All That Remains knew it had to thread a needle while making the video — premiering exclusively below — for its cover of country star Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls,” which appears on the headbangers’ latest album, Madness.
The song was a No. 1 Hot Country Songs hit during the spring of 1991 and came with a video tracking a woman’s reaction to her husband’s cheating ways. All That Remains didn’t want to do the same thing but also couldn’t see an interpretation with “rainbows and unicorns jumping around in an animated video,” according to frontman Phil Labonte. “We didn’t want it to be too much like the original, but the specificity of the song limits it to what you can do,” Labonte tells Billboard. The group opted for a clip mostly comprised of the band performing “The Thunder Rolls” in the studio, interspersed with sepia-toned images of dark clouds rolling in, wild horses galloping and a woman burning a photo of man with a candle.
“We didn’t want to seem like we’re trying to step on the toes of the original (video) but at the same time we weren’t trying to change the message of the song,” Labonte adds. “I felt like something less specific would work best.”
Labonte and company aren’t the first hard rockers to cover “The Thunder Rolls”; Jet Black Stare did the honors before this. All That Remains has yet to hear from Brooks about its version — “That would be really cool,” Labonte says — but it’s one of several Madness tracks that pursue different sonic directions than All That Remains’ seven previous albums. Produced by Howard Benson and released in April, Madness finds the group working more electronic and programmed elements into its sound, while the next single, “If I’m Honest,” is an uncharacteristic ballad. The group has been performing “The Thunder Rolls” acoustically during live dates, and Labonte says it may release an acoustic version of the song before the year is out.
“We’re continuing to push what people’s notion of what All That Remains is and what we’re allowed to do and what we’re willing to do, in what ways we’re willing to go and experiment,” Labonte says. “So far the reaction has been really cool. It’s also kind of what I expected; Our core audience likes a lot of diverse styles of music and gets it, and I think there’s enough stuff on it for people that haven’t heard All That Remains before to be kind of lured in. That’s always our point — How can we reach out to new people?”
All That Remains is doing that outreach during weekends through the summer, while North American tour dates for fall are expected to be announced soon. Meanwhile Labonte is also watching with interest the progress of his friends in Five Finger Death Punch; He subbed for some shows when frontman Ivan Moody sat out due to substance issues and was sorry to see the situation repeat itself earlier this year in Europe.
“I’m hoping that Ivan can go ahead and pull his stuff together,” Labonte says. “It’s hard. I’ve been there. You’ve got to want to quit, and I’m pulling for Ivan to get there. I’ve known him for 13, 15 years; I don’t want to see bad stuff happen to him, but it’s one of those things that no one can do it for him. I know the Five Finger guys are totally in his corner and doing everything they can to help him get well. He’s definitely got the support if he wants to really hammer down and do it.”