Interview || The One with Terry and Stevie of Obey The Brave

Canada's Obey The Brave released their fourth full length album, titled "Balance", in 2019. A while back, we had the chance to catch up with the usual suspects, drummer Stevie Morotti and guitarist Terry McAuley, and we discussed "Balance" and its creation in depth.

© Dearohwell photography

U: How's the reception of “Balance” been so far?
Terry McAuley: Pretty cool I think!
Stevie Morotti: Yeah! Right out of the gate there was a lot of people checking it out, a lot of people listening and a lot of people saying a lot of things we hadn't heard before.
T.M.: It was out best performing record digitally ever, most streams, most of everything we've done so far. That could have been just because more people are using streaming services now but it was our best performing record. I haven't heard hardly any bummed out European people [laughs] Usually they're pretty honest, like “Your last record was much better than this one!” [Stevie laughs in the back] Everyone's pretty stoked!
S.M.: Other than the regular Despised Icon fans, “play 'MVP'!” [both laugh] 

U: A lot of things have happened since we last spoke. Can you walk us through the changes in the band?
T.M.: I think John [Campbell, guitars] was in the band last time we spoke...
S.M.: His last tour was last year [ed -Spring of 2018].
T.M.: yeah, John has been officially replaced by a laptop [laughs] There will be another member at one point. We're on good terms with John, he's a dad, he started to tattoo and stuff, we get it, he can't commit to being away for a month or more. He was still on “Balance”, he did write -not a smuch as he did on the older stuff- but there is still some John in there for sure. I wish nothing but the best for him. He stepped aside but his picture is still on the record [laughs]

U: You can alwas crop him... Just saying!
T.M.: [laughs] No, that would be rude! He still wrote parts of the record so nothing but love, for sure.
S.M.: Then we got Ben [Landreville, bass]. Cory left, he got a big boy job that also didn't allow him the space to leave for tour all the time and he just got married -we were both groomsmen, it was a good party...
T.M.: I'm still very close to Cory, I literally just texted him that I'm talking about him right now and again, he got a really good opportunity at hime, to get a really good job, he's a commercial mortgage broker, wears a suit...We've been playing together for so long that it made sense for him to step back so nothing but love for him too. Now we got Ben from Despised and Ben's a fucking beauty, so...
S.M.: Pretty much as easy as the transition can go, he's a friend, he;s coming into the band...

U: “Balance" came out on Impericon records in Europe, which, to be honest, I didn't know was a thing...
T.M.: Yeah... We're doing it ourselves; we self-funded the record, recorded it, everything, with our friend Dean Hadjichristou. The main hurdle was distribution of physical copies. We teamed up with a label from Montreal, Hell For Breakfast, so it's a priority for them. We just keep it in the family. Impericon, we've been working with them forever and we were like “hey do you wanna do distro over there? You have all our merch already anyway, do you wanna make money off it? We've already paid for the record, it's done, if you just do this, you can just take your percentage. Make it easy for us and get your share”. Make each other some money hopefully! [laughs]

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U: I'm hoping this time you didn't have any problems with the recordings like last time...
S.M.: Not like last time at all! [laughs] it was pretty smooth. We got a new producer this time, Paul Marc Rousseau from Silverstein, and we recorded it with our buddy Dean in Ottawa. I was at work all day so Alex would do vocals from 2-6pm and I'd be off work at 6 and would go and do work until midnight, so we kinda did back and forth. Paul Marc and him were both staying at Dean's place so all three of them during the day would figure out the vocals; there weren't many cooks in the kitchen so he pushed Alex in a really good direction and we're all super happy with it and super proud of Alex getting out of his comfort zone. It worked out really well, no issues like last time, that's for sure.
T.M.: I won't listen to music I've written before, but before “Balance” came out, I'd listen to it at the gym, start to finish. I like this record, it's fucking good. Nothing about it bums me out.
S.M.: We didn't want to have any bullshit filler tracks on the record, just to make it 12 songs instead of 9.
T.M.: Exactly. It's our record, we put it out ourselves, we can do whatever we want!

U: When you wrote the album, it was just the three of you, right?
T.M.: We were on a tour, I guess it would've been two years ago, we were over here and John was at home, getting drunk every day and partying [laughs] and he would send us riffs all the time and these riffs ended up on the record. He didn't record, but he did write some riffs and helped put together so many songs, but he's so busy obviously he's not as involved as on the past couple of records.

U: How has the dynamic of the band changed with the addition of Ben?
S.M.: I don't know... Like I said, when it comes to Ben it was an easy transition because we were already friends so it's kind of the same.
T.M.: It's honestly super similar, Ben's our friend so we really get along with him...
S.M.: Ben likes to drink, but Cory didn't drink so we have a new drinking buddy I guess.
T.M.: It's different, you now? Cory's been our friend for 20 years at this pint so we're really tight. I met Ben a few years ago through Despised and he's a beauty. We work really well together but our relationship is not as personal but we're good bandmates and he works really hard. It's pretty close to what it was before, to be completely honest with you! Me and the laptop get into many arguments every now and then! [laughs]

U: Why did you choose “Balance” as the album title and what does It mean to you?
T.M.: That would be more of an Alex question probably but we did talk about it. The idea behind it was that, we all are working full time jobs at home. Also Alex [has] both bands and stuff like that, and we were trying to find balance while having highs and lows and it really fit the record. That's what it was written about anyway, posititive things and negative things, bullshit that sucks and really, really good stuff, and the way the album stared to came together was that there's a lot of new melodic parts and there are still some of our heaviest parts, the whole concept is balance. Home life balance, work balance, tour, how to get through... The record seemed to fit us really well, the way we wrote and recorded it and put it out, everything was very coherent after “Mad Season”.

U: When you released “No Aplogies”, to me it was your mission statement; you are here, you have something to say, and a big “fuck you” to naysayers.
T.M.: Sort of, yeah. That song rips and it's got a super sick, really melodic chorus and a banging breakdown, and the riff is like super old OTB, and fuck it, no apologies, we don't care, it's not “Youngblood” again, we know. We don't want to write that album again, we alrady did, see what else we can do and how to progress. Thank you, it is a big “fuck you”.

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U: I think Balance was a big bet for OTB and it paid off.
[both] Thank you!
T.M.: It hasn't physically paid off yet but maybe in ten years we do the ten year anniversary tour, we'll see! I hope people are digging it, the response's been good so far but it's too hard to say right now because we haven't toured too much since it's been out, so we don't know how far we can push it. I think we're gonna see maybe next year, if we're gonna get bigger, more fans, whatever that be, even now our fanbase is huge.

U: Let me circle back to “No Apologies” for a moment. When the song launched on Youtube, you received a lot of negativity in the comments. How do you deal with such dismissive statements?
S.M.: I love it, it's my favorite thing to do. When we put out new shit, I love to look at all the comments and laugh, it's the best.
T.M.: I didn't find there was as much as I was expecting. I was expecting a ton of shit talking. There's always people wou are gonna shit, it doesn't matter, there's always shit talkers. At least they're commenting, that's a view, but I was expecting a lot more compared to "Mad Season", so I thought it was pretty good actually. You thought it was bad but I think we did alright! [laugs]
S.M.: Somebody literally takes the time out of their day to listen to the song and then say something negative or positive about it, it's fine with me, you're checking it out, you're drawing attention to it, you're leaving a comment, that's fine, and usually they're pretty funny.

U: Did you at some point think that the direction of "Balance" might alienate your fanbase? The oldschool fans more specifically.
S.M.: I was gonna bring up that a lot of time when you see a negative comment, you also end up seeing a whole bunch of responses to it, that's the actual fans [defending us].
T.M.: Alienate a fanbase... I don't know, I don't think it's that different, I mean maybe from the first record but “Zeppelin IV” wasn't like “Zeppelin I” man, fuck. I think it's better songs, it's better if you're a music fan. I think it's difficult to write a well-structured song that's still heavy, than just throwing a tempo change breakdown; to me, that's easy. I'd rather write a better song.
S.M.: The record's diverse enough too, like some of the fans that liked the “Youngblood” stuff more are gonna like “Smoke Signals” or the people that liked “Salvation” are gonna like “Reality Check”. It hits a lot of the different styles that we've been doing for years so I don't know if it necessarily alienates fans but essentially it's got sprinkles for all the different kinds of fans.

© Dearohwell photography

U: Do you care about maintaining this whole “heavy-hardcore” label in your music?
[both] NOPE! [laugh]
S.M.: Yes and no, I like heavy shit, when it hits hard and it definitely translates really well live but, for me, good tunes is good tunes, it can be any kind of style as long as it makes sense musically and it's catchy. I just want to write good music.
T.M.: I'm not interested in keeping any type of labels, “oh we're a metalcore band, we need to play metalcore riffs”, it doesn't matter, it doesn't mean anything to me if I'm touring with fucking Lionheart or Motionless In White, it all sounds great. We do many hardcore tours, we play with a lot of heavy bands but we're not necessarily that heavy, especially like Kublai Khan, can't compare to that shit! We're gonna sing a lot of “whoa” and high five each other [laughs] I'm not interested in doing it, that's why I think we could fit with a lot of bands. We could fit in a hardcore tour with no problem, in a metal tour with no problem, on a fucking pop punk tour, why not. We just did a  huge festival in Canada with A Day To Remember, we were like, that's the vibe, a bunch of people who just want to groove and have fun. So it worked!
S.M.: One of my favorite comparisons, or comments, was when someonw was like “You guys, I just discovered you and it's sick, it's a mix between ADTR and Hatebreed”.
T.M.: That's DOPE! Who wouldn't want to listen to it? Sounds amazing. That's “Balance”, you should probably pick it up!

U: We are basically done. The last question is probably the most important one.
[Both mumble “Oh God..” and “uh oh..”. Because they know.] If you were members of the Spice Girls, what would be your Spice Names?
S.M.: [without skipping a beat] Liquor Spice.
T.M.: Angry Spice? [laughs] Yeah I'll be Angry Spice, why not!

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