In-person interview with Jon Howard and Adam Weber of Threat Signal
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
February 18th 2010, House Of Blues, West Hollywood CA
Andrew: How's the tour going guys?
Adam: Yeah it's been really good so far with big crowds.
Jon: Yeah we've had lots of people coming out and supporting the show. We had no idea how big these shows were going to be. We didn't know much about Epica or even Blackguard really and this tour package as a whole is pulling in a lot of people. Sell out shows, and its just been a great time so far.
Adam: Yeah there have been some really good venues on the tour with some very diverse group of fans. We got the metal fans, Epica got their 'epic' fans, so its been a really good and diverse crowd. Sometimes they just go crazy and sometimes they chill. Its been a really good mix.
Andrew: Is this one of the bigger tours you've ever done?
Adam: I'd say yeah.
Jon: We haven't been on any big tours. We did the Soilwork tour, which was our first tour. That was just amazing. Then we did a short run with Protest The Hero and All That Remains in Canada. Other than that, we've just been headlining.
Adam: We've been headlining in Canada and the United States.
Jon: Yeah and we're tired of playing to the same people. Its fun but you can't do that forever.
Adam: At first its hard to get used to other bands' fans, because our fans are all awesome, die-hard drunk bastards who like to run around. They're really dedicated and they're all still at the shows. You could see them and clearly pick out which ones are our fans. When we're on stage, its like 'Yup! Those dudes are huge fans.' But its cool to get a humungous audience. You could really feel that they're digging it when we get them to chant or clap or something.
Jon: When there's a crowd of 800 people clapping along, its like wow dude. They actually give a shit. (laughs)
Andrew: You said you didn't know much about Epica and Blackguard. So did you get on this tour just because of the record label Nuclear Blast who are taking all three bands?
Jon: Basically, Daath dropped off the tour and Gerardo [Martinez, label manager] at Nuclear Blast jumped in and said you gotta take threat signal. And he got it for us!
Adam: Yeah he really helped us out on that one.
Jon: Thanks Gerardo. Fuck yeah.
Andrew: The band produced and recorded the latest album by themselves. What was the reason to do that and how was the whole process?
Jon: Basically the whole idea behind it was we had such a great time recording our demos. We were comfortable, could record however long we want, any time of day. We didn't want to go into the studio and rush to bang out an album in four weeks.
Adam: The writing was really relaxed and it was cool because we could take our time and make everything exactly how we wanted it. How we write is that we write everything pretty much exactly how it's gonna happen. So our demos and songs are pretty much identical. When we record, we just re-record stuff [on the demo]. We change a bit here and there.
Jon: We demoed the whole album at home and sent a lot of songs to the label. They wanted to have a producer come in and do it for us. But I was like, why don't we do it for real. Let me do it for real, get some better gear and make a kick-ass album. They let us do that. We took months to perfect the album instead of releasing something we weren't proud of.
Adam: This is exactly what we wanted and I think it worked out really well.
Andrew: Its been said about your second album that 'the band took its music to further extremes'. Could you guys elaborate on that a little bit?
Adam: It was actually a whole new line-up for this album, so we kind of took what the first album was and tried to expand upon it. We put in our own flavor and personalities to do it. It is exactly what this album is and what we sound like as a band together. We didn't try to sound like or write songs with the thought that we have to write a single that sells a million copies.
Jon: We just started writing and that's what came out! (laughs)
Adam: We did everything that we wanted to and that was it. The drummer designed the album cover. It was an idea we've had for a while. Producing and pretty much everything was done by us.
Jon: Yeah producing was done at home.
Adam: The only thing we didn't have a part in was the mixing.
Jon: Vocally I just tried to step it up a notch. On the first album I was just learning how to sing, trying to be this death metal screamer and I didn't really know exactly what I was doing. But I learnt a lot over the years.
Andrew: What did you record as part of the 'making of' video that came out?
Jon: It shows the good times recording the album.
Adam: We just filmed it all by ourselves and Jon edited it. It was basically the whole recording process.
Jon: Yeah you can see us recording, having a few drinks and slowly getting drunker and drunker and it turns into a party!
Adam: (Laughs) We were in the process of practising the songs and getting ready to record.
Jon: From rehearsals to recording drums, guitars and bass, it is in the exact order in which we recorded it. That's what I always want a band to do, I want to see how they made their album. I don't want anyone to pay for it so I just put it on the internet as a 45-minute video. The plan was to sell it along with the album to begin with, but then we were like lets just put it up for free.
Andrew: As a band you had some instabilities with the line-up in the past. Do you think you've got into the groove right now with each other?
Jon: Threat Signal was never a whole band, ever, until we got together with this line-up. I finally felt we were a band. It was always a struggle because everyone joined the band too quickly and for the wrong reasons, they left for their own reasons. No one was kicked out or anything. They just didn't want it. It was just all a big mess. We finally figured that shit out and now we have a solid line-up. It's been solid with this line-up than any other. So that's awesome.
Andrew: And it obviously helps when you tour together.
Adam: Yeah and another thing that happens is it weeds out people very, very quickly. Some guys are just not made for touring. They don't know what to expect. 99% of the time they expect the wrong things and its totally not in any way what they think it is. Its like 'Oh man I'm just ready to go on tour for the whole time, you don't have to pay me'. He'll probably do it for a week and then fucking hate it.
Jon: Its not a free ride man. It's a lot of work, a lot of work for no money. So you've just got to love the music.
Andrew: A few years back, your song 'Rational Eyes' got to number 1 on GarageBand.com. Talk a little bit about that.
Jon: Yeah it was basically a whole bunch of garage bands posting their songs on that website and among 8000+ entries, we got to number one! That got us the record deal. The record label so that. It's a very, very weird story. We didn't even have a full band. It was just me and two guitars in the bedroom. No drummer and no bass player and you get a record deal sent to your house, you're like, 'What the hell do I do with this?? I'm still going to school man!'
Adam: That's why the band didn't really work out at first. Everybody was just last minute, like ok we need a drummer so just join the band.
Jon: It was such a rush to get together and become this full time thing.
Adam: Some dudes didn't want to be in a band for a living, some didn't want to tour. Some of them didn't like playing metal!
Jon: Some of them convinced themselves that this is what they want to do but then quit and ran back to school to find out that that's what they really wanted, which is cool, but not for Threat Signal! (laughs)
Adam: When we got the record deal we couldn't even play a show!
Andrew: You said you mostly played in North America. Do you have any plans for fans internationally?
Check out the band at www.threatsignal.com
Jon: It seems we do have fans in those places like Europe, South America and eve Australia, judging by the internet and stuff like that. We'd love to get there as soon as possible. It is just the money. Right now the only plan is that we are supposed to be direct support for Hed P.E. in Europe.
Adam: Hopefully that works out! We'll do it and get there.