**This interview was done for the now-defunct Hails & Horns Magazine. This was a very interesting interview for a couple of reasons. The first being that I’m a HUGE fan of this band and have been for quite a while. The second was because I kept myself up late three nights in a row trying to figure out the best questions for this only to be somewhat disappointed with some of the answers. Either way, I’m still really proud of this.
CONVERGE is easily one of the biggest hardcore bands on the planet. With each album they continue to stay more and more relevant which isn’t always easy. I caught up with Jake to find out more about their new record, but I was also curious how he views the bands legacy and their legendary status. All We Love We Leave Behind is out now on Epitaph Records.
One impressive thing about Converge, is that you manage yourselves, produce your own records, and take care of business in-house for the most part. Do you feel that because there are less middle men, it’s easier to make a living off of your music?
I would agree if I made a living off of our music, but I don’t. In order for myself to make a living I have a variety of different jobs. As for why we handle things the way we do, when we started the band we were DIY by necessity. Over time we’ve gained the skill set to take care of all aspects of our band.
Your new record All We Love We Leave Behind came out recently and has been selling pretty well. It’s also been greeted warmly by fans and will be on many albums of the year lists. When you set out to write a new record, what are some of the goals you set forth, and do these things fit into that at all?
The only goal is to create an album that is fulfilling for us emotionally and creatively, everything else, though appreciated, is secondary.
The title of the record is very fitting for a band of your nature. Especially considering all of the side projects that you guys have, as well as all of your families and friends. Is All We Love We Leave Behind kind of an autobiographical title for you?
It’s the name of a song on the album. Metaphorically the phrase represented the album’s subject matter pretty well, so we went with that. I suppose it’s autobiographical in the sense that I write personal songs about things in my life. I feel that many people can relate to the phrase in their own unique way.
After listening to All We Love We Leave Behind alongside past albums like You Fail Me, Jane Doe, and Axe To Fall, it seems that it’s kind of a throwback to your older style. Was there a particular focus while writing the album to make it sound a certain way?
I don’t hear that at all, but music is subjective. As for it sounding like older material; all of our previous albums were written by us so they sound like us. I would hope that newer material sounds like us as well. Our goal is just to write and record the best possible record we can as the animal we are.
My favorite song on the album is “Sadness Comes Home” for its crazy guitar hero riffs. What inspired you guys to mix a heavier rock n’ roll style with your signature hardcore/metal assault?
We’ve experimented with different guitar playing (tapping for example) on a number of albums now, this one is no different, we’ve just evolved a little more. I think you hear our collective appreciation of early VAN HALEN in that song.
Your artwork is incredibly infamous and easy to recognize. It’s even been featured prominently on a shirt in the background of an episode of “How I Met Your Mother”. However, the cover to All We Love seems to be your simplest CONVERGE artwork in a while. What inspired the album’s cover art?
I just wanted to create a simple yet powerful album cover that represented some of the ideas that I explore in the lyric writing. The phases of the moon as a visual metaphor made sense for that. The rest of the artwork for the album is extremely kinetic and colorful. A sort of juxtaposition to the simplicity of the cover.
There are very few guys who sing as ferocious as you, and not many who’ve lasted as long as you have. How have you been able to do all of the records and countless tours without blowing your voice out?
My throat bleeds all the time and it is uncomfortable often. It’s comes with the territory though. It’s no different than the injuries the rest of the band deals with when we are playing so I’m not one to complain.
One thing I respect about CONVERGE is the fact that you guys are over 20 years into your career, yet you’re still cranking out album of the year worthy records and touring with killer bands. At this point, do you feel you have anything left to prove, or is it just about catharsis now?
We’ve never had anything to prove, never will. We just enjoy writing and playing music together, it’s that simple.
CONVERGE is often referred to as a legendary hardcore band. Yet, you also seem to be quite approachable, and not rock stars in the least. How difficult is it at times to keep your egos in check and avoid reading your own press clippings when people revere you so highly?
I don’t really pay any mind to praise/criticism of things I am involved in. I know that my intentions are pure with what I do, so others analysis of it doesn’t have any place for me. We are just four guys playing music, no different than when we started the band. The drive is still the same, the subject matter is still coming from the same place. I appreciate that people connect with what we do, but it’s not the end game.
It was announced recently that you guys are playing Maryland Death Fest alongside bands like INFEST, ROTTEN SOUND, CARCASS and BOLT THROWER. When you play festivals like that and see those bands, does it make you feel like a kid again?
I always feel like a kid I suppose, as I haven’t really strayed from my path all that much. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.
If you could go back in time to when you first started Converge, and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Good question. I would just tell myself to keep doing what you are passionate about. That’s what I continue to do for me, and that’s a positive in my life for sure.
Finally, I know that you’re inspired by a vast array of bands and genres, but if you could have written any song ever, what would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. There are a ton of artists that move me, everyone from SLAYER to THE ISLEY BROTHERS. One of the things that make me fall for a song is how it is played by the original player; how they connect with a song when they play it is the magic of it. Put anyone else in that equation, and it rarely works out to be an improvement on anything.