Live at the Gasometer

I Prevail: Metalcore that even grandmas can listen to

15.05.2024 09:00

US metalcore band I Prevail have been on a steep upward trajectory since their formation a good ten years ago. On May 16, they come to the packed Gasometer, without singer Brian Burkheiser, who had undergone surgery and recapitulated the band's short but rapid career with the "Krone".

Singer Brian Burkheiser still remembers the early show at Nova Rock 2019, where I Prevail celebrated their Austrian premiere, well in the "Krone" talk. "We weren't expecting anything, but the area in front of the stage wasn't just full, people were also dancing, moshing and singing along loudly. I'm not lying when I say that Nova Rock is one of our most important venues in Europe." The Americans, who basically practice a calmer form of metalcore with lots of clear vocals and pop elements, repeated the Nova Rock atmosphere last summer and are now playing at the Vienna Gasometer, which has been sold out for months. The hype surrounding the duo is unbroken, but Burkheiser of all people will be missing in Vienna. He suffers from Eagle syndrome, in which an elongated bone in the skull causes his face, jaw and neck to hurt all the time. He underwent an operation in February, but this tour is still a little too soon.

From the pizza store to the big arenas
In addition to regular shouter Eric Vanlerberghe, guitarist Dylan Bowman will take over Burkheiser's clean vocals, so fans will have to do without as little as possible. I Prevail's rapidly growing career is still a mystery to the missing co-frontman. "It's like a dream. I used to play in a local band in Michigan where absolutely nothing was going on. I was a journalism major in college, but dropped out for the band. Then I worked at Domino's in the pizza parlor to make ends meet. I Prevail was my last chance musically. If it hadn't worked out, I would have gone somewhere else in life for good." Brian and lead guitarist Steve Menoian started the project, the rest of the band quickly joined in and the metal cover of Taylor Swift's super hit "Blank Space", which was on the debut EP "Heart vs. Mind" in 2014, went through the roof digitally.

Today, Burkheiser has mixed feelings about the kick-start. "It was great at the beginning, of course. We suddenly played a concert in Michigan in front of 1100 fans, which completely blew me away. We were able to go on tour for the first time thanks to the song and people got to know us quickly." However, there were also prophets of doom who called I Prevail cheap posers and denied them their right to exist in the metalcore sector. "A band called Our Last Night tweeted at the time that someone should do a good cover version of 'Blank Space' after our song was out. That was hard for me. I was 21 and a fan of theirs. Why would you publicly trash a band that you don't even know personally? But it turned out to be a boomerang for them. Today it's long since been forgiven, but I don't forget things like that. In the end, this kind of jealousy only means that you've done a lot right yourself."

Ruthless openness
Ten years later, I Prevail are one of the most successful bands in their genre, can point to respectable streaming and sales figures, also fill the halls in Europe and regularly land high up in the rock charts, especially in their American homeland. In particular, their first two studio albums "Lifelines" (2016) and "Trauma" (2019) gave their career a major boost. "True Power" (2022), still the band's most recent album, fell a little out of favor with fans, but its content fits in perfectly with their previous discography. In terms of content, I Prevail deal very openly with personal issues and speak to their fans from the heart. "My mental problems used to go as far as a breakdown and over the years I've learned that music is a wonderful outlet to get out there. I still suffer from impostor syndrome and often think we have no business being here. When our own heroes like Papa Roach share the stage with us, I often still feel that way, but I've got the problem halfway under control now."

The fact that I Prevail encountered headwinds early on has made Burkheiser and co. more robust. "We were often accused of following trends and not being serious about mental health issues. Absolute nonsense, we've only been writing for ourselves and for our fans right from the start. When I was 15, lyrics by Papa Roach or A Day To Remember saved me. We want to do the same for the kids of today. We all go through tough crises and suffer setbacks. My approach as a songwriter is that every single song has to make a difference to someone. I could never go on stage and sing something that is meaningless in terms of content." I Prevail's musical palette is also broad, always allowing for diversions into other genres. "Some songs go straight to the front, others I could easily play to my grandma. Not all of our experiments end up on an album, but in the beginning absolutely everything is allowed."

Working for the dream
Burkheiser firmly believes that rock music is fighting its way back to the forefront of global popular music after years of hip-hop dominance. "I can feel it, the trend is going back to guitars. A lot of female artists from other genres love the music we make. Carrie Underwood, who used to win 'American Idol', is often at our gigs, so maybe there will even be a collaboration one day." Despite all the health problems, Burkheiser remains more than optimistic about his and his band's career and has learned his lessons from the initial setbacks. "You definitely have to surround yourself with people who have the same motivation as you - otherwise it's guaranteed not to work out. We also worked meticulously on the songs for I Prevail. We worked on them for almost two years before we released anything. It was hard, but it was worth it. If you want to fulfill your lifelong dream, you have to put a lot of work into it."

Live in Vienna
On May 16, I Prevail will be performing at the Vienna Gasometer, which has been sold out for months. Unfortunately without convalescent singer Brian Burkheiser, but with Set It Off and Kid Bookie as support acts.

This article has been automatically translated,
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