As one of the biggest bands in metalcore right now, Knoxville, TN-based Whitechapel keeps doing things to defy genre pigeonholing. Their fourth album Whitechapel is arguably their heaviest, most death metal-sounding release yet, and with a high-profile stint on the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival just around the corner, they’ll be playing to the same crowds as Anthrax, Slipknot and Motörhead. Metal Insider caught up with guitarist Alex Wade to get his thoughts on touring with Christian bands, being part of Metal Blade’s roster, and the perks of cutting a new album at home.
The “deathcore” tag gets applied to you guys a lot, but it seems like the death metal quotient keeps getting upped on every record, even though the hardcore side is still there. Do you ever feel limited by getting lumped in with the deathcore scene?
Not so much limited because we put no limit on our music. We do pretty much whatever the fuck we want. But, I just…I feel kind of frustrated when these days we’re doing so much more than just deathcore, yet people who don’t fully understand what we’re doing, or what deathcore really is, just since, you know, that’s what we started out as, they just kind of tend to lump everything that we do from the beginning of our career up until now, they just continue to keep lumping it into that genre. And, you know, like I’ve said, to me – it doesn’t make me mad, it’s just frustrating because we’re so much more than that now and, I don’t know, I just wish people would realize that we’re definitely doing something above and beyond the call of “deathcore” these days.
Where do you feel like you guys are trying to head these days? Is it a product of your influences that you’re going heavier?
Yeah, you know, with every CD we’re always progressing. That’s one thing: I feel like there’s two types of bands. There’s one type of band where every CD sounds the same, but yet, they kind of coin their signature sound, and that’s what they’re known for, and that’s what their fans expect. You know, bands like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse and stuff like that. The sound of their albums vary very little from album to album, but you don’t expect it to vary, cause, you know, they’re staples in metal and that is what is expected from those bands. But then on the other hand there’s bands, you know kind of like Deftones and stuff, where every single album sounds different – and I feel like we’re one of those bands. We’re not really interested in putting out albums that sound the same. We’re always about forward progression, and having a different sound on every record, you know? But we’re always going to sound like Whitechapel, and if somebody told me that between every album we don’t even sound like the same band, I would think that they were crazy, because I think that with every album we still retain the Whitechapel sound. We’re just always trying something new and different.
And so related to that, what led you to choose Mark Lewis for production on the new record?
Well there were a couple of aspects: we really like the work that he did with the Black Dahlia Murder, Underoath and Devildriver; we really loved the mixing and production on those albums, and so that was the first thing. The second was that he was actually willing to travel to produce us in Tennessee. So we flew down to Florida and recorded drums in the Audiohammer studio for a week, and then we flew back to Tennessee and tracked bass, guitar and vocals at my house. So that definitely helped alleviate a lot of pressure and stress – getting to sleep in your own bed and live in your own domain, and then to just walk into the little studio room and lay down tracks and stuff. And you know, because we’re always on tour, we’re always away from home, so that kind of sucks – the one chance that we do get to spend like a month or two at home, we have to spend it in a different state recording or something. So it was definitely really cool getting to do the recording experience in our hometown, and that’s something that definitely worked out really well and we’ll probably try out again on our next record.
You guys are pretty workmanlike about your tour habits, too. You’ll be on tour with Motörhead and half of the Big Four in Slayer and Anthrax this summer for the Mayhem Fest; who are you looking forward to seeing most on the bill?
Probably Slipknot. Slipknot is definitely one of my favorite bands and always has been since I was a teenager. And I’m definitely excited to tour with Slayer again. They were amazing in Mayhem ’09 when they supported Marilyn Manson. So it’s definitely going to be really cool to watch those juggernauts of metal do their thing on the main stage.
Mayhem has you touring with The Devil Wears Prada again, as you did last fall. What is it like being paired up with an openly Christian band on tour, and how did their fans react to you?
You know, it’s really kind of funny – some of our best friends in other bands are actually from Christian bands for as much of a non-Christian band as we are. I don’t really know how that works out. I guess, you know, it’s us being from the South and raised in the Bible Belt and stuff like that. Whatever our religious beliefs may be, religion has always been a part of our lives and families living in the South. It’s always something that we’ve experienced. We’ve never really looked down on Christian bands as long as they don’t look down on us, you know? It’s just a whole respect thing. We got along with Prada really well on their headliner; For Today, they’re a Christian band, they were on Prada’s headliner. They’re really good friends of ours. Impending Doom, they’re a big Christian band, they’ve been really good friends of ours since the beginning of our career. Our third tour ever was with them. And as far as fan base goes, I think there are definitely Christians that only listen to Christian music and would never listen to us in a million years, but I think for the most part with the scene and with kids going to shows and stuff, they’re just there to have a good time. So they don’t really care if the band is Christian, or not Christian, or anything like that. As long as the band is good and they like the music, they’re going to respect the band and have a good time at their show.
You’ve been on Metal Blade since This Is Exile, so this is going to be your third full album with them now. What do you think Metal Blade has over other record labels you could be on?
We’ve never been on another label so I can’t really say for sure, but judging from what other bands have said about labels that they’ve been on, I just feel like Metal Blade is more tight-knit, it’s more like a family than just a business. Instead of the owners feeling like our bosses, they feel more like our dads. Especially earlier on, in the This Is Exile days, they were always very helpful in helping guide our career rather than trying to make a quick buck off of us. And I think that has really helped in how our career has gotten to where it is. Because if they had just left us out on our own in hopes that we would make it big and that they would be making the money, then I don’t think we would have gotten near as far as we did without their guidance and their help.
Metal Blade is one of the few bigger metal labels that doesn’t allow its catalog to be posted on Spotify. What do you think of Spotify? What’s your take on it?
I don’t mind it. I don’t use it so I can’t really say I’m an advocate, but I don’t mind it. I understand why Metal Blade wouldn’t want to put music on there, but I also understand why some labels would. With Spotify, I know there’s probably some kind of mobile app where you could stream it from your phone, but for the most part, it’s just a web based thing. It’s not like somebody’s just going to carry around their laptop like a boom box on their shoulder, and whenever they want to listen to music they’re going to play it on Spotify, you know? So I don’t think it’s exactly a threat to CDs as much as illegal downloading might be.