ALL THAT REMAINS guitarist Mike Martin spoke to Antihero Magazine's James Geiser about the mixed response to the band's recently released cover version of Garth Brooks's "The Thunder Rolls".
"We've had feedback like that on pretty much everything we've done since 2006," Mike laughed (hear audio below). "So we just don't react to it — we just keep on going. It's the same old stuff. Everything we put out is… If we put out a heavy song, it's, 'Why don't you go back to singing and writing a radio song? At least that shows some talent.' And then if we put out a radio song, they're just, like, 'You guys are sellouts now. Why don't you go back to writing heavy songs?'"
He laughed again and continued: "From the moment we had a clean vocal — actually, probably even back to 2004 or 2003 — from the moment there was one clean vocal, we started hearing the… There was always the plus-minus… [Laughs] Some good, some bad reactions. So it's just something we're completely used to at this point."
Martin went on to say that it's important for a band like ALL THAT REMAINS to keep challenging itself musically on every album.
"What are you gonna do?" he said. "It's eight records [into our recording career]. I know being on tour sometimes, you're playing so many shows, it feels like you're punching a clock, but when it comes to sitting down and writing music…
"I know some bands can write the same record over and over again, and it works. And I guess if it keeps working, why are you gonna change? But that's never really been our thing.
"Every record of ours has a different sound to it — it doesn't really stay the same. A SLAYER record, you kind of know what you're gonna get — they write a certain style of thrash metal and you know when it's gonna come out, it's gonna be in that style and it's not gonna be any big surprises. But that's never really been the way we've gone about it. And plus, if we wrote eight records that all sound the same, they'd bitch about that. It just goes back to, you're never gonna keep everybody happy."
He continued: "We talk to tons of kids on tour that are just, like, 'I love that I don't know what to expect every time you guys put something out. But those are the people that like us, so, obviously, they're gonna have positive things to say. The majority of the Internet is negativity.
"But even if you look at [our] Garth Brooks video on YouTube right now, you can't really complain. I think I just looked — it was, like, thirty-five thousand likes and two thousand dislikes. So of the people that took the time to hit the 'like' or 'dislike' button, I think the ratio is still pretty much in our favor. So it's nothing to complain about."
Asked if ALL THAT REMAINS uses the negative feedback as fuel while working on new music, Martin said: "Not so much. I think we're just smart enough to know to just keep doing what we wanna do.
"It's very easy to hear five or ten comments online that say, 'You suck now! Go be heavy again.' It'd be very easy to go, 'Oh, man. People hate us. Let's go write a death metal record.' But then you go on Spotify and the top five songs have fifty million plays and they're all the singing songs. There's every style of song on every record still.
"The main problem that we run into now is that nobody listens to the full albums," he added. "So even though there's five or six really heavy songs on every single record still, a lot of people, they just hear whatever got dropped as a single. And, obviously, the radio's gonna play the lighter stuff — that's what the radio stuff. They're not gonna play the heaviest song on the record; it's never been that way. It's not that way for SLIPKNOT, it's not that way for METALLICA. So that's just the way it is. And people hear the single, which is usually the lighter song, and they just go, 'Oh, okay, they're not heavy anymore.' Too much stuff on the iPhone to pay attention to, so nobody's really listening to the whole record anymore."
ALL THAT REMAINS's version of "The Thunder Rolls" appears on the band's latest album, "Madness", which was released on April 28 via Razor & Tie in the U.S. and Eleven Seven Music in Europe. The disc was recorded at West Valley Studios in Woodland Hills, California with producer Howard Benson, who has previously worked with such acts as MOTÖRHEAD, PAPA ROACH, THREE DAYS GRACE, FLYLEAF, P.O.D. and HALESTORM.