A Life Once Lost kicked off 2011 with a bittersweet start. While they found a new label home in Season Of Mist, they also found themselves parting ways with drummer Justin Graves. However, that hasn’t stopped the band in the very least, as they pushed forward with more touring and preparation for a new album. It was at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival (which took place at The Palladium in Worcester, MA earlier this month) where I caught up with guitarist Doug Sabolick. Outside the venue, Sabolick discussed the band’s reasoning behind going with Season Of Mist, the process of finding a new drummer, and the band’s plans for recording a new album.
A lot has happened these past few months. First, you signed to Season of Mist. What made you choose that label as your new home?
We shopped a lot of our demos around, a bunch of labels were interested. We didn’t really want to sign with any of the obvious labels, or be on a really small one, either. So we talked to them. Their US office is in Philly. They’re based in France, though. They offered us a good deal, that’s why we did it.
What was the reasoning behind parting of ways with Ferret Records?
The guys who we worked with at Ferret, they don’t have Ferret anymore, they have Good Fight. So we weren’t really working with anyone who were running it. So we were free to go.
Did the idea of going the DIY route ever pop into your heads, or was it obvious to you guys that you needed a label?
We were throwing around the idea of doing it that way, but in my opinion, I didn’t want to go down that road at this time. It’s just hard to make anything happen now, even where we’re at. We’ve been doing this shit for a long fucking time, and we’re still playing a second stage here [at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival]. We made this happen only because of us being a DIY- band mindset-wise. This is how we got here. But we need that label now. We’re doing international touring. Maybe we could’ve made it happen, but it’s already a lot of work doing what we do. I’d rather someone else do that.
What would you say is the biggest struggle of being on the road?
For me now, just being away. It’s good to be away, but everything is good in moderation. If you’re on tour all the time, there’s a lot of bad things about that. That’s what we did before. We were on tour all the time, and everyone’s life at home falls apart. You have to learn how to balance life on the road and life at home.
Would you say the touring process or the recording process has been more difficult for the band?
They’re equally difficult in different ways. This album we will be recording ourselves, so there is a lot of work involved with that. That’s part of the reason it has taken so long, because we had to get our recording chops up to par. It’s been a lot of getting everything in order, only to be able to do it at this point. Otherwise, it would not be feasable.
You played three new songs today [at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival]. Is that the band’s way to test out new material?
We’ve been playing a lot of new songs out. We’ve been playing long enough that I can tell by an audience how well they catch on, and how it’s going to be when the album comes out. We’ve also been doing it because what we had done musically about 8 years ago is popular now. It’s a weird thing. We’ve always been, in my opinion, too ahead of our time to ever capitalize on it. We play this shit because it’s ultra heavy and it’s what’s going on now.
Has that made it harder to get on tour packages now?
Well, now we’re kind of the odd man out. We’re not an up and coming band, or new and trendy. So we can’t do those tours, really. and if we did, we wouldn’t open for them, but if we headlined, no one would stay. So we are in a weird spot sort of.
Not to bring up a sore subject, but back in January, you parted ways with your drummer, Justin. Who is filling in on drums right now?
We have a new drummer. Jordan Crouse. He’s a Philly guy. It’s good because with Justin, with the gap between where we live, it was hard to rehearse as much as we wanted to. Now with Jordan, we all live in the same town and we can practice as much as we want to. Everyone is happier that way.
Was that part of the reason you guys parted ways?
There were a lot of factors involved, but that was a big part of it. We were trying to step it up and practice more, and what we wanted to do was not necessarily what he wanted to do. I think he wanted to be in a band for fun, and I don’t want to be in a band for fun.
You want to make a living, or as much as you can, out of music.
I don’t know if that is even really possible, but I’m still doing it.
What is the most difficult part about trying to find a new member and that transition?
It wasn’t difficult to find a new member. It was just one call. We’re to the point where people know what we do. The difficulty with him was that he wasn’t a metal drummer; that wasn’t his forte. We had to practice a lot just to get him in shape to do the shows. That part wasn’t difficult, but it does make you question it. When we first started jamming with him, it wasn’t that good.
What made you want to keep trying with him if it wasn’t that good at first?
You know right away if you’re going to be able to do it or not with a person. It’s just about how much time you’re willing to put in to it. A lot of the “real deal” guys can come in to the first practice and be seamless. With him, he’s a great drummer, we just had to put a lot of work into it, which is good for everyone.
You said that he was not used to that type of metal playing. Do you think that will help enhance the band or move forward in a new direction?
He’s playing what we want him to play right now. Maybe he could add a new dimension, I’m not sure.
Your appearance at the New England Metal & Hardcore Festival is going to be your last show for awhile before recording, correct?
Yeah, we kept booking these random shows and we had to keep rehearsing. It kind of hindered the writing process a bit. But we felt that we had to show that we could come out and bring it just like we never left.
Do you think it made the band tighter- the chance to play live with a new drummer?
It made us tighter because we had to practice a lot to get to the point where we could do it. It helped everyone. I wouldn’t say anything bad about it. It was great. Maybe we’re more ready.
Is the writing complete?
We’ve been demoing songs for a year and a half, almost two years. We have tons of material. But we really only hit our stride the last six months. We could put an album out right now, but we’re just going to keep rolling with it.
You mentioned that you were going to record it yourself. So does that mean you’ll be producing it yourselves as well?
Yeah. At this point, in my opinion, we don’t need it. That can be good or bad. We just want to be able to do it ourselves and basically take all the credit for it.
And all the royalties…
Not really, but I don’t really expect to make much money from it. It’s more of labor of love, basically. But people at the show might not necessarily know that.
You mentioned that it would be out by the fall?
That’s our plan. The label is ultimately deciding that factor. We’re going to finish writing in a month and then start recording so we should be good.