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Protest the Hero: Crazy Tour Stories and International Beards

Protest the Hero put on menacing tough guy faces for your typical metal promo pic. Protest the Hero put on menacing tough guy faces for your typical metal promo pic.

Metal heads and guitar shredder afficianados know and love Protest the Hero as the Canadian wunderkind quintet of progressive heavy rock ragers they are. Their new album, Scurrilous, is currently blowing our minds here in the Rosebud Magazine office (as we mentioned in a previous edition of Hot Stuff), so we thought we’d give the band a call and learn more about what makes these guys tick. We got in touch with guitarist Tim Millar, who shared eyebrow-raising stories about everything from the band’s early touring days as high-schoolers going toe-to-toe with police to traveling to Scandinavia to represent Canada in a worldwide facial hair competition. Whether listening to Protest the Hero tour yarns or hearing them rock out, it’s never a dull moment.

RosebudMag: It sounds like the new record is a little more song-oriented, and less of the controlled chaos of past records.

Tim Millar: Going into the writing process, as little planning as we did, the one thing we agreed on was to make it a little easier on ourselves in the studio. And at the same time, try to challenge ourselves as songwriters.  In the past we felt like we could pull off as many parts as we needed to and call it a song, but this time we wanted to make an effort to have some sort of structure so that every song spoke for itself and sounded like a song, but at the same time not limiting ourselves to writing typical songs that are simple and straightforward.

RM: I see you shaved your beard off.

I went back to where we were staying, and then woke up at four in the morning with all of this panic and everyone being like, “We’ve got to figure this out. What’s going on?

Tim: Recently I went up to Norway for the World Beard and Moustache Championship. As funny as it sounds, the second time I’ve done this is the second time that Canada has been a part of this global beard competition. I raised some money for charity by cutting it off, for the Canadian MS Society.

RM: Tell me more about the World Beard and Moustache Championship.

Tim: It’s one of those things where it’s very relaxed and fun, and more an excuse for all these eccentric people to travel somewhere cool. You’re a celebrity in the city for four days just because you have a beard. Everybody’s talking to you and wants to meet you. The competition is partial to being included in this club of big extravagant beards and moustaches.

RM: You guys tour pretty ambitiously, which is less and less common with bands these days. What motivates you to hit the road so hard?

Tim: It’s kind of a mixture of everything. A big part of why we’re in a band is because we love traveling and we love performing. I don’t think we could ever really be a studio band that is satisfied by just putting out recordings. We’re really eager to go visit places we’ve been and see some new places.

RM: Protest the Hero is doing pretty well now, but you come from humble beginnings. Can you talk about touring when you were still in high-school and sleeping in tents on tour?

Tim: Our first time playing shows outside of our hometown, the Whitby/Oshawa area, we were having our parents drive us to other nearby towns when we were 15. By the time we were 16 or 17, we were ready to do our first leg of a tour. On one of our Spring Breaks we did a nine-day tour. Then the first East Coast tour, the summer break between grade 11 and 12, our parents had to sign over guardianship to our “tour dads” [which were guys in the crew or in the other two bands on the tour]. I got by on a $5 per day food buyout and the hospitality of people we met. There were three vehicles. All our equipment was in one of the other vans, and we rented a mini-van. We couldn’t all sleep comfortably in there, so if we couldn’t find someone to put us up, we’d pitch a tent and sleep outside. I think a lot of our sleeping on that tour was aided by alcohol.

RM: At 17?

Tim: Yeah. I think we drank more then than we do now. We had older people around us and we went to our first bar in Quebec City. Every day we’d buy two cases of beer, and between the five of us we’d drink them. If I did that now every night now on tour, I’d feel like shit and play like garbage every night of the tour.

RM: Didn’t some of you get arrested in Quebec on that first tour?

Tim: No. I somehow avoided that whole incident. I went back to where we were staying, and then woke up at four in the morning with all of this panic and everyone being like, “We’ve got to figure this out. What’s going on?” One of the tour dads was smart enough to pull one of us away from hitting a cop. He had this vision of having to call our parents and having the tour end because we got sent home.

RM: What exactly happened that night?

Tim: That was the day we shaved Rody’s eyebrows. Then at the bar, he got on stage during this cover band’s set when they didn’t really want him up there, and tried to sing “Crazy Train,” and it ended up being a fight and getting thrown out of the bar.

RM: And then the cops came?

Tim: Yeah, and then it turned into one of these Ontario versus Quebec battles that have been going on in our history since 1867.

RM: And you all made it to the next show?

Tim: Yeah. Three other guys on the tour got thrown in the drunk tank. No one from our band, but our merch guy did. Then in the morning we just collected the 18 of us on the tour, and went on to New Brunswick.

RM: The tour got crazy after that, too.

Tim: Yeah, someone that was working for us was running their mouth at the wrong time, and it ended up with a 20-on-20 person showdown in the street in Sydney [Nova Scotia]. But we all made it out of there before any punches were thrown.


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The first video from Protest the Hero's latest record.
Last modified on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 17:22

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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