Darkest Hour isn't like many of your typical extreme metal outfits. For one, they have a sense of humor, aptly shown on their latest DVD, PARTY SCARS AND PRISON BARS. They also, as guitarist Mike Schleibaum explains the band have a firm background in the punk rock scene, making their music, especially the new UNDOING RUIN, that must more scathing than other band's endeavors. Get to know this fierce group by reading on.
The Gauntlet: How did Darkest Hour form?
Mike Schleibaum: We started as a high school metal/hardcore band when John (the singer) and I were like 16. We just kept at it for so long that at some point it turned into a real band. We had many lineup changes due to the fact that we toured all the time, but we have settled into a pretty active line up as of 2001.
The Gauntlet: What sets Darkest Hour apart from other metal bands?
Mike Schleibaum: Well one word, punk. Darkest Hour is a mix of hardcore, metal, and punk. A lot of bands nowadays miss that third element. We play music for the rejected by the rejected. We believe in music as a community, and that it should be accessible to all. Also, we carry a lot of ethics around that for good or worse makes Darkest Hour who we are. Now we aren't the most punk band in the world either. I mean we did Ozzfest, but we feel we have found a happy mix.
The Gauntlet: Tell us how you guys wound up on Victory and how the relationship has been thus far?
Mike Schleibaum: Well we were signed to MIA records and they folded. We shopped around and found Victory had the best offer. They have treated us great and we love all the dudes that work over there.
The Gauntlet: Tell us about the latest DVD PARTY SCARS AND PRISON BARS. Why release a DVD now? What can we expect to see here that we may not have known before about Darkest Hour?
Mike Schleibaum: Well we have always wanted to release a DVD and while we were in between records, it just seemed to make sense. I think that the thing you most come away from the DVD with is a felling of knowing the band more. I mean, our personalities come out in the DVD, and I think that is really special nowadays. To have a band with a personality, in a world where so much music is calculated and planned, is what most bands need.
The Gauntlet: After compiling the DVD, is there anything on it you're embarrassed about? Anything that didn't make it to the DVD we can count on seeing later?
Mike Schleibaum: Well there is a ton of stuff we couldn't use because it would have been rated X...and some stuff that would have gotten us arrested. I would say if you see us at a show come up and well tell you about it...that is the best your gonna get.
The Gauntlet: Describe the process of recording UNDOING RUIN. Where did you guys record and with who? Any funny recording stories you'd like to share?
Mike Schleibaum: We recorded the record in Vancouver, BC with Devon Townsend. It was a great time and most of the funny stories revolve around Devin drinking to much Tim Horton's coffee and us spending too much time in Mugs and Jugs (you can figure out what that is).
The Gauntlet: Which song was the easiest to record? Hardest? One you feel came out the best?
Mike Schleibaum: Well no song was easy, but I would say certain things where easier/harder this time. We spent more time on the drums, so Ryan got pushed like crazy and we also spent more time working on vocals and bass. The guitars we always spend way too much time on anyway. I would say the easiest thing about recording the record was taking chances. We were all more willing to do that, and I think that made it a more exciting experience.
The Gauntlet: How is UNDOING RUIN different than other Darkest Hour records?
Mike Schleibaum: Well, the songs are different tempos. The sound of the record is different in a lot of ways. There are more guitar solos and more guitar based parts. The songs are shorter and have a much less political and more personal edge to them.
The Gauntlet: How has growing up in Maryland shaped your music?
Mike Schleibaum: Well, I grew up in Virginia, but growing up in the DC scene kind of gave us a more DIY PUNK ethic that a lot of bigger, more working bands miss out on or don't have. It is kind of our driving conscience.
The Gauntlet: What's your take on the current state of metal?
Mike Schleibaum: All I can say is most of it is insincere and plastic. There are some good bands out there but you have to pick through a lot to find them.
The Gauntlet: How does a Darkest Hour song get written?
Mike Schleibaum: It's all based off riffs. Songs start with the guitar riffs and grow from there. I wish I could pin it down to a specific formula but other then the riffs every song is different.
The Gauntlet: Who are some of your musical influences? Any we wouldn't be able to pick up on by listening to you?
Mike Schleibaum: I hope you can tell that we listen to Huey Lewis and the News, Phil Collins, Journey, and The Randy Macho Man Savage rap tape, but who knows.
The Gauntlet: Where is your favorite place to play and why?
Mike Schleibaum: Well at home is fun (DC) or Florida, California, Budapest, Hungary, Croatia, Iceland, Japan. There are so many good dudes out there!
The Gauntlet: How would you explain your music to someone who never heard you before?
Mike Schleibaum: The sound of the General Lee as it jumps a bridge down at Willards Creek.
The Gauntlet: When I'm not in Darkest Hour, I'm...?
Mike Schleibaum: Asleep, or hanging with the dudes!
The Gauntlet: Do you prefer the studio or a gig and why?
Mike Schleibaum: Hmm the grass is always greener so right now, studio.
The Gauntlet: How did you guys land a spot on The Warped Tour this year?
Mike Schleibaum: Well, we beat the guys over at Smartpunk in strip poker. And rather then get naked and go to In and Out Burger to get us food, they decided to add us to the tour. Bad move dudes.
The Gauntlet: What's the best and worst part about touring?
Mike Schleibaum: Best, meeting new friends and rocking. Worst, lack of sleep and missing your dudes at home.
The Gauntlet: Whom would you guys like to tour with that you haven't yet?
Mike Schleibaum: Entombed, Converge, Isis, The Faint, Clutch, and most of all, Randy Macho Man Savage.
The Gauntlet: What can we expect from Darkest Hour for the rest of 2005?
Mike Schleibaum: Tour, tour, tour, tour...and more jail time.
The Gauntlet: What keeps Darkest Hour still going after all this time?
Mike Schleibaum: Dudes hanging with dudes getting brutal for dudes. Oh and a few dudettes.
The Gauntlet: What would you like to accomplish that you haven't done thus far?
Mike Schleibaum: Tour with Iron Maiden. Put out a rap record with Randy Macho Man, own a strip club, and pants Sean Hannity.
The Gauntlet: Any final words for the fans?
Mike Schleibaum: Nope just see ya in the circle pit! Thanks for doing the interview.