Phil Labonte: All That Remains…is constant change!

If, after 15 years your style has been highly opinionated, unapologetic, genre-breaking, and also very successful, why would you change it? Maybe because change has been one of the keys to Phil Labonte and his band’s longevity. It is not a trick, nor the “game-plan” to switch up the sound to maximize record sales. As Phil says, “I can’t, in good conscience put out the same record over and over. I write music because I want to experiment and try new things.”

All That Remains delivers an album that ranges from catchy hook-filled songs like “Madness” (video at bottom) to hardcore metal sounds and lyrics in tracks like “Safehouse” (loosely inspired by the Showtime® TV series Dexter). Labonte wears his heart on his sleeve in “Rivercity”, a song that flows with emotions and tells the real life story of what he went through as a military spouse while his then-wife was serving as a Marine on deployment in the Middle East. “Rivercity stands for ‘reduced communications,'” he explains. “Me and my ex would be on the phone and she’d be like, ‘Yo, the base is getting mortared. I gotta go.'” If someone dies, they shut off communications until they can notify the families of the people that die. Labonte experienced this many times and in the interview with him he struggles to keep from choking up as he discusses his feelings about this particular tune.

All That Remains takes “Madness” to a new level as the bands 8th studio album winds down to a close; it’s something I’ve never heard on a hard rock/metal offering. The final track starts with the natural sound of rolling thunder that quickly cracks into a 6 second man-made storm of clean electric guitar and accompanying bass. A breath of calm plucking follows, before the lyrics of Garth Brooks -The Thunder Rolls are reincarnated by the slightly effected, dynamic vocals of Phil Labonte. Hard rock and a country classic collide for this epic song!

Click the link below to hear the AFN Radio exclusive interview with Phil Labonte, singer for All That Remains.


You can hear more music from All That Remains on AFN 360 Freedom and Legacy.

Angel Orozco, Contributing Writer
Angel Orozco, Contributing Writer

Scott Stapp: A voice for the ages, embraces The Madness

Art of Anarchy

He rose to fame as the lead singer of Creed, the post-grunge band that scorched the scene with popular Arena-Rock songs like “My Own Prison”, “Arms Wide Open”, “Higher” and “My Sacrifice”. Scott Stapp and Creed sold over 59 million albums worldwide, becoming the 9th best-selling artist of the 2000’s.

With great success there is always great pressure to maintain or exceed it. Stapp and Creed eventually cracked and split under this pressure. In 2004 Creed disbanded and Scott Stapp found his solo voice, recording his first individual album in 2005, he would later record a second in 2013.

Scott reunited with his old band in 2009, but once again tensions arose and projects were halted. By late 2014 drugs, alcohol and depression increasingly crept into his life culminating into a series of troubling social media videos and disturbing behavior full of paranoia. He hit rock bottom, but that would not hold this rock star down.

Art of Anarchy: the MadnessScott is reinvigorated, free from the prison of drugs and alcohol, and is now the lead singer of Art Of Anarchy, a super group consisting of lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal who hails formerly from Guns N’ Roses, bassist John Moyer who rose to fame as a member of Disturbed and twin brothers Jon Votta (guitar) and Vince Votta (drums), who gained prominence as fixtures on the New York music scene.

In Art Of Anarchy’s latest single, his voice emerges through a blend of precisely timed and expertly executed instruments. “I’m frozen within the ice and bitter wind” are the first 8 lyrics instantly reminding us why he stands near the top of the Mount Rushmore of rock vocalists. Scott Stapp has returned to do what he does best, all the while embracing …The Madness.

Scott Stapp calls AFN Radio, talks Troops, Art Of Anarchy and life, click below to listen!


Angel Orozco, Contributing Writer
Angel Orozco, Contributing Writer

Troop Talk with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter

Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, spoke with TSgt Holly Roberts Davis during a “Worldwide Troop Talk” at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2016.

He took questions through social media and from service members in locations including Baghdad, Iraq; Kabul, Afghanistan; Guam; on the USS Zumwalt advanced warship; and at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The Troop Talk aired live, worldwide on AFN News and AFN Radio.

Ash Carter answers Troop Talk questions.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter sits with Air Force Tech. Sgt. Holly Roberts during the 2016 Troop Talk. DoD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley.

You can click below to hear the radio broadcast.


The Story of the Blues Brothers featuring Dan Aykroyd

Dan AykroydDan Aykroyd is a genuinely nice guy. That was my biggest take away after speaking to him on the phone. I produce an hour-long radio show called Radio Recon which airs on AFN Radio and features in-depth interviews with music artists. I thought the Blues Brothers would be a fantastic subject. Normally, these interviews require months to set up. It only took four days with Aykroyd. I sent an interview request on Friday and I was speaking to him on Tuesday.

When Tuesday arrived, I called the provided phone number at the appropriate time. When someone answered, I began to explain why I called and suddenly realized I was speaking with Dan Aykroyd himself. He answered his own phone. Interesting.

The blues have always been more than a passing fancy for Aykroyd. He grew up in the thriving blues community of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He spent many hours in the legendary Ottawa coffeehouse, Le Hibou, which also served as a hub for the blues scene in Canada’s capital city. He took up the harmonica inspired by the performers he saw on stage. Aykroyd so dedicated himself to the instrument, he was soon considered a professional quality player. In fact, every single harmonica note on every single song ever recorded by the Blues Brothers… was performed by Aykroyd.

He is considered one of the most commercially successful bluesmen of all time, but he pointed out many times during our talk the Blues Brothers are much more than just a blues band. Their music incorporates elements of funk, R&B, soul, reggae, and even country. They have always strived to be more than a simple delta blues band. Whenever I listen to the Blues Brothers, one thing always happens. I tap my foot to the music. It’s not something I do often, but there’s just something about the Blues Brothers. They just have… a certain groove.

For me, the real magic of the Blues Brothers is rooted in the genuine friendship between Aykroyd and John Belushi. During our interview, Aykroyd called their first meeting “love at first sight.” They created the Blues Brothers the very same evening. Their goal was to simply express their affection for a style of music they both loved. That goal has never changed. Perhaps that’s why Aykroyd still draws audiences 40 years later as Elwood Blues. Elwood’s goals are simple. Love the blues and share the love.

As I was wrapping up the interview, I decided to take a chance. One of my best friends growing up is a MASSIVE Dan Aykroyd and Blues Brothers fan. Certainly a man in Aykroyd’s position who answers his own phone… I wondered aloud if I could shamelessly abuse the privilege of his time and asked him to say, “Yo, this is Elwood Blues. Jimi Schmitz is the bomb!” Elwood delivered the line flawlessly and that audio is now my friend’s ringtone. Yes, Dan Aykroyd is a genuinely nice guy.

Tune into AFN Legacy’s RADIO RECON featuring the Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd. Aykroyd brings you the complete story of the Blues Brothers. How did a simply hobby become the greatest selling blues band of all time? Elwood Blues calls in during the show despite being a fugitive from justice. And what aspect of the Blues Brothers did lead singer John Belushi absolutely despise? Hosted by AFN Legacy’s George Maurer… RADIO RECON featuring the Blues Brothers and Dan Aykroyd. Listen below or tune in on Monday July 11th at 3am, 10am, or 5pm CET/JKT… on AFN 360.

Special thanks to Ben Manilla of BMP Audio, producers of Elwood’s BluesMobile, and audio engineer Aaron Holmberg for making this edition of Radio Recon possible. Elwood’s BluesMobile airs Sundays at noon CET/JKT on AFN Legacy and AFN360.

George Maurer, Contributing Writer
George Maurer, Contributing Writer

Operation Song: Memorial Day 2016

Operation SongOperation Song was a Memorial day special hour of true stories told through music…stories from the battlefield and back home. This Memorial Day Special was produced by WUTC, Chattanooga for air on AFN Radio on Memorial Day, 30 May 2016.

Operation song is a Nashville-based nonprofit that empowers veterans, active duty military and veterans to collaborate with Nashville songwriters to tell their stories through music.

Go to http://wutc.org/post/listen-operation-song-memorial-day-special for more on Operation Song.


Live Troop Talk with President Obama

It’s not every day that military people get to ask the Commander-in-Chief a question. But that’s exactly what Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen from around the globe did during a live Troop Talk with President Barack Obama that the Defense Media Activity broadcast live to a world-wide audience on September 11, 2015.

AFN radio played a key role in getting the president’s message to military people in all corners of the globe. We carried the event live on our AFN the Eagle and Power Talk services as well as on the AFN 360 app. For listeners who may have missed the live show, the troop talk was also rebroadcast the following day on AFN the Eagle in Japan, Korea and Europe. The troop talk was also heavily promoted on all AFN radio services in the days leading up to the broadcast.

The Director of AFN Radio, Scott Stover, was proud of the role his team played in the broadcast. “Today’s broadcast showed that radio remains a powerful tool for reaching a world-wide audience with a live message,” Stover said. “It also continues the AFN Radio tradition of serving those who serve overseas.”

President Barack Obama sits with Air Force Tech Sgt. Nathan Parry, the moderator of the president's worldwide troop talk, on a set from Fort Meade, Md., Sept. 11, 2015. DoD photo by Marvin Lynchard.
President Barack Obama sits with Air Force Tech Sgt. Nathan Parry, the moderator of the president’s worldwide troop talk, on Sept. 11, 2015. DoD photo by Marvin Lynchard.

The broadcast was ground breaking for DMA in that this was the first time that a president had agreed to do a live broadcast with the DoD’s flagship communication resource. The event also showcased DMA’s ability to simulcast across multiple platforms as the troop talk was carried live on AFN TV and radio while also streaming on defense.gov and the AFN360 mobile app. Troops world-wide submitted questions via Facebook and Twitter while social media specialists live tweeted the event. President Obama also answered questions live from military people stationed in Germany, Belgium, Afghanistan, Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington State and from a Sailor deployed on board the US Navy Aircraft Carrier the USS Theodore Roosevelt. A standing-room-only crowd packed into the DMA studios located at Fort Meade, Maryland to hear their commander-in-chief speak.

You can click below to hear the radio broadcast.


Propelled Into Deep Space: The Devil Wears Prada

When you think of the lead singer of a famous rock band you tend to envision a person that is full of rock- star swagger and has self-confidence oozing out of every tattooed pore. If you’ve ever seen The Devil Wears Prada band perform live, my guess is you’d probably think that their front man Mike Hranica fits the bill perfectly and you’d be correct or at least partially right.

The vocalist from Dayton, Ohio called the radio studios at the AFN Broadcast Center to talk about the band’s first official release since 2013, the conceptual “Space” EP and although the conversation did start in outer space it eventually gravitated into a more down to Earth chat.

Hranica: “I didn’t like high school at all.”

(audio quote)
The Devil Wears Prada
From left to right: Daniel Williams, Mike Hranica, Andy Trick, Jeremy Depoyster • photo by Anthony Barlich

As The Devil Wears Prada embarks on their 10th year as a band they have emerged as leaders in the heavy metal subgenre called metalcore. Although the core of TDWP remains intact, the decibel defying group from the Midwest has undergone some lineup changes in the past couple of years when long time keyboardist James Baney departed the band in 2012, followed by the exit of founding member/guitarist Chris Rubey in 2014.

The “Space” EP is a collaborative 6 song effort that includes contributions from the old guard and the new, so to speak. Jeremy Depoyster (rhythm guitar, clean vocals), Andy Tick (bass), Daniel Williams (drums), Mike Hranica (vocals) and touring musicians Jonathan Gering (keyboards) and Kyle Sipress (lead guitar) have taken an astrological theme and created a collection of songs that each explores a different point of view of space and those things that exist out of the Earth’s province. “Space” is a refreshing offering that is engulfed in lyrical depth and musical mastery. We talk with Mike Hranica about the concept of the EP, his eloquent writing, his spirit animal and why he didn’t like high school, at all.

Angel Orozco: Exciting times right now for you and your band The Devil Wears Prada, how thrilled are you to drop the new “Space” EP?

Mike Hranica: We’re all really like anxious, we recorded the EP earlier in the year, we wanted to have the EP out sooner than August 21st but we’ve really been looking forward to it, it feels like we’ve been sitting on it forever and so far the reviews have seemed really positive, the folks that have been able to hear it seemed pretty pumped, so we’re just excited for the fans to give it a listen and kinda turn the next page for a band as we’ve gotten much older and are coming up on the 10 year mark and what not.

Angel Orozco: There’s this whole astrological theme going on with the EP, so what made you guys decide to write about Space, Aliens and Supernovas?

Mike Hranica: The EP was very much built off of what thought went really well with the Zombie EP back in 2010 so we had joked about doing something where each song was a different concept, there’s an alien song, there’s a pirate song etc. etc. I kinda sort of obtained the responsibility of giving the very strict concepts to each song and I was confident, I knew I was totally capable to be able to give different ideas and each song has a different meaning and nothing that feels to cliché or monotonous.

Angel Orozco: Lyrically there’s a lot of depth in there, when I read the lyrics I feel like I’m reading a hybrid book of science and poetry, how did you develop the ability to write so eloquently …or does it just come natural to you?

Mike Hranica: Thank you. I’ve always prided myself on being more of a lyricist than musicians and bands, before I joined the band I’ve always had very much an attachment and a sincere enjoyment to writing. As a young kid I was already writing short stories and poems and what not. I think with my joining the band 10 years ago as well it was very much an exercise in being able to apply my writing just as much as it was to play in a band or to make music and scream words, so yea I very much enjoy it, I’ve had some self-published releases and I hope to write more outside of the band as well but yea sincerely very much one of my favorite things to do is to write.

Angel Orozco: Speaking of writing, school is just starting for a lot of kids across the country, what type of student was Mike Hranica?

Mike Hranica: [Apprehensive chuckle]…A quiet one, very very shy, I didn’t have a lot of friends in school, I was very scared of people and that kinda made people scared of me. I didn’t like High School at all. I was a bit of a misfit but I did well, I was an A’s and B’s student, I can’t remember my GPA but I was alright, I was most attached to the writing and I think my fondest memory was whatever art I was able to do in school, I remember really having an attachment to my ceramics class and even more so than that was like my English literature. I was quiet and shy and again not a lot of friends. I was very excited to leave High School and get out on the road with the band when that time came which was like 8 years ago which makes me feel terribly old.

Angel Orozco: Would you change any of that knowing what your shyness and all that stuff may have gotten you today, would you have rather have been more outgoing and the popular cool kid?

Mike Hranica: I don’t think not be outgoing enough, I think I regret…well I know I regret just not having any sort of confidence which was something that I’ve always struggled with and I still struggle with it to this day but I can say that I’ve gotten better with it. I just didn’t have enough of a self-worth at all and you know I imagine or I know that tons and tons of kids have the same problem and it’s certainly a difficult obstacle to overcome. I think that’s a predominant regret of mine from school is just not having enough worth, enough faith in myself.

Angel Orozco: Well Mike, I hope you know now that you’re cool as hell.

Mike Hranica: Thanks, thank you so much.

Angel Orozco: Hey man, if you had a spirit animal what would it be?

Mike Hranica: When we were in the studio recording the Space EP my girlfriend came out for a few days, she actually got snowed in during that crazy weather in Long Island when we recorded in the winter, she’s all about spirit animals and we’ve done these stupid online quizzes, I think one was Buzzfeed and now I can’t remember what my animals were, I know I was bummed because it wasn’t a bear, I really like bears.

Angel Orozco: So you would want to be a bear?

Mike Hranica: I wanted to be a bear yes, cause they’re so cool. I can’t remember if I was a sloth or everyone else was a sloth…oh I was an owl, owl was one of them, which is I think a little more dramatic than me.

Angel Orozco: I was listening to an interview with your band mate Jeremy Depoyster and he was asked who was the most extreme performer out of all you guys in the band and they said it was you, so I could see you being a wild bear on stage, man.

Mike Hranica: only on stage, otherwise not so much.

Angel Orozco: Mike, finally I’d love for you to talk about and introduce the new Devil Wears Prada song but first I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to our brave men and women serving overseas and underway, as always it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. AFN wishes you and the band continued success.

Mike Hranica: Thank you so much for having me and you know a huge shout out to the troops and saying thank you really doesn’t do anything nearly enough to express how much gratitude all of us have, I have, the band has, I send my best wishes to those serving. Supernova that’s our first single from the EP, it’s a song that kinda just chronicles floating way deep in space, I kinda consider it one of our more romantic songs, it follows basically the inevitability of a relationship destroying and I kinda put myself in this situation of floating far away across the Universe and having this attachment, this love and relationship to something that will soon explode and disintegrate away very beautifully . Yea I mean it’s a little bit more of an upbeat one instead of a hooky chorus; check it out our new song Supernova.

Angel Orozco, Contributing Writer
Angel Orozco, Contributing Writer