When I listen to music, I kinda wanna be floored. When I was younger, when I was 19, that kind of music would be more appealing to me. But since I’m older now, I find more satisfaction in something that’s more soothing, and it’s not really soothing. I hear it all the time, people referring to us as a band in that scene, and I agree to a certain extent, but there were bands before us that were doing it, and there are bands that are still doing it, and those bands deserve more of the credit. When we started doing it, we didn’t do it to fit into a “scene”, like these other bands, these younger kids are doing, but the youth of America is a very impressionable group of individuals, and they feel the need to be able to fit in somewhere. Maybe this new “djent” thing is the new Deathcore, the new Pop Punk or the new whatever. It is what it is, it’s popular, those dudes can play. Misha’s a cool dude; I don’t like his band, but I think he’s a cool dude. I can be friends with someone and not enjoy their band, and that’s the case here. THE AFTER THE BURIAL, BORN OF OSIRIS guys, I really don’t know them. Michael Keene, EVAN BREWER, those guys in THE FACELESS, awesome dudes, but I just can’t get down with the tunes, y’know? Doesn’t make me less of a man, but more of an individual, I guess.
MA: Yeah. I noticed you guys were selling a shirt that says “Drop Acid, Not Bombs”. Is this a hint at some of the creative process behind Ecstatic Trance, since there are a lot more psychedelic influences, as you may have mentioned before?
BM: You can look at it as that. One of the main things was to explore that world of music, like psychedelic rock, I definitely think we’ve succeeded with this, and it’s definitely a great introduction to unravel into something that’s gonna be bigger in the future with our sound. With hallucinogenics, there are only two of us that sorta dabble in that, haha. I think it was more like a goof shirt. We had this ROLLING STONES rip-off tee goin’, with some dude with fucked up teeth, and we were like “We should totally put an acid tab on his fuckin’ tongue, just throw in ‘Drop Acid, Not Bombs’, it could be funny”. So we ended up doing it, and I think the design turned out pretty good. And it’s funny, the people that actually come up and buy this shirt, they’re so weird, haha. We had t-shirts of a “World Bong”, something like that, and we were on tour with NORMA JEAN. We printed the shirts on yellow, red and green, kinda like a Rastafarian, Jamaican color scheme going on. Then you had these impressionable youth, the Christian kids buying the shirts because of the colors, not necessarily knowing what was going on with it. But if it’s funny, it’s funny, it’s fun to be in a band and do shit like that. But yeah it’s more of a goof, haha.
MA: Since you guys recently replaced half the band and have been experimenting with some new sounds on your last two sounds, some fans have expressed that they’re not entirely happy with the direction you’ve taken. Do you have anything to say to them?
BM: Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. There are kids that don’t like my band now that probably really love PERIPHERY and AFTER THE BURIAL. That’s the beauty of being a person, you’re entitled to your own opinion, likes and dislikes, and shit, man, if you don’t like my band, you don’t like my band! That’s fine, just don’t base that on my character as a human being. I’m sure my conversations are ones of humour and also interest. If A Great Artist is the record you wanna hear, you can pop that on while you’re driving and punch the steering wheel. But if you’re coming to our shows, that’s what to expect: We’re gonna play what we just put out, what we believe in. An Ecstatic Trance is that record we believe in at the moment. When we go into the studio to do more things, that’s what you can expect. You’re either with us or not with us, it’s no sweat off my ass, y’know?
MA: Yeah. Going on with that previous question, do you believe you’ll ever make another album like A Great Artist or Hunter, or has the musical environment in the ALOL camp and the general Metal/Hardcore scene has changed to the point where you have to leave those concepts behind?
BM: We were never a band to repeat anything or fall into sequence, or an order when it comes to writing music and songs. We had a very large gap of aggression between A Great Artist and The Iron Gag. It’s a small gap, but there’s progression nonetheless. Once you step back and rewrite something like that it’s regressing in a way. For us to constantly evolve and grow as people, I think the only thing we can do is continue to move forward and develop on sounds that we created in records past. You may see me doing another band in the vein of the older stuff, but never in replication. I would say the likelihood is very slim at this time, haha. But you can never really rule out the elements of pure brutality and heaviness mixed in with the music.
MA: Alright, this is probably the most important question you’ll be asked within the next six months: Was math your favourite subject in high school, and if so, what type?
BM: I actually like math a lot. I like Algebra. I wasn’t a Geometry guy, but number solving, shit like that was always a big interest of mine, haha.
MA: Alright, well thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview, Mr. Meadows, and I hope you guys have much luck in your future endeavours: tours, albums, stuff like that, and I hope to see your band again, hopefully with a crowd that’s more energetic?
BM: Ah, see, that shit never really matters to me. I think that it slowly morphed from people going crazy like it was with A Great Artist and with Hunter. With Iron Gag you saw people just more there to experience the show, experience what we’re doing, and that’s actually kinda cool. It takes the Metal that we’re writing and evolves it so that you can sit back and enjoy it whether you’re a fuckin’ stoner, you’re drunk, you’re a cokehead, you’re fuckin’ trippin’ on acid, or you’re straight-edge. You can step back and watch the show, enjoy the show for what it is, and that’s the place where Doug and I are trying to take the group now, make it a live experience, not just an experience for the record.
MA: Hmm, that’s actually a pretty good way to look at it. Well, once again, thank you very much, and I wish you luck.
BM: Thank you very much, bro.
by Sean Genovese