All Shall Perish Interview with Ben Orum

All Shall Perish New Lineup

All Shall Perish are one of our all-time favorites at Blow The Scene. This energetic quintet broke onto the scene in 2003 with their debut album Hate.Malice.Revenge., which was picked up by Japanese label Amputated Vein Records and quickly set them at the forefront of the Bay Area metal scene. It wasn’t long before the band was picked up by Nuclear Blast Records and the subsequent release of The Price of Existence in 2005.

All Shall Perish’s release of The Price of Existence raised the bar for has commonly been refereed to as “Deathcore.” Although music critics have wiped their ass with this term over the past few years, labeling all music that hits blast bleat speed and eventual breakdown riffs, as “Deathcore,” The Price of Existence has set the standard for the sub-genre. Seamlessly blending elements of grind, death metal, and hardcore. The Price of Existence is one of the top extreme albums of the last decade adored by fans and most critics alike.

All Shall Perish saw many successful tours during this period with leading extreme bands from around the globe and became the first all-American band to tour Siberia in 2008. The band’s latest work Awaken The Dreamers debuted at 126 on the top Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Top Heatseekers charts. Apart from the sheer technical and brutal musical proficiency displayed in every All Shall Perish release, the lyrical content is often socially poignant with searing impressions on macro-cosmic issues such as the exploitation of natural benefits to keep Capitalism alive.

Even Kirk Hammett of Metallica has publicly stated that All Shall Perish’s albums are in heavy rotation in his stereo.

Blow The Scene’s Joshua T. Cohen was fortunate enough to catch up with All Shall Perish guitarist and founding member, Ben Orum as he is about to embark on The Summer Slaughter Tour kicking off July 17. Ben discusses the bands new line-up, new songs, the gulf disaster, the history of ASP, and some special tracks ASP will breaking out on the Summer Slaughter Tour and lots more!

Ben Orum of All Shall Perish LiveJoshua T Cohen (BTS): Ben, how the hell are you? So tell us, what’s your rehearsal schedule look like with All Shall Perish for the upcoming Summer Slaughter Tour? I understand ASP recently introduced some new members? Would it be safe to say Eddie, Mike, and Yourself are running All Shall Perish Boot camp?

Ben Orum: I’m doing great man, this has been a crazy year for the band as well as for me personally! My daughter WinterRose Orum was born 2 months ago, so I’m busy being death metal daddy when I’m not in band mode. ASP also has 2 new family members, Adam and Francesco who we have welcomed with open arms. It is safe to say from within a band standpoint, this is the best lineup we have ever had. Everyone is on the same page mentally and musically, which is an amazing feeling. As far as ASP boot camp, you are correct. The 3 of us are making sure everything is on track 🙂

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): At this point – Are you completely immersed in the rehearsal phase or have you begun writing new material with Adam and Francesco?

Ben Orum: Funny you should ask, I wrote about 7 minutes of new riffs last night! Even in the midst of rehearsing you never know when inspiration might strike. I will get a melody or a interesting rhythm going in my head, and I will use my voice recorder on my android to capture it Beavis and Butthead style (DUNNN DUN DUN). When I get home, I rush to the computer to make it come to life.

Adam and Francesco are both incredible musicians, so I know anything we collaborate on is going to be gold. Now that we finally have a solid lineup, we are beginning to share ideas and riffs that will eventually form sections, that spring to life NEW SONGS.

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): That’s rad. So when it comes to the actual writing process – Do you all split the responsibility or are you the main riff director and others add some flavor? What direction do you see the new tracks moving in? Anything strikingly different from your prior works?

Ben Orum: Each and everyone of us writes a good amount of material. Everyone in ASP has their own writing flavor they bring to the table so at the end of the day there is a very diverse and interesting pile of riffs to create songs from. For example, my forte is extremely epic melodic riffs and old school NY slam death metal riffs, while Mike Tiner is really good at writing super fast blast riffs and tricky breakdowns. Francesco is our newest riff machine and he is a total maniac. Check out his new solo CD to see some of the crazy stuff he can do!

The key to this new record for us is FUN, we want all of these songs to be fun to play live and fun to listen to. Sure you will laugh… you will cry, and you most definitely will be BRUTALIZED… but at the end of the day we want the listener to walk away extremely stoked at what he just heard because it was such a fun listen.

All Shall PerishJoshua T Cohen (BTS): ASP has seen a number of line-up changes over the years like many long-standing bands in the metal scene. Do you feel it’s difficult for musicians to keep up with the touring life style especially in our current atmosphere of near economic depression?

Ben Orum: To be fair, the first two lineup changes (Craig and Caysen) came before the band really took off. We were young and just starting to figure out how the music scene really operated. We discovered there was a lot more business to it than they were prepared for, and it just didn’t work out with them.

The first real major lineup change was Chris Storey leaving the band. Chris basically cracked mid tour. We had been touring nonstop for months and months, and he had finally had enough. It can be very stressful at times. Chris is still and always will be a great friend to all of us.

The final and most recent lineup change was our drummer Matt Kuykendall, who was also done with touring. Matt told us never wanted to tour again, which really broke down the spirit of the band. The rest of us live to play live shows! We knew that the show had to go on, and thankful it has.

To answer your question about economic depression and touring, I don’t think it has affected the touring life very much. In fact, historically in times of depression, the entertainment industry has always thrived! People rely on us to help them get through their day, another reason why ASP will always live on.

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): Glad to hear the hard times are not putting a damper on ASP! And I agree,in times of social and economic unrest, the arts are of immeasurable importance. Have you guys had to scale back prices on merch or ticket prices? While it’s rad that many of us continue to do well in the arts, this is definitely not the case for everyone. Mom and pop music shops continue to fold by the day, records sales continue to sink to all time lows, and there are less and less venues for mid-range bands to tour through. What’s your secret to staying ahead of the curve?

Ben Orum: The secret is that unlike all the countless bands out there who are so quick to sell their souls, ASP keeps it real. We print all of our own merch in my screen printing shop (weneedmerch.com), which gives us the ability to do what we want, when we want with out creating a huge mass of debt for ourselves. This also puts us in the unique position to offer our shirts at a killer price to the fans ALL THE TIME. ASP is the hardest working band out there, I dare someone to prove that otherwise!

All Shall Perish's Debut Album Hate Malice RevengeJoshua T Cohen (BTS): Lets zip back to the early days of ASP, before you ushered in a new wave of “Deathcore” for the masses. Hate.Malice.Revenge, the band’s first full-length release was something of an underground sensation. While it didn’t immediately reap huge record sales, it did firmly establish the band as a major player in the West Coast Metal Scene and introduced the band to a worldwide audience. How did the making and subsequent touring on this record play into the development of the band as whole? Ie – What lesions did you take away from the experience that helped the band refine and create your unique style displayed on your subsequent releases?

Ben Orum: 9 years ago when we came together in a garage and started jamming riffs, we never thought we would be where we are today. Many people say that we created the “Deathcore” sound, which is really unbelievable when you look around and see the hundreds of clone bands these days.

The most important lesson I took away from the HMR experience was that if you passionately love the music you are playing, that excitement is going to translate well onto CD. That excitement can be experienced and shared with the listener which at the end of the day is the most important thing.

We learned a lot of hard lessons from those early tours.. many bands would have broken up, but we always pushed forward, giving it 100% at all times. Those early tours really tempered the band to be ready for anything, and have made us much stronger people.

All Shall Perish LiveJoshua T Cohen (BTS): Tell us about the transition from a small Japanese Underground label to a World Renown Heavy hitter Like Nuclear Blast. Were you worried about the future of band and losing artistic control as you signed your name on the dotted line? What has your relationship with Nuclear Blast been like? What are some of the pros and cons about getting picked up by a huge independent label?

Ben Orum: Back before the music world got turned upside down by the Internet, there was a site called MP3.com, that got us spotted by Amputated Vein Records out of Japan. AV funded the recording and 1000 copies of HMR, which was incredible. The fact that anyone had faith to invest money in our band at such a low level was mind boggling, but they believed in us and that support was fundamental in helping ASP get to the next level.

The story of how ASP hooked up with Nuclear blast is an interesting one. After pressing HMR, we gave copies to anybody and everybody. It just so happens that a few copies made it to the hands of Dino from Fear Factory. Dino called us up and wanted to meet to talk about the record! Growing up listening to Fear Factory, we were obviously starstruck. We drove down to LA and met up, and he had nothing but amazing things to say about the record. He put us in touch with his music laywer, and that was our gateway to Nuclear Blast finding out about us. NB came out to a few shows to watch us and were blown away. Shortly after the shows they offered us a record deal.

We were never worried about NB taking away our artistic control, because all of the employees are super into extreme metal and love what we do.

All Shall Perish Awaken The Dreamers Cover ArtJoshua T Cohen (BTS): A recurrent theme in your lyrical content even through your most current release Awaken The Dreamers, has been a focus on economic injustices and the many flaws of our current Capitalist system. Songs such as “There is No Business to be Done on a Dead Planet” and “When Life Meant More” are prime examples. How active are the members of ASP in current socio-political movements? You guys are right in the center of what have been some heated protests on the West Coast. Berkley campus was shut down by protesters of California’s state-wide tuition hikes that led to violent clashes in the street between police and citizens. How do your socio-political views play into your daily lives?

Ben Orum: We are not as active these days due to the shear amount of touring we do. We try to educate the masses through our music, and from looking at our facebook page.. kids are listening!

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): With 80,000 fans on FB and growing larger every day, I would image that just simply throwing up a blurb can really shed some light on a situation or issue that might otherwise be overlooked by your fans. What’s your take on the current social and environmental unrest in the US? I mean we have a continuing oil spill steadily destroying the Gulf Coast and right in your backyard in Oakland, CA racial tensions all but boiled over with the recent BART trial. You have a unique perspective traveling the World as often as you do. Do see a major difference in the way our European counterparts deal with social and political unrest?

Ben Orum: I get sick to my stomach when I think about all of that oil spewing into the Gulf Coast. This literally ties into lyrical theme of a few of our songs, namely THERE IS NO BUSINESS TO BE DONE ON A DEAD PLANET. I really hope that nightmare comes to a end soon and we can start working on new ways to help prevent it from happening again.
I’m really glad the Oakland situation didn’t get to out of hand. I think that the minimal uproar that was occured spoke highly for the people of Oakland. The situation could of been really bad, but thankfully it wasn’t.

Obama is in a rough spot, since he promised so much during his campaign. There is a lot of anger across the country toward the president.. Who to be fair, did say that change wasn’t going to happen over night. The main thing that everybody forgets however, is that George Bush promised a lot of the same things.. Politics, much like the music industry is a very dirty business. There is a team behind everything manipulating and instilling fear the American people around every corner.

All Shall Perish Price of ExistenceJoshua T Cohen (BTS): Once Price of Existence was released and steadily gaining popularity around the world in 2006 into 2007, you guys shifted gears from being an opening act for prominent metal bands, to be the headliner. Was this a smooth transition? I am sure that going from playing at 7pm for concert goers just showing up to a venue, to headlining events as THE band to see, puts a little extra pressure on everyone. How did you deal with the pressures of headlining shows on bills jam packed with world-renowned musicians?

Ben Orum: It was a very smooth and natural transition. We kept getting kids telling us “F@#K! WHY AREN’T YOU HEADLINING?!”. Once we had the opportunity, it was amazing. There isn’t much pressure when you have dedicated fans like ASP’s. Our fans are incredibly supportive, are the lifeblood of this band. We all really enjoy talking with them online and at shows, it reminds us why we continue to do this whole music thing 🙂

As far as pressures from being on bills with big artists, you really get over that as soon as you hit the stage. You start to realize that they are no different than your travelling band of guys.. They have just been doing it longer! If you are smart, you watch how things are done, and learn from them.

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): All Shall Perish became the first all-American metal band to tour Siberia in February of 2009. How did this tour come to be and what was the experience like? Any plans of heading back? And are you looking into playing any other areas of the globe yet to be shredded by an American metal band?

Ben Orum: Our booking agent in Europe (MAD) got in touch with some people, and ended up connecting the dots to make that trip possible. We flew over to Russia and Siberia directly after our European run with Sworn Enemy and WarBringer. It was a very bizarre and rewarding experience at the same time. All Shall Perish are almost Boy Band Status out there, with fans bombarding our cars for autographs! It was surreal.

We like to refer to it as the “No time for time tour” simple because of how hectic it was. If we weren’t playing a show, we were on an airplane.. there was a flight, sometimes 2, in between each show.

The night that we played in Siberia, was amazing. It was a festival gig right on the black sea. The fans went rampant like wild dogs during our set. That same night, right across the black sea, turbulence broke out between Russia and Georgia.

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): Here’s one for the tech heads. Ben, what does your current rig look like? Any new additions to your wall of sound that you are stoked on?

Ben Orum: I’m a minimalist when it comes to gear. My theory is that the more pedals and gadgets you add to your sound, the more you are trying to mask your playing. I play Ibanez guitars through an ENGL powerball, Cabs are Mesa or Randall. I have a tuner and a Boss NR-2 and that is literally all I use. Sometimes Francesco will have a little delay and boost on a lead part, but his setup is pretty much identical.

Ben Orum All Shall Perish 8 StringJoshua T Cohen (BTS): Solid. Are you experimenting with any new tunings or whacked out chords for the new tracks?

Ben Orum: We obtained a few 8 string guitars from our friends at Ibanez, so we may use those on a few tracks. We don’t want to stray away from the ASP sound to much, so we won’t be switching entirely.

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): Any artists or bands that really have your attention right now? What’s your current playlist look like?

Ben Orum: As far as metal, I’m really digging Bloodbath, After The Burial and the new Misery Index smokes! I have known Sparky and Jason (misery index) for a long time and I am really stoked on the release, I hope it does big things for them.

My current playlist:
A Perfect Circle, Carcass, Russian Circles, WoW This Sucks, Project Pat, Beck, Weird Al, Opeth, Iron and Wine, Death, Obituary, Soilwork, Tom Petty and Misery Index.

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): You listed some great bands here. Any shout outs for the little guys? Any up-and-comers you hope to see big things from as well?

Ben Orum: One band that we have watch grow up and work really hard is SUFFOKATE. They are a beatdown band from Oakland, who just put out a new disc. check them out at www.suffokate.com

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): Should ASP fans expect any surprises on the upcoming Summer Slaughter Tour? Breaking out any rarities?

Ben Orum: We are going to bust out a few old songs we haven’t played since 2003. Also trying a song or two off of Awaken the Dreamers that we have never played live before. We just did a run with DANZIG, and the set went over well. We are excited!

Joshua T Cohen (BTS): ASP has quite a busy year ahead! You are Touring Europe with Every Time I Die, Terror, The Acacia Strain and others on the Hell On Earth Tour this fall. This line-up is ridiculous! How stoked are you guys for this tour? How do your European show experiences compare to touring in the states?

Ben Orum: Terror and Acacia Strain are really good friends of ours, we have successfully toured with both bands before in the past, so this time around should be even better.
ASP’s presence in Europe is huge! This is in part due to Nuclear Blast Records being out of Germany, as well as all the touring we have done over there. We love it, the fact that our band has given us the chance to go places that we never would have gone too otherwise is AMAZING. Again… its all the fans, thank you guys!!!


All Shall Perish Official Website
All Shall Perish Official Myspace
All Shall Perish Official Facebook

Interview by Joshua T. Cohen
Photos Courstesy Of All Shall Perish and Nuclear Blast Records
Additional Photo Courtesies: Roots_vc and MetalJeff

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