- Ray Duker
- Feel the Burn: 'I was too young to realize it wasn't that great,' says singer Jake Luhrs of his band's early work.
In 2006, Jake Luhrs joined August Burns Red, taking over the vocal duties just as the band was headed into the studio to make its second album.
The record was called Messengers, and it sold some 9,000 copies its first week, becoming a turning point in the band's adolescent career. So to celebrate the album's 10th anniversary, August Burns Red has taken to the road to play the album in its entirety.
"It's definitely nostalgic, just to revisit those songs and see where I was as a young man," Luhrs recalls fondly. "I never would have imagined the band would have gotten to where we are today. It's going to be fun. I think a lot of our diehard fans are going to appreciate it."
While the frontman is reluctant to take full credit for the leap forward that August Burns Red experienced with Messengers, he says his presence might have been part of the "springboard" for their future success.
"I suppose, to a certain degree," he says. "I definitely brought a different dynamic, definitely as a showman. Once I joined the band, I think it brought the rest of the band some security. Once we all figured out I was the guy for the job, we had a complete team. That probably had something to do with it, outside of just the sound."
Most bands revisiting their classic albums will make some slight alterations in the songs to fit with their current lineup and somewhat contemporized sound. August Burns Red is doing nothing of the sort.
"We're going to try to do our best to play exactly what's on the album," Luhrs says. "I'll listen to a song and go, 'I can't believe this is me,' or you hear something and you think, 'That wasn't that great of a line.' I was too young to realize it wasn't that great."
Still, the band is determined to be faithful to their former musical selves.
That presents an added challenge for Luhrs, whose growling, screaming vocals propel the dense, hard-edged music and, to say the least, were easier to pull off a decade ago. Now, he says, he has to work at taking care of himself every day — especially on the road. He doesn't drink on tour, makes sure to get enough sleep, drinks lots of water and works out on show days.
Through the years, August Burns Red's aggressive music has typically been called thrash metal or, more commonly, metalcore. Other critics have classified the band as progressive metal, thanks to odd meters colliding with thundering breakdowns. One label they virtually always get is Christian metal, which is borne out by the Dove award nomination they received in 2010.
Luhrs, meanwhile, prefers to think of the band as plain old metal. After all, that's the category for which August Burns Red received a Grammy nomination with their song "Identity" from the 2015 album, Found in Far Away Places.
The singer is excited that he'll soon be going back into the studio with lead guitarist JB Brubaker, rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler, drummer Matt Greiner and bassist Dustin Davidson, to record the follow-up to the band's best-received record to date.
"As history has shown, we put out an album every two years," says Luhrs, "and it's getting to be that time."