INTERVIEW: Austin Archey of LORNA SHORE

It’s remarkable that New Jersey deathcore crew Lorna Shore exists today, never mind that it’s enjoying the biggest success of its career. The band was still reeling from the dismissal of its former vocalist in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against him when the COVID-19 pandemic hit—a week into its European tour with Decapitated. The band made it home safely and re-emerged in mid-2021 with a new frontman, Will Ramos, and a blistering new single, “To the Hellfire,” from its upcoming EP, “… And I Return to Nothingness” (Aug. 13, 2021, Century Media Records). The song, best known for its pulverizing breakdown, has totaled more than 2.4 million YouTube views and over 1 million Spotify streams. It’s been used in more than 1,700 TikTok videos, including a viral reaction video by Nik Nocturnal, which has over 3.8 million views to date. Fans also have been posting their own renditions of the breakdown for the #LornaShoreChallenge, with more than 25 million views and counting. So it’s safe to say Lorna Shore is having a “moment”—one few acts this heavy ever get to have. But a lot of hard work has led up to it, and there’s much more to this band than a breakdown. Live Metal’s Greg Maki recently caught up with drummer Austin Archey to discuss the current success, the new EP, upcoming live shows, the new vocalist, navigating the pandemic and a certain former band member who will not be named in this piece.

LIVE METAL: After a pretty rough 18 months or so, with the change in singers and, of course, the pandemic, things are really looking up for your band. The single’s doing really well, you’ve got the EP coming out, and there are live shows coming up, which must be really exciting.

AUSTIN ARCHEY: Yeah, very exciting, man. I’ve been dealing with some back problems today, so excuse my melancholiness. I’m trying not to hype myself up too much. I’ve been going ham the last two weeks, and now my back’s screaming at me. But yeah, we just announced a tour today. Announcing a tour feels so foreign to me at this point. It feels like we’re starting all over. It feels like a rebirth of everything—the energy, the band, morale. Things are going really well, like you said. We’re really not used to things going well. We have our fans rooting for us, but now it feels like more of the world is rooting for us more than ever. I have a whole new purpose out here. It’s definitely less of a “let’s prove people wrong” aspect that we’ve always rode with. Now it’s shifted to “yeah, let’s just do what we do.” We finally are able to really come out there and have some eyes on us and just do what we do, so I can’t wait.

And you’re not really easing back into this. Your first show back, in Hartford, Connecticut, is gonna be the biggest headline show you’ve played so far, and they even had to open up the bigger room for you. Is that going to put a little extra pressure on you?

It does, but it’s also what we hoped for. We want a bigger stage, and we want a bigger sound, and we want them to use our equipment like how we use and have a light show and have space to put on a show and we’re not just breathing on top of each other. So it is pressure. But I don’t know, it’s weird. I almost feel more pressure when we play smaller shows, because the first guy’s right there on me. He can see everything I’m doing. So I might feel a little better now, to be fair. I might be in my own world more. I can’t even focus on 1,200 people—because that’s the cap of the room. But back in the day when we played to 50 kids, they’re just staring at me the whole time. That’s way more pressure. (laughs)

Now on the bigger stages, you’re going to be even farther in the back playing the drums.

Put me backstage, I don’t care. (laughs) That’s why I chose drums. I don’t want to be the guy out front. I like being in the back, doing my thing, making enough noise where people will notice me.

When I was younger, I fooled around with the drums a little bit, and maybe because of that I’ve always thought most drummers don’t really get the attention and credit they deserve. It sounds like you’re fine with that part of it, but do you think that’s true?

It is true, but again, if you make enough noise, people will notice. So yeah, you could be the laid back drummer, but part of my personality and my ego is I want to be noticed for not wanting to be noticed. I want to be the cool guy in the corner where people are like, “Hey, what’s up with that guy? He’s kind of cool. Don’t want to talk to him, but he’s kind of cool.” (laughs) That’s kind of been my life. Even growing up, I’ve always been a little bit weird—not too weird, but enough where I attract some people.

It’s nice to be known as the drummer. I think you have to work very hard to get your name noticed as a drummer. We’re not as boastful as vocalists. We’re not as up front as guitarists. And it’s a very loving community. Once I started touring and meeting other drummers, we all just do our thing, and that’s it. Everyone’s very supportive, helping each other carry drums on and off stage, even just saying “sick set” or filming a little clip for the other drummers. I think just the welcoming of every drummer and us all being in the same boat gives a sense of community. That’s our spot back there up on the drum riser, and no one else has a drum riser.

And going forward, I will say on this interview, I’m not going to be a drum riser picky guy now that I may become a headlining band. I want everyone to share that. I don’t think anyone should play beneath me or below me. So as long as the tour manager, the sound guy and the venue’s cool with me saying, “Hey, I’m gonna strike my kit so everyone can get a spot on the stage riser,” I think that’s important. I’ve toured with bands that have had that respect, and it’s definitely made me feel very welcome and at home. When you’re playing on a stage and there’s a drum kit set up behind you on the riser and you’re up front, it doesn’t feel that good. But in those times, I just need to make sure I’m crushing it from the floor.

So, it’s good, man. I love being a drummer. I wouldn’t trade it for any person in this band. What these guys do is not anything I’m capable of, so I stay in my lane and that’s it. (laughs)

So let’s go back to early 2020. Your band was on tour in Europe when everything shut down, right?

Yeah. We were about a week into our tour with Decapitated. It didn’t seem too good going into it. At that time, though, no one was just gonna say,”’Hey, we’re just gonna stop what we’re doing for precaution.” There wasn’t much information. The Italy show was cancelled—we knew that— and in our minds and I think everyone’s mind, we were hoping that this problem was just going to stay in this little bubble. But it became a global pandemic. Once it got to that scale, we’re over here and I’m seeing tours in the U.S. getting canceled, I’m seeing tours everywhere get canceled, more shows are getting cancelled, to the point where it’s like alright, we’re gonna play like a week of shows in Germany and the U.K. and then wait a week and a half to play more shows in Germany. It really just started to look grim, so we got out when we could. We definitely got out as soon as we could. I’m thankful. I’m very thankful we got out of that.

Figuring out how we’re going to get out of that situation was definitely stressful. I think anything from here forward is going to seem like nothing, because to be told you might not be able to go home … We had some American currency, but a lot of our money was in European currency. We couldn’t put it in our bank account, and we couldn’t pay for online tickets. Anything in person, we could, but we were like, “Dude, we can’t afford plane tickets because all of our money is right here.” So once we navigated around that—our merch company helped us out, put money in our account, got us flights, and we paid them back.

Yeah, it was stressful. It was very stressful, a lot of factors. It was our gear—how are we gonna get our gear home? We don’t have enough money. So we were about to sell guitars, sell anything we could from this hotel room in London. Anything to save us $100, $200 on a bag is gonna help us out. But luckily, we came home with all of our gear. Everything worked out.

Once you got home, nobody knew how long this was going to last, so I guess you probably didn’t have much of a plan for what you were going to do. So what did you do?

I had a bunch of tours, working gigs, that were just falling flat by the days, and I was still anticipating to do that. I was like, “I’ll chill for a month and I’ll be back at it.” It was like a slow burn. After a while, like a month being inside, I was like, “Man, I should probably get used to this.”

I have my own house right now, so I kind of made it what I always wanted, and now I have a recording studio, I have a room where I create clothing. One of my good friends moved in for a few months. He’s a Berkeley student, and we just played drums all the time. He was taking online Berkeley classes in my kitchen. My buddy Moke—shout out, Moke—if it wasn’t for him, man, I don’t know where I would have been, because I would have been in a big house by myself with nothing in it, no furniture, no nothing. He came, and I still had no furniture and I didn’t have much, but we had each other. And to be honest, I have a four-bedroom house, and we slept in the same room every day. We were just so there for each other. My girlfriend would come over. We’d play house, cook food for each other, cook dinners, go on walks, started hitting the beach when things became a bit more open, taking drives to further out places and being in more of a remote area, doing quarantine activities, you could say—we all remember those times, it wasn’t that long ago. (laughs)

Having someone really put that energy in me, because through touring, I really do rely on the energy around me to push me forward. So when I don’t have someone around me going, “Hey, let’s go do this, let’s go do that,” I don’t really think for myself to be like, “I should probably go to the beach and read a book.” I wish I was that set. I am striving to become that person. But it takes a long time. I’ve definitely had to learn a lot of self-care, a lot of self-help, just learning more about myself. And, yeah, some beautiful things blossomed from that. They’re obviously dark times, some of the darkest times ever, but I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever got to the point where I was like, “I can’t do this.” I just really got used to it, and now that things are coming back, I think now I’m having more time adjusting to it coming back than when it was taken away. When it was taken away, it was taken away for everyone. No one I knew was doing anything, so it kind of felt like we’re all in this together. But now, when people started going back to work—my girlfriend started going back to the restaurant industry, and all these people are getting their lives back in some respects, and I was still waiting around. So that was hard to deal with towards the end.

But hey, like you said, we’re back, shows are getting announced, we’re creating music, we’re putting out music. This is everything right now, so I couldn’t be any more thankful to have that back.

When the band got back together to start writing new material, why did you decide on an EP instead of a full album?

Just going back to what we were talking about with not knowing the future, we didn’t want to do a full-length because we didn’t know when we could come back. We already released a full-length and really couldn’t do anything. So that was in our heads, and also, that was very much the tryout for Will, because we hung with Will, we toured with Will, everything was great, but we never wrote music with the guy. And that’s the tell-all. So we weren’t going to announce him if we went to the studio and created three bad songs. It was very much, also, just wanted to give people a taste, and EPs are fun. It’s three songs. You can kind of conceptualize on a smaller scale and really get something done.

And then, obviously, we’re working towards doing a full-length. We’re writing music right now. The EP’s not out, we’re already writing, we’re already getting after, the expectation is here. It feels better to write the full-length right now, because we’re catching on to what people are liking, what people really started gravitating towards. Even with Will’s sound—what are people liking about Will’s voice, and then just capitalizing on that. So I think the record will be definitely everything we wanted, because we are taking our time. We’re doing some different things this time around to bring everyone in on the fun, make it more of a team effort.

How did the pandemic impact the writing of the three songs for the EP? Were you able to actually all get together?

Well, I had the house, like I said, so I kind of fashioned some studio setups and guest rooms for everyone in the band. My guitarist would come down for about a month at a time. We’d sit around and write. (Guitarist) Adam (De Micco) ended up moving back home. At first, it was hard because Adam was living in North Carolina. But then when he moved home, we would spend weeks and weeks, everyone’s sleeping at my house and staying in close quarters, ordering food, still being as safe as we can be while being in the room. Then when it came time to track the EP, everyone was at my house for a good month before that. We were all only around each other. We all got tested. Everything came back negative—cool. Went to the studio, our producer was fine with having us in the room.

It definitely was different to navigate around the world and the rules and regulations, but it gave us time. It gave us time to figure it out, gave us time to give some good ideas and try different things. “Hellfire” is not really a risky song at all. I think that’s just us going on 1,000. We could do that all the time. I write some of the stupidest stuff ever, just because it’s just like why not? But it rarely makes it into a song. So this was the time we were like, “You know what? Fuck it. Let’s just make the most pummeling, crazy introduction that this guy can do something crazy on.” Because it’s obvious that the heavy music, the shock value, gets attention, and then the songwriting is what keeps the band around.

So obviously, “Hellfire” is like a big viral moment for the band, which I’m thankful for, but we are way more than just the viral, 30-second breakdown band. We have long songs full of stuff, and I think the other two songs will definitely cater towards that image that I want for the band. We can do it all. A lot of these viral things, that’s their only moment, and I don’t think that moment has defined us whatsoever. We were listening to that breakdown from November till June when it came out, and I was questioning it. We were all like, “Is this it? Is it too much? Is it not enough? Does it seem like we’re just doing it for the sake of it?” But no, everything was very planned with that song. We need that final moment in this journey, even to just line up with the theme of the record. To have a part like that made sense for that song. So if people are like, “That breakdown comes out of nowhere, it doesn’t really serve the song”—maybe, but coming from the person that had a hand in writing the song, it was very much planned. It’s “To the Hellfire, that last moment—boom, you get thrown right into it. We just didn’t want to let up on that last breakdown. We wanted to just keep hitting people with it. We could’ve gone longer, but we were at about six minutes.

Overall, the process wasn’t much different, as opposed to just us having time to sit in my house and do it rather than while we’re on the road, let’s hit the laptop in the green room for a little bit, let’s rent an Airbnb so everyone can get together for the week and focus on music. I just had an open space for people to come and go, and it was nice because some days we didn’t work on stuff. We just talked about influences, talked about life, talked about what we’re going through. We were all going through some tough shit, so yeah, we could just really work at our own pace, I would say.

What makes Will a good fit for your band?

It’s a lot of things. He’s from New Jersey—right there I trust them. (laughs) But I’ve known Will for so long. He’s always been such a sweet, really nice guy. Even being in a band with him now, our relationship isn’t much different. It’s funny because the song came out and I didn’t talk to him for almost a week and a half, two weeks after the song came out because he was so busy working and just living his life as he knows it, and then all of a sudden this song comes out that he did with this band. I can speak for him and say the guy became a very big deal overnight. And for him, it’s humbling to see him take it the way he is, because he has no idea what’s going on. He’s still just focused on getting better, still focused on things he needs to get done, and I respect that a lot more than someone who would take this opportunity and get their head bigger, their ego bigger, and then they can say, “I did my thing. Now let me take a step back.” He’s trying to figure out ways to reach more vocalists, be a part of this deathcore vocalist community that’s massive. You see it on TikTok, you see it on Instagram, kids screaming in their cars—whatever it might be.

Those people deserve to hear from him, because his journey, I believe, is very special. It’s not a “I went to vocal coaching, or I tried this, I tried that. I was in all these successful bands.” No, he pretty much just joined any band he could because he wanted to try different styles. And so that’s why he has a lot under his bag. When he came to Europe, obviously he did a great job. There was no denying that. Every person on the tour was like, “This has to be your guy.” And that’s good to see out of professional bands, like this guy’s smoking everyone and it’s his first tour. So to give that opportunity to someone like him just means more for me because I was given that opportunity at one point. I was given that shot. And we did the same with Andrew (O’Connor). Andrew was in bands—our other guitarist—but he blossomed with us. I feel like our influences and his influences are aligned, and that’s what it felt like with Will.

He was trying to do the same thing we were doing, and he loved the band. It was no surprise. He looked up to Lorna Shore back in the day, because we were one of the first deathcore big bands to come out of New Jersey. So in a way, him respecting us right out of the gate was nice. Not that I need respect, but just at least understand that we’ve been in this for almost 10 years, and you’re coming in now. So we have certain things that we would like you to do. Let’s work together. And he was very receptive of that.

The guy could do anything at the drop of a dime. It’s like, ‘Hey, man, scream higher. OK, not that high.” “OK, here.” “Perfect, that’s perfect. Now let’s match that.” The guy can do so much. I basically call the EP experience of him tracking vocals “taming the animal,” because he can go any direction at any point—up, down, left, right. So just guiding him in a dynamic way, having our producer Josh (Schroeder) be there with him because he has that good sense, it gave an undeniably insane performance on the whole EP. I’m very proud of him, because I was the one who called him. We were in contact, and then I brought him into the band. Adam was like, “What about that Will Ramos guy?” We had a lot of people reaching out to us to fill in, no one to join the band. Everyone was like, “I’ll fill in, I’ll fill in, I’ll fill in.” But no one was like, “I want to join.” Will was just like, “Yeah, I’ll send you a video tomorrow.” Next day, one-take cover of “Death Portrait.” Next day, one-take cover of “Immortal.” I was like, “OK, this guy’s working fast. This is what we need, because we don’t have time to settle down.” It wasn’t even like we had to get him up to speed. That guy’s along with us, if not pushing us way harder now.

Obviously, it’s worked out very well for the band, but was it a hard decision to move on from the previous singer?

It’s been so long at this point, it’s one of those things where it felt like a weird dream that whole time. It was hard to lose (original vocalist) Tom (Barber). (NOTE: Tom Barber left Lorna Shore in 2018 to join Chelsea Grin.) Tom was like my best friend. That was all our best friend, and it came out of nowhere. Literally, we got home from a tour, the next day we were told the news when we were all supposed to go to Applebee’s together. Me and him hung out on and off stage every day. So when I lost that, it was hard for me, definitely. Adam’s first band was with Tom before Lorna Shore. It was way more personal, that one. That one felt bad. And then losing (guitarist) Connor (Deffley) soon after that—I cried when I lost Connor, because we just lost Tom and now I lost my go-to level-headed person in the band. Me and Adam are all over the place with insanity and Connor was very always there, always been there for me, keeping my head straight.

So then we headed into “Immortal” to record that record, and it felt very lonely. It was me and Adam here doing our thing for a month, and then a person who we will not name just decides to come in for a few days and do what they gotta do, and then people want to give that person credit for our success. It’s like man, you don’t know anything. I would give the credit there, but no, I can’t, because me, Adam and the producer were here in the middle of winter, sitting through snowstorms, sleeping in this place, doing what we had to do for a month.

So I think a lot of that builds up resentment to that day when I was told these things behind the scenes of just like, “Hey, this is what’s going on with your singer. This is not good.” I was like, “Oh no, this is not.” In a way, I was like, “Dude, I don’t even care about this guy, at all.” He wasn’t our friend. If I were even to lose Will right now, I’d be devastated compared to that day. That day, I was like, “Pick up the phone right now. I’m over this shit.” There was a lot of leading up things that people don’t understand—they don’t need to understand. It’s personal to the family. I’m not here to air out people’s shit. But there was a lot of stuff behind the scenes that if anyone was in a band, they’d be like, “Yeah, why would you deal with that?”

Like I said, we’re a serious band. We don’t stop. We need people that understand the vision. So when you don’t understand the vision and you’re trying to hold the band back from succeeding, I’m gonna resent you, because I work so hard. I don’t even need a pat on the back. That’s what I signed up to do. So yeah, losing the last guy, water under the bridge now.

In the pandemic, I don’t know what god lives above us that said, “Hey, I just rained shit all over your parade. You got this album coming out, but hey, don’t worry. I’m gonna shut the whole world down for you for a year and a half for you to get your shit together and come out correct.” In a way, I do take it as if I could look at any half-full reason, it’s that pandemic did this band some justice. If we had to just go tour “Immortal” with Will filling in, that doesn’t feel right. He’s playing someone else’s songs, people are judging him off of that and not just new material. And that’s why we wanted to wait to have new material with Will, because, as you probably know, no one’s familiar with the guy. He doesn’t have many bands, and if he does have a band, they’re not like Lorna Shore. If we say, “Hey, here’s the new vocalist,” then everyone’s gonna say what they gotta say about things that happened years ago. We weren’t gonna give him a fair shot, and I didn’t want to see him go through that. I know how mean people can be, and I was like, “You know what, let’s just show ’em what we’re made of, plain and simple.” And that’s why we waited so long to announce him, to get this EP out, because everything just needed to be. And we kept it quiet. I think we did a good job. (laughs)

And anyone who would credit anyone else for past success should just look at what’s happening with you guys right now. It just seems like things are better than ever.

Exactly. I needed that. I needed to put that song out and see some good, because I forgot how much I needed that. It’s selfish, or maybe people telling me that I’m doing something good, I need that as part of my character. My mom says, “Hey, I’m proud of you,” or my dad says, “Hey, I’m proud of you”—those words hit deeper. That makes me want to cry more than someone saying, “You’re a piece of shit.” I laugh it off, but when people say you’re really doing something like that, that deeply affects me in the best way possible.

Everybody needs that now and then.

We do, and that’s the thing. We need positivity now more than ever, and that’s all I’m trying to push with just playing shows, being the band we are, thanking the people that are here doing reactions, thank you to people who like you for even wanting to interview a person like me. It feels unreal. It really does.

Anything else you’d like to say right now?

Just thank you for having me on. Obviously, I was in a lot of pain this morning, but I can safely say you distracted me from that for a good half hour and I’m feeling alright. I’m ready to go make myself something to eat and get the day started. So yeah, everyone, come to a show. We’re playing headlining shows in about two and a half weeks, and then we just announced a headlining tour. We’ll be going to the South as west as Texas and all down the East Coast. And then we’ll be in Europe next year in February, and that’s gonna be very exciting. Let’s make that one count, because (laughs) last time we had to leave early. I’m so excited to get back to that. We’ve got a lot more coming. I hope everyone’s excited.

LINKS:
Buy/save “… And I Return to Nothingness”
www.facebook.com/lornashore
www.instagram.com/lornashore
www.twitter.com/lornashore
www.centurymedia.com

2021 TOUR DATES:

August 12 – Hartford, CT – Webster Underground
August 13 – Asbury Park, NJ – House of Independence
August 14 – Brooklyn, NY – Kingsland
August 15 – Cambridge, MA – Sonia
September 15 – Hamtramck, MI – The Sanctuary
September 16 – Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge
September 17 – Indianapolis, IN – Emerson Theater
September 18 – Memphis, TN – Growlers
September 20 – Dallas, TX – Gilly’s
September 21 – Houston, TX – The Secret Group
September 22 – San Antonio, TX – Rock Box
September 24 – Orlando, FL – Soundbar
September 25 – Jacksonville, FL – Archetype
September 26 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade (Purgatory)
September 27 – Nashville, TN – The End
September 28 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre
September 30 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry (The Fillmore)
October 1 – Amityville, NY – Amityville Music Hall
October 2 – Manchester, NH – Jewel Music Venue
October 3 – Providence, RI – Alchemy

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