Rise To Remain: Interview With Austin Dickinson & Conor O’Keefe From Download Festival 2013

Rise To Remain Kicking Off The Main Stage At Download 2013
Rise To Remain kicking off proceedings at Download 2013

After almost a year off the grid working on their as yet untitled second album, UK metal five piece Rise To Remain returned to the spotlight last month when they opened the main stage at the 2013 Download Festival. A few hours after they kicked off the festival in impression fashion (read our review of their performance here), we were able to grab frontman Austin Dickinson and bassist Conor O’Keefe in the VIP area for a chat about their performance and how the second album was coming along among other topics. Read on for the full lowdown…

Rocksins: Obvious question first guys, how much did you enjoy earlier?

Austin: On a scale of one to ten?
Conor: More than ten! *laughs* It was AMAZING.
Austin: Forty two! The meaning of life!
Conor: It was so awesome.
Austin: It was insane, especially for a band who’ve been away writing a record for awhile, to come to a festival like Download one we’ve played…I think this was our fourth time?! To come back to Download and having over 30,000 people there and going crazy.
Conor: Yeah and having singalongs, it was nuts!
Austin: I love the way we played today, but the crowd made that show what it was. It was awesome, it really was. I couldn’t believe it. We definitely felt the weight of opening Download. It’s a big slot and a big, big responsibility so we tried to do that justice and we’re really stoked. Our agent came up to us afterwards and he was like “I booked Trivium and I haven’t seen a reaction like that since ’05”.
Rocksins: I was there for that (Trivium in 2005) and that’s probably the biggest opening crowd I’ve seen since then. It seemed to go really well for you guys…
Austin: Why thank you!
Rocksins: And it must make it all the sweeter after what happened twelve months ago?
Austin: To be honest it was hard to be bummed out about that because we had Warped Tour coming up. I was a bit like “ah fuck it I can have a beer now and it beats packing (for Warped)”.

Rocksins: Today’s show was what, your second show in ten months?

Conor: Yeah, we did a little warm up two or three weeks ago.
Rocksins: Was that the Camden Rocks festival?
Austin: That turned out to be fuckin’ awesome.
Conor: Yeah that was great.
Austin: I’m so happy we did that. It was a small venue, and the reaction we got was just..”YES! This is gonna be sick”. I’m still not sure how to gauge Download because it’s main stage and it’s the gig of a lifetime but that superseded every single thing I thought, and now we just have to get this record out that much quicker. It sounds like people want it.
Rocksins: And you don’t want to lose the momentum.
Austin: There was a lot of build from this, so we need to give them what they want.

Rocksins: Was the biggest Download performance you had done before this the Second Stage?

Austin: Yep, the second stage performances we did were very cool. First time we did it we were a bit nervous cos we’d opened up the third stage and we’d changed our name last minute to Rise To Remain and then we did second. But last time we did second in 2011 it was just insane. Again, similar to this and kind of a weird parallel, we couldn’t quite comprehend that people were into it. Half the time we’re just in our own little world writing, especially now with making the second album but like I said, stepping out of that weird little void, it was just like “oh you guys wanna hear it?! Cool! Excellent!” It was amazing, we were really fucking humbled by it, it was beautiful.

Rocksins: I know some of the guys in the band have day jobs; Does that make it more difficult when it comes to the writing of the album dipping in and out of “normal life” as it were?

Austin: Not really, only two of us have day jobs so it doesn’t affect us that much.
Conor: No not really man, the band is everything to us.
Austin: The only guys who have day jobs are the ones who smash it at work *laughs and turns to Conor*. You smash it at work and Will smashes it at work so the rest of us are just the band.
Conor: It makes it even more worth it to be able to go and do stuff like today, this is why we do it.

Rocksins: How are things coming with the new album? I remember seeing tweets from Austin going back through the months with lots of references to days in the studio or writing.

Austin: I think sometimes you go back in and you’re like “here we go, here’s another one…BAM. Done. Next!” You can get into this overly astute thing where you just want to line them up and shoot them down. But that’s not really how you write music you know? Everything that’s come up to this point has been arduous but really really fruitious. We were playing pretty much the whole album on the way up here in the van, and we’ve demoed like twenty six songs.
Rocksins: Nice.
Austin: We’ve got so much material to pick from. We finally whittled down the choices to the ones we want.
Rocksins: That must put you in such a strong position though when it comes to finally putting the album out.
Austin: Yes I think so. I think the people that dig the band will appreciate it when we release the album because this is the best we’ve ever sounded. This is leagues above City Of Vultures. I think we’ve done it for them as much as us for the first time because when we did City Of Vultures we didn’t have a fan-base. Doing stuff like this and headlining Islington Academy last year, we’ve got an incredibly strong fan-base so this is why we do this. This is why we take the extra time, why we take the extra month to go and do stuff, because they deserve the best and nothing but.

Rocksins: Obviously all albums are important but the second album is a very important point for the band…

Austin: Second album is a huge deal. So many people overlook it and think the third album is where you find your sound….Nooooo! Noooo nooo nooo nooo, you’re a moron *laughs*. Second album is even more important than the third album. Put it this way, if you can put your stamp on something, do it. If you can put your signature sound on something, do it. As long as you’re happy with it and as long as it reflects you as a band that’s the most important thing. That’s why you make music in the first place.

Rocksins: So, any idea when we will be seeing this album?

*Austin smiles and taps the side of his nose*
Conor: All to be revealed! But it’s coming.
Austin: I’ll mail you some tabliatures so you can work it out on guitar *laughs*.

Rocksins: Are there any plans for more shows beyond this? Or is that under the hood as well?

Austin: That’s even more under the hood *laughs*
Conor: *laughs* All in due time, in due time.
Austin: Put it this way, I heard something two weeks that we’d just got and I lost my fucking mind. Anyone who follows me on Twitter, look at the bands I mention and you might be able to work it out. Apart from that, we’ll tell you soon and we’re gonna love it when we tell you because it’s like holding in the most fun secret ever. We’re stoked.

Rocksins: Fantastic, well just one more question, which is our question for all the bands at Download this year. Can you give us a funny or interesting story involving yourselves or the other guys in the band?

Austin: *laughs* What was that time in San Antonio on Warped Tour?
Conor: A lot of stuff happened on Warped Tour!
Rocksins: Is it not a case of “what goes on on Warped Tour stays on Warped Tour?”
Austin: No way man, some people have kids! Some people get venereal diseases! I didn’t get either of those. But you see this *points to scar on shoulder* it doesn’t look that bad now but it was fucking deep, right in the muscle. Basically I was on The Ghost Inside’s bus most of the night and I fucked off and came back and our bus was full and my girlfriend at the time had left and I was all bummed out and she’d left a whole bunch of booze so I was like “cool – drinks all round”. So we kept drinking…
Conor: Glug for glug man!
Austin: Glug for glug and I was facing off against a guy from Boston who was still sore about the Boston Tea Party, which I don’t really know because they won! But anyway we kept trading banter until suddenly everyone was gone and it was an hour until bus call. Next thing I know I’m underneath our tour bus being woken up by a medic going “dude you stood up too fast”. So I was like “what do you mean I stood up too fast” and they were like “dude you got stabbed in the shoulder by a piece of metal”. So I was like “pfftt no I didn’t”. So I got on the bus to get a drink.
Conor: So he looks at me, starts pouring a drink and then goes down *bam*.
Austin: So he runs over to me and starts putting pressure on my shoulder and then I’m like hey good to see you man and he’s like “man you’re bleeding”.
Conor: So I was like “come with me!” and he was like “noooo way” *laughs*
Austin: Usually I’m so good at not drinking too much before or after a show, but my god, San An-fuckin-tonio and The Ghost Inside god dammit! I’ve got the scar to prove it, so there we go, there is your mental tour story!

Rise To Remain’s as yet untitled second album will be out sometime later in 2013. As soon as any further details are released and the boys stop playing things so close to their chests, we will let all our readers know. Keep checking with back with Rocksins for the latest metal interviews with bands from the UK, the US and beyond! In the meantime you can follow Rise To Remain on Twitter at @RiseToRemain.


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