In some bands, once each member establishes their role in the songwriting and recording processes, they guard their musical turf almost religiously. If those roles change, the potential for the kind of conflicts that can tear an act apart increases greatly.
That’s never been a problem for Protest The Hero. Over nearly 15 years, PTH have fluidly adapted to dramatic changes in the music industry, while fostering a creative process that finds them actively encouraging each other to evolve – without ever fracturing the bond that’s kept them together. That bond has existed since they were children, says lead singer Rody Walker, who credits their longevity to a collective passion for the music they make and their shared outlook.
“We have an amazing capacity to have a good time despite the circumstances,” says Walker. “We
“We do this because we love it, and nothing could be so bad that it would make us stop.” – Protest The Hero’s Rody Walker
“I don’t think we’ve written any record the same way,” Walker continues. In fact, he says, their new album (yet to be named and released as of press time) is the first PTH record for which he’s written all the lyrics, instead of sharing those duties with longtime lyricist/bassist, Arif Mirabdolbaghi, as he did on 2011’s Scurrilous.
It’s also the first time PTH opted to crowdfund a record through Indigogo, rather than partner with a label – a campaign they announced in January 2013, which found them reaching their stated goal of $125,000 within thirty hours and ultimately raising a total of $341,146.
Four songs into the writing process, however, PTH found themselves facing a change far harder to adjust to than any they’d dealt with previously; drummer Moe Carlson’s decision to pursue a career in tool-and-die manufacturing and, ultimately, his departure from the band.
Usually Carlson, Mirabdolbaghi and guitarists Luke Hoskin and Tim Millar write the tracks. Then
“We have to keep reinventing what we do. We have to be able change direction at the drop of a hat.” – Protest The Hero’s Luke Hoskin
Embracing change has always been key to PTH’s creative growth. “We have to keep reinventing what we do,” says Hoskin. “We have to be able change direction at the drop of a hat.” That said, Carlson’s departure was particularly difficult for Hoskin. “He was the first person I’d bounce ideas off,” Hoskin says. “It was like losing your identity as a writer because you’ve always written with this person.”
To fill that void, Hoskin turned to Cameron McLellan – a longtime friend of the band, who started out as their lighting technician before taking over as their sound engineer. Hoskin and McLellan had written together before, but never with PTH in mind. They began by sifting through bits and pieces of previous music they’d worked on together on tour as well as generating new material.
Even after they began recording – with Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler filling in for Carlson – it became necessary to alter their process again, Hoskin continues. And, after laying down drums with returning producer Julius “Juice” Butty at the helm, PTH and Butty decided that the best way to move forward was for McLellan to produce the remainder of the sessions.
While the resulting album features some songs that are more linear than PTH’s past efforts, they haven’t abandoned their progressive metal roots. “There are some songs that are simpler, and some that are more complex, than anything we’ve ever written,” Walker says.
Going forward without a label, however, they expect the process of releasing the record to be more complicated than ever before. “We’re excited,” Hoskin says, “but we had to step up and make every decision about every aspect of this album. That’s something we didn’t have to do before. Now we have to or they won’t get sorted out. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
Publisher: Protest The Hero – self-published
Discography: Search for the Truth (EP, 2002), Kezia (2005), Fortress (2008), Scurrilous (2011)
SOCAN Members since 2003