Product of Hate – Aggression and Progression

Thursday, 15th June 2017

When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, Product of Hate is a band that has worked their way up through the ranks based on hard-work and effort alone. Having a presence for over ten years at this point, the band fought hard to record their debut album, Buried in Violence, and eventually was able to sign to Napalm Records to give life to said release. Since it’s release early last year (or even before that if we are being honest), the band has been road dogs – hitting up numerous tours to spread the word about themselves the old-fashioned way.

They’ve hit the road with Allegaeon and The Agonist, Mushroomhead, and Hammerfight, among others, to put themselves out there in front of a diverse set of audiences. Currently, the band is on a 6 week trek with Skinlab and IKillYa. On the second day of the tour, we were able to grab the entire band (Geno and Cody Rathbone on guitar, Mark Campbell on bass, Adam Gilley on vocals, and Mike McGuire behind the drumkit) for a candid chat about where they’ve been as well as their intentions from this point forward.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s been over a year since the release of Buried in Violence – how’s the reaction been?

Geno Rathbone: We just heard recently from the label that it’s starting to move pretty well again overseas. I’m not sure how everything works over there, but we know we are moving units, which is nice. So we just need to get over there and have a look for ourselves.

Dead Rhetoric: With the uptick in sales, do you think that going overseas might be something that’s at least potentially on the table?

Geno Rathbone: Napalm has talked to us about it, but it’s got to be the right situation for us. It’s gotta be the right band – we’ve already talked about infrastructure-wise, how it would work and how we would do it. But it’s got to be the right scenario. Obviously, that’s their home-turf over there so I’m sure they’d rather have us over there, instead of over here where they can’t keep an eye on us [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Do you think, because of your sound, you are able to diversify and play on a bunch of different tours?

Cody Rathbone: Absolutely. We’ve been on everything from thrash metal to doom metal and death metal. We are trying to do something for everybody. We try to read the audience at every place. Is it a younger crowd? An older crowd? You have to try to read them…

Mark Campbell: The set definitely evolves over the tour. We kind of figure out what people are into and try to play every night to the crowd – try to swap things out and see if it fits better. We always watch for reactions and get input whenever people come up to the merch table. We try to ask them what they liked…

Geno Rathbone: Well, it’s cool to watch the opening bands too. You really get to see every single scene and what they are into.

Mike McGuire: We can kind of rotate the setlist to meet what fits in that area.

Geno Rathbone: We get to see what the kids are doing – it’s cool. We’ve been doing it for so long now. We are still such a new band, but we’ve been together for like 10 years. When we are playing the same shows with like the 19 and 20 year old kids, it’s like “shit, we need to bone up on this kind of stuff.” The one thing I’ve noticed year after year after year, is that all the local bands get so much better. I don’t know if it’s YouTube University or whatever, but we played with a band last night in Boston called The Offering. They were great! Awesome dudes, great players, and a really old school feel to what they were doing.

Cody Rathbone: [The singer] was doing the Bruce Dickinson formula but he had such good highs and lows, and when he wasn’t singing, he could scream like a motherfucker.

Geno Rathbone: Just competent players all around. Guitar player, bass player, drummer – all really good. It’s cool, and you are just waiting to see them put it all together now. With us, it’s one of those things where none of us are virtuosos. We just have our sound and our style works for what we do. But then you see these 18 year old kids on guitar that are like “oh, hey what?” It’s so emasculating, but at the same time…you can play a million miles an hour, especially playing other people’s stuff. But the hardest thing is just to write good tunes. Something that has a little catch to it.

Dead Rhetoric: I know there were a few bumps in the road, we’ll say, in terms of getting the first album out there. Knowing how long that one took, have you started contemplating new stuff at this point?

Mike McGuire: We’ve been writing for a while.

Cody Rathbone: The second album is about 90% done.

Mark Campbell: The longer we wait, we are still writing constantly, and it’s almost like you are picking like ‘what kid do you send to college and which kid do you send to war?’ It’s like we have X amount of tracks – I really like this new song, and this other song we really loved is like 3 years old. We were going to put it on the first album and like…

Geno Rathbone: I think we had like 5-6 songs after we first did the tracking sessions for Buried in Violence that were left over. We held off on them, not because we didn’t think they were good…honestly I think they were better, but they were the later songs that we wrote. You can hear the sound kind of evolving – you can hear more structure with chord progressions, more synth stuff. It’s like a more grown-up sound but it still has the ‘idiots in the garage’ aggression to it. You can hear it, and Napalm said the same thing…they kinda wanted to wait on those and put them towards the next record. So it was half done already when Buried in Violence came out. Before we left for this tour, we ended up tracking 7 more. It’s ready to go – it’s a matter of maybe recording one or two more when we are done with this tour and getting it mastered. These are the songs I’ve been waiting to play for so long.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you think are some of the biggest things you’ve learned being on tour?

Mark Campbell: Being prepared for shit – that’s huge.

Adam Gilley: You learn off of other bands too, and what they do. You go, “damn, I didn’t think of that.”

Mark Campbell: That’s the biggest thing. You think you’re ready and then you see how other bands efficiently work and what you could do better. You modify and adapt as you go along.

Cody Rathbone: Especially with the Mushroomhead tour. It was like going into Hot Topic every night with their setup! We were just sitting there taking notes.

Geno Rathbone: Mushroomhead was literally like a pop-up store. Their branding, their merch. It would be this huge area, with unbelievable stuff. We couldn’t really do that, we just needed to compete with those guys a little bit. But seeing the efficiency and how they ran everything else, it makes life really easy. Everything that can go wrong on tour is going to go wrong…especially to us [laughter]. That’s what we’ve learned. It’s about being prepared for it. You can’t predict everything, but you can kind of assume.

Try to be a few hours early wherever you are going. Make sure there’s decent lighting at the truckstop you are staying at. That’s the biggest thing! You see all these bands getting jacked on the road. It used to be like, “oh, they busted a window and stole my laptop!” But now, it’s like “No, the fucking trailer is gone!” We went into Denny’s for 45-minutes and we came out and the trailer was gone. Now we always try to keep somebody with it.

Mark Campbell: When there’s gear in it, there has to be an ass next to it. Unless there’s security or whatnot. You hear the horror stories.

Adam Gilley: We’ve also learned how to load the trailer better, sleeping situations – we are figuring that out. It’s coming together.

Geno Rathbone: You just surrender any hope for comfort. Once you know you are not going to be comfortable, it makes it easier to just go to sleep. We have never had a line-up change in ten years. We are all friends outside of the band. We fight like brothers, but at the same time, it never gets to that point…we are all still in the band. Being on the road, a lot of it is that we are literally living on top of each other for months at a time. We try not to let our business overflow onto other bands. What did we decide the safeword was?

Mark Campbell: Skintag?

Geno Rathbone: If you have a problem with someone, it’s either “skintag” or “apple dandy.”

Mark Campbell: Apple dandy if you are really fucking pissed.

Geno Rathbone: Instead of arguing, then you know someone has a bone to pick with you in the van in 20 minutes when they say that. Then you can hash it out.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you think that the videos have been a help too? I’ve noticed that you have spent a lot of time concentrating on videos for this record.

Cody Rathbone: We certainly hope so.

Mark Campbell: The visual is a lot for some people. A lot of people will listen to music, but if they don’t see some kind of presentation in front of them…you listen to so much new material you have to have something that kind of sticks in the brain. A visual aspect definitely helps, and it helps to promote your live performance as well. They kind of see what you are about in that realm instead of just hearing it through a speaker.

Geno Rathbone: That’s a lot of it too with the videos – just trying to have a live feel with almost everything we do. There’s not a lot of bells & whistles at the live show, it’s just the five of us running around. So with videos, it’s like ‘okay, we aren’t going to have like the Metallica “One” video where it is all set up and innovative” so hopefully the songs are interesting and we hope to kind of shoot them in a cool way. James Zahn, who co-manages the band, has directed all the videos. We try to have a different kind of look to them – whether it’s lighting, set design, or whatever it is. But I’m guilty of, no matter what, if I want to hear a song, I look it up on YouTube. Even just having the video available and having it accessible helps. Having 10, 20, 50, 100 thousand views behind it makes it easier to search for. It just pops up, and you know you are getting decent sound quality with it. Hopefully people look at it too.

Mike McGuire: They like it, and they go out and buy the album.

Adam Gilley: The “…As Your Kingdom Falls” live video was not even planned or anything. Josh Apple was working with Mushroomhead and videotaping all of their stuff on tour and he asked if we wanted him to video tape some of our live stuff. So I was like “yeah!” We just had to choose a song – we just wanted to show people what they were missing out on if they weren’t at one of our shows.

Geno Rathbone: It was cool. A couple weeks after the tour was over we got the video sent to us. It was like, ‘that’s got to be an expensive camera! He had that the whole time on a tour bus?’

Mark Campbell: And that $1000 drone….

Geno Rathbone: Our van doesn’t cost that much. We couldn’t sell this whole rig for that drone. It’s something to reach for the stars though. They have a good 20 years on us.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been around over 10 years at this point and have your debut album. Being centered around that ‘angry tone,’ do you find that you yourselves are less angry as you get older?

Geno Rathbone: Music is an outlet for your rage – that’s why people mosh.

Adam Gilley: There’s always something to be mad about.

Cody Rathbone: Any anger we have, we put it towards this band.

Geno Rathbone: Especially now, there’s always so much to bitch about and be upset about.

Adam Gilley: We’ve always had that ‘punch you in the face’ feel to the music. When you listen to it, and it makes you want to hit something, we did our job.

Cody Rathbone: We are taking out our aggression in a positive way.

Geno Rathbone: It’s almost impossible now, with everything going on in society and America, especially. If anything, the silver lining is that we should get some good art out of it, from different walks of life – film, music, whatever. No matter which side you are on, you are hopefully going to get some good art. Conflict is what stirs the pot. I think if everything was good, people wouldn’t want to listen to our style of music very much. It’s like, “I had a great day at work! Throw on ‘Suicide Note, Part II.’” No one wants to listen to that…it’s like everybody wang-chung tonight.

Mike McGuire: I have some friends that work in an office and they say, “When my friends hear me listening to your music, they know I’m in a pissed-off mood.” [Laughter]

Adam Gilley: Metal is the best music for people to calm down with.

Dead Rhetoric: I happen to work in the mental health field, with young adults who have autism. Three of them love heavy metal. They are psyched that there’s a staff person who loves heavy metal too.

Geno Rathbone: A buddy of ours worked in a similar facility and would bring one of his patients out to our shows in Milwaukee….

Cody Rathbone: He’s come to our practices a few times too – he’d bring all his metal cds and he’d come over and hang out with us and rock out while we practice. He loved it.

Mark Campbell: That’s why we do it.

Geno Rathbone: That, and the money’s great! [Laughter]

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