Interview: Landmine Marathon's Ryan Butler Talks About Their New Album, 'Gallows'
Phoenix-based extreme metal quintet Landmine Marathon have been making quite a name for themselves ever since they started out in 2004.
Having a female vocalist in Grace Perry is not the only thing that makes them unique. It's the combination of the crushingly raw feel of their music and the insane energy in their live shows that makes them stand out among their peers and gets well-deserved attention among fans of this genre.
Being the actively touring band that they are, Landmine Marathon have shared the stage with a number of highly reputed bands, and even though they are usually labelled as the "odd band out" on just about every touring lineup, they have continued to successfully stun and slay the masses across the North American continent as well as Europe.
Now they are ready to release their fourth full-length album, "Gallows, and a North American tour with Warbringer, Lazarus A.D. and Diamond Plate follows soon after the September 27 release through Prosthetic Records.
I got a chance to speak to guitarist Ryan Butler, and we talked in detail about the new album among various other topics.
Read the conversation below, and check out the band's official website right here.
I was listening to your new album, Gallows, and it sounds really raw to me. Would you say it's your most raw album to date?
Well, I wouldn't say most raw, because the first album was done before I was in the band but I actually engineered it, and they were actually going for a little more raw feel then. The guide they gave me was that they wanted to sound like that Terrorizer album World Downfall, which is really, really raw. So there was no sound replacement or anything on it. The production was raw, the riffs were raw, etc., etc. But since then, yeah, I would say this is probably the most raw. It's pretty brutal and may be the most straightforward, I would say. If you want to call that as raw, I guess you can call it that (laughs).
Yeah, I was talking in terms of the music, because the production is still great, and I think that's what separates it from the first album. As you just said, the production itself was also raw on that one.
Right, yeah it definitely has a very raw feel and that's always something we're going for, to have a well-produced record but have it sound really raw and brutal.
You have a new drummer now, named Andy York. This is his first studio album, and I feel that drumming is an important aspect in your music. What do you think he has brought to the table in terms of his contribution to the album?
He has brought more consistency to everything. I just know that whenever he is plays, each time he is so solid. The man never drops a stick or screws up, you know, and that's really refreshing for us and he is really up for any challenge, which is great thing because we are on our fourth album and sometimes it's hard to not repeat yourself but still kind of maintain that same feel.
So he is up for trying some new things every once in a while, which really makes it easier to write. I enjoy having his ability in the band to really just take it to new levels.
While listening to the new album, I feel that it will sound even better in a live setting than it does on the CD. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, we are definitely a live band. We definitely maintain that raw feel live and really try and put a lot of energy into the live show. We definitely try and maintain that raw kind of punk attitude live for sure.
You'll be touring with Warbringer next month. Can we expect you to be debuting some of these new songs on that tour?
Yeah, the plan right now is that we're going to have a seven-song set, and three of them are going to be new tracks. We've done a short West Coast tour last month to kind of warm up some songs and see what we liked and didn't like. We kind of settled on the three tracks, so we'll be hopefully getting to play three new ones live once we feel confident about them by that time. We have a couple of shows in between as well, to really make sure that these are the ones we want to play.
On July 29, you did a show with Toxic Holocaust, Holy Grail and Krum Bums up in the valley at the Cobalt Cafe. How was that? That's such an eclectic bill in the sense that they are different from each other, but also very different from your style.
It really was a crazy lineup. Usually we are kind of like the punk band on a death metal bill, but on that show we were the death metal band on a punk bill, with the exception of Holy Grail who have the guitar solos that are power metal more than anything. That was a really good show. We got a really good reaction and had a good time at that. It was packed too, so we had a great show.
Coming back to the new album, what is the idea behind the title "Gallows?"
Grace comes up with all the titles and lyrics, and she kind of based the concept of the album on some 17th- and 18th-century European folklore, which all has a really dark edge to it. There is a lot of stuff about family members killing each other, etc. And she kind of just took a lot of things from the lyrics and made a list of possible titles. We really liked "Gallows" because it's simple and straightforward, and it ties in to the story that she put together for the record. So it has a cool, eerie feel to it and the artwork has gallows on it. So yeah, that's kind of where it came from.
As you were saying, this is your fourth album and your previous full-length, Sovereign Descent, was actually released last year. So, how did you manage to do this one so quickly within a year?
We actually got a lot of press to say that, but the funny thing is, it was almost two years between the recordings of the records because we started recording Sovereign Descent in May or June of 2009, and it didn't come out until March 2010. We tend to spend three or four months on the recording process, then we put the art together, do the press, and the label always kind of decides when it would be best to release it. So Sovereign Descent was in the can by November 2009 but didn't come out till March 2010. And we didn't start recording this [Gallows] till April 2011, so it was nearly two years in between recordings. We had a quick release date this time because we wanted it to line-up in time for this Warbringer tour. So I think it really kind of made it seem that it was closer together than in really was (laughs). It's almost a year and a half between release dates, but we did write it really quick, in about three months, which is not something we usually do either.