Editors’ Notes Pennsylvania metalcore stars and two-time Grammy nominees August Burns Red didn’t plan to have a theme for their eighth album, but that was before co-lyricists Brent Rambler (guitar) and Matt Greiner (drums) discovered that they were writing about similar ideas. “Matt and I don’t write lyrics together,” Rambler tells Apple Music. “When we were reading through them, we noticed the theme of the Good Samaritan helping someone, or reaching out in a time of need. So that’s where the title Guardians came from, and it’s a loose theme that appears throughout the record.” You’ll hear it specifically among the hammering grooves of “Defender,” the winding guitar lines of “Paramount,” and the soaring vocal melodies of “Lighthouse,” though it creeps into other songs as well. Rambler breaks it down for us below.
The Narrative “‘The Narrative’ is more of a political song than we'd normally write, but it doesn't pick a side. It's about how today you get pandered to, I think, more than we ever used to. You can just go online and the only things that'll show up in your news feed are things that you agree with—because if you don't agree with something, you're not going to click on it. So the song is encouraging people to maybe go outside of their personal box a little bit more and dig deeper into things, because you might learn something more than what you are currently comfortable with.”
Bones “This is a really cool, thrashy song—I think it’s a little bit different for August Burns Red. The idea behind the lyrics is that a lot of times you tend to look at the way other people live and think that your version of life is better than theirs. Sometimes we’ll send people to other parts of the world to try and make the people more like us, without taking in the fact that most people are really happy with their existence. From colonialism to the way we came in and took over the Native Americans, we have a human history of it. But I think having different cultures is cool. I’d like to see other cultures celebrated versus constantly assimilating.”
Paramount “The song ‘Paramount’ is about finding hope in a situation when you’re really struggling. Sometimes you can feel indifferent towards things that used to make you really happy, so it's about relighting that fire and trying to get yourself excited about the things in life that you may have put by the wayside. It’s about finding the person who will guide you through that and who can reinvigorate your life.”
Defender “Matt wrote that one, and it’s about him going through his divorce and how he reached out to his father in that specific time of need and his father ended up being a big beacon of hope for him. He was the one who helped keep Matt grounded throughout the entire process. He was, for lack of better words, his defender—the one who was there for him, to make sure he was levelheaded and making good choices and not letting anger guide him through an extremely difficult part of his life. We actually kicked around the idea of calling the record Defender for a while, but then we tend to not like title tracks.”
Lighthouse “‘Lighthouse’ is a song that is critical towards the church, which is supposed to be compassionate towards those in need. It’s also about how you don’t have to throw money at something to be generous—it’s more important to give your heart to something than it is to just throw money at it and hope it goes away. And it’s about how the people in your life who you view as heroes generally aren’t people who are famous. Nowadays you see a lot of people, when they do a good deed, it’s posted all over the internet. Was the point of that good deed to actually help someone or to gratify yourself?”
Dismembered Memory “This song is about someone I know who was going through depression and other things that maybe they didn't understand at the time. You trust your doctors to take care of you and make good decisions based on what your current situation is, but in this sad and unfortunate story, the person got taken advantage of because the doctor just wasn’t paying attention to their specific needs. Because of that, the doctor ended up doing more harm than good.”
Ties That Bind “This is an uplifting song about how the hardest battles in your life, if you go through them with somebody else, can make your relationships stronger. In general, I think the strongest relationships you see or that you have in life are with people that you’ve probably argued with and fought with or gone through a really tough time with. With the guys in the band, we’ve been through so much together and overcome so much that it’s only helped us maintain a stronger relationship.”
Bloodletter “‘Bloodletter’ is probably the most brutal song on the record, so the lyrics needed to fit the bill. So it’s about how, within the music industry, there’s so many people who take advantage of artists. I think sometimes artists and people who are chasing a dream are easier prey, because when someone comes along saying, ‘I’ll help you fulfill your dreams—you’ve just got to give me my cut,’ most people think that sounds great. With August Burns Red, we’ve been lucky to have a great team of people surrounding us, but so many other bands have gotten taken advantage of.”
Extinct by Instinct “This song is about how sometimes you have to make a really stressful decision that could be good for you personally but not good for somebody else. Sometimes you need to take care of yourself even though it might be hurtful for other people. It sounds selfish, but I think it can also be really hurtful and detrimental if you’re the one who’s constantly giving and giving in a relationship and you’re not really getting anything in return. So sometimes you have to do what’s right for you, and maybe in the end it’ll be right for everyone.”
Empty Heaven “Obviously the title sounds terrible, but it goes back to when I was a kid. I grew up in a semi-religious home, and you always heard about how when you die and go to heaven, all of your relatives will be there waiting for you. And I remember thinking, ‘Wait, what if my grandparents are still alive? My mom and dad are still alive. All my friends are still alive. What if I’m the first person to go?’ So it’s about what heaven would be like if it’s just you.”
Three Fountains “This is about how things in life aren’t as black and white as they seem. It’s about how sometimes you need to take a step back to view things from the right perspective. Sometimes you’re so deep in something that you can’t make the right choice. So it’s okay to take a big step back and reevaluate your choices and decisions from afar. I think we all need to do that sometimes. It can provide a whole new perspective on life.”
Ties That Bind
Extinct by Instinct
11 Songs, 49 Minutes
April 3, 2020
℗ 2020 Fearless Records, Distributed by Concord.
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