by Ruben Dominguez
Darkest Hour bassist Paul Burnette is a man of few words. He's passionate about one thing, and that's music. When his band released Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation in 2003, it instantly demonstrated that they were a force to be reckoned with. Much like Ruin put Lamb Of God on the mass metal radar, Hidden Hands began to do the same for DH.
So, when a copy of the band's latest, Undoing Ruin, arrived in the mail, I opened it expecting to hear a continuation of what had become one of my favorite metal recordings of the past few years. As soon as I popped it in, though, I heard that familiar passion and fury, but with a brighter, clearer sound. This time the instruments are more defined, and the listener can hear what each member of the band is doing individually throughout the entire disk. While the previous record landed one large roundhouse kick to the head, this one felt more like a barrage of punches that you were never ready for. Paul recently spent a few minutes on the phone with us here at Space City Rock, talking about politics, partying, and touring.
SCR: Hey, Paul; how are things on your end?
Paul: Good. You're in Houston, right?
H-town, in all its humid glory.
Cool, our tour manager, Tito, is from Houston
That would be Tito the Godfather, right?
Yeah, that's right; he's from the Dairy Ashford area. So I'd like to give a shout out for him.
Cool, I'll put it out there. So, your new disk has been called "epic," "a masterpiece," and "metal record of the year." How do you feel about that?
We are definitely proud of it. On Victory's Website, they compared it to Ride the Lighting and At the Gates, but I don't know...
You guys are more the "modest musician" type, right?
Yeah, I guess. We're just big fans of that stuff, and we're big fans of what we've created.
The new record has a more defined feel to it. All the instruments are really clear, as compared to the last one, where it sounded like one big metal instrument. Is that a product of working with Devin Townsend, or was that the band's input?
Well, Devin definitely tried to stay cognizant of leaving room for everything, for all five of us, which is pretty incredible. You can hear my bass, which for a metal record is kind of unheard-of.
You recorded Hidden Hands of a Sadist Nation in Sweden with Fredrick Nordstrom. Was there a big difference between working with him and Devin Townsend?
Yeah; Devin was a lot more involved than Fredrick was. Fredrick didn't really spend any time with us, but Devin did. We stayed in Byron's [Byron Stroud, bass player for Strapping Young Lad] basement while we were up in Vancouver, BC, and Devin would actually pick us up every morning in his Toyota Echo -- which is a four-seater -- and pile all of us in it. That's how we would get to the studio every day. He was really hands-on. He spent time with each one of us individually while we were recording.
Darkest Hour, Undoing Ruin
"With a Thousand Words To Say But One"
"Sound the Surrender" [both at Purevolume.com]
(Music courtesy of Darkest Hour.)
Your band recently released Party Scars and Prison Bars on DVD, and also re-released Hidden Hands with bonus DVD content on it. Did you guys just have a bunch of video tape laying around and decided to put it out, or did you plan on doing it from the beginning?
Victory wanted to re-release the album, and we put a bonus song on there. We remixed an old song, and Chris put a solo on there, so we put that together with a lot of video that we had from different tours. So we just put it all together.
You guys are on the road right now with Bleeding Through [Ed. note: The tour ended at the beginning of August]. How's that going?
It's going amazing. We're playing in Cleveland tonight, and that's the heart of rock and roll, you know?
That's what I hear.
Yeah, everything is going great so far, every band on the tour is great.
I was checking out your tour schedule, and it looks like after Chicago, you guys are headed to the Dirty South. Just a warning: it's hot and humid as hell and there's a hurricane coming.
Yeah, we're used to having flash floods and thunder storms whenever we load into a club, so that's nothing new. We just did a stint from Florida to Atlanta and back home before this tour, and it rained almost everyday we were in south Florida.
Looking at your tour schedule, you guys are pretty much on the road all the time. Do you ever wish that you just had a month off and not have to think about being in the band?
Not really. I'm always going to be doing music, and I think that however long this band lasts, we are going to have the need to tour and express ourselves creatively. I mean, when we're on the road, we wish we were home, and when we're home, we wish we were on the road, so that's kind of how it goes.
Do you notice a difference between East Coast audiences and those in other parts of the country?
There is big difference in the northeast. That's like no place else in the world. They really like the breakdowns up there. And then the South is just insane; people really like to party there. Then on the West Coast, they like to dress up and look good at the shows.
You did Ozzfest recently right?
Yeah, we did it last year.
So is Darkest Hour the band that somebody'd probably most like to party with on the big tours, or do you guys just grab a book and go back to the bus to read?
Uh, I think we are definitely the band that you would want to party with. In fact, we have changed some people's perspectives that we have toured with in the past.
So you're performing a kind of community service, right?
We are -- kind of opening people's minds.
In the past, your lyrics have been pretty political. So I would like to get your take on the war on terrorism?
Our view on the war on terror? I don't think anyone can win that war. But there is one guy that is definitely trying, and it seems he wants to win the battle for oil. I just wish our country was focused on more positive things. I'm not says that we shouldn't do anything about people that are trying to blow up shit; I just wish our foreign policy was more positive. I mean, when we travel overseas in Europe, it's embarrassing. I think we're good representatives of the United States, but there are people out there that are not really happy about the war.
So how long before you guys go tour Europe?
I think we'll be over there in the middle of August. I'm really looking forward to going. We're trying to catch as many of the festivals as we can. It should last a few weeks and then we head back home.
I would venture a guess that you will go right back out on the road at that point.
Yeah, we're going out with Norma Jean in October.
Yeah, good band and great guys.
Who would you love to tour with right now, if you could go out with anyone?
Well, I know that Mastodon is out with Iron Maiden right now. That would be great, to get on that tour.
Last question: if Darkest Hour can accomplish one thing before your career is over, what would it be? World peace? Cheaper gas?
I don't know; maybe that everyone would come to our shows wearing their party shirts and just party. Whether that means you are a Hawaiian shirt kind of guy or you like wearing something that is embroidered on the back, just wear your party shirt and have a good time. END