When it comes to most album anniversary tours, some fans tend to think those 10, 15 or even 20-year treks are just for the longtime listeners and nostalgia chasers. Instead, many seem to forget about the bands actually playing those beloved records on a nightly basis.
Take metalcore juggernauts August Burns Red, for example. Gearing up for their 10-year anniversary tour for 2009′s groundbreaking LP Constellations, the seasoned outfit has thoroughly enjoyed tour prep as they’ve run through songs like “The Escape Artist” and reminisced about some of their fondest decade-old memories.
Be it playing tour games on the road, surviving terrifying snowstorms or the impact of playing “Indonesia” live for the first time in the Southeast Asian country, looking back on 10 years since Constellations was released, JB Brubaker, Brent Rambler, Matt Greiner, Dustin Davidson and Jake Luhrs have all accrued memories that will last a lifetime.
Speaking with The Noise about some of those life-changing Constellations moments, Brubaker, Rambler, Greiner and Davidson compiled 10 of their all-time favorite memories from the writing, recording and touring process dating all the way back to 2007. To check out the list to get you even more pumped for August Burns Red’s upcoming tour, be sure to see below. Afterward, to grab tickets, head here.
Lastly, if you’d like a chance to win free tickets – yes, FREE! – head here.
The Constellations recording process and touring cycle houses many fond memories for all of us. Here are three of my personal favorites that stick out. Let’s get cracking in chronological order!
The lyrics for “White Washed” were some of the first more aggressive and “angry” lyrics that I had ever tried to write at the time. However, the words flowed like water because they were very in the moment. I started working on them immediately after a youth pastor surrounded me with a group of teenagers directly outside of our tour van. He proceeded to condemn [me] and the other members of the band simply for having a case of beer on our [tour] rider. He wanted to try and make an example of me in front of all the kids he brought with him. The whole thing was super inappropriate and out of line, BUT the lyrics for one of our most popular songs came out of it so it was worth it!
The recording process for Constellations was extra exciting for me because literally a week before we left I had an offer accepted for my first house. I remember being very proud because it was a big moment in proving to everyone that I could earn a living off of making music. For weeks while we recorded, I was heading to notaries and post offices to work on the closing process of the home, and since we were in Florida while making the album, I had to sign over power of attorney and do the sale over the phone. We returned home super late from Florida, but instead of crashing at my parents where all of my things were, I grabbed the keys and just sat in my new house.
Chicago House Of Blues
Constellations came out while we were on tour in the summer of 2009. The tour had some cool highlights, but I think the biggest one was selling out the Chicago House of Blues for the first time. At that moment it was our biggest headline show ever and packing such a notable venue felt amazing. Afterwards, we had a big celebration with the other bands backstage and it capped off a great night!
“Put Him Up!”
In December of 2009, we were on the road with Underoath and Emery. We became really good friends with the guys in Emery and would hang out with them every night after the shows. They had purchased their own passenger bus and gutted it and turned it into a tour bus. It was DIY but so cool. We’d hang out, drink beers, have dance parties and tell stories. Emery taught us one “game” that we still play on our tour bus today. Occasionally, when someone new would walk on the bus, Toby (Emery’s bassist/vocalist) would slowly start chanting “Put him up! Put him up!” The chant would catch on with other people on the bus until everyone was shouting it, at which point the newcomer would be picked up and crowd surfed to the ceiling of the bus. It was basically a “welcome to the party” greeting and always got a good laugh. We are happy to continue to carry the tradition on a decade later.
It was August of 2009. Constellations had recently come out and we were invited by Parkway Drive to support them on a tour across Australia. It was our first time in Australia and an honor to be supporting them. They were the hottest metal band on the continent and drawing huge crowds. After the monster travel day to Australia, we arrived to find a bunch of luggage didn’t make it. Qantas Airlines outfitted us with small care packages to keep us afloat until our baggage was recovered. Inside were heather gray sweat shorts and matching t-shirts. The first show was in Brisbane at an outdoor hillside [venue] called Riverstage. They were expecting 7,000 people which was more people than we had ever played for at that time. When we were setting up our equipment on stage before the show, I failed to take into account the voltage difference between Australia and the US. I plugged in my pedal board and heard a pop followed by the smell of burning electronics. I had fried my pedal board’s power supply, rendering my pedals useless. I had to borrow a pedal board from Architects, who were also playing on the tour. (I think we need to do this same tour lineup again!). When we took the stage that night I was a ball of nerves. I unfortunately played sloppy for the large Australian crowd, but I don’t know if anyone actually noticed or cared. We debuted our song “Meddler” for the first time that night. (I played that song particularly poorly.) The tour was overall a great experience. I have very fond memories of hanging out with the guys in Architects and playing massive shows in every city.
Touring South America
In August of 2010, we were doing a tour of South America. It was our first time traveling there. Our buddies in Blessthefall were coming with us and it was going to be awesome. The first show was in Sao Paulo, Brazil and over 1,000 people showed up. We were treated like celebrities and it was a completely surreal start to the tour. The final show of the tour was scheduled for August 28th in Caracas, Venezuela. About a week before the show, we learned of political unrest in Venezuela. The president there was known for being a hot head and pulling stunts like closing down the airports. It was determined to be unsafe for us to travel to Caracas because of the possibility of getting stuck there should the president lock down flights out of the country. Instead, we booked a last minute show in Quito, Ecuador. With a week to get the word out, we weren’t expecting much. The show was held in a small youth center. There couldn’t have been more than 150 people there but it was such a special show for us. The appreciation and enthusiasm the crowd showed us was unmatched. We felt honored to have been received with such open arms and on such short notice. What felt like a disaster waiting to happen turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of our South American tour.
The Day The Van Died
Thankfully I found a journal entry from Thursday, April 16th, 2009 so that I can write accurately with every detail about the day that our van died. We were pretty early into a tour with All That Remains and Born of Osiris when as you may have guessed – our 16 passenger Chevrolet van (unnamed to my knowledge) took its last breath of air and sipped its last ounce of gasoline (which in those days contained 0% ethanol for you engine nerds). According to my journal, we woke up at a decent hour, grabbed continental breakfast from the hotel and headed out on the road for the next show. I was first up to drive on that day and while on the road about 60 miles away from our departure our sound engineer Jade asked me, “So how long do you think this van is going to last? Do you think it’ll make it through the rest of the tour?”
“Yeah, I think it’ll last for the rest of the tour - at least I hope so,” I replied. Just as I finished that thought our speed began to decrease rapidly while ascending a hill on the highway. I let off the gas and the engine shut off. As I was pulling over to the shoulder the temperature gauge shot up, the breaks were extremely hard to press because the brake booster went out and smoke poured out from under the hood when I was finally able to bring the vehicle to a stop. “Well, I think we need a new van,” I said.
I don’t remember how many miles that van had but it was surely over 200k so something like that was bound to happen at any time. Born of Osiris was able to pick us up so that we could make the next show which was in Syracuse, NY and after the gig our friend Ricky picked us up and drove us back to Lancaster so that we could van shop the next day and get back out on the road to meet up with the tour again.
The Storm That Left Us Stranded
In the winter of 2009, we did a short tour with Underoath and Emery. It was a very fun tour filled with hangs and packed shows. However, the drive home was something that I hope to never be a part of again. After the tour ended in New Orleans, JB and Brent flew home while the rest of us (Matt, Jake, TM Josh, merch guy Mychael and myself) opted to save some bones and drive the van/trailer home. We knew there was a huge rain storm coming but we had plenty of time to beat it home by getting on the road directly after that last show - or so we thought.
Sometime in the early hours of December 18th during our drive home, we blew a wheel bearing on the trailer and had to pull over to take a look at it. This was an ongoing problem for us back in the day. You see, this was a time before the Axe-Fx / Kemper. A dark time when we carried many guitar/bass cabinets. Our trailer was always filled to the brim. We were simply carrying too much weight and would blow out wheel bearings left and right no matter how we packed the trailer.
This blow out was one of the worst ones we ever had. Since it was still dark outside, whoever was driving the van couldn’t see the smoke so they ended up driving for a while after the bearing gave out which led to the bearing fusing to the spindle which meant that we couldn’t fix the problem ourselves. We had to wait for a small repair shop to open up so that we could have the bearing fixed and while waiting to have everything repaired the storm passed us. It was only rain at the time but we knew it would turn into a mild blizzard. We finally got on the road in the early afternoon but it was too late - the damage was done.
I don’t recall which highway we were on, but it indeed was shut down and we ended up spending the night in the van on the highway until we could get moving again early the next morning. Around 6am when traffic started moving again, we opted to drive to the next closest exit and get a hotel since the roads were still covered in snow. Our drive home was supposed to be about 18 hours without stops and it ended up taking us 3 days. It’s fun to reflect on it now and talk to those that I share that memory with, but it’s safe to say from that day on, I never drove the van home from the end of a tour again.
It was December 2007. I was getting inspiration for album artwork from the most unassuming source, a black and white movie from the 1940s. It’s A Wonderful Life is a movie about a supernatural intervention in the life of a frustrated businessman. In the movie, an angel is sent from heaven to show George Bailey what life would have been like had he never existed. At their high-school graduation party, George is reintroduced to Mary who has had a crush on him since they were kids. Under the moonlight, they’re walking outside when George suddenly turns Mary towards the sky and asks, “You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down.”
As I watched the scene unfold, I played out the idea of a rope tied to a star in the sky. I put pen to paper and ran with the concept, pulling inspiration from Matthew 6 where the idea of Heaven coming to earth is introduced. The stars represented steadfast anchors by which we find direction throughout our lives. The kites represent our own fleeting emotions that will alter direction just as the wind changes. I remember getting on the phone with Ryan Clark, the creative mind behind the company Invisible Creature, and explaining the artistic concepts that would eventually come to fruition in the pages of Constellations.
In 2007, I awoke to find that a relative had died in a plane crash. David Clapper had always been passionate about flying. It wasn’t uncommon to see his single-engine Cessna flying over our family farm in Lancaster County, PA. He devoted his time assisting those in need in Southeast Asia by flying the sick and dying from the bush to the nearest hospital, which often times was a several hour flight. On one of his return flights to the bush, he encountered a storm that blew his plane into the side of a mountain. I remember going for a drive after finding out the terrible news. I was so upset that someone doing such a good thing had died in such a terrible way. Here was a man who gave his time and energy to helping others and, in the end, sacrificed his life doing so. I remember wondering what his last words might have been as the plane spun out of control, crashing into the side of the mountain where it still resides today. I learned an important lesson that day. That is, not every question in life has an answer, at least not one that will satisfy. “This is the time to turn down our heads and turn up our hearts.”
I remember traveling to Indonesia on the Constellations Tour. We played an outdoor venue for a large group of excited fans who were seeing us perform for the first time. When it came time to play “Indonesia,” a feeling came over me that I’ll never forget, an overwhelming sense of humility. The band I helped start in my parent’s basement in Lancaster County, PA was playing in Southeast Asia performing a song written about my relative who had passed away on that very continent just the year before. The fans in the crowd seemed to sing about him like he was their relative, not some stranger who’s name they merely read in the liner notes of a CD. Near the end of the song Jake screams the words, “David, rest in peace.” I’ll never forget hearing the crowd sing those very words so loud they could be heard over the amplification of our own instruments. A story goes a long way, sometimes even to the edges of the other side of the planet.