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How did the success of The Flood affect your attitude towards the new album?
Phil: “It was actually kind of hard to write something that could battle with The Flood, so in our heads, when we were writing this new album, we felt that we had to step out of the comfort zone.”
Alan: “With The Flood we went a little bit heavier, a little bit more nu-metal and a bit more rock ’n’ roll in our approach to writing the riffs, and it gave us a lot of confidence to think that we can do more than just playing breakdowns. We can write riffs and actual parts, so I guess it also gave us confidence in our writing abilities.”
Which one of David Bendeth’s past records persuaded you he was the right choice of producer?
Phil: “I’m a huge fan of Breaking Benjamin, so him making those records [We Are Not Alone, Phobia and Dear Agony] back in the day, it was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got to go with that dude.’ If we didn’t work with him, this album wouldn’t have been the same; it would have been something safe and easy. He really pushed us to our limits.”
Alan: “The dude’s a mad scientist genius! I could go down a huge list of things that he’s done, but for me personally it was Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach [Time For Annihilation] and Paramore’s Riot.”
Did your gear change for this album?
Alan: “This is the first album that we actually got to sit down and use real cabs and amps. With our last two, we’d do pre-production with live amps, but then when it came to the actual tracking, it was mostly POD Farm and plug-ins. With David, he’s got the SSL console, he’s like the real ‘feel’ guy. I can’t tell you how many different guitars we went through on each song just to get tones right – I must have played six or seven different heads and about eight or nine guitars.”
And your favourite guitars and amps?
Alan: “There was this Naylor head, which had a scooped midrange and sounded so good for metalcore riffs, and a modded-out Marshall JCM900 head called a Friedman, which was just awesome. I also got to use the baritone Les Paul Studio that Breaking Benjamin recorded their whole album with, so that was a really cool one for me. Then several of my ESP Eclipses, several Horizons...”
Phil: “We play a lot of active-pickup guitars, but David was all about using his classic gear, so we used a lot of his Gibsons. Every guitar [we brought in] he was like, ‘That’s weak!’ And I’d be like, ‘Yeah, f**k, you’re right...’ I got lucky with a couple of my guitars: I got to play two ESPs – my seven-string and then my Kirk Hammett-issue ESP, but I put the new James Hetfield EMG pickups in it. I was really happy about that because he hated active pickups, but when I brought that in, he finally liked it!”