After several successful albums, and a recent Grammy nomination, Pennsylvania’s own August Burns Red makes its latest South Florida appearance March 7 at Fort Lauderdale’s Revolution Live.
Formed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 2003, ABR, as it's come to be known, has gone from high school shows in its home state to coheadlining festivals around the world and performing on the Warped Tour, and now it's back on the road alongside Between the Buried and Me and the Faceless.
Behind the powerful growls of Jake Lurhs, tight guitar riffs, thundering drums, and brutal breakdowns, ABR has become one of the best melodic metalcore bands on the scene.
Brent Rambler, who has been with the band since its inception in 2003 (along with lead guitarist JB Brubaker), capped off a monumental 2015 with the band's first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance for the song “Identity,” from its latest album, Found in Far Away Places. While the music hits hard, Rambler has a different outlook on the video for “Identity” that features the band rubbing elbows with cartoon sea dwellers.
“Being in a metal band, you’re expected to make superserious music videos all the time," Rambler says. "You never get to make a fun video. It’s usually, 'Go stand in that room, full of garbage, and bang your head as hard a possible.' That’s just not who we are as people.”
Growing up, Rambler cites Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave as influences, and later, Scar the Martyr’s Kris Norris as more of a contemporary influence on his style.
“Those were the two guys, when we first started, that were doing different things. But I grew up listening to punk and didn’t have much of a metal background, but I started listening to Poison the Well, and that started my turn to metal.”
But I’m sure Morello or Norris never had a Grammy night that involved a stalled elevator and a fire truck, though.
Rambler laments, “A big portion of the group went down [from the apartment], but I realized that I forgot my Grammy tickets, so I had to go back up. When I walked back to the elevator, I saw that other people are in the elevator, and they say, ‘We’re stuck.’ So the fire company was called, and I ask how long it will be, and they had no idea, and we’re supposed to walk the red carpet in 20 minutes.” Rambler jokes.
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“After the band and their guests spill out of the elevator, after 20 minutes, we’re waiting around for a while and ask the fire department, ‘Hey, do you guys want to drive us to the red carpet?’”
Needless to say, Rambler and his bandmates had one of the “hottest” rides to the Red Carpet. Not even Jay Z and Beyoncé can say they rolled up in a Los Angeles Fire Department Truck to an award show.
In 2015, ABR also made the jump to Fearless Records, after nearly a decade with Solid State Records. Fearless is home to the likes of the Aquabats, blessthefall, and Mayday Parade.
"We were with Solid State for five albums, more if you count B-sides and other stuff we put out. But at some point, everyone is doing everything very well; you go on autopilot. We wanted to put the ball in someone else’s court and see if they have other ideas to help us grow. The thing that drove us to Fearless is that they had bigger bands than us, and at Solid State, at that moment, August Burns Red was the biggest name on the roster, so you become the prototype.”
Starting March 4, ABR will hit the road after a couple of months' rest and begin a headlining tour. Rambler, for one, is ready to get back on the road.
“We enjoy traveling; we enjoy touring, especially the United States.” Rambler explains. “We have a tour bus with DirecTV, watch tons of sports. The international traveling is what makes you so tired. It’s more expensive, you need to cut costs, so you end up taking worse flights and worse buses.”
But even if touring can get grueling, there is still time to stay in shape and make the most of those days on the road.
“I have a YMCA membership. I go to the gym probably four days out of the week while on tour. It charges you up for the day. I cycle a lot as well. Staying in shape and having a good time on tour is important. There are a lot of guys that sit on the bus and don’t want to spend money. If you’re not going to experience all of this, find cool bars, find places to hang out, then why are you going on tour in the first place?”
Aside from being a genius with the guitar, Rambler is also an avid craft-beer drinker, and bandmate Dustin Davidson has helped start Edgemont Brew Works in Maryland.
"In Pennsylvania, there are insane amounts of breweries. I bought my house seven years ago, and right up the street is Lancaster Brewing Co. They had an IPA called Hop Hog, and it kind of snowballed from there.”
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Rambler continues, “It seems to me that craft beer has revitalized a lot of small towns. There have been cities that I have toured through for years, and there was nowhere to go, and now ten years later, there are five or six beer bars, a brewery or two, and it seems like things are bustling in cities that have accepted craft beer.”
It’s been ten years since the band’s breakthrough album Messengers, and through touring around the world and interacting with fans across social media, August Burns Red has only gained more popularity and become the standard for just not metalcore bands but metal music itself. And while touring can wear, that doesn’t dissuade Rambler.
“I live like I’m retired now,” he laughs. “I need to stop worrying about money and retirement. I live like a 90-year-old man.”
If only there were enough 90-year-olds who could play like Rambler, we might have world peace.