When Century Media — home to the likes of Celtic Frost, Napalm Death and Satyricon — signed Austin, Texas, metallers At All Cost back in March, some fans questioned the move. After all, At All Cost aren't typical of what the label has been churning out the last 20 years.
"We're one of the lightest bands on the label, and we've always been one of those bands that were too light for the heavy tours and too heavy for the light tours," frontman Trey Ramirez explained. "I can't even think of a single other Century Media band we should hit the road with, but maybe that's the direction [the label wants] to go — maybe they're branching out."
You see, At All Cost are ... well ... eclectic. The band's recently released LP, Circle of Demons, is teeming with solid melodies, thrash-tastic riffage and the occasional breakdown. But there are poppy, electronic elements to AAC's sound too — and at times, Ramirez employs a vocoder to alter his voice. Standard metal fare, these boys ain't. So, where does the singer see his band fitting in with the rest of metal's current class?
"We're definitely part of the same class, but we don't get called upon that much," he cracked. "We kind of all revel in the fact that we're standing outside the box. It's kind of cool. You either get 100 percent positive attention from people or 100 percent negative. And negative people are easily persuaded. Most naysayers that have come to see our shows have actually come up to us and told us, 'I was totally wrong about you guys.' We like being different.
"We're just eye-openers, man," he continued. "We think that certain genres are stagnant, and we want to change things. Change isn't always necessarily good, unless you do it right, and we're still fine-tuning our sound. But we want other bands to come out and say, 'I know there's supposed to be a breakdown here ...' or, 'I know the song's supposed to fit this formula, but let's try something different. Let's dare to be different.' I think that when you stick to the metalcore formula, you're just so limited in what you can do. When you do something different, you get cheers and you get jeers. But we're in it for ourselves. Honestly. We're not in this to get rich."
At All Cost are comprised of a bunch of college dropouts who work small jobs to make ends meet. The band signed with Century Media after its former label, Combat Records — also home to Horse the Band and Look What I Did — imploded last year. AAC are known for their live sets, but much to their chagrin, they've never been asked to participate in summer festivals like Ozzfest and Sounds of the Underground.
"We've just never had the attitude of spending money to make money," Ramirez explained. "We'll road-dog it as long as we can, until we're invited — as opposed to paying the $75,000 to get on [a major metal tour]. There's no return from doing that, but it's not like we're seeing major returns doing it this way. It never has been about that — we don't mind touring with bands that have a fanbase that don't necessarily like our band. We're in the business of persuading people.
"If you leave our show saying, 'Oh my God, those guys were great — I'm going to go buy that record,' great," he added. "If you leave our show saying, 'What the hell did I just listen to?,' and we some how opened your mind a little bit, that's also equally great. We're in it to win it. It's pure energy when we take that stage, and that's our most fun of the day — that's our time. So, we have to have a blast during that time to make it worthwhile, and I think that transfers over."
Still, that doesn't mean being in At All Cost is easy. In fact, the band is known for its unusually bad luck.
"We've been the victim of multiple thefts," the singer said. "We've had our trailer stolen twice, our van broken into once. Luckily — and I use the term loosely — the trailer was only full of equipment one time. The other time, it was broken into on the side of the road, and then someone stole it. We've lost a couple of babies, let's put it that way."
During the band's recent tour with One Dead Three Wounded, Ramirez got even worse news.
"The first week of that run, I lost my glasses," he said. "Then, when I went to the doctor for replacements, I found out I was legally blind and had glaucoma. Then I got two staph infections — all in the first week. Then I come home from that tour and my dog ate my glasses. Them's the breaks. Sh-- happens to a lot of bands, but sometimes it happens to the same band a lot."
AAC are currently on tour with Vanna and Assacre and will hit the road again this fall with Vanna and Oh, Sleeper.
The rest of the week's metal news:
The Number Twelve Looks Like You will head out next month with At the Throne of Judgment, See You Next Tuesday and I Hate Sally. The trek kicks off September 28 in Kingston, Pennsylvania, and dates are booked through October 20 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. ... Who said Himsa don't have a sense of humor? The Seattle hardcore-metal band recently shot a video for the track "Unleash Carnage" with director Ryan Short (Zeke) that features the members dressed conservatively and playing tennis. "It's really ridiculous," bassist Derek Harn said. "We're having a tennis match and we end up getting in a fight. Rackets are breaking and tennis balls are flying everywhere." The clip will be featured on the band's new e-card and will also be a bonus feature on its upcoming album Summon in Thunder, which comes out September 18. ...
Classic-metal vets Queensrÿche will release an album of cover tunes on November 13. Take Cover will feature a diverse range of songs by U2 ("Bullet the Blue Sky"), the Police ("Synchronicity II"), Pink Floyd ("Welcome to the Machine"), Peter Gabriel ("Red Rain"), Black Sabbath ("Neon Knights") and more. "During soundchecks, [guitarists] [Mike] Stone and Michael [Wilton] like to play 'name that riff,' and sometimes the whole band joins in," singer Geoff Tate said in a statement. "That's really the way this album came together too. We got together and started playing songs to each other, and then we picked our favorites." Queensrÿche will head out on tour with Heaven and Hell and Alice Cooper, starting Wednesday in Binghamton, New York. The tour runs through October 6 and will mark Heaven and Hell's last North American run before the bandmembers separate to fulfill other obligations. ...
Eclectic Ontario, Canada, band Protest the Hero will release their second album, Fortress, on November 13. The 10-song disc was produced by Julius "Juice" Butty (Alexisonfire, Sleeper Set Sail) and recorded at Silo Studios in Hamilton, Ontario. "This album is nothing to be intellectualized," singer Rody Walker said in a release. "I feel it's a very natural progression for us — a natural progression into further obscurity. I am of the belief [that] a lot of the people who work for us were hoping for a stab at a more commercially viable album. However we wrote what we wanted without linear boundaries and created something less commercial than ever. Some fans of the band will hate it. And some people who hate the band will love it. All others can rot." Protest the Hero will open for Shadows Fall and All That Remains for a handful of shows from September 11 in Portland, Maine, through September 16 in West Springfield, Virginia. After that, they'll be on the road with ATR, the Acacia Strain and Too Pure to Die through an October 10 show in Raleigh, North Carolina. The latter band just signed to Trustkill and will release its sophomore record in summer 2008. The album will mark the debut of new singer Paul Zurlo (ex-Beyond All Reason). Too Pure to Die's debut, Confidence and Consequence, came out in November. ...
The not-so-tastefully titled Pull the Trigger tour will feature Suicide Silence, Despised Icon, Winds of Plague and See You Next Tuesday and launch September 2 in San Antonio. Dates run through September 26 in Worcester, Massachusetts. ... Speaking of Despised Icon, the Montreal deathcore group recently shot a video for "Furtive Monologue" from its second album, Ills of Modern Man, which came out in May. Singer Alex Erian described it as "our darkest video yet. ... We're confident it'll f---ing slay." ... Georgian hardcore-metal band Norma Jean will launch a U.S. tour with Saosin and Alexisonfire on September 28 in Seattle. Dates run through November 7 in New York. ...
God Forbid will reissue their first two releases as a single disc on November 6. The CD will contain the band's 1998 EP, Out of Misery, and its 1999 album, Reject the Sickness. "I think Reject the Sickness is a classic in the metalcore genre that never really had its due," guitarist Doc Coyle said in a statement. "And Out of Misery really gives true God Forbid fans a raw look at the foundation where the band was birthed. For all those who've been bitching about the rarity of these albums, please enjoy." ... Progressive Woodstock, New York, metal band 3 will open for the Scorpions for a month of North American dates, starting September 9 in Edmonton, Alberta, and running through September 29 in Boston. ... Technical metal/hardcore/reggae legends Bad Brains have announced four West Coast shows in September to support their recently released album, Build a Nation: September 22 (San Diego); September 24 (San Francisco); September 25 (Anaheim, California); and September 26 (Los Angeles).