Winds Of Plague

In preparation of the band's fourth full length album, Against The Weak (due out April 19th courtesy of Century Media Records), we sat down with Winds Of Plague front man Jonathan Cooke to get some insight on the bands upcoming release as well as discuss the band's upcoming music video.

[email protected]: Firstly, thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. Could you please introduce yourself and give your role in the band?

Jonathan Cooke: I’m Jon from Winds of Plague and I try to sing.

[email protected]: For those who are unfamiliar with the band, could you give us a brief history of the band?

Jonathan Cooke: We started back in high school. We all met in high school in California. We all hated life there, so we decided to start a metal band. It’s been about six or seven years now, and here we are.

[email protected]: How would you describe your sound? It seems like you’ve been tossed around through a multitude of genres. One would say that you’re a Deathcore band with symphonic elements...

Jonathan Cooke: Yeah before we were deathcore, we were metalcore, and before then we were just a shit band, so I don’t even know man. We try to make it hard to pigeonhole us.

[email protected]: What do you believe sets you apart from any other band within your respected genre?

Jonathan Cooke: We tune in E standard, that’s pretty different? We have two songs in drop D, the rest in E standard, and we don’t have hair! A lot of bands have hair.

[email protected]: Currently you’re on the road alongside As I Lay Dying and After The Burial. Though the tour is just getting started, how’s it been thus far?

Jonathan Cooke: It’s been awesome. We just did two tours in a row with After the Burial so we’re already friends with them. We know As I Lay Dying from both of us coming out of California, so it was very comfortable coming into the tour. The shows have been huge. It’s a good time.

[email protected]: It was recently announced that the band will be releasing their fourth full-length effort, Against The World, on April 19th, courtesy of Century Media Records. Would you guide us through the writing and recording process for the album?

Jonathan Cooke: Instead of having just a crazy rush, we decided just to slow down and take it easy, and very strategically put this record together, so we could actually have choruses and verses instead of just whatever we felt like playing at the moment. I guess it’s a bit more mature in one way, and a lot less mature lyrically. We just kind of went over the top and had fun with everything.

[email protected]: How do you feel the album compares to the rest of the band’s discography?

Jonathan Cooke: It’s definitely more in the vein of Decimate the Weak as opposed to the Great Stone War. With The Great Stone War, we were just trying to create a epic metal album. With this one, not so much.

[email protected]: How do you feel the band has grown since the release of The Great Stone War?

Jonathan Cooke: We’ve done a lot more touring, I don’t think that record did as much for us as we were hoping for. We’re hoping this record will do a lot more for us. Other than that, we’ve just got kind of got ourselves out there more and played a lot more awesome shows and got in front of a lot more people, like Mayhem Fest, and we’ve done a lot of overseas touring as well.

[email protected]: Taking it a step further, how do you feel the band has grown from it’s inception up until now?

Jonathan Cooke: Well we started as people who didn’t know how to play any instruments in a garage, and now we’re people who don’t know how to play any instruments on a stage.

[email protected]: This time around, the production duties were handled by Matt Hyde, who has worked with the likes of Slayer and Hatebreed. What were some of the determining factors in bringing Matt on to produce the album?

Jonathan Cooke: He did No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. Sold. Nah I’m just kidding. All these bands coming out have these super clean recordings so you can pretty much tell the drums are fake on them. We kind of wanted to go in a different vein. We wanted go more old school. Slayer and Hatebreed have both got dirty raw power to them. That’s kind of what we wanted.

[email protected]: How do you feel the band’s songwriting abilities have grown since The Great Stone War?

Jonathan Cooke: I think we got over trying to just write this technical bullshit that probably most people don’t care about. We kind of just decided to write songs that we were going to have fun playing.

[email protected]: Speaking of The Great Stone War, the album was described as a concept album based around the story of a heathen in a religious world apocalypse. With Against The World, is there one focal point that you’re trying to convey through your lyrics?

Jonathan Cooke: Not really, it’s all over the place.

[email protected]: Keeping on the subject of The Great Stone War, the album sold around 6,300 copies in its first week of release, debuting at number 73 on the Billboard 200. With that prior success in the back of your mind, how much pressure was put on the band to essentially one up their prior success with the new album?

Jonathan Cooke: It’s tough. The whole first week numbers thing is crazy. There are tons of bands that say they sold 10,000 first week and you know that’s not true. It’s easy to get lost in the sales and merch numbers. We tried to take a step away to realize why we’re out here. We’re not out here to sell records or sell merch, we’re here to play shows and have fun. It’s always tough because it’s like “if this doesn’t do well then what do we do?” but the shows are going well.

[email protected]: What do you attest such a strong reaction to your music to?

Jonathan Cooke: We started gaining momentum because we had really crazy live shows. We toured with strictly hardcore bands so we had this following of brutes and assholes. Kids were like “Did you hear about that fight at the Winds of Plague show?” and then they came to our show. It started that way and it just snowballed. It’s been crazy.

[email protected]: Do you believe the changes in the music industry as of late have essentially leveled the playing field, allowing bands such as yourselves do achieve such success as you have?

Jonathan Cooke: Yes and no. The whole internet/MySpace etc, made it easy for every person to have a band. That and napster killed the music industry in one sense, but it gave a new generation of bands to come up.

[email protected]: How do you feel the industry has changed since the band’s inception?

Jonathan Cooke: It comes in waves. We started to come up on this metalcore wave, then went through a deathcore wave and now it’s this electronic dubstep bullshit I don’t even understand. Hopefully we can survive that wave into the next one. It just keeps changing. The internet plays a huge part.

[email protected]: Earlier this month, the band released a first taste of the upcoming album in the form of the song “Refined In Fire.” How do you feel the song compares to the rest of the album?

Jonathan Cooke: It’s our most straightforward rock song, it has a lot of open notes in it. It’s definitely the least technical song on the album by far.

[email protected]: The band recently posted on their Facebook that they had just completed a new music video. Could you tell us a little bit about the music video and when it will see the light of day?

Jonathan Cooke: The last video we did never came out, so hopefully this one will come out around the record release at least. We went out in the desert. It’s supposed to be a post-apocalyptic zombie video. We weren’t even worried about wanting to put it on TV. There are lots of blood spatters. It’s full of guts and brains, stuff that nobody wanted us to do.

[email protected]: It was announced late last year that the band will be playing Warped Tour 2011 this Summer. What are you looking forward to most about the tour?

Jonathan Cooke: I heard Warped Tour is more of a circus than Mayhem Fest so we’re looking forward to getting out and playing to big crowds in the middle of a parking lot and sweating to death.

[email protected]: Looking back, what have been some of your fondest moments at Warped?

Jonathan Cooke: When I was younger I went on a family vacation to Pittsburg, I think I was like 14, and my uncle was like “I’ll take you to Warped Tour down the street”, and I remember seeing bands like Sky Came Falling, Unearth. I saw a bunch of awesome bands and I fell in love with it, so I kept going.

[email protected]: As I mentioned, your current tour alongside As I Lay Dying and After The Burial is in its initial dates. What are the bands’s touring plans looking like for Spring/Summer?

Jonathan Cooke: We’re hoping to get in our first headliner off the new record so we can start playing a bunch of the new songs, and we wanna try to get back overseas. We played Japan and loved it.

[email protected]: Ultimately, what do you want people to take away from listening to Winds of Plague?

Jonathan Cooke: I guess there’s an underlying theme of perseverance and self worth throughout all the lyrics, and being able to rise above. We’re proof that if you set your mind to it, you can do absolutely whatever you want, no matter what people say. If you have people holding you down, you can go out there and do it.

[email protected]: Anything else you want to add?

Jonathan Cooke: That was a good interview man.

Winds Of Plague's Against The World hits shelves on April 19th courtesy of Century Media Records. Pre-order options coming soon.

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