Interview by Music Vice editor Brian Banks – July 25, 2008
Protest The Hero were top of my short-list of bands who I wanted to speak with at Warped 2008. Whilst waiting backstage in the press area, I saw Rody the lead vocalist from Protest approaching. I wasted no time in walking up to him, shaking his hand and getting this interview from the Cheese himself.
Hey Rody. So how’s Warped Tour been so far for you guys this year?
Rody – “Humm, it’s been alright. You know, it’s Warped Tour. I’m surprised there’s not some punk rock legendary bands on the tour this year. So I’m a little bit bummed out about that. Other than that we’re starting to really have fun. The first couple of days were just really too hot. We flew out to Toronto from California. It gets hot in Toronto but not California hot.”
The heat’s worse in California than this?
Rody – “Oh fuck dude, I wish I could show you how disgusting it was there. I got a sunburn so bad on my shoulders that it scabbed.”
Something I want to talk to you about is the area that you guys grew up in, in Whitby. I know it quite well…
Rody – “You mean Whitby in the UK?”
No man, Whitby in Canada. So I’m just curious about how you guys grew up in that area – I know a bit about the venues there. Where were you playing?
Rody – “Well when we first started we were like 14 years old… well we were actually like 12 years old and like our ambition was to play The Dungeon. You know The Dungeon I’m talking about?
Yeah, it’s shut down now.
Rody – “Yeah. We played there just a couple of weeks before we left because it was closing down and we wanted to like send it out in a big way. But, uh, our only ambition was to play The Dungeon. That was it. We didn’t have any big dreams and we still don’t have any big dreams. We try to set our goals very small.
That was the only place we ever really played. We played Durham College and Bandwarz. That’s how we got our shit going.”
You wonder how new bands coming from outside that part of Toronto, in the Whitby area, like where are they going to play now? The Dungeon was like a guaranteed gig – just turn up and play.
Rody – “Absouletely… [now] you’ve got to go into Toronto.”
Tell me about your music. I think you’ve got a unique sound right now for a Canadian band. I put you up there with the Cancer Bats as being top 2 and everything else is kinda psssssh [a sound meaning not that good]. No disrespect to the rest of the bands but…
Rody – “No no dude, I agree with you completely. A lot of people in the United States give Canada a lot of credit for being creative. I wasn’t saying that I agree that we’re the most creative band in Canada, but there’s not really that much. People are like ‘oh all the hidden talent coming out of Canada’ – where is it?”
There’s not much. I’ve been here pretty much 2 years, on and off….
Rody – “…yeah. Like the only times I go to shows is when my friends are playing or there’s European bands coming in, or there’s bands from the States coming in. I don’t mean to bash Canada but it gets way too much credit for being a creative market for bands. I hope in the future it can get better.”
So tell me a bit about the music you guys make. What works the engine to come up with the kind of political, social and environmental stances that are in your songs? You’ve got masterclass guitar licks going on, while your singing can go from the ‘eurk’ gut sound up to the high notes, and at the same time you have lyrics.
Rody – “Well our bass player writes all the lyrics. He’s always been very proficient with the English language and all the acrobatics of such. And so it’s very easy for him to write such things. And when it comes to the melodies and singing, it’s always been since we started… (we started as a pop punk band in the 8th grade)… very important for us to have melodies and you know, actual singing. We really go by the belief that technical progressive music doesn’t have to be difficult to listen to.
There are a lot of bands that I love with all my heart but they are kind of hard to listen to because it’s very chaotic. It’s all over the place. It becomes very hard to listen to unless you’re listening for that exact musicianship”
I heard a story, not sure if its true – not from Wikipedia but an almost equally unreliable source. You guys used to hand out lyrics at concerts?
Rody – “For one of the videos we did, a long time ago when we were like 17. We played on the streets of Toronto . We just bought a generator and handed out lyrics to the song because it was a very sort of anti-American sentiment and we wanted people to understand what was going on. ”
So you guys are obviously going places rapidly. What would you say was your big break?
Rody – “Uhmm… the first show at The Dungeon! Uh, I don’t know. When you’re in the middle of something it’s hard to be really objective, you know. I feel like my life hasn’t changed for the last four years. But you know, I’m sure if I could objectively view it, it certainly would. I’d see the climb and I’d see the falls.. It’s difficult to pinpoint a moment when you know the band became the band. “
Let’s talk about Warped Tour again – any highlights, any lowlights?
Rody – “Um… highlights… I’m looking forward to the Gorge. The Gorge in Washington, which is hilarious because of George Washington. It’s just this really beautiful place. You know, like behind the main stage, it just drops off and there’s literally a massive gorge behind it. I’m really looking forward to going there…”
… what about Toronto, for your local fans here?
Rody – “Yeah I’m excited to play here today. The only problem is that we’re playing on a smaller stage today and it feels as though nobody’s taking us very seriously. And now that we’re back in our home fucking town and we’re going to have our audience coming out they refused to bump us up to a stage. So, I’m just worried that people are going to get hurt.”
It seems really weird. Looking across to the press table we see the interview requests – ‘Protest The Hero’, your interview slot is full. And I’ve been talking to the fans. Like, there’s so many fans wearing the Protest shirts coming in. Yet, like you’re saying, you’re playing on a smaller stage…
Rody – “I don’t mind playing the smaller stage. It’s not like an ego thing at all. I’m just worried that first of all people are going to get hurt, and second of all, people that want to see the band aren’t going to be able to see them. They’re going to be off to the side…”
… you don’t want to see it from 500 metres…
Rody – “… yeah. That would be a low point today.”
This interview is for Music Vice – could you tell me some of your Vice’s perhaps?
Rody – “Alcohol, cigarettes… pshhhhh [pause]….. vagina! Those are my three main vices. I typically like to say that everyone needs two legs to stand on – mine are cigarettes and alcohol.”