John: Um things are going good, pretty much just enjoying what little time we have at home and getting ready to tour for a couple of months, its pretty exciting.
The Gauntlet: What tour are you embarking on first?
John: Well we are getting ready to do The Sounds of The Underground. We leave for that in a week and that�s 5 weeks long.
The Gauntlet: Where will touring take the band following the Sounds of the Underground stint?
John: We're doing sounds of underground for the five weeks, just gigging, and then we have a couple of tours lined up; a European tour, another U.S. tour, we're excited to get out and play the new album for everyone. We're all waiting to go out and play the new material we are really happy with it.
The Gauntlet: Darkest Hour worked with Devin Townsend again, how is it working with Devin now that you already had the pleasure of working with him for 'Undoing Ruin'?
John: Devin is great, and we went back to him again because it's going back to someone we've already worked with and have a good relation with so we can just jump right into getting stuff done, he's a good dude.
The Gauntlet: Has Devin had any influence as far as the song writing process goes? Because I notice a more outreached sound that stands above some of the other material you've done in the past and you even have some cleaner vocal arrangements on Deliver Us.
John: He doesn�t really mess with the structures of our songs; we sent him demos to show him how our progress was going but very little change happens when we work with him. What he does is help us get our stuff across in the best way possible and the clearest way possible.
The Gauntlet: Did he coach you with any of the clean vocals that you went for on the new album?
John: Yeah, I work really well with him he�s a super talented singer ya� know. He�s got a great operatic voice and he can do anything from death metal screams and stuff. So he helped me deal with different stuff with my voice that I was trying to do for the new album.
The Gauntlet: With a lot of band�s attempting the clean vocals, did you think to yourself that people might be thrown off by the clean singing? Some bands pull it off well but rarely and on �Deliver Us� you seem to keep it in moderate range of your abilities which compliments the songs.
John: I realize that that�s a something that�s going to be under scrutiny and at the end of the day I�m happy with it and there are only about two songs on Deliver Us that have a decent amount of singing in it.
The Gauntlet: Did you practice different approaches to your singing/screaming style for the new album? I noticed the tone in your screaming is a little deeper than previous releases.
John: Yeah, I kind of did some demo-ing with myself before I went into the studio; screaming in my closet, and I did go see that lady Melissa Cross, you know the one who works with metal singers with their vocals and stuff. She taught me a couple of things and Devin taught me a whole lot as well ya�know. I worked on all of the vocals for the album and tried to switch it up a little with the signing parts and super low death metal �cookie monster� vocals.
The Gauntlet: I notice that over the past three albums of Darkest Hours career and even prior to that of the last three that the band is still developing sound-wise and playing-wise. You guys have constantly put out albums that keep the same direction yet in a song writing sense, explore other ways of moving in that heavy direction and keep things fresh.
John: Well everybody in the band is pretty musical. Everyone is kind of into exploring the limits as far as they play and everyone did that a lot on this record. Mike did a lot more shredding and technical shredding. Chris is all over the place with his solos, I dunno, I think this is the third record with this line up and we are definitely starting to become more comfortable with each other. The more we write with the same people the more we all develop as musicians, that�s what happens.
The Gauntlet: A lot of bands claim that they listen to anything but metal in their time away from playing it. And some bands site the most un-metal and farthest from the spectrum styles that influence their playing, is there anyone in the band that is influenced by eclectic and opposite tastes?
John: I was listening to The Pixies, and tons of different kinds of stuff. Everyone is kinda� listening to everything all the time; Ryan is really into ambient noise music, Paul�s into 60�s music, and English music, and Mike�s into cock rock, Chris is into a lot of metal and weird guitar music.
The Gauntlet: I read an article in the past month that said Mike (Schleibaum) had his first beer not too long ago. Given that you guys are quite the partiers I found this hard to believe.
John: (Lauhgs) It�s been a year or two now, it was his bachelor party and we were on a boat, we tried to get him to shotgun it (Laughs), he shot-gunned one later. He�s a pro now though, you�ll see him on stage with a beer.
The Gauntlet: Was that a one time thing or is he a regular now? How does he keep up with you guys?
John: He drinks now like a regular. He keeps up with us a little bit and he gets weird drinks like Long Island Ice Teas and Malibu and cokes.
The Gauntlet: On your DVD there is a lot of footage the band explaining circumstances where you were black-out drunk and absent in I believe it was Germany or Sweden, have you gotten lost in any countries since then?
John: Nah I haven�t been there in awhile, I got it together. And no I haven�t but we�ll see what happens when we start touring. (laughs)
The Gauntlet: You guys brought in John Baizley from Baroness to do your album art, he was also tapped to do Pig Destroyer�s new one as well. I�m a fan of his art and I notice he takes from the renowned Pushead with his detailed style of dark but colorful skeleton depictions and such. Is Baizley a fan of Pushead�s work?
John: Um, I dunno. I�m sure he is, I think his style, it�s a little his own thing, I don�t think it�s a rip off or anything. His big influence is the guy who did the Yes covers, just the way music is, it is the way art is. I mean we probably get shit for ripping off at the gates, they�re my favorite metal band and a couple of the other guys� top 3 or 5. But I like a lot of things I think you can be influenced and still have your own style.
The Gauntlet: You guys recently toured Australia, how was that?
John: It�s been about a couple of months since that tour, two months. We did an Australian tour for a week and a half. Its pretty great, it�s beautiful there and the weather is perfect. In the winter time it was 50 and people were complaining that it was cold. (laughs)
The Gauntlet: How are the Aussie fans? I bet they are quite the wild crowd to play for.
John: If you play later on at night they�re drunker (laughs), we kinda� went down there to play a festival, the Come Together festival, it was the reason to go down there, it was cool. We also played an amusement park festival in down town Sydney it was a carnival looking music park.
The Gauntlet: When does Darkest Hour hop on for The Sounds of the Underground Tour?
John: Umm, the tour starts the 2nd or 3rd of july, the beginning of July and then there�s a week and a half off, then it starts in Texas so we�re going to do some off dates.
The Gauntlet: A lot of band�s have odd jobs they pick up in between touring and recording, some part time jobs some full time jobs of various sorts, do you join the work force following tours?
John: Just the band really, we�re gone half the year on tour, we do the band full time, pick up odd jobs, and sometimes I work the door at the door at the local watering hole. But that�s about it, we�re not rich or anything. (laughs)
The Gauntlet: Nah, I didn�t think you guys we�re driving Cadillacs off the roofs of your mansions.
John: Haha, yeah we just chill and find jobs here and there but the band is our main source of income and it pays the bills.
The Gauntlet: Sounds good, thanks for your time John!