Whitechapel are one of the few bands in the death and metalcore genre that seem to evolve with each release. And with Our Endless War (out on Tuesday, April 29), the Knoxville six piece continue to defy genre pigeonholing. We spoke to singer Phil Bozeman about how Whitechapel’s fifth album is quite possibly its most mature album to date, how he handles his battles with severe anxiety on the road, and also shares his favorite moment with the late Dave Brockie.
I know Whitechapel put a lot of effort into making Our Endless War the most focused release to date. What was it about this particular release that made you and the band so motivated to go above and beyond?
Just the ability to write and record music, to be able to expand and not write the same material over and over again. I think it’s really just a chance to be able to do it – express ourselves through music – and put out the albums that we can and live this out while we can.
What were you hoping to accomplish with this record that Whitechapel couldn’t do before?
I feel like this album is going to help fans and other people realize that we’re not just writing the most brutal thing possible. We can actually have heartfelt, depressing, and real life stuff instead of just the fantasy killing, “gore, gore, gore” [type of music]. It has some real emotion behind it. I feel like it’s our most mature release yet.
I learned from watching some of the “making-of” videos that the band actually delayed some of the recording by a few months to tighten up a few songs. What specific moment made the band realize that you guys needed to go back and fine tune a little.
We just weren’t ready. The music wasn’t right, we weren’t happy with a lot of the stuff and a lot of it wasn’t even written yet or pieced together. We just wanted to take our time to make sure everything was 100% ready.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you also mentioned in the videos that you were having a bit of writer’s block after constantly touring. How did you overcome this and what did you do to get the creative juices flowing again?
I just sat down and thought back through my own life, and really focused on what’s going on with the world, even brainstorming things that aren’t necessarily going on with me, but things that could be going on with other people.
Was there a particular thing that inspired most of the lyrics, or was it just everything?
Yeah, just everything, there wasn’t one particularly thing that inspired any songs.
You’ve been pretty open with your battle of anxiety over the years. How do you cope with this while you’re on the road and constantly playing in front of thousands of people?
I just try to deal with it. I’ve been dealing with it for so long now. I mean, I think that dealing with it for so long has helped me try to control it as much as I can. For the most part, it’s just something I just have to deal with and just try to fight through.
Has it been inspiration for some of your lyrics in recording?
Yeah, I would say so, for sure.
Was there a particular song on this album that was reflective of that?
Yeah, one of the bonus tracks on the album, “A Process So Familiar,” is actually about all that.
Do you have any tips for up and coming musicians who are dealing with similar problems?
I would say just get it all out and don’t hold it in. Use everything you know to the best of your ability, don’t stop trying to experiment with yourself and see what you’re capable of doing.
We’re all still mourning the loss of Dave Brockie, and I know Whitechapel and GWAR haved toured numerous times together. Do you have a favorite personal moment you shared with Dave/Oderus before he passed away?
Every day he was wild. I would say the last day he came up on our bus, he was kind of drunk but he was just telling us how much he appreciated us, how awesome we were, and just how much of a pleasure it was to tour with us. It was just a really cool moment for us.
So the tour with DevilDriver is coming up next. Any plans after that? Are there going to be any summer festival tours in the works?
We’re not exactly sure. We don’t have anything set in stone yet. I’m sure we will get something in the future; we have some things we’re discussing and figuring out what we want to do.