All That Remains Singer Phil Labonte on His Political Views, Guns and Upcoming Album (EXCLUSIVE)
All That Remains vocalist Phil Labonte is hardly one to mince words, keep his opinions to himself or adhere to any form of political correctness. The Massachusetts native, and former U.S. Marine, has taken fire for his opinions on tropics ranging from Big Government to Gun Control. He's also recently become partner in Highlander Arms, a New Hampshire gun shop.
Labonte, 37, is articulate and well informed - more like Bill Maher than Ted Nugent. Yes, the artwork for All That Remain's upcoming album, A War You Cannot Win, out on Nov. 6, Election Day, does feature two crossed machine guns. And yes, he recently took on Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello. Yet, Phil is hardly an arch-conservative. In fact, he's quite the opposite.
Noisecreep recently chatted with Labonte about his political views, guns and All That Remains' upcoming record.
Phil, you've certainly not been afraid to state your opinions.
You get what you get. I hate when lead singers and people in bands are so afraid of offending their fans that they don't say how they really feel so they don't bum people out. Well, everything you do might bum someone out so simply be yourself. I don't like rockstars. I didn't start playing in bands to get chicks. When I started playing music there were no chicks to be seen. It was a sea of virgins. I'm not afraid to say this is my opinion. If you don't like, hit the road. What's the big deal? If I have an opinion, it's one individual opinion out of 6.5 billion people on Earth. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing. So what if I said something that you don't like. It's not going to change the world one iota.
I think it comes down to the fact that musicians are supposed to be politically correct. That they're supposed to be un-opinionated.
I don't feel like you're supposed to be un-opinionated. It's that you're supposed to have the opinion that is correct. Specifically in the entertainment industry. There are certain opinions that are supposed to be correct and if you don't have those opinions than that makes you a bad person. That's the antithesis of individual freedom and that's something that I abhor. That's disgusting.
This is a country based on opinion.
I think that the media does tend to have a certain perspective and it is frowned upon to have a different perspective, which I think is very bad for people. It's very bad for the human race for there to be only one acceptable opinion and it to be frowned up for you to speak out against the norms. That's not how new ideas are created. There's definitely people out there who are a little bit on the kooky side. I think Dave Mustaine is the most recent one – c'mon really dude? At the same time, to ostracize him for saying those things is completely wrong. There are people out there who would love to take his right to say those things away. That's worse than saying those things.
So, you've opened your own gun shop and gone out there and voiced your support for owning firearms. And you've caught more than your share of flack for that.
Again, that's popular opinion. That has been has been said to people that guns are bad. In my grandfather's generation it was completely normal to give a kid at 13 a 22 rifle, tell him to go out in the backyard and practice his marksmanship. It was perfectly normal. Nowadays they would call child protective services if you let your child shoot a gun. Nowadays they would call child protective services. It's retarded to think we've changed so much or people can't be trusted so much that they need the government looking over their shoulder.
It's pretty good. The past couple months have been pretty good. We're still getting started. Barrack Obama is the best salesman for the gun industry ever. The gun community, people who like guns, genuinely do believe that he would legislate your right to have a gun away which translates into a lot of people buying guns. I don't believe Obama is going to make a gun grab. I do think he would like to put tighter restrictions on guns. His past voting record and where he comes from shows that. Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and his voting record has always been for voting for legislation that is unfriendly to gun owners.
What is your take on local gun laws as they vary from state to state?
Where I'm from in New Hampshire, gun laws are phenomenal. We also have the lowest murder rate in the country and the third lowest violent crime rate in the country. Now I understand that correlation does not equal causation. There are a lot of factors that go into that. But, when you look at the most violent cities: Baltimore, Chicago, DC, Los Angeles these are places that have very strict gun laws. These are places that have very strict guns laws and that doesn't do a thing about whether or not there's violence. There is something to be said for strong gun laws does not equal a decrease in violent crime. That is no matter how much The Brady Campaign [U.S. advocacy organization for handgun control] wishes it was that way. It's not. Vermont has some of the least legislation regarding guns in the country. All you need is a (driver's) license and you can buy whatever you want with the exception of a silencer. They have very little crime.
Do you think that the availability of guns had anything to do with the movie theater shooting in Colorado in July or the recent shooting at the Sikth temple in Wisconsin?
First of all, you can't blame the tool which is what a gun is. It's simply a tool. It's irrelevant the type of gun that was used. The first thing that happens when one of these active shooter situations happens is that people who want to legislate guns away start calling that this type of gun is bad and that type of gun is bad and we need to get rid of these types of guns. They don't know anything about guns. Just be cause something looks like a military rifle doesn't mean it's more powerful than a hunting rifle. I would rather get shot with a 556 from an M-16 than with a 308 from a deer-hunting rifle. A 30 caliber bullet is much larger than a 22 caliber bullet and it has a much faster velocity. A 308 round is a really big bullet. You get shot with that and you're in for a world of hurt.
It's awful that these things happen. But to look at it analytically, which I tend to do with most things in my life, should you pass a law to restrict the freedom of 310 million Americans because 14 or 16 people died? Would that legislation actually prevent those deaths? Look at what happened in Norway where that guy Andrew Breivik killed 77 kids and they have very strict gun laws. To be honest, you can make a bomb out of fertilizer and diesel fuel. That's what roadside bombs and IUDs are made out of in Afghanistan. Do you outlaw fertilizer? Do you outlaw diesel fuel? You can't be safe all the time. It's not going to happen.
What's your gun of choice?
I carry a Glock 19, which is a 9MM Glock. For a rifle, I like I really like the JR15. I have 3 of them now. Those are the ones I like. I'm not a collector. I don't want to own one of every single gun there is. I personally want to have a Glock and the spare parts and know how to put them together backwards and forwards and in the dark and generally know how to take care of it.
What would you politically consider yourself?
I'm a libertarian. I believe that the government is massively expansive and has taken powers that it does not have. It should not be in the business of deciding who you should or should not be able to marry. It should not be in the business of deciding what drugs you can and cannot take and what you can put in your body. It should not It should not be in the business of taking your money in the form of taxation. It should not be in the business of deciding if you should carry a gun. We don't need all these federal agencies that we have. They're a waste of money. They end up being bureaucracies. The government never ends up getting smaller. It only gets bigger. Once a federal agency is created it never goes away. They don't need to spend as much as they do. We don't need to be in 130 different countries across the world. We don't need a military as big as we have.
If we took the army and cut it by 90% that would be fine by me. I think we should we keep the navy that we have because the constitution does says that we should have a navy and if we took the naval power that we have now we can definitely protect the US and Europe. We have nuclear weapons. What do we need a standing army for? We can downsize the army to the point where it's just the rangers and the Special Forces and be done with it. We don't. If someone attacks us we should retaliate with the most violent force imaginable but otherwise we shouldn't be sticking our noses into other countries. We'd be much happier if we didn't. If someone attacks us – nuke 'em! [laughs]
Razor & Tie
The new All That Remains album is titled A War You Cannot Win. What is that a reference to?
It's an F-U to the government. No matter what the government does, they're not going to get away with taking away people's liberty. The American psyche, the ideas that most Americans have is one of independence – or it least it used to be. They're not going to be able to browbeat that out of people. There's always going to be people in the US who are going to say: "I don't want to stick your nose into my business". A lot of people to people to think that's a right of center opinion. It's not. In general – and I know I'm going to get crucified for this – in general, gay people tend to be left leaning. Democrats tend to be friendlier to them. Y'know what? If the government wasn't sticking their nose into your business you could marry whomever you wanted to. This issue wouldn't be marginalized. It's a contract between two people. The government doesn't have any right to tell you whom you can and can't marry. That's wrong. A lot of people don't realize that if you take the government out of the equation, things will tend to have better endings.
All That Remains' A War You Cannot Win will hit stores on Nov. 6 via Razor & Tie. Pre-order bundles are available at www.AllThatRemainsOnline.com.