Artistic integrity is a term that gets bandied about frequently in the modern music landscape, especially with so many producers and songwriters pumping out “bangers” for artists around the world. It’s something that few bands can say that they have had, do have, and will always have. One of those acts is Canadian prog-metal legends, PROTEST THE HERO.
Hailing from our Ontario, Protest The Hero have etched their mark into the punk/metal/hardcore landscape by releasing album after genre-defying album. Their first release in 2004, a high concept LP titled Kezia, made waves throughout the world by taking mathcore musical sensibilities and merging it with operatic, soaring vocals about the conviction, execution and rebirth of the titular Kezia.
Four albums later, we arrive at Pacific Myth. Eschewing standard music industry practice, Protest The Hero threw off the label chains for their 2013 album Volition, instead crowdfunding the entire creative process through the Indiegogo platform. This time around, they utilized the music subscription service Bandcamp to create a new music delivery system for the band. Over the course of six months, they released a song, accompanying artwork, lyrics, liners notes and instrumental versions each month, turning the standard album cycle on its head.
“When it came to Pacific Myth, the writing was really fuckin’ strange because we had to do it so quickly. Once a month, we had to release a song – some of them weren’t even started when the new cycle began,” said Rody Walker, vocalist and lyricist. “It was fun and interesting to push ourselves and test ourselves but I wouldn’t do it again…”
The shift to independent releases was not just about giving the band a new way to write and release music. Some of their previous interactions with labels in Canada left a sour taste in their mouths. “It’s the ultimate goal of the music industry itself. It’s to get a stranglehold on the artist, make them feel like shit, degrade them, keep them in their back pocket so they can pull them to make money off of them whenever they want. I don’t have the stomach for that or that kind of person,” said Walker, clearly ecstatic to be talking about the belly of the beast. “Artists are the lifeblood of the industry … However, art and commerce do not marry well. For me, I want to give all those greasy label guys a middle fuckin’ finger right in their eye, and a kick in their balls.”
It’s been a long, rocky road for the band from the great white north, but the momentum provided by their latest releases means they won’t stop any time soon. Plans have already been formulated for a fifth full length album and you can expect weirder, complex, operatic insanity to hit your ears soon. But before that, you can expect that crazy energy to blast the stages of some of Australia’s best venues. Protest the Hero? Lads, you’re my heroes!
Protest the Hero begin their national tour in April, hitting The Factory Theatre on Saturday April 22. Tickets through selecttouring.com.au.