Q&A: All That Remains – Embracing the Unpopular Opinion


Phil Labonte is a mighty opinionated fella. If you were to take a few moments to Google the All All-That-RemainsThat Remains frontman, it wouldn’t take very long to find something capable of bringing a passionate response out of you.

However, what can’t be lost in Labonte is that he is at the helm of a band that’s put forth seven albums over the past 15 years and gained millions of fans along the way. His opinion may not always be the most popular one, but the ability he and his All That Remains mates – Mike Martin (guitar), Oli Herbert (guitar), Jeanne Sagan (bass) and Jason Costa (drums) – have to meld metal with straight-up American rock and power ballads, has proven to be a winning concept.

Riffyou.com recently spent some time with Labonte to discuss 2015’s The Order of Things, along with battling the social justice warriors and having a counter-opinion in an era where many can’t handle alternative views.

RY: With this album, All That Remains really explores a lot of different sonic territories. How important is it for your band to keep its heavy sound, but also take on different directions?

Phil: “It’s part of who we are. We’ve always been a band that tries to do different things on every album. The metal community is very restrictive, especially if you’re listening to the critics and trying to make an album to try and please other people. We’ve made the decision that we aren’t going to worry about what we’re supposed to do, because the only thing that matters when we’re a writing song is, ‘Do we like it?’ If the answer is ‘yes,’ then we use it. If not, we don’t.”

RY: Do you think some bands in the metal scene get too caught up in the restrictive nature of the genre…and that slows them down?

Phil: “I don’t know if that slows them down, but there are a lot of bands that worry about if a song sounds like what they are supposed to sound like…there are a lot of bands like that.”

RY: That’s interesting. You’ve become known as a very opinionated person in the music community, so I was wondering: where did your opinionated spirit come from?

Phil: “I don’t know – that’s not something I’ve really thought about. [My opinions] may be getting more attention now because the band has been around a while and we’ve become more successful. But, I think I’ve always been like that. I speak my mind and if people disagree with me – which a lot of people do in the over-sensitive society that we have today – it ruffles feathers, just because I have the audacity to say, ‘no, I disagree with what your opinion is.’ A lot of people seem to believe that their opinion is the only obvious choice…and I don’t believe that.

“I believe that there is always room for discussion and for different ideas. But, a lot of people these days are very narrow in their perspectives, their ideas and what is acceptable to say, or think.”

RY: It’s very interesting that people react that way to someone who makes rock music, considering what’s made rock n’ roll great is people with challenging opinions or perspectives. So, does it frustrate you when that community comes after you?

Phil: “No, it’s fun – I love it. The band and our management, we talk about the stuff I am comfortable saying – I kind of want to be the voice against the social justice warriors out there…the people who are in the business of being offended and doing anything they can to make sure that I have the right, politically correct opinion. I want to be the guy that throws a middle finger in their face and say, ‘screw you.’ I know that I’m going to get heat for that and I look forward to it…I get excited about it. I do things intentionally to get [those people] worked up. As long as the social justice warriors are attacking me, it means they aren’t going after someone who doesn’t have the balls to stand up for themselves.”

RY: Even still, do ever get concerned that people will focus too much on that side of you and that’ll take away from what All That Remains is up to?

Phil: “It possibly does, but that doesn’t weigh on me personally. There are many types of reviews out there and one of them is reviewing me…and calling me names. Right now, it’s coming to a allthatremains1point where the people coming after me and constantly critiquing me have started to jump the shark. And, people are starting to turn against them.”

RY: Do you think you’re an easy target?

Phil: “Oh yeah, sure. I mean, I lob meatballs to these guys. You can say almost anything, but if you say it in the right way, it doesn’t get people upset. I say the same thing in a different way and people get worked up. So, I choose to say it in a way that works people up. I’ve made it perfectly clear that I do this, but people keep falling for it…they keep taking the bait. As long as they keep doing that, I’ll keep putting the bait out there.”

RY: Why do you think these people get so worked up when a notable musician makes seemingly controversial opinions?

Phil: “I really don’t know. I’m like a Q-level celebrity. Any time someone in the entertainment industry says something that doesn’t fall in line with popular culture, people get worked up. But then they’ll say something that falls in line with popular culture that is absolutely, unquestionably stupid, and nobody pays attention. When Gwyneth Paltrow said that she wishes she could give President Barrack Obama all the power he needs to do whatever he wants, that is patently dumb. Nobody said anything and I’m thinking, ‘this moron thinks we should have a king? Are you an idiot?’”

RY: With that said, do you think Kanye West is doing good business or bad business by being as opinionated as he is?

Phil: “I think Kanye West is probably a knucklehead. The whole jumping up on stage thing [during other peoples’ award show acceptance speeches] is kind of dumb. But, what I think it really boils down to Kanye West just wanting to fuck Beyoncé. There have been two times where he’s talked about how great Beyoncé is and I think secretly he’s praying for Jay Z’s death.”

-Adam Grant

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