I first saw After the Burial back in October on the Crush Em All Tour II and was impressed by their command of the 8 string. They’re currently writing for a follow up to their 2010 album, In Dreams. You can catch them this spring on The Recorruptour which will be headlined by Whitechapel and features Miss May I and The Plot In You with Structures and Within The Ruins on certain dates. Justin was kind enough to answer some questions about his guitars, and advice to upcoming guitar players.
Please introduce yourself and your role in the band.
I’m Justin and I play guitar and have been known to handle some production duties here and there.
How many years have you guys been playing, what sorta of practice did you do to get where you’re at now, and what is your warm up routine?
We’ve been a band for a little over 7 years now. We used to practice quite a bit more as a band compared to now. Back then, we had all of our members living close together around Minneapolis, and now only 3 of us live in the Minneapolis area. The difference is now, compared to the way things were back then, is we are almost always on tour. My warm up routine is simple, it usually just consists of me having a beer and playing my guitar for a few minutes. Anything to get the blood flowing.
The latest album, “In Dreams” is a year old. What are some misconceptions people have about the album?
I’m not sure, I don’t really look into that very much. However, I think people may not know that some of the album’s music actually has come from demo material that was written from as long ago as when the band started.
What made you decide to want to use an 8 string guitar for your songs and what are the advantages using it over a classic 6 string, if any?
I wanted to tune lower, without detuning my guitar too much. I was big into the 7 string guitar for a really long time before making the switch to 8. The 8 just made sense, because we could stay relatively close to standard tuning and still have the opportunity to tune very low as well. If anything, it was a bit of a challenge trying to decide what the best tuning for the bass was going to be.
What type of gear do you use in the studio and how does that correlate and translate to a live touring rig?
My studio and touring rigs are similar in that I use the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx Ultra pre-amp for both. Studio-wise, the setup I use for almost everything is pretty simple; MacBook Pro, Logic, Toontrack and Spectrasonics software instruments, Nord Lead 2, Axe-Fx Ultra, a pair of Yamaha HS-80m monitors, and an Apogee Duet interface. Live I use the Axe-Fx Ultra, powered with a Rocktron Velocity 300 power amp and controlled by the Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro. I also use the Line 6 g90 relay wireless system. The main guitars I use live and in the studio include 2 Ibanez RG2228’s, one custom Ibanez 8 string, featuring a body similar to that of the RG2228 with a maple fingerboard, and an Ibanez RG3570z. All of the 8 strings are fitted with Seymour Duncan Blackout 8s.
What goes through your head when writing your songs; where do you draw inspiration from?
Sometimes there are too many different things going on in my head at once, so it’s tough to actually decide and be set on one riff/idea. Inspiration comes from all over though…For example, I got the idea for the riff at about 1:21 in our song “Berzerker” from reading the prices of the first three beers at the top of a drink menu at this bar Jimmy’s in Vadnais Heights, MN. Inspiration truly can come out of anywhere. With all members of the band, there are quite a few different inspirations and influences spread between all of us which I think can help give us a unique sound when we bring them all together.
How does a normal song process go for you? Do you start with guitar riffs and eventually evolve from there?
Most of the time, the song will start out with a riff or two. One thing I like to do is record a really long demo that has about 10 different riffs in there. They don’t necessarily all go together in that context, but we’ve been able to pick and choose from them and build songs around maybe one or two specific sections of the demo. That isn’t how it always works though, sometimes we’ll have a demo that basically becomes the song. For example our song “Pendulum”, Trent had the skeleton of that song and most of those riffs close to what the final song was. So it could go either way, sometimes we’ll be working in demo world, and an entire song will just present itself and won’t take on too many readjustments after that.
Are there any new singles and/or music videos coming out soon; maybe one for My Frailty.
As of right now, our main focus is writing our new album. Things are moving along, and it’s a really exciting time for us. There aren’t any immediate plans for a new video, but I’m not ruling that out in the near future.
What’s your view on the whole “djent” label/genre? (Even though it’s just a guitar sound)
My view on it, is that it’s cool, but you probably won’t hear me use the word very often. I think I’m part of an older generation of metal fans that like to keep the genres simple and to the point and stick to the ones that have been around for years. If it’s heavy, it’s heavy. No need to go in splitting hairs trying to pinpoint the exact right adjective to classify a genre. I think it’s taken on a life of its own with the younger metal fans and it seems like media is grasping on to the term as well. I’m totally fine with this because in my mind, anything that helps someone describe something to someone else and it has a positive outcome because of it I think is a good thing. For example, let’s say someone who says our band is “djent” has some friends that haven’t heard After The Burial and wants to tell them about it:
KidA- “Hey! You guys should definitely check out After The Burial”
KidB- “Yo, what do they sound like?”
KidA- “Well, I think they might be hellapolydjentcore mixed with a little shredjent”
KidB- “OHH FUK YAAAA. I love me some djent…I get dowwwwn to that shiiiat”
Then, if KidB goes home and checks us or any band out somewhere like YouTube and digs it, that’s awesome. That is how I think “djent” as a label/genre can be a good/cool/positive thing, whatever it takes to help describe music that people can relate to and understand that can potentially produce genuine results.
Do you have any advice for any guitarists/musicians who have reached a plateau in their playing and wish to go beyond it?
Absolutely, play as many shows as possible, and hit the road for a while. Constantly challenge yourself musically, in one way or another.
You guys played the All Stars Tour this past summer; are you playing Warped Tour or anything like that next year?
We had a blast at the All Stars Tour. It’s a little too soon to say, but we are looking to do some sort of major touring again this summer.
Any last words for people reading this?
Happy New Year! We’re really excited to getting back out on the road this March with whitechapel. Look for some new music from us coming later this year!!