Considering that their last album was released in 2011, one could assume that not a lot has been going on in the world of Threat Signal. Their first three albums were released by Nuclear Blast and their last European tour took place in 2013. What has happened to this promising groovy Canadian act? A three year silence? Having recently signed to Agonia Records and returning to Europe opening for legends Vader, I had the opportunity to catch up with the band to give us an insight into their upcoming album and future plans.
How are you? How is the tour going so far?
All: Good! Yeah, we’re just over half way through.
Travis Montgomery: It’s been going good considering we’re the odd band on the tour. It’s a death metal tour and we’re more of a melodic band so considering that it’s actually been going really well.
Jon Howard: Yeah, they’ve been pretty receptive.
How is it touring with Vader and Hate Eternal, both legendary bands?
Jon: Awesome. Everyone’s really nice. There’s no feuds or anything. They’re not mad at us, yet, I think. [Laughs]
Travis: We’re on the same bus, we get to hang out with them all the time and we’re having an awesome time throughout the tour.
Is it a difficult task for you to be a supporting act for such a legendary band?
Jon: I like it. I like being the opener and just kinda jump on stage, kick ass, and get off, you know. And then you can hang out for the rest of the night, watch the bands. It’s less pressure, I find, than headlining.
Travis: And also, supporting bands is the main way that you gain more fans. Because if you’re headlining all the time, you’re only drawing your fanbase, so it’s really cool to support bigger bands and see all the people that hear your music for the first time [and say] “wow, never heard your band before, you guys are sick” – that’s just a cool feeling.
Last time you toured Europe, it was in 2013.
Travis: With The Agonist. Yeah.
Why the long wait to come back to Europe?
Everyone: [Laugh] Great question.
Travis: There would be a good answer if it wasn’t shit. [Laughs] Well, our last album came out in fall 2011
Matt Perrin: Crazy.
Travis: We’ve had a new album done for a while. We’ve had difficulties getting it out there. So it’s been hard getting tours because our last album cycle was done a long time ago. So it’s been harder for people to say “oh put this band on the tour! Wait, they haven’t released an album in five years”. But really the main reason we haven’t been over here in three years is because we’ve been focusing on writing a new album and getting that out.
I noticed that you’ve been playing new material on the tour. How did the audiences receive it?
Jon: Pretty well, they’re fun to play and they’re translating well live, you know. Sometimes it’s hard to tell until you play it live. As a band we write a lot on our own, so when we get together and play these new songs, it’s when you can really tell.
Travis: And when we were actually rehearsing for the tour, we were practicing another song off our self-titled album. As soon as we started jamming it, we were like no, gotta swap it with another new one. And it’s going well because it’s a heavy thrash song which vibes well with this crowd.
What can you tell us more about the new material?
Travis: Well, we don’t want it to be a secret. We’re ready to get it out.
Jon: The album is called Disconnect. We have ten songs on there. It’s a good length record, it’s not too long or too short. We put a lot of work into it, it’s a roller-coaster ride, with thrash heavy shit and chill stuff. We’re bringing some acoustic guitars on one of the songs.
Matt: It has a mix of everything in one.
Travis: It’s progressive. There’s a couple songs on there that are…
Jon: Oh yeah, that last song is 10 minutes!
Matt: It’s a progressive journey, man!
In a previous interview, Jon said that you all work with Guitar Pro when writing new material – is that still the case or has your writing process changed?
Travis: It’s the only way we can make it work because we literally live not only in different countries but on the opposite sides of the continent. The only time we get together is when we get ready for a tour. Other than that, the only way we can do this is through Guitar Pro, sending stuff over Facebook.
So when we do that, one of us will start a song, write it up on Guitar Pro and send it to somebody else when they get stuck and they build off it and keep sending it back and forth. So, everybody does help write but it’s just a kind of weird way.
It’s the 21st Century way.
Jon: We were still doing that back in 2004, when the band was living in the same spot. It was just easier. You can see the music, it sounds bad ass in Attari mode.
When do you plan to release the new album? It was originally scheduled for an early 2016 release via Agonia Records? Why the delay?
Jon: The music industry is a fucked up place, man. [Laughs]
Travis: What will happen, we’ll see. I don’t know, it’s management things, label things. It’s hard to talk about it because we can’t say a whole lot but we want to get the album out as much as people want to hear it.
Jon: Yeah, I wish it was easier. [Laughs]
Travis: Our hands are tied as far as that goes.
All your previous albums (Under Reprisal, Vigilance and Threat Signal) were released via Nuclear Blast. How come you switched from them to Agonia Records?
Travis: It’s a bit of a no comment question because… we [were asking ourselves] the other day: “why aren’t we on Nuclear Blast again?” It wasn’t our choice. Let’s just say that.
From your experience, what is a good record label?
Travis: Somebody that actually cares about the band. [Everyone laughs] Somebody that is looking out for the band’s vested interest, rather than trying to make money and looking out for themselves. A pretty good example…it seems like every band that gets on Sumerian Records does well because they want the band to do well. But yeah, somebody that cares about the band, that’s all we really want. It’s actually hard to find this.
Jon: Nuclear Blast seems to care.
What advice would you give to a younger band who are just starting out?
Travis: Most important thing nowadays is to have an online presence. If you have a lot of views on YouTube, do a lot of stuff DIY in the beginning, and have a big Facebook presence and stuff and they see you are active and that people are interested – that’s gonna make the labels come to you.
Jon: Yeah, you have to build your own band up.
Matt: And you really have to think like a business. How are you gonna run a business. It’s not as simple as just playing shows. You have to think how are you going to do things properly and not get screwed over by anyone.
Jon: You need a lawyer. A good entertainment lawyer.
In 2011 in a previous interview, Jon said that you were not ready to do a proper headlining tour. Will you go on a headlining tour to support the new album? Or do you feel that you need a few more tours like this one to put you on headlining level?
Jon: It’s always in our heads. And we’ve headlined several times.
Travis: We haven’t actually done a US headliner since 2010, I think that was the last time. I don’t know because of the past three years, how things have gone with management and everything, we haven’t done a lot. So it’s hard for us to do headlining runs because we haven’t gained many fans I would say, in the past three years. I’d be down to do another headlining run but I’d still be way more interested in opening for another band on tour. Being a part of a tour package [like this one] would be the best for us.
You’re from Canada so the US presidential election must have been a close topic for you. What do you make of it?
Travis: Fuck that shit.
Jon: I honestly haven’t been commenting on it or even posting anything about it, I’ve just kinda stayed out of it. You know, everyone has their opinions, and a lot of people just don’t know shit. I just stay away from it.
Travis: A lot of people on Facebook seem to think that they are politicians. They post their opinions and claim to know a lot about politics. And I don’t post stuff about politics because I think it’s really bad to do that as a musician… But yeah, a lot of people seem to think they are politicians and start arguments on Facebook.
Jon: They think they know what’s going on. But actually they are really dumb.
Travis: In answer to your question, I just…no comment. I’d rather stay in the neutral zone rather than talk about politics.
Jon: Yeah I got out of it, there’s too much hatred and anger.
Travis: Religion and politics. Those are two things you don’t talk about.
Jon: Our new record, everything I wrote, is personal. I stayed away from all of that shit.
Travis: The last one was all about politics.
Jon: Well yeah, it was more like conspiracy theories mixed with politics. I found myself getting really angry but I don’t want to be like that! I want to be happy.
So the next album will have rainbows on the cover?
Jon: Yeah. Unicorns with big dicks.
Travis: It definitely has more colour, that’s for sure.
Thanks for your time. If you’d like to add anything else which I may have missed, please do so now!
We’re still alive! There is a new album, we promise. I guess keep an eye for info from us because as soon as we hear anything we will let everybody else know.