It’s November 20, and Alissa White-Gluz — the comely singer for Canadian metalcore outfit the Agonist — is in a hotel room in the middle of Colorado. The day before, heavy snows crippled the bandmembers’ trailer as they tried to make their way through the Rockies.
White-Gluz said the trailer started swerving, and inevitably, dragged their van into a ditch, where they were stuck for hours. The setback forced the Agonist to drop off their tour with Enslaved. White-Gluz is just glad no one was hurt — but the band’s gear certainly suffered the brunt of the mishap.
“No one even had a scratch on them, so we’re thankful for that,” the singer explains. “A blizzard hit, and we were trying to get off the highway, and every exit was snowed in, and we couldn’t get off. At this point, we were driving with the hazard [lights] on, going 30 miles an hour, and even at that speed, pulling a trailer was just a deathtrap. The van is fine, but the trailer ended up upside-down, on its nose, and snapped off of the van. Basically, the trailer took the hit for us.”
Now, she’s sitting around, waiting to find out what the Agonist’s next move will be. She kills time talking to Metal File about being a woman in a male-dominated genre; the album the band is in the midst of writing (the eventual follow-up to this year’s Once Only Imagined, which is in stores now); and her experience on “Canadian Idol” back in 2006.
“It was a joke that went too far,” she explained with a discomfited chuckle. “We’d already signed a deal with Century Media, and I was at school, which was close to where they were holding the auditions. My boyfriend was like, ‘Go do it — it will be funny,’ and I went and did it. The producers seemed to like me and filmed a lot of footage of me and kept putting me on the show. It got to a certain point where they make everyone sign an exclusivity contract, and so I told them, ‘I’m not signing sh–.’ I already had a contract, but they wanted me to be on the show. I told them I would if they exempted me from the contract. So, after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting, they decided to keep me in there for an allotted period of time, and then they’d let me go.
“It was funny for me, and it was interesting to be there with so many people who just had to make it; I didn’t care at all,” continued the staunch vegan, who has been working with PETA to spread her animal-rights beliefs while on the road. “I was kind of thinking, ‘Can I expose a bunch of teeny-boppers to metal, so they can see what it’s about?’ I guess I managed to do that a little bit. I so did not fit on there, so it was just really funny.”
Named one of Revolver‘s Hottest Chicks in Metal in 2007 (let’s face it — the talent pool’s not that deep), White-Gluz said she wasn’t really all that honored by the “distinction,” but used it to her advantage. “We should be pointing out people’s accomplishments rather than their looks, but if it can promote our band, why not?” she explained. “As a female in metal, I’m going to get ostracized one way or another. So, if I’m going to have people hating me because I’m a female in metal, I might as well get people loving me because I’m a female in metal, too.”
White-Gluz also said says she’s noticed while on the road that females don’t always get the love when they take the stage — she has to counter the resistance by winning over audiences during the Agonist’s live sets.
“For some reason, people don’t want to see a girl onstage. Whether it’s a girl or a guy, if you like the music, who cares?” White-Gluz asked. “From seeing who our true fans are, we’ve noticed that there are people who latch onto us really hard — they love us, and everything we stand for. Then there are people who absolutely refuse to open their mind to us because they don’t want to have anything to do with a modern, female-fronted band. We get both extremes.”
And with any luck, the band’s next album, which remains untitled, will convince critics the Agonist aren’t just another flash-in-the-pan led by a pretty face.
“The songs on our first album, [Once Only Imagined,] we wrote about three years ago, so we’ve been working on the next one for a little over a year,” she said of the follow-up, which they’re hoping to have out by September. “The difference between the first record and this next album’s our drummer, Simon [McKay]. We have him to work with us on this album; the drummer we had on our first album really just wasn’t that good, and he also didn’t even really like metal that much. So he was holding us back. Simon, he’s an amazing drummer, and he’s very into black metal. He’s solid behind the kit, but also has feel to his drumming.
“The songs we’re working on now,” which number around eight, “are a lot more mature. Since I joined this band, I’ve always been pushing, ‘Let’s go heavier, darker, faster.’ That was hard to do with our old drummer. This next one’s going to be a lot heavier, darker and faster, but it will still be catchy enough so that people who don’t necessarily like metal may still like it.”
Just then, one of the bandmembers knocks on White-Gluz’s hotel-room door and pops his head in: “The front desk just called, and they need to know what’s going on or else they’re going to kick us out. So we’re going to get out. Start packing up your stuff.”
The door closes, and the interview needs to come to a close. It’s been one hell of a week for the Agonist, but White-Gluz takes it all in stride.
“The fun just never stops,” she laughed.
The rest of the week’s metal news:
Down frontman Philip Anselmo will kick his new label, Housecore Records, into full gear in 2008 with a string of releases by his side projects and more. The label will launch with an EP by Arson Anthem, a group that features Anselmo on guitar, on anthem singer Mike Williams, bassist Collin Yeo and Superjoint Ritual bassist Hank Williams III on drums. The group formed after Williams, who lost everything he owned in Hurricane Katrina, moved into Anselmo’s spare apartment. They spent hours listening to Anselmo’s extensive collection of early hardcore, and before long, they started jamming. “Obviously Mike and I have a history, from high school, to touring together with Eyehategod opening for Pantera,” Anselmo told MTV News. “After Hurricane Katrina, I bailed him out of jail and put him up at Nodferatu’s Lair [a space on Anselmo's property]. His apartment and everything he owned burned down in the post-Katrina riots. We always wanted to start a hardcore band. III and I were in Superjoint Ritual together, but I knew he was a drummer from when I first met him when he was in his teens. … Collin was a young musician, he was in town at the right time, and it all fit perfectly.” Other Housecore releases will follow, including one by Anselmo’s Christ Inversion, an Eyehategod live album recorded at CBGB and the soundtrack to the Jim Van Bebber movie “The Manson Family,” which was released in 2004. “There’s a lot more to come from Housecore Records,” Anselmo added. “Always remember this is not just a ‘metal’ or ‘heavy’ label. The roster is very diverse in musical styles and tastes.” …
With all the hullabaloo about Grammy-nominated artists — and this year’s crop includes As I Lay Dying, Shadows Fall and, once again, Slayer — let’s not forget the Grammy Awards aren’t the only game in town. Killswitch Engage won top honors in one of those other award ceremonies, the Boston Music Awards, which went down December 1. The band took Outstanding Metal/Hardcore Band of the Year, besting All That Remains, Converge, Isis, the Red Chord, Shadows Fall and Unearth. Killswitch also took Act of the Year, beating Dream Theater, Dinosaur Jr., Lori McKenna, Shadows Fall and Boys Like Girls. Alas, KSE weren’t able to attend the event, since they were on tour with Lamb of God at the time. Killswitch Engage will launch their first tour of 2008 on January 9 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with dates running through February 5 in Hartford, Connecticut. Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die and Parkway Drive are also on the bill. … As for As I Lay Dying’s Grammy nom, needless to say it stunned the band. “I woke up to a text message from my manager saying we had gotten nominated,” drummer Jordan Mancino told MTV News on Friday (December 7). “After that, I called my mom, and she was more excited than I was. All of a sudden I was getting all these calls from aunts and uncles.” …
Greek blasphemers Rotting Christ will tour North America for the first time in almost seven years. The jaunt starts February 4 in Charlotte, North Carolina, with shows scheduled through March 2 in Houston. The Lucifer Over America Tour will also feature Immolation, Belphegor and Averse Sefira. … Speaking of eternal damnation, Suicide Silence have scheduled a tour they’re calling “Santa Slays,” which starts December 26 in Los Angeles and wraps up New Year’s Eve in San Diego. Light This City, the Faceless and Oblige will open. “We expect these shows to be some of craziest we’ve played in a while,” singer Mitch Lucker said in a statement. “So please come out and enjoy the holidays with us.” …
Austin, Texas, alternative-metal band the Sword will release their new album in early 2008. The boys are currently on the road playing tracks from the disc. Shows are scheduled until December 17 in Kansas City, Missouri. Valient Thorr and Black Cobra are also on the bill. … Valiant Thorr doesn’t have a new album coming out in early 2008, but Canadian muscleman/ metal man Thor sure does. The album, Into the Noise, comes out January 9 and includes the title track, “Evil Twin” and “Back for More.” … It may be a little early to mark your 2008 calendar (if you even have a 2008 calendar yet), but Nightwish have scheduled a North American tour for May. The Finnish goth-metal band will kick off the tour May 5 in Sayreville, New Jersey, and will “Finnish” it up May 31 in Mokena, Illinois. Support will come from Sonic Syndicate. …
Gothic Adelaide, Australia, band Virgin Black will release their next album, Requiem – Fortissimo, February 19. According to a release, the disc features the “death/doom vibe of early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride” and is the band’s “rawest and heaviest work to date.” Tracks include “The Fragile Breath,” “In Winters Ash” and “Silent.” Requiem – Fortissimo, the second installment of a trilogy, is the follow-up to Requiem – Mezzo Forte, which came out April 3. … Look for a new album by Long Island, New York, hardcore-metal band This Is Hell on February 17. Misfortunes was recorded at Long Island’s Killingsworth Recording Company with Tomas Costanza (Diffuser, Bedlight for Blue Eyes) and at Port Jefferson Station’s Full Force Studio with producer Joe Cincotta (Obituary, Suffocation). “What was most important was that we wrote what we felt,” screamer Rick Jimenez said. “This album is much more personal than the last, very human, and we think people will be able to relate to it.”