Upland, California’s deathcore metal titans, Winds Of Plague, returned this spring with their fourth album, Against The World. The record is the band’s third for Century Media, just may be their heaviest work yet. The CD sold 8,700 copies in the United States the week it debuted, to land them at #60 on Billboard’s Top 200.
After a busy 2010 which saw them rock the Mayhem Festival Tour, 2011 will keep them even busier with a slew of European dates followed by this year’s Vans Warped Tour.
The band recently shot and released the album’s first video, for the track “Drop The Match”, which may well be an apt metaphor for the fire that’s gonna rage for the band as summer heats up and fans get to hear the new material live.
This week Metalholic caught up with front man and vocalist Johnny ‘Plague’ Cooke, to talk about Against The World, some back story on the band’s humble beginnings, and touring Warped and the world.
First, tell us about the band name, Winds of Plague, and why it was chosen?
We started this band in high school back in 2002, originally the band name was “Bleak December.” Despite it being the dumbest band name ever there just so happened to be another band called Bleak December that even went through the hassle of obtaining the rights to the name so we were inevitably forced to change our band’s name. We were coming up blank and this was right around the time the band Unearth released an EP titled Endless. I was listening to the EP and reading along with the lyrics and I came across the phrase Winds Of Plague and I immediately loved the imagery I got when hearing the name. I imagined pure death and torment so we asked Unearth permission to use the name and here we are!
“Growing wings of sorrow/have brought you to the winds of plague.” –Trevor Phipps/Unearth
The new album Against The World came out on April 19th. Tell us a bit about the response you have been getting from the fans.
We have yet to play a single U.S. show since the album’s release so it’s hard to judge. However, the new songs we played on our last European tour had a huge response. We struggle a little in some overseas markets so the fact hundreds of Euros were screaming “Evil fucking fears me” is a pretty good sign of things to come!
You have described this album as more fun and “show friendly” – tell us a bit about that.
When we set out to write this album we wanted to have songs that would be fun to play live. We threw in a lot more straight forward parts so the average listener would be able to pick up what we are putting down on a first listen opposed to past material where it could take a few spins to grasp the songs.
Tell us about the guest appearances you have on this album.
There are a lot of guest appearances including Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed, Martin Stewart of Terror, Drew York of Stray From The Path, Mattie Montgomery of For Today, John Mishima from As Blood Runs Black and The Ultimate Warrior from Parts Unknown. Each individual did an astonishing job and all brought a unique style to the mix.
We are a pretty dysfunctional band when it comes to writing music and it’s something we are constantly working on but so far this has been the smoothest album to write. For whatever reason we write the best on tour so most of this album was written in the wee hours of the night in the back of a tour bus traveling down that some old road.
How did you come up with the title for the album?
For the most part I am really one with the world. However, every now and again I have one of those off days where I feel like the sky is crashing down and everyone is out to get me and instead of just rolling over and dying I use the anger to push on. The album is dedicated to those trying times of life.
Like most bands these days, you aren’t out on the road to make a ton of money. That just isn’t how it is anymore. If you are out there, you are doing it because you love it. Do you agree and is this the feeling you have on the road?
Absolutely. I could probably make just as much money if not more if I stayed home and worked a minimum wage 9 – 5, and it took 10 years of extremely hard work to get to where we are today. I would choose this life of fun and adventure over a stable office job any day of the week. At times things can seem daunting and I get tired of reading about myself on the internet but I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything.
Tell us how and when you got started in bands and do you play any type of instrument as well?
I don’t have a musical bone in my body. I started by singing along to my favorite bands in my parents basement. Then I met Nick Piunno, Nick Eash and some other early members of the band and we started messing around playing cover songs and eventually started writing and recording our own songs. We had as humble of a beginning as possible.
I was a show junkie. I would go to every hardcore and metal show possible in southern California. Showcase theatre in Corona, Chain Reaction in Anaheim and The Glasshouse in Pomona were 2nd homes to me.
Is there any music you listen to today in private that may shock everyone?
I have a very eclectic variety of music tastes. Hardcore and Metal have my heart but if the mood strikes me I won’t hesitate to throw on some good old American Country or Gangster Rap.
Are you hoping that Warped will give you the chance to get your music out to a large audience that may not have heard it before… As opposed to the Mayhem tour?
Yes, the main idea is to always try and get the band in front of a new audience without straying from our core fans. The lineup of Warped Tour is the best of both worlds; it appeals to our already established fans and yet reaches out to a very broad variety of potential new fans.
You guys have played in Japan, Europe, etc.—has there been a specific place that has been your favorite to play so far?
I am very thankful and appreciative of all the places we have been able to travel to and share our music but Mexico City takes the cake. We had no idea what to expect going down there. To be honest we were slightly nervous due to the recent rise of beheadings and crime, but holy shit did Mexico come out strong. It was the most surreal experience of my touring life. We offer a bonus disc through Hot Topic with the new album that has footage from Mexico and from around the world so you can see what I mean.