Having been on tour solidly for 2005 in support of their blistering second album The Darkest Red, The Agony Scene know more than most about commitment to one’s passions.
musicOMH caught a few minutes with their master of guttural screams, Mike Williams, to hear a little about faith and freedom of expression.
With tours alongside the likes of Danzig, Throwdown and Lamb Of God under The Agony Scene’s belts in recent months, it seems that the band’s metal apprenticeship is earning them a great deal of respect. This prospect is made all the sweeter for the band after it emerges that they nearly never made a second record:
“We basically broke up after six months of touring on the first record, then [as a band] dropped off the face of the earth! Then eventually we got it back together; we had almost a year to write the new record, which was a real benefit that not many bands get these days, but it means we’re so happy with it.”
The Agony Scene’s “first record” was produced by none other than Killswitch Engage‘s Adam D. Apart from being a headline-grabbing experience it was one that would inspire the metalcore lads in the recording of their latest record:
“With Adam, it was pretty much business the whole time we were in the studio. We just worked from day to night, and although we didn’t really get to hang out he was awesome – so professional – and we were able to learn a lot in those sessions.”
– The Agony Scene frontman Mike Williams admires bands with spiritual convictions…
The Darkest Red also saw The Agony Scene switch to heavyweight record label Roadrunner from the indie surroundings of Solid State. The latter is known for its spiritual leanings but Williams explains that their relationship was more of an opportunistic one:
“In the beginning, honestly, we saw them as a vehicle for our music. I mean, we’re from a really small place [Tulsa, Oklahoma] and they were interested in our music! We were playing out of basements and garages then, so we thought: ‘Yeah, let’s make a record!’ Obviously along with that we also thought: ‘Let’s just face the consequences of being labelled something we’re not for the sake of getting to put out our music, and see where it goes.'”
Williams then proceeds to set the record straight regarding the band members and their personal convictions:
“Uh, I don’t know what I am, I don’t know what I believe in, I won’t say that any one group is wrong or right you know? I grew up in a very Christian home, and so I had all that, but I’m not at a place where I know what I believe. The other guys in the band, yeah they’re pretty much the same.”
– … But his band isn’t one of them.
However, he acknowledges that there is a rle for “faith” in heavy music:
“Ultimately, I think music is an expression of yourself, a very pure expression of your raw emotions. If your passion is Jesus Christ or not eating meat, or Satan – if that’s what you feel you need to write about, that’s cool. So be it. I accept everybody, it doesn’t really put me off if people are saying things about faith in bands, especially to say ‘Jesus’ or whatever on stage – that takes a lot of balls man! But, believe what you want to believe man, it’s cool.”
“I’m not a Christian by any means, but I’m friends with a lot of bands that are, and there is a pressure you know? It’s way more prominent in the States, but they view it like ‘this is a lifestyle we lead just like straight edge or being vegan. This is what we believe in, and we may write songs about it because this is our passion.’ Those guys are the coolest people and often I get on with those bands way better than some who are out partying all the time ’cause I’m more of a mellow guy when it comes to that sort of thing.”
So if rock ‘n’ roll touring hasn’t resulted in Williams becoming a party animal, what has it done for him?
“It’s made me very humble man. Sometimes when you play a show, it’s awesome, and sometimes the crowd hate you and it’s crap. I’ve learnt to appreciate the fact that I’m so lucky to be here and be able to do what I do. It’s a f**king privilege to be doing what we get to do on stage so, you know, thinking like that is helpful to me ’cause it keeps me humble.”
And with that, this “humble” and “mellow” guy returns to his cramped tour bus to catch some shut-eye before yet another Agony Scene show.