INTERVIEW: Jason Richardson on filling big shoes in All That Remains
Editor’s note: The unexpected death of a band member always a tragic event, every band that goes through it responds differently, there’s no road map for something like that. In the case of All That Remains, the Massachusetts based metal band who’ve been on the scene for twenty years now, the choice was made to move forward with the band following the loss of their lead guitarist and founding member Oli Herbert.
Herbert passed away one month prior to the release of the band’s ninth studio album Victim of the New Disease. The group were in an unimagineable position when they turned to Jason Richardson an experienced musician and modern guitar legend who spent time playing with bands such as All Shall Perish, Born of Osiris, and Chelsea Grin as well as launching a solo career. Richardson was tasked with learning a setlist worth of songs from the band’s 20 year career in just over a month for All That Remains European tour. The tour worked out and in February of this year Richardson was asked to join All That Remains as a full time member.
Colleen Johnson sat down for a chat with Jason ahead of their recent show in Worcester, MA, read through their conversation now.
So, you guys are coming into this co-headliner with Attila fresh off another tour where you were opening up for In Flames. How did those shows go over and what are some hopes or expectations for this tour?
The In Flames shows were awesome. I just feel that I was a very, very good package. In Flames and All that Remains together because I was in like middle and high school listening to All That Remains mid-2000’s and stuff like that. “The Fall of Ideals,” which came out in 2006 was the record that started moving the band, it gave them a huge bump, like a very large bump — Guitar Hero and all that stuff, which was popular back in the day. So I feel like it was a great pairing, both of those bands had been around for about twenty years or so. All those fans have grown up all at the same time and grew up listening to both those bands. That package together just did well.
For this tour, this is only day three. And if the last two shows are any indication, yesterday’s show was sold out; the first show was like 800 or so people. I think tonight is at least 1,200 or something like that so far sold. So if that’s indicative of how the rest of the tour is going to go, I’m stoked. It’s going to be a super sick tour. I toured with Attila multiple times.
I’m sure; I was going to ask if you had been out with Attila before.
Oh yeah! When I was with Chelsea Grin and with Born Of Osiris, we toured with those dudes a couple of times. I’ve been to Europe with them, things like that. They’re killing it now. They’re doing really, really well and they’ve just steadily continued to grow since they started. They’ve been a band for I think over ten years now. Honestly, to be completely transparent, we were a little worried about fan base clash, if that makes sense. We don’t exactly sound the same. We’re both very heavy bands, but ATR has way more like radio songs and stuff like that. Attila has a lot of songs that are very meant to engage the crowd and to play around with it. But that’s what’s fun. It’s fun to do that stuff, and the crowd definitely feeds off of that because of how charismatic the front man, Fronz, is. With all the absurdities that they get into. It’s fun; it’s awesome to see the crowd reacting to everything that they’re doing because they love it. All their fans go apeshit for that stuff.
So in addition to being out with Attila who you’re familiar with, you have Escape the Fate & Sleep Signals out with you too. Maybe how has that been to maybe have a support system of familiar faces? All that Remains has been for a band for around twenty years so for you to come into this band that you were once fan of and in this roll?
Well yeah, obviously, it wasn’t planned. Clearly very unexpected. When everything happened with the previous guitarist, Oli, who was in the band for twenty years, obviously seeing him pass away, actually my dad told me about it. He just texted me being like ‘did you see that Oli passed away?’ Like…no. Then I went and found it online, just being like ‘holy shit.’ Like he was my friend, I toured with him before and jammed with him. Had had hours of conversations with him.
I think it was probably a week and a half after that it had got put out there that he had passed away, Bubba (Aaron), the bass player. He sent me a message on Instagram, being like ‘Hey man I’m sure you saw everything that happened. Just a shot in the dark, I’ve got to ask because we already have a tour booked, album’s already set to release, can you fill in for us to do this tour?’ I didn’t even think about it. I said yes right away because I’ve toured with All That Remains a couple of times in the past with prior bands. We would always run into each other at festivals and stuff like that in Europe. I was just at home writing for my next solo material which is also still going to come out. I’m still doing my solo stuff as well. When we talked about me joining full time, I was like I have to keep doing that. Because Luke Holland (formerly of The Word Alive) who I tour with and work on this with, neither of us expected my project to take off like it did. We were just like oh we’ll just make one album, and it ended up popping off, and we were like okay we have to do something with this. It just kept snowballing from there.
So All That Remains asked me to do their tour. The Europe one was real fun; it went over great. Because it wasn’t like I was a brand new person in the picture because we had all toured before. I had toured with the bass player who’s in the band prior when he was in other bands before he joined All That Remains. So it was just a lot more comforting for the band to have someone they already knew. I knew I could play the songs if I just took the time. Fortunately, Oli had tapped everything out in books. Like literal transcriptions of everything. I didn’t have to read anything by ear besides the newest songs off the new album. And that was honestly pretty much the sole anxiety is learning that stuff by ear. Everything else, the other guitar player Mike, he would send me videos and stuff like that so I could learn the songs. Then the other guy who recorded it would send me isolated guitar parts if I couldn’t figure it out by ear, so it was a pretty efficient process. I just didn’t want them to waste any more time trying to find someone else to play those parts. These hard-ass guitar parts. I’m still learning; I had to make sure it was the best for these shows. I was like I have to learn it, or I can’t comfortably perform most of it.
I’m sure it’s so technical, but I’m sure you’re used to it too.
Especially in the new songs. Like there’s a song on the album, one called ‘Drunk Love’, in particular. Where it’s the right hand, not so much the left-hand stuff but on the right hand it’s just non stop relentless picking like the entire song. So in that sense, it was hard. Because I was just trying to balance it in my solo material but that song, in particular, it was just mean to be heavy picking the entire time. It just keeps going and going and going (slapping his hands repetitively on the table next to him while talking about it) and it just finally stops. And you get to this break part where you just take a few deep breaths. When I first learned that, I was kind of gimpy because I was so tired after being trapped in that motion. But it’s now gotten to the point where it’s comfortable, and now it’s not a problem to play these tricky parts anymore because my endurance has gotten to a point where my body is just used to it now, because I’ve been practicing the songs so much.
And I’m sure fans have been pretty receptive so far. It’s a circumstance that obviously couldn’t be controlled. Similiar to what happened with what We Came As Romans is dealing with, in losing Kyle Pavone. You’re obliged to do these contracts.
Definitely, especially with this because All That Remains was Oli’s life. It was what he cared about; he didn’t care about anything else. He wrote the majority of the material. It was pretty much him and Phil for the majority of the material. The other dudes would all have their input but pretty much all the material, for the most part, was Phil and Oli. So literally, this was his life.
He passed a month before the new album was supposed to come out. So that was like his last hurrah with All That Remains. So they were like, there’s no way in hell he would have ever wanted the band to stop. Like, literally ever. So it would have just been an insult to his legacy and everything he’s done in the past twenty, thirty years if they were just going to call it quits. He wouldn’t want that at all. Especially in me knowing him as a friend, I could see that — a thousand percent. There’s no way he would have ever wanted the band to stop.
Then you guys have been touring so much; this tour goes to April 10th. Because on this tour you’re playing so much of that last album, are you even thinking about writing again?
Yeah in the future, I imagine probably next year. I’m in the middle of finishing my next solo release, because that’s what I was doing when they hit me up. Having to learn eighteen All That Remains songs, within a month or two, right in the middle of working on my new record, but it was fine. My management understands. It’s been very beneficial both for All That Remains and myself. It’s a very symbiotic relationship. My solo career and the band as well. My name has grown the entire time I’ve been doing that; I’m bringing fans to the band who didn’t necessarily know about them and vice versa as well. It’s heavily skewed to All That Remains fans learning about me but there definitely have been some kids coming out for me. I have younger fans now, I’m only 27, like the other day I gave guitar lessons to an eleven-year-old kid. He had a John Petrucci signature guitar, the guy from Dream Theater but he had that guitar because that’s what I was playing. Even though it was John’s guitar. Just little things like that so I’m definitely bringing some fans to the band as well. But I do strongly believe that they are going to be bringing way more than me. 1000 %. It’s mutually beneficial for both parties.
Especially with bands like Attila and Escape the Fate out with you. I’m sure there are fans, yes, coming because of your solo career but also because of your work with other bands in similar genres.
Because we do the meet and greets and stuff, I feel like there’s always at least one person a day who says something to that effect. Fortunately.
Perfect! Then you still have quite a ways to go on this tour, like you said, maybe writing later this year/next year. Maybe focuses or goals for All That Remains and you as well? You are doing both projects.
For All That Remains, we have this tour, festivals, some other shows scattered around. I don’t know if it’s announced or not yet, but we’re hitting Australia this summer. I don’t think writing for the next All That Remains record won’t really get started till the very end of the year or even next year. Then hopefully before the end of this year, because right after this I have two months off, I’ll be able to get a lot of my stuff wrapped up in order to be able and go to record that and get that mixed. But writing for All That Remains obviously, like I said they have a bunch of albums out and they have a massive fan base inspecting their sound. So I’m going to have to keep that in mind 100% while I’m writing with them. But fortunately, they have a lot of older stuff that is super crazy technical metal then they have songs like ‘What If I Was Nothing’ where it’s a real straight rock hit. And on the newest album, there are one or two songs intentionally written for radio. So that’s obviously a more simpler digestible sound. Like someone who isn’t a musician won’t be able to hear it and just be like ‘Yeah this is awesome!’. Only guitar players and musician nerds listen to my solo material, just because it’s just batshit crazy the entire time. Most people who aren’t going out of their way to listen to insane instrumental guitar music are going to hear that and be like what is this? As opposed to as if they hear ‘What If I Was Nothing,’ and not being a musician, they’re immediately going to attach to that. Because it’s just a really catchy song that sticks in your head right away, so I’m definitely going to have to put more of a business type of hat whenever I’m writing for the band. Be able to do a little bit of both. Got to be able to do the insane metal songs which I really want and there’s got to be the ballads as well which are meant for a radio crowd.