August Burns Red’s JB Brubaker: The 10 songs that changed my life

From blink-182 to Between The Buried And Me, August Burns Red’s JB Brubaker guides us through his life in music.

August Burns Red’s JB Brubaker: The 10 songs that changed my life
Emily Carter

August Burns Red are one of the most consistent bands in metalcore, now 20 years into their career and on their 10th studio album. But there’s so much more to guitarist JB Brubaker than just the heavy stuff…

The first song that I ever remember hearing…ABBA – Super Trouper (1980)

“My parents had the LP and I just remember it playing as a kid – good times! Did I enjoy it? Yeah, I thought it was cool. I actually thought it was really aggressive at the time, compared to some of the other music that I can remember from that time period. It was a little bit more edgy – it wasn’t John Denver, which was also music that was played in the house when I was a kid! But I must admit, I don’t listen to ABBA anymore…”

The song that reminds me of being a teenager…blink-182 – Dumpweed (1999)

“I remember Enema Of The State coming out when I was in early high school, and I was really getting into punk at the time – and blink was the shit! They were everyone’s favourite band, and to this day they’re still one of my all-time favourite bands. And I’m so excited about Tom [DeLonge] coming back! The rumours had been building, and we were driving to New York to record a music video on the day that the tour was announced, and my wife called me and was so excited to tell me! I couldn’t believe it – I was buzzing. And then of course tickets sold out in, like, two seconds (laughs). But I feel really fortunate because I did acquire tickets – I had to pull some strings of being in a band and knowing the right people to ask, which I feel guilty about, but I’m super excited to go see them play this spring.”

The song that reminds me of the first gig I ever went to…Lit – My Own Worst Enemy (1999)

“The first show I ever saw was Lit playing a radio show in the area that I grew up in – just a radio promo show in a parking lot (laughs). That was the big song at the time, and I liked it, and I was excited to go see it. I was a sophomore in high school so I would have been 15 or 16, and it was my first experience of seeing live music. I guess that’s a little bit late, but it definitely opened the floodgates for me – I was really getting into punk and discovering the underground scene in the area, and then I started going to a lot more shows after that.”

The song that inspired me to be a musician…Between The Buried And Me – Mordecai (2003)

“When I first heard Between The Buried And Me it was way too much – I wasn’t ready for them, and it was too extreme for me! But then as I went down the rabbit-hole of heavier music and started playing guitar more, I guess I began to appreciate the technicality of it, and I found the beauty in the chaos, so to speak. That song really stood out to me in that way.”

The first song of mine that I ever heard on the radio…August Burns Red – Carol Of The Bells (2009)

“This is a hard one for me, because I haven’t heard much August Burns Red on the radio and I don’t really listen to the radio at all either! We did a cover of Carol Of The Bells around the holidays, and I’m sure I’ve heard that on the radio at some point. It was used in a movie trailer so I’m kinda counting that (laughs). And I’ve heard it on the outro of NFL football games sometimes around the holidays too, like when they’re going into a commercial, which is cool.”

The song that always makes me cry…Defeater – I Don’t Mind (2011)

“That was my wife and I’s first dance at our wedding, and it’s just always been one of our songs. We’re buds with those guys, and Defeater’s singer Derek [Archambault] was kind enough to play it live at our wedding, which was really special. That song always gets me choked up – but it’s absolutely happy tears! It reminds me of my wife, and how much I love her.”

The song that I always nail at karaoke…The Killers – Mr. Brightside (2004)

“I would like quotations around the word ‘nail’ (laughs), because I’m certain that I don’t nail it! But that’s my go-to. I haven’t sung karaoke for many years but that’s more from my younger years of going out to bars and doing karaoke with my friends. I have fond memories of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually ‘nailed’ it – but I’ll sing the shit out of it if I need to!”

The song that I’m most proud of writing…August Burns Red – Coordinates (2017)

“I really love it, although I don’t really have any particular reason why I’m so proud of it! It’s just one of my favourite songs, and it’s a deep cut that we don’t ever play live. I think I maybe love it because it’s not like our other songs. It’s a little bit different, and there’s no big breakdowns or anything. It’s very musical and different for us. Why don’t we play it live? I don’t know… it’s not gonna make the crowd go crazy like some of our heavier stuff, and we try to cater our set to more of a crowd-participation kinda vibe. If I was selfishly picking our set then it would be a little bit different – it would be fun to do one selfish set!”

The song that was hardest to write…August Burns Red – Majoring In The Minors (2015)

“I just remember spending a lot of time on it, writing it over quite a long period and in different settings. I believe we were on tour in Australia on Soundwave, and I had started it before that tour. I remember taking a day off and working on it in my hotel room, and I didn’t finish it and just kind of kept chipping away at it – it probably took a few months. I really love it and how it came out – but it just took me a long time to get to the finished song!”

The song that I’d like played at my funeral…Bob Marley & The Wailers – Three Little Birds (1977)

“This is assuming that I die before my family, which is very morbid (laughs), but it’s a special song for us – my wife plays it a lot at home, and we played it a lot during the pandemic with my son. And it’s just a reminder of, ‘It’s a hard time, but things will be okay in the long run.’”

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