Protest The Hero are touring Australia next week and I got the chance to catch up with guitarist Tim Millar to chat about the upcoming shows, their incredible crowd funding success and a bunch of other stuff.
If you’re not familiar with the band, check out this insane track or this cool video for ‘Mist’ including a short interview describing the intensity of their fans. Blisteringly fast drum and guitar work with catchy vocals atop are a feature of this epic Canadian outfit.
Firstly – we’re really looking forward to seeing you here in Australia!
Thanks – we’re excited to be down in Australia, we’ve been down once for a festival and it’s a place I wanna tour more.
So what were your memories of last time? What are you looking forward to checking out?
Well last time we were with Soundwave, you really get the royal treatment, it was a relaxed tour, great environment, stuff like that. For me it was a great first impression. As far as the people, everyone was super laid back, easy going. I felt we had a lot in common, you know with the sense of humour, being part of the Commonwealth, haha. Had a great time, a really beautiful time
So what’s it like playing a festival versus a club show for Protest The Hero?
Well it’s two different environments. At a festival, it’s a chance to prove yourselves, it’s really good for growing a fan base. With a Protest The Hero headlining set, people who come out are gonna get more, you’re gonna get the full experience. Club shows also – it sounds better, we have more control. At a festival it’s really a ‘throw and go’ – you’re rushing to get out and get through your set. These shows are definitely gonna be more laid back, we’ll get to soundcheck and take our time and be ready to go. It’s a better representation of Protest The Hero than the quick 30 minute set.
Now something I want to talk about it the huge success of your crowdfunding campaign – it was obviously something people really supported, to help you make the album but also do it in quite a luxurious environment. How do you feel about it now and might you do it again?
It was definitely a great experience. I don’t wanna chalk it up to luck, but we were lucky to present the campaign the way we did and being one of the first in prog metal to enter into that territory. I think we were a little ahead of people by taking a chance and seeing what happens. So we might have benefited a bit from that, not a lot of bands were doing it at the time and it definitely created a lot of discussion around it.
Sorry I’m losing the question haha. In retrospect, if we are doing another album – I would probably not spend the money we did on a great studio, but it’s hard to put a value on the experience we had. Honestly, to be able to sit back and focus on the album, not worry about whether it’s taking longer, not feel pressure about coming to the end of a budget and ‘what are we gonna do?’
Could we have done it cheaper? Yes of course, but it’s hard to know how it would have turned out. We’re very thankful we were able to do it the way we want to do it and with no time or finance constraints. Because of that the album turned out the way it did. I hope people can take away a positive experience from that.
Cool – so I’m also interested in how the writing process works for you guys.
Now it’s more about piecing together a song – Volition was the first time we used guitar programs. In the past we’d just jam stuff out and build a song together – building a song like Militia, half of Militia was done in that form – then our drummer parted ways with us, so we then fixed it up and started writing on computers.
So in terms of lineup changes – does it feel more like a music business or family when these things happen? I know you all still worked day jobs but is it something you now need to keep going or it is more about doing it on the side for fun?
Well as far as the band going full time it has been full time for a while – that is a big thing for us, that we have found a way financially to make it work so everyone can focus on touring amd music. It’s not a glamourous pay check – so it’s a fine line between ‘can you do this full time and not have to spend a lot of time doing something else?’ or having to make something on the side to fund the things you want to do. So it’s very much a business. At some point you get to an age where you feel like you could do something else and make a way better living. Some people grow up and wanna do something else – other careers have a more regimented lifestyle. The thing I love about the band is being a business and you’re in control of what to do and how to do it. It’s also risky and you have to be smart and if you want to sustain it.
So you guys have certainly achieved a lot, been around the world, released albums. What ambitions are there for Protest The Hero? Where do you see growth opportunities? Or is it more about sustaining and maintaining what you have?
We’ve definitely toured a lot and seen a lot of the world, but there are still a lot of territories – and Australia being one of them – where we have to go and tour and bring that into a place we begin to frequent. The amount of tours we’ve done in Europe and North America – they’re two places, they’re our lifeblood, always on the agenda. But places like Australia, Japan, South America, there’s tonnes of places possible to tour – for me hopeing to focus on – bring rest of world tour
Do you envisage any changes in sound in future to expand your audience? You guys have a knack for writing hooks – have you ever considered taking a straighter path?
Never try to write to appeal to a different audience, we write what feels natural and it’s usually not getting too far away from our sound and reputation. It’s natural as you grow up your taste changes and stuff you want to write changes a bit, but it’s not too far away from what we do already. So it’s not to appeal to a broader audience, but sometimes that happens over time, you become a better, more memorable songwriter, but it’s not due to any agenda.
Again, it’d be nice to be recognized on the list to play with bigger bands, but we don’t always fit the mould when trying to find support tours. At the same time we can tour with a lot of different bands due to our sound.
Honestly, we haven’t done that much supporting for years, only if it’s a festival support. We did one support tour with Black Label Society – so we know that audience isn’t receptive – but sometimes we do find old 80s metalheads will gravitate to us, people who grew up on epic guitar bands or hair metal, that audience.
In terms of Australian bands, is there anyone you’re aware of or a fan of?
There’s been a lot of talk of Karnivool – I haven’t heard enough to get a handle on it but I know people love them.
The nice thing about this tour is that in each city there’s two or three local bands opening, so it’s a good way to get a taste of real Australian bands, stuff like that.
In general I’m listening to proggy stuff – The Aristocrats – Guthrie Govan – their new album came out last year. He’s a monster.
Looks like we’re out of time Tim – thanks again and look forward to seeing you here!
PROTEST THE HERO AUSTRALIAN TOUR – SEPTEMBER 2014
BRISBANE The Hi-Fi w/Caligula’s Horse
SYDNEY Manning Bar w/Red Bee
MELBOURNE The Hi-Fi
HOBART Brisbane Hotel
ADELAIDE Fowlers Live
PERTH Amplifier Bar w/Voyager