ALL THAT REMAINS singer Phil Labonte says that the music world "lost something significant" when his bandmate Oliver "Oli" Herbert died.
Oli was found dead last October at the edge of the pond on his Stafford Springs, Connecticut property. The guitarist's death is being treated as suspicious by investigators in the Connecticut State Police Eastern District Crime Squad. They are looking at the will he signed a week before his death as well as a life insurance policy mentioned in the will.
Asked how he felt when he first found out about Oli's death, Labonte told Connecticut's iRock Radio (see video below): "I was driving up [Interstate] 91 in Connecticut. I was heading home. And, obviously, it was shock. And the first thing I do, me and Mike [Martin], our guitar player, got on the horn. And we were just trying to find out information. 'Cause it started coming out in little trickles. People were saying, 'Oh, someone called someone and said there's a bunch of cops at Oli's house.' And then when I got confirmation, I guess the best way to say it is it kind of didn't really compute at first, and it took a minute for that to kind of really hit me that… I'd seen Oli the weekend before, and I wasn't gonna see him again."
Labonte said that it feels "weird playing shows" without Oli. "For 20 years, every single show that ALL THAT REMAINS played, Oli was on my left — Oli was always right there," he explained. "And so it's been hard."
Phil went on to praise Herbert's musical ability, saying that Oli's talents went far beyond playing guitar.
"A lot of people don't know, not only was Oli a great stage presence and a great guitar player, Oli was literally the best guitar teacher I'd ever seen," the singer said. "And I'd taken lessons from a bunch of dudes. Oli had a knowledge of music theory and this amazing patience and ability to articulate what he was trying to explain in a way that was… Everything seemed simple, and it just clicked. So, someone would come in, and they'd sit down, and I'd watch 'em. And everything that he said, there was never miscommunication. Everyone always was just, like, 'Okay. I get it. Okay, I get it. Okay, I get it. Okay, I get it.' All the time. The way that he could transfer that knowledge to someone else was like no other human I've ever met in my life. As good as he was at guitar and playing on stage, he was a better teacher than anything else. So I really feel like music as a whole lost something significant.
"When someone that's a musician, that's a performer or a writer, passes away, music loses something," he continued. "But the ability to give that knowledge to someone else, not everyone can do that. You can get great guitar players that can never tell anyone how they do it. You say, 'Well, how do you do that?' And they're, like, 'I don't know. I just do it,' or whatever. And Oli could meticulously explain how he did it, why he did it, why it works in the song, why he chose that particular mode, or whatever. And that's why I think that music as a whole — beyond guitar, beyond metal, beyond rock — music as a whole lost someone that day. And it's a really sad thing."
Herbert began playing guitar at 14. He co-founded ALL THAT REMAINS with Labonte in 1998.
ALL THAT REMAINS has released nine studio albums, a live CD/DVD, and has sold more than one million records worldwide. The band's new LP, "Victim Of The New Disease", arrived in November.
The surviving members of ALL THAT REMAINS — Labonte, Martin, Jason Costa (drums) and Aaron Patrick (bass, backing vocals) — have recruited guitar virtuoso and YouTube personality Jason Richardson (ALL SHALL PERISH, CHELSEA GRIN, BORN OF OSIRIS) to replace Herbert.