MEB writer Sarah McGonagle recently caught up with Phil Bozeman, vocalist of the deathcore veterans Whitechapel. They talked about playing to different types of crowds, the recent re-release of The Somatic Defilement, video games, plans for the band’s next album, and more.
MEB: Begin by stating your name and what you do in the band.
Phil Bozeman: I’m Phil and I do vocals in Whitechapel.
What can you tell us about your current tour?
We’re on tour with Asking Alexandria, Motionless in White, Chimaira, and I Killed the Prom Queen. It’s a four-week run, some festival dates, radio shows and stuff that we’re doing with Asking Alexandria and Motionless in White. We have some off shows as well. We’re doing pretty good so far!
Have you toured with any of the bands on this tour before?
Yeah, we toured with Chimaira with Trivium, and Asking Alexandria, we did Mayhem with them. The other two bands we have never toured with before.
You’re reaching out to the Asking Alexandria demographic on this tour. How is it different from your usual fan base?
Well Asking Alexandria has come up really fast. They have soft parts, they have heavy parts, and they appeal to a lot of people. Their demographic is a lot easier to appeal to because it’s music for everyone, whereas our music, you couldn’t play it for a 45-year-old stay-at-home mom and she would think it was great. You could play Asking Alexandria, and yes, some parts you may not enjoy, but as you can hear in the background right now, you could play that for anyone and they’d be like, “oh, this is pretty cool.” It’s really nice to be able to play for their fans and see if they’re open to it, see if they’re not, and if not, awesome. This is how you build a fan base. You have to play for people that are going to hate you and love you. No matter what, you have to play in front of different people, or you’re not going to grow as a band.
You’re playing shows on some off dates on this tour. What can you tell us about those?
We actually play a headlining set, we play about ten songs. On this tour, we’re playing to mainly Asking Alexandria fans and that kind of different demographic. Those off shows just kind of take us back to just straight Whitechapel fans and I Killed the Prom Queen fans come out, too, because they play a lot of the off day shows with us. It’s the same kind of crowd. It just kind of refreshes us. The shows on this tour are great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to be in front of the crowd in which everyone came to see our types of bands.
You released your self-titled fourth album in June 2012. How has the response from fans been towards this record?
It’s been positive. A lot of people like the new sound and the new direction. Not really new direction, but the more mature sound, a different sounding album. We’ve had our dedicated fans from the beginning, and we have new fans now – they dig all of it. We just continue to write the music that we enjoy and just hope the fans receive it well and continue to receive it well.
Has the live response to these songs differed from songs from your previous releases? Is it bigger or crazier?
It varies. There’s people that love the first album, and that’s all they want to hear. There’s people that discovered us later on in our career that enjoy all of it, no matter what we play. It is what it is. People still respond to it positively. Some people may not like the new stuff, and like the old stuff. Some people may not like the old stuff and like the new stuff. I feel like it’s gotten better as time goes on.
You just re-released The Somatic Defilement this spring. Why did you choose to re-release an album that was already so successful?
We just wanted to get it remixed and remastered and release it on Metal Blade to a wider audience. Not a lot of people will know about the first album. It was good for us to remix, remaster, and make sure that the sound quality was up to par with today’s recordings and everything. We just wanted to, more or less, just show our fans our older stuff and where we came from.
Are you planning on playing those songs a lot more live than before?
Not necessarily, but we usually play older stuff, usually three or four songs depending on how long our set is. If we had a ten-song set, we’ll definitely play three or four songs off of that album. If we have a shorter set we usually implement some of the newer stuff more into the set than the older stuff.
So you guys played the Welcome to Rockville Festival. How was that?
That was really cool. We got to see Limp Bizkit and a bunch of different other bands, with Alice in Chains headlining – it was really cool. It kind of just felt like we were on Mayhem again. We’ve done Mayhem twice, and it really felt like another Mayhem show. It was really cool to relive that again. It gets you so much more excited for the summer, too, because of summer festivals and everything.
You’re playing the Scion Rock Fest in your home state of Tennessee, is it nice to play a home show?
Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, we always enjoy playing Tennessee. It’s so close to home usually. If we can end there or start there on a tour it makes it that much easier to get prepared for everything. If you have to start a tour in California, and you’re on the East Coast, it just kind of makes it more difficult on you to get out there and start the tour and everything. This is just one show we’re doing while we have time off and we’re writing and stuff. We’re really looking forward to it. I might even make a mini-vacation out of it or something. (laughs)
You’re doing a whole European festival run during festival season. How are you preparing for that?
We’re just taking time off to write and get really prepared for the next record. The European festival run is always, like I mentioned earlier, it’s just traveling and can be very hard on you. We’re just getting ready to go over there and be prepared for that Mayhem-type setting and play in front of big crowds and stuff like that. It’s always great over there because you see so many different bands and everything, and it’s just a really fun time.
Have you played the festivals before?
Yeah, we’ve played a few. I believe we played Wacken once, I believe it was one of the bigger festivals. We’ve played the smaller ones too. It’s a great time because you get to see all kinds of bands that you wouldn’t normally get to see.
You just started a YouTube channel that’s focusing on your gaming, and Alex (Wade, guitarist) started one which focuses on guitar. Why did you guys decide to start those?
Well, I’ve always watched YouTube gamers and I’ve always wanted to do it, like capture gameplay. I’m just a huge video game nerd and it’s a really big hobby of mine, I just enjoy doing it. Plus it reaches out to the fans, too, that’s an added bonus. But I’m really doing it just because I really wanted to get into that kind of video editing, and capture my gameplay. I just really enjoy doing it, it’s a lot of fun, it’s a good time killer too while I’m at home.
How would you describe your live show to someone who’s never seen it or never heard your music?
Uh, scary, I guess you could say? (laughs) It’s really intense. I guess, whenever we step on stage, we’re not really the same people. I mean, we are, we know what we’re doing, but it’s a performance, it’s a show. We put on the demeanor of being scary and really shocking, I guess. I would just tell them to be prepared to hear something that you’ve never heard before.
What’s in store for Whitechapel in 2013?
We’re doing the summer festivals and we’re recording later on this year. We have a few things at the end of the year that aren’t necessarily confirmed right now, but there are a couple things in the works, like a headlining tour or something. We’re just getting prepared for this next record.
While writing this new record, what are you really focusing on?
Honestly, we haven’t really had time to really get together as a band and focus on it yet. We were supposed to record earlier in the year but it’s actually been pushed back a little bit because we just haven’t had time due to touring. Our real focus, I guess, is just making a better record than the last one – that’s always what we strive for. I know that’s what every band strives for, but we want to write what the fans want to hear, too. What we write, we enjoy it and they enjoy it, too. But at the same time we want to experiment with things. You can’t write the same record over and over and over again and enjoy being in the band. Some bands can do it, but I mean, that’s just not our style.