August Burns Red is an American Christian metalcore band from Manheim, Pennsylvania. Formed in 2003, the group began their first performances while a majority of the members were attending their senior year of high school, and soon began playing shows around Lancaster, before being signed to CI Records. Afterwards, they were signed to Solid State Records, and most recently to Fearless Records. Prominent features of their music include heavy breakdowns and odd-meter riffs as well as often lyrics covering topics such as depression, social tolerance, and grief at the death of a loved one. The group's latest album, Found in Far Away Places, was released on June 29, 2015. On December 7, 2015, "Identity," the second single from Found in Far Away Places, was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Metal Performance category.
Formation and Thrill Seeker (2003–2006)
August Burns Red was founded in March 2003 when all the members were attending high school. The original practice sessions of the band began in drummer, Matt Greiner's old egg house and basement on the Greiner family's farmland. After playing many local shows within Lancaster, they recorded their first EP, titled Looks Fragile After All with label CI Records in 2004.
Vocalist Jon Hershey eventually quit the band during the same year, which led to Josh McManness taking on the position as lead singer. After several months of playing with McManness, August Burns Red signed to Solid State Records in 2005. Hershey would later go on to form post-rock band Bells. August Burns Red released Thrill Seeker, their first full-length album, on November 8, 2005. In 2006, drummer Matt Greiner was endorsed by Truth Custom Drums following the release of the album.
McManness departed from the band in 2006, exhausted by the band's constant touring. He was replaced with Columbia, SC resident Jake Luhrs. Bassist Jordan Tuscan also left the band in 2006 for similar reasons as McManness. He was replaced by bassist Dustin Davidson, a friend of the band. The band's second album, Messengers, was released on June 19, 2007. Marking the debut for Luhrs fronting the group, it became the band's breakthrough album, reaching number 81 on the Billboard 200. The album has sold a total of 108,000 copies as of May 2011.
Throughout 2008, August Burns Red toured with several acts across North America and Europe to promote Messengers. From April to May they toured with As I Lay Dying and Misery Signals across the United States and Canada. In September and October of that same year, they headlined a tour with A Skylit Drive, Sky Eats Airplane, Greeley Estates, and This or the Apocalypse in the United States. The band also visited Europe for a month-long headlining tour in November, playing in Germany, Finland, Norway, Sweden, The United Kingdom, Republic Of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and France.
After this series of tours, the band recorded two covers of popular songs. They recorded an instrumental version of the classic song, "Carol of the Bells" for the X Christmas compilation album, which was featured in trailers for the film, The Spirit, released Christmas Day 2008. They also recorded a cover of "...Baby One More Time" by pop singer Britney Spears for the Punk Goes Pop 2 compilation album, released in March 2009.
On February 24, 2009, the band released an EP, entitled Lost Messengers: The Outtakes. It contains material that is related or was decided not to be included in the final, mastered version of Messengers. August Burns Reds' first trip to the Middle East took place on March 6, 2009 with the band playing at the Dubai Desert Rock Festival. The band's last tour before their next album release took place in the United States, where they toured with metalcore band All That Remains throughout April and May.
To promote their upcoming album, August Burns Red released several new tracks and a music video during June 2009. The tracks Thirty and Seven, Existence, and Ocean of Apathy were all released on the 15th, 21st, and 29th, respectively. A music video for the song Meddler was also released during this month. On July 7, a week before the album's release, August Burns Red began streaming the full album on their Myspace profile for a limited time. August Burns Red released their third full-length album, Constellations, on July 14, 2009. During the week of August 1, 2009, the album charted at spot 24 on the Billboard 200. Another United States tour was organized with August Burns Red headlining and support from Blessthefall, Enter Shikari, All Shall Perish, and Iwrestledabearonce. After this tour, the band joined a short tour in Australia with Architects in support of Australian band Parkway Drive. August Burns Red toured alongside Underoath and Emery in November and December 2009 as well.
The band released their first live CD/DVD, Home, on September 28, 2010. The group co-headlined an Alternative Press tour throughout November. On February 23, 2010, Constellations was nominated for the Dove Award for "Best Rock Album".
August Burns Red toured Australia and New Zealand in December 2010 on the No Sleep Til Festival. The band played alongside Parkway Drive, A Day to Remember, NOFX, Dropkick Murphys, Suicide Silence, Megadeth, Descendents, Gwar and many others.
Leveler and Sleddin' Hill (2011–2013)
On July 27, 2010, lead guitarist, Brubaker stated that the band would be taking time off tour to write their next record, On February 12, 2011, the band announced via their official Facebook page that they had completely finished writing their new record and that they would be entering the studio on Valentine's Day. which, following into March of the next year, the band announced that the record was finished, and that it was (at that point) time for mixing. On the April 5, August Burns Red revealed the name of this upcoming record as Leveler. On May 16, 2011, the band released the song "Empire" as a preview before its release. They also later premiered three other songs: "Internal Cannon", "Divisions", and "Poor Millionaire", on May 31, June 6, and June 14, respectively.
Leveler was released on June 21, 2011 in two forms; standard and deluxe. The deluxe version of Leveler contains four extra songs, including an acoustic version of the song "Internal Cannon". The album sold particularly well compared to their other releases, with 29,000 of its opening first week-copies being sold in the United States alone. These sales had the record land at position 11 on The Billboard 200 chart. After the release, August Burns Red took part on the main stage of the 2011 Vans Warped Tour.
Rescue & Restore (2013–2014)
On February 12, 2013 the band announced that they would be back in the studio the next week to commence recording on their new album. Carson Slovak (Century) and Grant McFarland (former This or the Apocalypse drummer) again oversaw the production of the album.
Guitarist JB Brubaker stated that the group intended to:
"...push the boundaries of our genre more than we ever have before. We set out to write a record where every song stands out from the last. There is a lot of ground covered here and a ton of meat to this album. It’s full of odd metered rhythms and breakdowns, unexpected twists and turns, and some of our most technical riffing to date. Each of us have parts that make our heads spin and we have had to practice like crazy to get some of this stuff together. I know we always say this, but this will be our most ambitious album yet."
On May 5, they announced that the album, Rescue & Restore was set to release June 25, 2013. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. This is the highest that they have reached on the chart. On August 30, they announced that they would release a documentary DVD titled Foreign & Familiar before the end of the year.
Lyrically, the release delved into topics such as depression, grief at the death of a loved one, and social tolerance. It also featured influences from progressive metal and thrash metal as well as more mellow, melodic rock music. Adam Gray of the band Texas in July appears as a guest musician.
Signing to Fearless Records and Found in Far Away Places (2014–present)
On August 5, 2014, it was announced the band had signed to Fearless Records and Found in Far Away Places would be available for pre-order on April 13, 2015 along with their new single "The Wake".
The band embarked on the Frozen Flame Tour from January 22 to March 8, 2015 along with Miss May I, Northlane, Fit for a King and ERRA, for 39 shows in Canada and the United States, sponsored by Rockstar Energy.
Style and image
Musical style and influences
August Burns Red is generally credited as a metalcore band, and has also been said to share traits of other genres such as progressive metal, and thrash metal. The band is also identified as a melodic metalcore band. August Burns Red songs frequently feature highly melodic guitar riffs, technical or odd time signatures and breakdowns, with a variety of influences including Meshuggah, Symphony in Peril, Pelican and The Dillinger Escape Plan, as well as Between the Buried and Me, Misery Signals and Hopesfall. Unlike other melodic metalcore vocalists, Jake Luhrs does not mix clean vocals with his screams, though he does include spoken word parts on occasion. For example, their track "Spirit Breaker" features Luhrs reading a letter.
While the group has stated that they don't mind being classified as metalcore, Brubaker has grown a distaste for many of the genre's bands: "I feel like anyone who can pick up and play a guitar and learn to play a metalcore riff and any drummer who can learn to play a thrash beat over a breakdown is doing it. It's almost become very formulaic, and metal to me was never a formulaic genre." Musically, the group has incorporated instrumentals such as the cello and the violin while also featuring song elements such as classical music inspired interludes, pushing the boundaries of what is considered 'metalcore'.
August Burns Red members have been asked about the origin of their band name on many occasions and have given numerous different stories. The most popular story behind the name is an incident involving Jon Hershey, the band's original vocalist, when he dated a woman named August who burned his dog Redd alive in his dog house.
However, it was later revealed in a radio interview that this meaning (along with others) was simply a comical story created by the members and that there is no actual meaning behind the band name. Drummer Matt Greiner stated in the interview that "we just came up with the name to come up with a name."
August Burns Red is a Christian band. JB Brubaker mentioned in an interview with online magazine Shout!, that "Christianity is a religion, not a style of music" and he would "rather just let the music speak for itself.", and that he would rather let Christianity shine through the band's lyrics. Brent Rambler commented on the fact that "It is important to us that people know that we are indeed Christians... without having us stand up there and ram it down people's throats."