Whitechapel – Exclusive Interview

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Whitechapel are currently preparing to head out on the road for a co-headline American tour with DevilDriver, promoting their new record Our Endless War which is due to be released on 29 April. We caught up with lead singer Phil Bozeman.

BL: How are things?

P: Yeah, going pretty good.

BL: Birmingham Live were fortunate enough to have already listened to Our Endless War and published a review last week. You released a behind the scenes studio video that said a lot more work went into this record, and recording was pushed back by a couple of months, does that mean that the creative process was particularly different for this album?

P: Not really, it was pretty much the same process that we’ve used in the past; it hasn’t been anything really different, we just had a little more busy, hectic schedule.

BL: By pushing it back and delaying the recording, were you all happy with the finished product? Do you think all the extra effort paid off?

P: Oh yeah, we’re definitely really happy with it. You know, we actually work a little bit better under pressure. We’re definitely happy with the way it came out.

BL: The new record seems to take the Whitechapel sound but takes the atmospherics and epic feel of tracks to the next level, was that the intention?

P: That wasn’t necessarily something that we really focused on, we just kind of write however our moods are and whatever comes out, comes out honestly.

BL: On the new record your annunciation seems to be even clearer than on previous releases, is that something that you’ve been working on?

P: Yeah, I’ve just wanted to be able to be understood without people even having to open the lyric book, I want people to be able to know what I’m saying and it really puts a better definition on the album, with how it sounds and everything. If it’s just noise, some people like that, but I just like to be understood for sure.

BL: It also seems that the vocals were leveled higher than in previous releases?

P: Yeah, really I just wanted to improve my performance. I think on this album it’s the best they’ve ever been in terms of annunciation and just overall sound and everything. I know on this album I wasn’t really focusing too much on the deeper vocals and the traditional style, I just wanted to try something different.

BL: Speaking of vocals, I’ve seen some of your instructional videos on YouTube. What made you decide to get involved with those and with encouraging up and coming vocalists?

P: I get a lot of questions, and I figured it would be good to answer them in video form rather than having to type stuff out. People can actually go there and figure stuff out without having to read a bunch of stuff, so it was more of a hands-on kind of thing. I do get a lot of questions about it, so I thought it would be a good idea to just touch base with everyone.

BL: You also seem very comfortable with sharing during your video posts, in particular your “What was your life like?” video is incredibly honest, was it difficult to share such personal things?

P: Yeah, definitely, but I just wanted to show people that I’m human too and that I’ve had problems just like everyone else and you know, life it tough some times. It’s just something that you have to push through, just try to fight through and make the best of it.

BL: There’s a really inspirational tone to that video, especially where you are talking about pressing through the bad times, and finding balance. Before you got involved in making music, did listening to music help you find balance?

P: Yeah, I would say so, music has been such a huge part of my life for a long time, I would definitely say that with finding balance with my life that it helps me to sort through emotions and just kind of helps you cope with things, and to relate with the person that’s singing the song, I definitely feel like it helps me with my journey.

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BL: Some of your lyrics, maybe Mono from the new record for example, are pretty dark. Are your lyrics an outlet for you, is writing a cathartic experience?

P: Yeah, that song was one of those songs where you kind of just don’t care any more and you’re just so fed up with everything and you know, you’ve been through so many things in your life and you’re just so fed up with people talking bad about you, people constantly giving their opinion on you, constantly bashing you and it’s just kind of like one of those songs where you just kind of say “screw you”.

BL: By putting that stuff into a record, does that help give you the headspace to find balance?

P: Yeah, it’s nice to get those feelings out and not have to hold them in and bite your tongue.

BL: I see you’ve launched a competition for fans to do vocal covers of Mono, have you seen any of them yet? Have there been any of them that have impressed you?

P: Yeah, I’ve seen a few of them; I’ve not gone through all of them because there’s been quite a few. There’s definitely potential in a lot of the people, it’s really cool to see so many people with that dedication and that much interest in what we do that they’ll actually do it. I’ve definitely seen some potential in some people.

BL: Having watched a couple myself, one of the things that has seemed to trip people up is the sheer speed of your vocals on Mono, maybe they’re a little too much for aspiring amateurs?

P: [laughs] Maybe for amateur vocalists that haven’t really done it too much.

BL: Many bands don’t appreciate being pigeonholed into a genre, is that something that worries you with Whitechapel?

P: It doesn’t necessarily worry me, but it is something that has kind of gotten out of hand in the past couple of years. People will call anyone that is heavy, or kind of intense, Deathcore now. At the end of the day it’s all just metal and it’s all heavy music. The Deathcore label has sort of hurt bands because there are a lot of people that don’t want to admit that they like Deathcore, and some generally don’t like it, but it’s kind of frowned upon I guess.

BL: Whitechapel are considered by many to be almost the flag bearers for Deathcore or more generally for extreme metal. Is that something that you are comfortable with? How does that feel?

P: It’s really cool if people think that of us, and if people consider us to be one of the top bands in it, it’s really humbling. It’s humbling to think that we might pave the way for some bands, and that we could be one of those legendary influences some day, it’s really cool to be a part of that and it is kind of surreal for us to think that people are actually looking up to us and could potentially start a music career based on us.

BL: You having a clothing side project called 44 Apparel. Are you finding time to focus on that with everything going on with Whitechapel?

P: Yeah, I started it out but I did kind of lose track of it, I just wasn’t fully focused on it, just because of being busy with the band and personal life. I’m actually in the process of working with it right now and it’s something that I’ll be releasing sometime this year, getting more stuff out there for people to check out.

BL: We reviewed DevilDriver at their gig in Wolverhampton last week. Are you looking forward to heading out on the road with them?

P: Oh yeah, they’re all really cool guys. We’ve never done a full-on tour with them, so were really excited to hit the road with those guys and you know, just hang out with them and play all of those shows, have fun and make it an all around good tour.

BL: How are preparations going, everyone in the band feeling ready?

P: Yeah, we haven’t been on the road for a while so we’re all ready to go perform for everyone.

BL: That tour rounds up at the end of June, which is festival season in the UK, can we expect to see any festival dates from you this year?

P: I don’t think so this year, we did it last year and so we usually don’t do it two years in a row. As far as plans to come back, I’m not exactly sure right now, but I’m pretty sure we’ll be there in the future.

BL: We hope so! Finally, we know you’ve got the release of the new record and the tour coming up, but any other plans for 2014 you can share with us?

P: Nothing really set in stone or that we can announce yet but there is something that we’ll be releasing later on this year.

BL: Thank you very much for your time, we wish you luck with the new record and tour.

P: Awesome man, appreciate it!

Interview – Steve Kilmister
Live photo – Steve Gerrard

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