Ibanez: Has it been fun to take the new material from Fortress out on the road?
Luke: Yeah, it's way better. Some people are unhappy, because we play maybe two old songs and like seven new ones [laughs]. So some people who don't have the CD get punished I guess, but if they're looking forward to seeing the old stuff we don't really play it. I think the new stuff translates better live anyways, and it's more fun to play.
Ibanez: Were you surprised by the initial success of the new album?
Luke: Yeah, we kinda know a little about what's going on in the States with satellite radio play and stuff like that. We see more of the success in Canada. We had the number one CD in Canada on the week it came out. I think the second week we were sixteen or something [laughs]. So it was quick, but for that week we drank and celebrated quite a bit. It's definitely the most success that we've had with anything so far. So we're pretty excited.
Ibanez: What, if anything, did you guys want to do differently this time around with the new album?
Luke: When we were writing it, we definitely wrote it to flow better than last time. Last time we were kind of obsessed with progressive music, and we made some stupid transition decisions in there. Granted we have a couple on this one as well [laughs], but I think this one is much more cohesive. So that was a goal. In some areas we accomplished it, and in others we didn't.
As far as touring goes, we want to take it to places that we haven't been. We've played a lot of the same places over and over, especially in Canada. We've had a couple of chances to go overseas and one to go to Japan, so we definitely want to go back there. We're gonna go to Australia at some point. So our main goals are about traveling, we try to get the travel experience out of it.
Ibanez: What originally inspired you to pick up the guitar?
Luke: I hate to say it, but I started learning Offspring and Green Day songs like any other fourteen year old kid. Tim actually played guitar before me as well. We always had this rivalry going on to get better at something. I remember we were in cross country, and he would always beat me. So I decided to quit that and get better at guitar then him. I'm still working on it.
Ibanez: What initially drew you to the Ibanez S guitars?
Luke: We played with Dragonforce and actually shared a bus with them, which was pretty intense. We got along really well, and we're all very fond of drinking. I played a couple of his, and I really like the neck and the action. I wasn't a big fan of the bridge. It wasn't that I didn't like it. It was just that it intimidated me. I'm still no dive bomber. I don't even use the whammy for much right now, but it's something that I want to get into. So I kind of looked at it as an opportunity, a nice new guitar with new features that I had never played. I'm also all about aesthetics, and I love the way it looks. So I liked that before I even touched it.
Ibanez: How does the writing process usually play out in Protest the Hero?
Luke: This time was a little bit different, because we wrote all the music before we did any vocals. I think Rody was a little scared, because we'd try and write some ridiculous parts that made singing over it a real task. He was ok though. He would take them and get a really good idea of what he wanted to do. Him and our producer, Juice, kind of went through all the stuff and filled in the gaps.
The music is all really riff driven. So it would begin with a riff of some sort on the guitar, and then we'd add bass and drums. We'd kind of all work on it together. Some weeks we'd write like two songs. Other weeks we'd write a minute of music and scrap it. So it's really hit or miss with us.
Ibanez: Do you have any favorite songs off of the new album?
Luke: My favorite song to play is "Limb From Limb". I just love that intro. It's like a minus time intro. Other people consider it the song before that, but we actually wrote it as a complete piece of music and moved the track marker to a different spot. I think I like that fact that Rody gets to leave for a second, and we get to just play music. I like that aspect, and then he comes back and joins us and it flows right together.
It's got some challenges, but good challenges. In "Sequoia Throne", there's still a couple of riffs that give me problems to translate live. That's the one I fear. We still play it every night, and it's getting better as we go.
I've seen some people playing the songs on the internet, and there's this one dude that was playing a part that I still have trouble with. I think I tapped it, but now I'm trying to pick it. I saw him playing it a completely different way, and it sounded good. So now I play it his way [laughs]. I guess I'll have to give him some royalties or something.
Ibanez: What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?
Luke: We have a tour coming up with Chiodos that's like two weeks in the States. Then, we're going to co-headline in Canada. It's kind of like our CD release tour in Canada. We're just going to rent a bunch of lights and extra stuff to make us look like a real band [laughs]. We're gonna get some guys to check our equipment for us. We haven't been able to do that yet.