Interviews

WINDS OF PLAGUE’S JOHNNY PLAGUE: THE METALSUCKS INTERVIEW

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Some people turn into bellicose, impetuous boneheads at the very mention of deathcore on this site. Case in point, many wont even get past that first sentence before scrolling down to the Comments box and firing off a few foulmouthed, grammatically incorrect lines about how much it sucks and how awful I am for even bringing it up. Yet those who can restrain this impulse may very well find this interview with Winds Of Plague frontman Johnny Plague eye-opening.

Unlike the boastful meatheads that litter this scene, the man I spoke to was very down-to-earth and brutally honest when speaking about the unexpected reaction the fans had to last year’s The Great Stone War, a labyrinthine concept album crammed into a thirty-seven minute time frame. It was a bold move for the band’s second record for Century Media, and a departure that he acknowledges did not go over well. Below, Mister — not Doctor, as you’ll see — Plague, discusses how that factored into their touring behind the release, as well as his love of East Coast Hardcore and Halloween.

Thanks for taking some time to chat with me today. Your voicemail said something about a medical office. Are you some sort of doctor?

[laughs] No, I get so many telemarketer calls that I just tell them it’s a doctor’s line that way they don’t call back.

That’s a pretty smart move actually.

If they do call, I just yell at them that it’s a doctor’s line. When they call back later, they get the voicemail and take me off their list.

So now that The Great Stone War has been out for a little over a year, how do you feel about the record?

I’m happy with it. It’s what we set out to do, and what we wanted to create. I don’t think it was accepted by our fan base as well as I was hoping for. At the end of the day, it got us to where we needed to be.

What do you think the issue is with your fan base about it?

I just think it went over their heads a little too much. There was a lot to fully grasp what’s going on. To get the whole picture you have to sit there and listen to it a few times and read along with the lyrics to get the whole concept. A lot of people, especially with so many bands today, they just kind of give it a quick listen and if it doesn’t grasp their attention right away, they just move on.

What’s interesting about that is that you guys have been on the road touring quite a bit for the record all over the world. How’s the response been when they’re treated as individual songs [in a live set]?

What’s funny about that whole thing is we only play one song off of that record.

Really? Wow.

That’s all. So we just pulled one song; the one we thought translated live best and stuck that in the set. The first tour we did once the record came out, we played about four or five songs. It was a big drag. Every time it just dragged until we got to the older stuff. We cut those out pretty quickly.

How is that informing your process for the work on this new record?

It’s kind of an eye opener. I think that happens with a lot of bands. They’ll put out a record that everybody loves, and the next one, not so much… We wrote songs, but we didn’t dumb them down by any means, but as far as musically we took into account that we needed to have energy in them. They have hooks that people will catch onto and stuff like that. It’s a lot more structure conscious when we were writing these songs.

Is this one also a concept album like the last one or is that another thing you scaled back?

I did that, got it out of my system.

You’ve got a European tour lined up for next month, right? It seems like you guys have been on the road quite a bit. Doesn’t it get kind of exhausting?

It can. Right now this is what we worked for. We joined forces in high school so we’re just going for it still. As far as touring goes, iI feel more at home on the road these days than when I do when I’m home. When I’m home, I’m just bored. Right now it’s nice because we’re recording. Other than that, we’re really just itching to get back out on the road. I’m pretty excited for that Europe tour.

Are you guys going to be premiering new material out on the European tour?

We had Mattie [Montgomery] from For Today do guest vocals on a song, so we’ll probably be playing that song on the Europe tour since he’ll be there. So he can sing that live.

I write a lot about hardcore for this site. I’m trying to get a sense is how much of an influence hardcore has had on you as a musician.

I’m a hardcore kid at heart, and I grew up predominantly going to hardcore shows. As far as the music goes, I definitely feel like that kind of comes through here and there. I don’t think I have the most hardcore-suitable voice, but I do try to mix it in a little bit, especially on this new record. I think it has a lot more of it than any of the past had as far as hardcore riffs and whatnot go. I don’t know. It’s what I listen to. That’s what I love, it’s hardcore.

How did you first get into that stuff? What groups got you into hardcore?

I live on the West Coast, but for whatever reason, I got more exposed to the East Coast type stuff. I love Madball, it’s my favorite band — one of them. Hatebreed as well. Hatebreed is probably one of the first bands that I got into. I went to a Dropkick Murphys show and Blood for Blood was playing. It was probably all over from there. That was the last time I think they came to the West Coast. Then Ramallah came around, and we got really into them. It just kept spiraling.

That Ramallah record is great, the last one they did.

I don’t know what’s going on, but they need to put out another one.

It’s weird because they’re doing that Blood for Blood reunion, but [Rob Lind is] not part of it.

Yeah, Rob’s not in it for whatever reason.

Apparently they can’t reach him or convince him. I don’t really know. It seems odd.

I’d go in a heartbeat to see them without him, but it would be cool to see them with him at some point.

Just to shift gears a bit, Halloween’s coming up. Are you planning anything special?

I’m working at Knott’s Berry Farm right now, like a big Halloween scene par-tay. Trying to juggle that and recording at the same time. It’s kind of a headache.

Was it a big holiday for you when you were a kid?

It’s one I always looked forward to, you know, putting on a costume and fucking around. I always liked it as a kid, but for whatever reason as I got older I appreciated it more. Now my entire apartment looks like it’s Halloween year round.

[laughs] I guess you’re going to get trick-or-treaters and all that?

I don’t know. This is my first Halloween in this apartment. I don’t know how crazy it gets around here.

You can charge admission. [laughs]

That’s what I should do. That’s a good idea.

It’ll help pay for studio time.

Winds Of Plague’s latest album, The Great Stone War, is out now on Century Media.

-GS

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