Darkest Hour interview

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By Drew Ailes. Published on 12/12/2006.

In October, Drew Ailes spoke with guitarist Mike Schleibaum of metal superstars Darkest Hour to get the scoop on everything Dimebag Darrell to why Victory promoted their last record as Album Of The Decade.


Alright, good talking to you. I didn't have the chance to organize some of these questions, so you're going to have to listen to me jump around and mix things up.

Go for it. As long as you don't ask me questions that make me think that you have no idea what the band is, because believe me, we've gotten some amazing questions before.

I'm sure. I was discussing with someone the idea of writing an interview entirely for the band, EMF, who did that "Unbelievable" song. And just like, asking you all the questions I would have for EMF, like, "when you went on tour in Europe with Milli Vanilli..."

Why did you sample Andrew Dice Clay? What were you thinking?

Did they really sample Andrew Dice Clay?

Yeah, that's the "oh."

Oh, really? Shit, I had no idea. That's amazing. This interview is already a smashing success.

Yeah, you know, I got a lot of info about EMF, man.

Do you have a lot of info on Andrew Dice Clay as well?

Absolutely.

You're a fan of the Diceman?

[laughs] Uh, I will not go on record saying that I'm a fan of the Diceman, but I will say we do a lot of anthropological research by studying Andrew Dice Clay tapes. He's insane, dude. If you ever watch a video cassette...

I've watched Brainsmasher: A Love Story, at least three times.

If you watch a young Dice, like The Day The Laughter Died, that live CD, it's so brutal. It's to the point where his only goal is to get the people not to laugh. It's pretty amazing. I will say that we do jam Dice on a regular basis.

I was introduced to him, other than seeing Brainsmasher on Cinemax, trying to catch a boob or something when I was 12, I was introduced to him by my friend because he had something where he was talking about midgets...

Midgets, they got them heads.

"A fuckin' Tonka toy body and a seventy-eight pound fuckin' head!"

Exactly, man. It's the Dice, man.

Well that's cool. Anyway, I wrote an actual interview for you guys. It's kind of an interview. It's got some stuff about...you know, shit that you guys...

Was it cold in Sweden?

What was it like working with Tomas Lindberg?

Is Devin Townsend crazy?

...is Devin Townsend crazy?

Those are my favorite. I will answer all these questions.

Shit, you've already made fun of about half of my questions. I was going to ask you what question are you most tired of answering in interviews?

I think that the most asked question is, either "what was it like working with Devin Townsend," or, "what was it like working with Fredrik Nordstrom," the two producers. That's usually the only way people know how to ask what it was like recording a record. It's just funny because I think people have this impression of how Devin is and they think I'm going to have this story about how he whipped out this chemistry lab set when we got there and he's just this mad metal scientist or something.

Yeah, that he's got bunsen burners filled with various colored liquids in his studio.

He's just a really intelligent and funny guy who just happens to really love heavy metal. Like, in a way that is really genuine and something you don't see very often. I mean like, he LOVES heavy metal. It's kind of inspiring to be around a dude who is that passionate about music.

Yeah, man. Fucking Strapping Young Lad's "City" and "Heavy as a Really Heavy Thing," were honestly my favorite records of all time. I went out of my way and flew to Amsterdam to see them because I thought it was going to be one of their last shows, and then at the show he goes, "well, we're going to play some songs off the new album," and my head exploded.

That's incredible. But that's the question that I get the most and usually that's my answer. He's a passionate guy and he really made that record a lot of fun but also made that record really special for us. He loves heavy metal like a 15 year old kid, but it's awesome to be around. Most dudes who've been into this music scene for as long as he has just hate everything. They're bitter. He's got plenty of bitter opinions but he loves this music, so that's what's cool.

I don't think I've ever heard anything bad about Devin Townsend.

It's hard, man. He's a real guy, you know? It's hard to find a lot of real people in the music business in general, but he is a real dude.

Did you get to hang out with the other dudes in the band?

Oh yeah, we actually stayed in Byron, the bass player's, basement.

Yeah, is that dude as amazing as he seems?

He's not as evil. He's a really nice guy, but he seems real evil when you look at him in pictures. Actually, Jed, the guitar player, slept in the basement too.

Was he wearing that Pestilence shirt the entire time?

No, but he didn't have a door. He just had a Slayer flag... [laughing]

I'm so excited to tell this story. Me and Chris, our other guitar player, got into an argument about whether Eddie Van Halen is a guitar god or not. I shit you not, this was 3AM and I'm just like, "dude, he is a guitar god," and Chris is like, "no way, man." And then out of nowhere, behind this Slayer flag, we hear, "dude, Eruption came out in 1979. Eddie Van Halen is a fucking guitar god. Shut the fuck up." Everybody was like, "oh my god, he's going to kill us."

[laughing] One of the questions I was going to ask you was why does everybody in your social circle seem to love David Lee Roth and Van Halen so much? So many Darkest Hour interviews I've read were either mentioning Sammy Hagar, David Lee Roth, or Van Halen. When I talked to the guys from A Life Once Lost, they almost kicked me off their tour bus because I didn't know who they were talking about when they said "DLR".

I mean, you know, me and our Tour Manager, Tito, are big fans. The other dudes, all our bass player likes is Roth-era Van Halen. It's just like, I think a lot of times people who are fans of bands forget that the people that are in bands are the biggest fans of bands ever. For you to dedicate your life to being a musician, there had to be a musician that touched your life in such a way that made you want to do that.

For you was it Eddie Van Halen?

It was either Van Halen or AC/DC. I was a young kid. See, it happens at different stages in your life. When I was real young, it was Van Halen and AC/DC. But then as I got older, it was punk bands, like Minor Threat or whatever. And then it was Earth Crisis. When I was 15, I loved Earth Crisis.

Did you love them enough to get the logo tattooed from one cheek to the other?

No, I didn't even get tattooed until I was 25, which was a safe move, I think. But you know, you get into these bands at different stages of your life. But I would say the first bands that made me decide I needed to play guitar were AC/DC and Van Halen. That's what we talk about. But also, we don't tend to take interviews very seriously so we end up just rambling about stuff.

Hey, that's what I encourage. So what was the last person to actually inspire you to make music? The last band you heard that made you go, "holy fucking shit."

You know, it's funny, I was actually thinking about that today. It's hard. As you get older you kind of rediscover old records that you never knew about. It's hard to find new artists to get inspired by. The older you get, the more you get enclosed in your capsule, but for me, I think every Entombed record has been flawless. Every time they put out a record I'm like, "fuck, they're just the heaviest fucking band."

Even Same Difference?

Okay, Same Difference, it's an interesting record. It's not an Entombed record in the way that the other ones are, but I understand being in a band that they wanted to take chances. So okay, you're right; that's not the best Entombed record...

...it's the worst.

...but what I'm saying is they're a continual...they continually put out good and heavy records.

Oh yeah, I think they're amazing. Another favorite of all time is "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth."

Yeah, the production on that is fucking...

Yeah, it's incredible. Wasn't that their last record with...

...Nicke Andersson. Yeah. That's a great record. I also think, keeping along the same lines, I think the new Mastodon record is really good, personally.

I'm not into the vocals. They're kind of proggy.

Everybody has a different cup of tea. Believe me, there are kids out there who do not like DLR. But I do. I would say that the last thing that I got into that I guess I never gave the time of day or really paid attention to would have to be...it's going to sound crazy, but I recently started to appreciate Led Zeppelin. When I was a headbanger and I was a kid, I just never...to me, it didn't make sense.

They're one of those bands you just skipped over.

Yeah. It was just a band that everybody liked, and it wasn't Van Halen, it wasn't Pantera, and it wasn't heavy, and I just didn't understand it. Recently, I found myself being drawn in and being like, "whoa, these really are great records." They really are timeless. That's the cool thing about music, in a lot of ways, those records were made a long time ago but they still touch somebody every day.

Another cool thing about music, especially for a band like Led Zeppelin, there's been so much shit about them that's come out about their personal lives that now you have a chance to get some insight into what went into the writing of some of those songs. There's a book that came out about how Led Zeppelin was involved in Satanic orgies and sodomized women with fish or something fucking insane. I remember hearing about all this shit from one of the lunch-ladies in 7th grade.

I haven't had the chance to read any of that. It's really interesting because they were writing music in the 70's that was just crazy. That era of rock music was, in my opinion, so different than how it is today. It was so less safe. It was really...I guess, "real" is the only word I could say. It was more classic than it is today. Interesting. Who knows, you know what I mean?

So how have you guys managed to tour on the same record almost non-stop for nearly a year and a half now?

Well, we're kind of stupid. I mean, we're the type of dudes that...playing live music is kind of the impetus for why we're in a band in a lot of ways. When we started as a band in 1995, that was all we cared about doing. Playing a show. For us it was always about getting to go to crazy places and play a show. What happened is we put out a record and just want to go to all these places, so we just happened to keep touring and keep touring. And then we realized, "oh shit, it's been a year and a half - almost two years. We need to put out another record or people are going to stop coming."

The truth is, pretty much, you guys just really like to tour?

Yeah. I mean, honestly, I'm not going to say that there aren't times where everybody wants to kill each other or you just need a break, but I think of you're going to be in Darkest Hour you have to love to play a show. It's the connection with people who listen to your music. You meet people and get to interact with them and share the show live with them. That is what we do. That is what we love to do.

Would you say that's your favorite part about actually being in Darkest Hour?

Yeah, it's weird. The grass is always greener. When you tour forever you're just like, "man, I just can't wait to get in and create..." and then as soon as you get into the studio you're like, "dude, this is like work. I just can't wait to get on tour and party and hang out with some new people and make some friends." I will say for me, over the years, the best thing about being in the band is touring. That's where you make friends and that's where you interact with people. That's what I love to do and that's what the guys in the band love to do.

You guys all seem to be very social.

It's really, for us, it's really about...tour was always about making friends. That's what the coolest thing is about it. Going on tour with these bands, you just get to meet new people all the time. It's really cool. Different guys in the band have different ways of fucking hanging, but in the end it's all just about the community that surrounds the music.

As you mentioned before how you always want to get back into the studio, when will you guys actually get back into the studio?

February we're going to go back to work with Devin on the second record. For us, it's a big step, because first of all, this is finally a continuation of the band with the current line-up. We usually change members on almost every record. Second, this is the first time since back, with Brian McTernan, almost 8 years ago that we've worked with the same producer twice. In a lot of ways, it's probably a pretty big step because, you know, you always have to break new ground with a new person that comes in and works with your band. Devin already knows who's crazier about what and who can do what. I kind of feel like we're going to all easily work together again. We're pretty excited about it. We met with him and spoke to him about the record already once and everybody seems fired up. We're going to record it in February and it'll probably come out in...May-ish, I guess.

Have you guys started writing anything?

Yeah. It's funny. We write songs interestingly. I mean, sure, every band has their way they do it. We have one song the entire band knows. But, a lot of this stuff, Chris, the other guitar player, or I, will just write riffs for days. It's all about riffs. Then we'll put them together some kind of way with a drum machine and share them with Ryan, our drummer, and the other guys in the band. Then everybody picks the parts that they like. So we've got all these ideas flying out there, it's just literally finding the time to put the songs together.

So it's constantly just filing it down until you've got this polished little thing.

Yeah. Or, it's more like just writing all your ideas down in a journal, and then when it's time to record the record, you just pull out all the ideas and put them together until they make sense.

What percentage would you say is written before you go into the studio versus when you get in there and start laying things out?

We're really trying to get more open about it. The last record was a pretty good step in that way. I think that what you find is, in the past, we would write and plan everything out. When we'd go to record it, it was physically just taking the material and committing it to tape. There wasn't anymore exploration. There wasn't a producer that really got in there and explored with us. The thing about Devin is, we left things a lot more open, like, "yeah, okay, guitar solo goes here, the harmony goes here," and then when we got with Devin we were really able to flush out what we felt that fit. It really helped make, in the long run, that it made the vocals fit better with the music because we had more time to work with everything as a whole. Hopefully this time, it'll be a good balance of spontaneity that happens in the studio and stuff that we plan out.

How do you see the new material shaping into in contrast to the older stuff?

That's hard to say. It's definitely still going to be metal. You're not going to hear anything that's going to shock you. There won't be a ska song or anything. We've done all sorts of weird things, like we had a 13-minute instrumental on one record. So you never know what you're going to get. I hope it's going to be a continual mixture of some of the atmospheric stuff that Devin brought out and also some of the really crazy shredding stuff that Devin brought out. And I also hope that we get the idea of the songs being songs, because a lot of death metal bands and a lot of metal bands that I like have a sense of song. They have structure and take steps towards it.

Yeah, I agree. I got into metal by listening to old Earache and Relapse and shit, and that in comparison to a lot of underground black metal and death metal, which I got into heavily for a while but I completely drifted out of it when I realized that half the time the only reason I was listening to an entire album was for one part on one song that was fucking amazing.

There are some bands that reject that entire formula and those are amazing too. It's funny because when you ask about how a new record is going to be, all you can say is, "I hope it's going to be this," because you really never know until it's done.

What bands did you have in mind that reject that formula?

Oh, I mean, Opeth wholly rejects any traditional song structure and they're still an amazingly talented and interesting metal band.

I have to disagree with you there, because for me, the first three records were amazing but then everything became so formulaic. "Okay, here's the dark almost black metal part, then there's the acoustic and clean singing..."

It's weird, because our drummer, Ryan, and Chris, they're just fans of everything that has happened. For me, I listen to it and I...I dabble in it. To me, it is musically interesting, but it's not the exact type of metal that I love. To me, nothing seems formulaic because it all seems crazy. To me, I can't figure out how they came up with any of it. I'm like, "these guys are on some serious drugs, man. How are they doing this?" And that's the cool thing when you're a musician. You find the things that work for you and when you find a musician that has just a total different take, it's really inspiring. It inspires me to listen to bands like Opeth or bands that kind of don't make any sense to me right away, because that's when you're like, "whoa, there's stuff out there that I haven't even thought of yet." And then you look at the fretboard of a guitar and you're like, "oh, shit, there's like, so much more that can happen on here."

Have you ever thought about getting a megatar, one of those ten string guitars?

Yeah...no, none of that stuff makes any sense to me. I think that if Zakk Wylde and Dimebag Darrell and fucking Eddie Van Halen can make a six string guitar be fucking awesome, then for me, there's really no reason for more strings. You know what I mean?

Yeah, have strings that play notes that only animals can hear.

Yeah. For me, you know, guitar is six strings and some wood. That's what I love about it. All those other new and crazy inventions just don't really excite me as much as a sweet riff.

Keeping on the topic of inspirational CDs and shit like that, what would you say your top five CDs of 2006 would be right now?

Oh, that came out in 2006? That's really hard.

You can give me three and I'll end the question.

Okay, but you can't get bummed out when it might be something that you might not be into.

No, I won't.

Okay, With Teeth came out this year, right?

I think it...no, no. 2005.

Ah, fuck, man. Dude, I was on a roll. But okay, that was a great record but it doesn't count. Did the Thrice record come out this year?

I think it did.

I thought that was a great record. You can attack me all you want...

That's fine, I've never heard them.

I thought that was a great record. What else came out in 2006....the new Slayer came out, right? I think that's a great record. I'm excited about it. I think Dave Lombardo back with Slayer is a great thing. Although I do not agree with 90% of Slayer's political opinion.

What are their political opinions?

Uh, they're just crazy.

[laughing]

They just have a lot of opinions about having face tattoos and uh, I think the shirt with the American flag that says "payback's a bitch," really sums it up. So the Slayer record came out...um...shit, this isn't a fair question.

I was thinking about it after I wrote it, "is this a question that I could answer?"

If you give me a list of records that came out I could tell you which ones I thought were good.

Want me to punch up the site?

Yeah.

No, I can't do that. I don't know what site I'd go to.

Hah, okay. I'm gonna say Thrice, Slayer, and then I can't remember anymore. I will say that the Rebel Meets Rebel, that Dimebag thing that came out this year, that was really cool for me. I had read a lot of interviews about it coming out and then he died and I was like, "oh, man." There's so much stuff that's lost forever. There's some really cool guitar stuff on there. It's crazy when you hear it because it's almost like someone's speaking from the dead, almost. You hear that tone and the dude just jamming and you're like, "man, that's so awesome."

Where were you when you found out that Dimebag Darrell died?

We were not far away. We were in Chicago. It was crazy, we had just finished playing. I think about this all the time. We were on stage the same time he was on stage and the same time he got shot, miles away. It was crazy. We were at the show and I was loading out and somebody called me up and was like, "dude, two guys..." Of course, it started out crazy like, both Vinnie and Dime got shot and I didn't believe it.

I thought Vinnie did get shot in the leg or something?

I don't know. Then I told everybody and nobody believed me and then everybody else started saying it. We turned on the radio as we were driving away from the show and we heard about it, and then we drove to this kid's house that we staying at and we watched it on TV. It was so crazy because not only it was fucked up because we were fans, but it was fucked up because it was like, "dude, there is no security." That could happen to anybody. The good thing about it is everything I can relate to. I only met him once when I was 14 at this guitar clinic, when I was a kid. But everything that's was part of my life because of his playing was always a positive and great thing. Even the strip club they have down in Dallas is awesome. Everything. It's cool, though, I can honestly say that guy really brought a lot of joy in my life. Hopefully someday, some kid can say that, "wow, the band Darkest Hour really brought a lot of joy into my life," too. That's all you can hope for in the end. As an artist, make people happy. You can't do any better.

Going from discussing such a weighty thought let's go on to another one: how do you feel about your label promoting Undoing Ruin as "The Album of the Decade"?

Oh man, this is the question I was waiting for, man!

There ya go.

You've gotta understand. Kids that read this interview have to understand that when we saw that trailer, we had the same reaction, like, "whoa, this is crazy." [laughing] "What are we going to do? Holy shit, we're fucked."

I think you guys should've ended up getting fanny packs and hotpants that said "band of the decade" on the ass with sequins.

I mean, believe me, we got some mileage out of that. We have "The Song of the Decade," "The Riff of the Decade," "The Beer Bong of the Decade," I mean, pretty much we're the band of the decade. Pretty much anything you say we have is something of the decade. But I will say as much as we want to make fun of it, that whole thing, really what it did in a lot of ways is it made it so ridiculous that people kind of had to pay attention. Darkest Hour has been around for a really long time. We've been a band for almost 11 years, right? It's hard to get kids to pay attention to bands that have been around for so long that they just don't care about them anymore. We did not know anything about that webtrailer until it came out. We weren't a part of it. We would never have labeled the record as "Album of the Decade" and I think people knew that right off the bat because nothing about the band has ever been like that. But at least it did make everybody say, "oh, it is? Let me check it out, we'll see if it is." The thing that surprises me is that more people just didn't decide they hated it because of that. If I saw a band saying, "this is the most awesome record ever," I would think it was funny. But it would probably turn me off to the band. I think the other thing is, it's people at record labels and this is the same with any record label. I think they underestimate how intelligent people who buy the music actually are. You can't trick somebody into thinking they're going to enjoy a record. If it speaks to them, they're going to enjoy it. For us, we were glad that it didn't turn into something where everybody hated us because they thought we were some sort of egomaniacal band. A lot of times bands don't have control over the way that their band is marketed. I just play guitar. We just started this band because we love the music and wanted to go on tour and hang with fucking people. All this other stuff you get sucked into, you don't have control over a lot of it.

Mmhmm. Good answer. Good answer, duder. You dodged that one.

Dodged that one, yeah. All you can do is be honest about it, which is, hey man, we were proud of the record that we made and we were excited about it. Whatever it took. If it took me like, when I was 15, taking me going to every hardcore show and actually trying to sell each person the record. Whatever it takes to get kids to check your band out. As long as you're being honest.

I had read somewhere in an interview where someone asked you, "what is the band's darkest hour," you said one of the band's darkest hours was doing Ozzfest. What made you say that, necessarily?

I said the band's darkest hour was doing Ozzfest? Well, I think the thing about is because Ozzfest will trick bands. Not Ozzfest, the people there, but Ozzfest, the entity. Here are all these and they're all underground, and they all love playing music, and they're all trying to basically be able to do music so that they don't have to work at Krispy Kreme when they get home. They get this opportunity to go on tour and play in front of more people than they've ever played in front of in their lives, but it's going to cost them a shitload of money. So they all do it. Because, like, most bands do it because they want to play music for people and that's an awesome opportunity. But the thing is, it's not the be-all-end-all. Not every band that goes on Ozzfest becomes Metallica. In fact, sometimes bands go on Ozzfest and they break up because there's a lot of pressure there. There's a lot of pressure there. There's a lot of money being spent. There's a lot of expectations. For this band, we were a band that survived for so long as being the band that showed up and played in your basement. For us, it was really hard to adjust to a lot of things that were about that tour. I think it was really hard for this band to make it through that. On the other hand, I will say it was probably one of the best things we ever did because we learned a lot about who we were as a band and also what we were trying to accomplish. You learn about the things that are important to you. Like, the signings at Ozzfest? They sound really dumb, where after you play you go and do autograph stuff, but that was like, the coolest part. That's when you got to meet people. A lot of these kids were so young and were like, "dude, I can't believe I got to make people that just played." That's not the community we came from. Where we came from, you played a show, you loaded your gear off the stage, and then you hung out with everybody there. Everybody there was a person too. There were good and bad things about Ozzfest, but looking back on it two years later, I can honestly say that it was a pretty good time. You can't really complain about the tour because running around all day, getting drunk, driving golf carts into each other, partying with fucking 80 bands, and pretty much having this little piece of plastic around your neck that says you can treat every asshole dude that works for Clear Channel like an asshole just because you're in a band. You can't beat that, really.

That's worth the money.

Yeah! Fuck it! If you had told me, "look, for one-hundred million dollars, I'm going to give you this plastic and that means you can go to every fucking asshole bouncer in America who works for Clear Channel and be a dick to them," I would say, "fuck yeah, man, give it to me. I need to go piss people off."

Another darkest hour note, which I'm sure you get this question a lot, about how you guys got into some random legal shit in Oklahoma.

Oh yeah...

...but the more interviews I read, the more stories I heard. Then there was a story of a photo shoot and the cops showing up, and John being interrogated by the FBI for being drunk on a plane...

Oh yeah, wow. You guys know a lot, man.

I do my research.

This internet thing is insane.

It's a passing phenomenon. But why do you guys keep getting into trouble and what's been the most recent close call you guys have had?

Well, okay. I think the reason that we get in trouble is because we're out there a lot. We're out there enough times to get into that much trouble. But also, the Oklahoma thing, that was a random thing and bands across America have to know that they're targets for crooked cops. We just fell victim to one of the most brutal rapings a band could. The funny thing is that, all that legal stuff, it's so scary when you're in it. When we got interrogated by like, eight cops, trying to do a photo shoot maybe four miles from where I live, about homeland security...I was scared. But afterwards, it just becomes a great story. I would say that our closest run in with the law...I mean, that photo shoot wasn't that long ago, but um...fuck, I can't really think. I'd have to say it would probably be the photo shoot. We've gotten a lot better. We try to hide from cops and we try to play it cool, so I would say that's the latest.

There's still a lot of sordid stories out there on the internet, like the story I read on the internet with you guys and a few guys from Drowningman, where everyone got chased by a few angry pimps in a motel.

Yeah, I was asleep, dude. But I will say that the Oklahoma story, the true story is, we were driving across the border from Arkansas to Oklahoma and cops were waiting at the border. They saw the van - the van had a cracked windshield. They pulled us over. While the cop was talking to me, those cops knew that this sketchy cargo van full of eight dudes was sketchy enough that they could take advantage of us. He saw an unopened case of beer, and it's illegal to bring beer across the border.

...it's illegal to bring beer across the border?

Into Oklahoma, yes. They have different laws there. So bringing the beer across the border meant that he could search the vehicle because it was illegal and it was in the open. So he pulled us all out of the van and searched the vehicle. Those cops basically twisted everything they found. They found an unopened case of beer. There's nothing illegal about driving around with an unopened case of beer, it just happened that we had crossed the border and we didn't know. So then, they also found an unopened bottle of liquor, because we got a case of beer and a bottle of liquor from the show the night before on the rider. A very common and normal thing. But that's illegal too. I was driving so originally I get importing alcohol across state lines and importing liquor across state lines.

And you didn't even drink then, right?

No, I did not drink. That's what's classic and makes it even funnier. So then, they found a bag full of garbage. I'm talking this garbage was stuck underneath off in the back and it had obviously been there for a week. There was one crushed beer can in it, so he gave me driving with an open container. So then after that happened, we were real fucked, right? And then he claimed he found a bottle that he claimed had marijuana residue. I'm telling you, there was no marijuana in the vehicle at all.

A bottle?

There was like, a jar, that he said had marijuana residue. Now, all I can tell you is when a cop pulls his gun out and he tells you to get down and get handcuffed, it doesn't matter what you did, you do it because you're afraid. I mean, so, cop busts out of the van, pulls his gun, tells everybody to get down, we all get down, and he handcuffs everybody. But he forgets to handcuff our drummer and he's out of handcuffs. So while we're all laying on the side of the road, he tells us to get up, but nobody can get up, so Ryan just stands up and then he freaks out on him because he doesn't have his handcuffs. So they zip-tie Ryan's hands and they put us all in the car. This is the best part of the story: when he put me in the back of the cop car, the two cops said, "don't say anything, you're being recorded." Me and the other guitar player at the time look at each other like, "what is this guy talking about," and they had a tape cassette that they had cued up for when they pulled people over and put them in the back of the car, and it was the song "The End" by The Doors. He just pops it in, cranks it up to ten, and we just blasted The Doors all the way to the police station. It was like an intimidation tactic. "This is the end...my only friend..."

That's so fucked.

They basically said if we gave them $8,000...and keep us in mind, they put us in the jail with my cell phone and all the band money. They basically said if we gave them $8,000, they would give us C misdemeanors and let us out. We're scared out of our minds and not thinking straight. We don't say, "dude, can we get a lawyer," because they're going to keep us in jail until we figure something out. Sure enough, I have money, so I bail half the band out. But John and Ryan have to stay while I go get the rest Western Unioned from John's mom. Six hours later I come back with the money after picking up the van at this dude's house. It wasn't even impounded. We pick up the van, bail those dudes out, come back, bail those guys out. They hung out for a couple hours and got nicknames from the other inmates, ate prison food, got into the van, and I shit you not, we still made the show that night.

So what ended up happening legally? Do you guys all have misdemeanors?

Well, I have six, and the other guys only have two. They only got possession of marijuana.

You got six for that?

Yeah.

Are you fucking kidding?

Because I got illegally importing alcohol, illegally importing liquor, driving with an open container, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana paraphernalia....and the other one I can't remember. Something about the windshield, actually. The worst thing that happened was we all lost our driver's licenses for six months.

Had you ever had any other legal trouble?

Never. Never.

This is the only shit that's ever happened?

In my entire life. The drug laws in Oklahoma are ridiculous. The drug laws in America are ridiculous. They're not intended to actually stop drug abuse or crimes that are caused by drug abuse, they're just designed to make the government money.

And to fucking inconvenience people.

Yeah, that's all they do. The worst part about it is that legally we lost our licenses. Some of us choose to drive afterwards but you know, they were taken away by the state of Oklahoma for six months and that made our lives terrible. It was an awful experience. The thing is, we've heard stories of Roland, Oklahoma, the police department, being investigated for fraud and stuff like that. In the end, it was an incident that really changed the way that we operated as a band, because until then, tour was just fun. Tour is just hanging out with your friends and partying, whatever. Then you get arrested for some shit that you're not really a part of and your whole life changes. Now you're like, "shit, I'm in jail."

This was in Roland?

Yeah, Roland. We played really close to there with Norma Jean. I believe it was in Alabama, but I could be wrong. It was on the border and we had to drive through Roland, Oklahoma, and it was the scariest experience. We were freaking out. But we drove through and made it through and nobody got arrested again. We were just thinking of all these dumb reasons that we could get pulled over. It just became a really big learning experience for us which is that, when you're on tour, you really have to watch your surroundings where ever you are because anybody can take advantage of you. This last tour, with Versus The Mirror, the band got their entire trailer and gear stolen. Those guys have heart because they finished the tour, but the thing is, when you're a band, that van, that trailer, the things that are in it, and the people who are around you is all that you have. The things in the trailer when we go on tour, those are really the only things I possess that are worth anything. It's just crazy to think that it can all be taken away that fast. We really learned what to value when that happens.

So is it safe to say that a good tip from Darkest Hour, and myself as well because I've had handfuls of shit in my life is: don't ever admit to anything, or talk to the cops, or let them do anything.

I think that the real tip is if you're going to smoke weed, don't do it in your van. The other tip is, yeah, don't trust cops. The cops where I live in Washington, D.C., they have to deal with real crime. They're not so bad, but I still don't trust them.

Another story which I predict will be epic...I don't know if you know this but, Drowningman's Simon Brody is a frequent poster on our board.

Yeah, Brody's got himself a checkered past, that's for sure. I'm sure a million kids will post after this interview that he still owes them money for shirts.

I always make threads that are like, "quaaludes, ecstasy, downers," and when you click it, it says, "hey Simon," and he'll respond half the time. But the story that he has told concerning Darkest Hour, I think Fred was a big part of it, it concerned a website called Fistercam.com.

Oh my god, Fistercam.com. Well you know what, man, Fred's not in the band anymore, so I'll let you have it.

We've heard Simon's story, we want to hear the other side.

It did happen. I will say it did happen. I will also say that it wasn't our finest hour, but I will say that you are hearing it third person because I happened to be asleep.

You were also asleep when the pimps were trying to kill everyone...?

Here's the thing, when you're the sole straight edge dude in a band of dudes who are hammered; because at the time of all of these stories I was straight edge, you're the guy that has to drive, you're the guy who has to handle the money, you're the guy that has to make sure the band gets somewhere on time. So you're the guy who goes to bed. But, so anyway, here's what happened. These dudes were out partying one night and they went to a Denny's and everybody was hammered. Simon meets these two dudes at another table who he starts talking to and they say that they run a gay porn website, so Simon says, "have you met my friend, Fred," who is just so wasted he could barely sit up, and he goes, "he would like to be a star." And these guys are like, "okay, come back to our place." So they all say, "sure," which really doesn't make any sense, but they all go back with the dude to his house. They get there and basically there's this really huge dude named Bam-Bam who is filming himself totally naked when they walk in. They're just like, "whoa, dude." The other guy's name is Fister, that's his nickname. So they get Fred real drunk and put him on a couch, and then Fister and Bam-Bam pretty much just have sex around him and they take photos. They didn't do anything to Fred. Nobody would let that happen. But Fred was passed out because he was hammered. He didn't even know anything had happened, and those dudes just kind of had sex around him. Then after that, they were like, "okay dudes, we gotta get out of here," because all eight of them realized it was a really sketchy situation to be in, but Fister and Bam-Bam wouldn't let them leave. Eventually, I'm not quite clear on how they got out, but they convinced Fister and Bam-Bam to let them go. They leave and they come back and they go, "dude, you have to check your Email," and I'm like, "what?" So they tell me the whole story, but the punchline of this story is that in the end when they're like, "Email us these photos," they give the dude my Email. They don't give it of somebody who's there, they go, "yo, Email these to Mike." I check the Email and I can't believe the shit that I'm seeing. It's all over their website. Fred is passed out, so the next morning, he just wakes up and rolls over, totally hung over, and he looks up at me and the first thing he heard was the first statement of the rest of his life was Simon Brody saying, "you're a fucking star, Fred. You're just a star, dude." They showed Fred the pictures and I don't think he ever got that drunk again around us.

How did he react? Did he flip out?

No, I mean, you know, it is kind of sketchy. In retrospect, you probably shouldn't put a dude in that position, and nothing happened to him. There was eight dudes. Apparently Bam-Bam was pretty big, but everybody was sure that they could handle it.

Thank you for the Fistercam story.

It did happen. I'm not going to deny that it happened. Simon might've got a couple of kids for a t-shirt, but he doesn't make up stories that good.

Completely switching gears, now we're at the random question set.

Okay. The question about Fister and Bam-Bam wasn't random.

No, that was actually very meticulously inserted into this interview. It was a strategic question. The rest is free-form: just like jazz. What do you think about Kris Norris' instructional guitar DVD, and if you could do one instructional video, what would the content be?

First I will say that although Kris' DVDs seem weird to people, I'll say that my playing has gotten a lot better since he joined the band. Just being around a dude that can play that style of guitar that well, it's really good because he actually is showing me a lot of ways that I can improve the things that I do. I don't play the same style as Kris. He really has that style down and it helps me as a guitar player. It's kind of cool for me because I get first hand experience from someone who is pretty talented. If I could make my own instructional DVD, it would be, "How To Use A Tuner" because a lot of bands don't understand that like, Boss, and certain pedal companies, sell this tuner. The whole idea is when you tune your guitar, it's crazy, it doesn't make any noise. You tune it to what's on the tuner and then the guitar is in tune, right? And if the whole band does that? It's crazy, then everybody's in tune! It's amazing, man!

It's just like magic.

"Tuning Magic with Mike".

You hit the note until...the letter lights up green!

The letter lights up and then it's green. Then you can play.

Green means go. Red means "stop, keep going." That would be good. Much better than my instructional video which I assume would be something about pie eating. Korean Kibbles, one of our beloved board members asks, "I've always thought that the Undoing Ruin record sounded like a coked-up and more metal version of a Mega Man soundtrack. With that said, my question is then as to how much is Mega Man an influence on your childhood and your playing, if at all."

Uh, Mega Man 3 was a big influence, man. That was a fucking killer game. But uh, I will say that the early Nintendo games are a pretty big influence just in general. You can learn a lot about life from them. Like, mushrooms are bad, and turtles with spikey shells....you should not hang out with them. I would say that definitely the early Nintendo games taught me a lot of the values that I now hold as an adult.

Another question from another board member, a Mr. Jailbreak: while the champagne community obviously owes quite a bit to Dom Perignon and his contemporaries, do you ever feel as if the aristocratic society in today's culture has overly romanticized the celebratory sparkling wine?

Do I feel that...wait, the question is do I feel that they've overly romanticized it?

Yes.

The answer is no, dude. Champagne is awesome. Like, Andre, you can buy it for maybe three dollars at Safeway or any type of supermarket, and it is one of the best champagnes that you can drink. I will say that there's nothing quite like the buzz after chugging an entire bottle of warm champagne at like, a Warped tour or something. It really just gets you going. So I would say I would encourage people to dabble with champagne in any way possible and not to be deterred by the price of it.

So now as you mentioned before, you're no longer straight edge, how has life changed for Darkest Hour now that the last straight edge pillar of the band has collapsed?

The thing about it is that, you know, to a point, nothing has really changed. If you're a responsible individual who is a positive and healthy person and you don't have any real issues, you can drink a beer and just be a normal person. Sure, people get drunk and do stupid shit, and there's a lot of people who get drunk and have a lot of problems.

But there's a lot of people who don't get drunk and do stupid shit.

Exactly. And believe me, I was one of those people, too. The thing is, I'm not sure a lot of people know, but Darkest Hour as a band is almost averaging thirty as an age. It's the point where, I'm at home, the people that I hang out with are pretty much normal people. They'll have a beer and go out and do whatever. It's not really this big thing. Straight Edge was a huge part of my life for a long time. It was how I made all my friends. It was how I started this band. It's how I made my way through high school and college with a place that felt like I belonged. Some of my closest friends now I met through being straight edge. It just got to the point to where, for me, it didn't relate to my life anymore. It wasn't something that I really felt like a part of, so it just stopped, and nothing's really different. I would say that I respect kids that are straight edge and I still really love it, but to me, it wasn't the same thing. That's how life goes as you get older.

As you've gotten older, you said the average age is pushing thirty, have you watched the rest of the world grow up and have babies and buy houses and things like that? Do you ever feel kind of alienated over that?

That's an amazing question. No, because I own a house and Paul has a baby. So like, it's funny...

Still Darkest Hour, still thirty year old dudes.

Yeah. We've managed to, amazingly enough, stay in a band for my entire twenties and still make it out alive. This is probably a very little known fact but, every member in the band, except for one, is married. That's interesting enough. Paul has a baby and it's kind of weird, but everybody kind of has lives. It's pretty amazing for us to be able to do a band that's had moderate success; I mean, we're not Metallica, but we do okay; but to just be able to have a life and also be able to do what you live is kind of a crazy thing.

Kind of wrapping up here, but, on average, how many high fives are distributed throughout a Darkest Hour set?

Oh man, as many as possible. Dude, there is nothing more sacred than a high five. A high five, to me, is more intimate than a kiss.

It's how white people express excitement.

You know what, man, it's how everybody expresses excitement! And you know what? The high five really says it all. "I love you, you love me, let's party, we're bros, lets do this!" There's no kind of negativity involved in the high five. Or a low five! Or a side five! Or any kind of five.

Yeah, I've never had an angry high five in my life.

No! You can't! You can't say, "fuck you," and high five somebody.

That's true. It just wouldn't happen. Somebody would pull the hand down.

Exactly!

It'd be like Ted Dibiase sticking his hand out to shake hands and then pulling it away to slick their hair back. Which I can imagine Andrew Dice Clay doing, too.

He would do that.

He would. Angry hostile man.

He'd puff on a cigarette and then make you deal with the Dice.

He'd punch somebody's butthole out, "GA-DOOSH!" Okay, last question here. Does anybody in the band have any side projects or anything that we should know out?

Yeah, a lot of dudes. Whoa boy. So Ryan, our drummer, has a band called Suppression, which is a grindcore band that's been around forever. Ryan was also in City of Caterpillar.

I didn't know that.

He's going to kill me, but I can't remember exactly what he did. I think he recorded every record except for a live one that came out. I'm not sure. He played drums. He's also doing a band with some other guys in City of Caterpillar now, but I don't think they have a name yet. I actually played in Battery for a long time, the old school straight edge band. I also play in a band with the bass player from Majority Rule and the singer/guitarist for Trial By Fire. We don't have a name yet but we have a bunch of songs. Let me think if I'm missing anybody...Kris has another metal side project with a dude from Gwar called Locust Factor, and it's really crazy shredding metal. John Henry has a band that has revolving members all the time, called Cropduster. They only play basements and they only play stoned. They're pretty sweet, dude. I've tried out a couple of times but apparently I can't be in the band.

Not high enough?

I can't play guitar well enough, actually. I think that's probably about it, man. Somebody's going to be pissed if I forgot one of their bands.

We can just put it in the comments section.

"First post, Mike sucks."

Well, do you have any questions for me?

Whoa.

I've decided to turn the tables for once in the interview. The hunter becomes the hunted.

Heh. Um....no, man. I think I'm good. Well, actually, I mean, let me just ask you this: what do you think is a better movie, Office Space or Big Lebowski?

Big Lebowski.

See, this is a tough one, I would've just said, "I can't, no comment."

I can defiantly say that it's the Big Lebowski.

That's cool. That's cool. I think their greatness is equal.

Doesn't somebody in your band have a Big Lebowski tattoo?

I have a Big Lebowski tattoo.

With bowling pins that says "the dude abides"?

Yeah. Yeah. So what about this: Galaga or Ms. Pacman?

Wait, Gallagher or Ms. Pacman?

No, Galaga, the video game.

Oh, because I was going to say Gallagher for sure. Can I go for Qbert?

Yeah, but that's no where near the same thing. I'd go for Galaga because Ms. Pacman? There's nothing to that.

Well, there's nothing to really differentiate it except for the addition of bows to particular characters heads. That's not proper cause to release another game under a different name.

I will say that our drummer, Ryan, he loves Ms. Pacman. He will swear that it is the best game in the world.

I have played it on the Sega for 12 hours before.

It is a bit of a problem when you get to the club and they have a Galaga/Ms. Pacman machine. The Launchpad in Albuquerque has a really good one. Actually, it may just but only a Galaga. Emo's in Texas has a really good one.

[The conversation trails off and deteriorates into the Dick Tracy Nintendo video game, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game, and the subject of the ill-fated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pies with the green ooze center from Hostess.]

Comments
anonymous   posted 12/12/2006 1:46:13 PM
First post, Mike sucks.
tomgilk_   posted 12/12/2006 2:28:00 PM
^^^^^^
sweetzombiejesus_   posted 12/12/2006 2:50:14 PM
Well-executed interview.
john_doe_   posted 12/12/2006 2:52:35 PM
should've made them smile in the pic so we know which one has the brittle teeth.
Cory_   posted 12/12/2006 3:32:47 PM
cumt-ts.
maskake_   posted 12/12/2006 4:01:46 PM
9/10 interview.
entertaining.
anonymous   posted 12/12/2006 5:20:55 PM
good interview...i really wish you included the shit about the dick tracy game for nintendo....for the f*cking life of me, i have no idea how to beat that shit.
anonymous   posted 12/12/2006 6:33:39 PM
Great interview! Drew is the best part of Lambgoat.
Nowonmai_   posted 12/12/2006 8:02:17 PM
my brain started to melt from all the reading but this is pretty funny/interesting stuff
Coldchain_   posted 12/12/2006 10:57:07 PM
A third of this band look like they should be in a hippie jam band
ronwellquincydobbs_   posted 12/13/2006 12:00:03 AM
holy fistercam.com this was a good interview.
deathraceking_   posted 12/13/2006 1:05:34 AM
funny that mike preaches about using a tuner when every time i've seen them his shitty les pauls go out of tune every other song.
thisisforever_   posted 12/13/2006 3:40:44 AM
this band is so good
hotaction_   posted 12/13/2006 7:21:04 PM
actually eruption came out in '78
revspin_   posted 12/13/2006 9:28:36 PM
love this band, good interview. the drug laws are indeed f*cked in this country...
vdburns_   posted 12/14/2006 11:42:56 AM
I really wish I knew about those TMNT pies.........
rob_   posted 3/13/2007 1:56:27 AM
you know it, the tmnt pies were the shiz
thetowerofrome   posted 1/3/2014 11:14:41 AM
What a good interview.