Metal as Fuck caught up with John Kevill of Warbringer on the second date of the Warbringer tour with Symphony X and Iced Earth. Warbringer are no stranger to playing live and have been on the road more than most. Who has been John's favourite? 'My personal favourite that I've toured with is probably Kreator. But there's a lot of great bands. Love Exodus. Love Megadeth. Testament. We toured with Finntroll once. I like that band. We toured with Nile. Now we're touring with Iced Earth and Symphony X and I'm a fan of those bands as well. It's pretty cool to be out on the road with them. This is day two, so we're just starting out really.'
So what is John looking for when he hits the road? He explains it this way: 'Anytime we play a show it's a really good response. I just get a really good feeling from it. That's really what I'm focused on, the shows and that people have fun at our shows. For me that's what does it for me. And then the sight seeing and the travel. We have a new guy in the band. He hasn't had a proper cheese steak yet. We got him one of those at Jim's (on South Street in Philadelphia). That was cool. Stuff like that. Just eating regional food, playing good metal shows, driving the van around."
John brings up cheese steak, a personal favourite of mine. Forget Pat's or Gino's in Philly, Jim's uses the best cut of meat and to die for cheese. It's great to talk to another foodie and John has a lot to say about food! Among his favourites - eating in Spain. The true way to a man's heart is through his stomach. 'Well, we had some awesome food in Spain. They do restaurants a little different out there. There's a bunch of small little courses. Lots of good food in France. We just came back from Europe recently. I do love a good Philly cheese steak, East Coast wings, and subs, and pizzas. It's just a little different than from California. In Spain we had calamari in this kind of sauce. Some of it I don't know exactly what it was. I just ate it. They had this kind of flan for dessert. It was like A+! I don't even like sweets but I was all about it. It had like a vanilla and a caramel one. We just all tried a bunch of different foods there. And also in Spain and parts of France there are people who keep at their house just a big leg of cured ham. And they'll just keep it out because it's cured so it's not going to go bad for a long time. Anytime you have some bread or cheese you just slice a big chunk of it off that and kind of munch it. It's really good. I want like a huge pig leg at my house that's all cured and salted. Then you can just have some meat whenever you feel like it. It seems to be a European thing. I only saw it in Spain and parts of France. It's a specific kind of cured ham. I haven't seen it that particular way any where else. it was cool. In the restaurants they would have like a big rack of them on the walls. That was cool. It's one of my more favourite things about travel, seeing all the different ways people eat."
Other than food, touring bands find other things different between working in the United States and Europe. Touring is never easy, no matter where you are and a band must be adaptable. With so many dates under their belt, Warbringer are old hands at being on the road and navigating the unfamiliar and unsettling. 'A lot of it is the same. For us the biggest differences are the way it operates. Here (in the United States) we have all our own stuff. We have our own van, our old faithful there, our trailer, a big old trailer and we're using all our own stuff. So that's pretty cool. We've got our operation pretty tight here. When we go to Europe we have to rent everything which is kind of a bummer. Different tours we'll try different things; see what works better than others. The last one we were in a way under sized van with like a trailer out there. We sent to get a trailer but what we didn't know was in Europe a trailer isn't like enclosed with a lock like in the USA. It was basically a wooden box with a tarp over it. Some guy with a pocket knife could have robbed us blind at any point. I mean, we were always really worried about that happening. So that was a failed experiment that we're not going to try again. We were lucky but I know other bands that we've known have gone there and had the same kind of trailer and somebody just like opens it up and takes a bunch of stuff. Just takes what they please while the band is asleep at 4am or something.'
And the fans? 'The European audience is a little bit different. The USA has different regional cultures; the south is different from the east, different from the west. The differences aren't as huge as in Europe where you can drive a couple of hours and everyone speaks a different language. That's pretty cool. Certain places like Belgium and Germany most of the people speak very good English. Where as like parts of Spain most people spoke very little English. But none the less, I don't travel around the world expecting everyone to speak my language. That's kind of ignorant right there.' Good thing for John they all speak the language of METAL! 'Of course! That's my language right there. Everyone always can enjoy that. You can understand if someone likes it or not. That's always good.'
In those literally thousands of shows Warbringer has played they've hit such amazing places such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. These are not the typical bastions of metal loving fans. Surprisingly, John has found just the opposite. He tells me what it was like finding metal fans in the most unlikely of places. 'It was extremely hot. We were in Japan for three days and that was great. We rode the bullet train between shows and that was awesome. We were there with Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust for the three shows in Japan so we were partying with those guys. Good guys too. There were these fans, super polite, after the show they would go to the hotel lobby. We would take pictures with them. We all went up to bed then the next morning - I don't know if they went home and then came back or just stayed there, but they were there when we came downstairs and they went with us to the train station and took more pictures. They really like taking pictures. But they were super polite about it. But they were also just very diligent in being there. It was kind of a little different. I guess they were that excited about seeing us and taking pictures and getting stuff signed and all that. It's a cool feeling that people care that much about it because we're just some dudes out there playing metal. When we flew into Thailand it was the same day that a big riot started in the city and there was a government crackdown. It's like the downtown was fenced off and skyscrapers were on fire. A lot of people had been shot by government troops. We were like, well, do we do it or do we cancel? And we were like we have a flight routed into Thailand and one from Thailand and a show there. So it's going to throw a major wrench in our whole tour if we don't do it. So we just decided to go for it. A lot of people thought we weren't going to show up, but we did. And the show went off and it was really great. Actually Bangkok is huge. It's bigger than Los Angeles. Similar in size to LA County. Something I didn't know. So if like the downtown is on fire, but the rest of the city was pretty much as normal. We were like ten miles off from there but still in the city. We had a day off so we actually got to go sight seeing and we went and saw this Erawan Museum it's called and it has this massive statue of a three headed elephant that's also a temple and you can climb through it. They have all these ancient Buddhist relics and stuff. So that was one of the cooler things. We got to go sightseeing in Singapore too. We got a guided tour around Singapore. A lot of nice people out there. We're looking to go back this year. Jakarta was crazy! It was the least organized driving I've ever seen, cars going this way and that. The currency, I believe it was the rupiah and the going rate was about 5,000 to one dollar. So that's the lowest exchange rate I've ever seen. A bag of chips was 5 or 6000 or something. So numbers got pretty astronomical when we were buying Burger King for everybody. The show was supposed to happen but there were some complications with the show because it was supposed to be in Bandung which is a couple of hours away but at the last minute the authorities shut it down and they had to move it to Jakarta. It was still pretty solid though. The Philippines was the hottest show we've played in Warbringer history, temperature wise. It was brutal. It was fun though.'
A lot of metal fans in Thailand and Jakarta and the Philippines. Who knew? 'Yeah, they were really excited. Not many metal bands go over there all the time, especially playing heavy metal. So we were really happy we had the opportunity to do it and I think a lot of people were happy to see us there.'
In truth, people are happy to see Warbringer anywhere! They are a fantastic live band and just a great bunch of guys. It's a good thing they like being on the road. Says John 'We figure we're in this to make the most out of it and we gotta work hard. Working harder is always a good answer. We're a live band. Our music is written for a live setting and it's the kind of thing that we'll do. We're trying to get ourselves known in the best way to show people why we're a worthwhile thrash metal band that's worth their time; to get in their face and show them, you know. We'll play a really high energy show and a high energy brand of metal. It's just good times for head banging and kicking ass.'
Parting words from one of metal's hardest working musicians... 'Hey to all the fans. Keep supporting. Keep listening to metal and see you out there where ever you may be.' So says John Kevill of Warbringer.