Left to right: Mike "Lonestar" Carrigan , Travis Orbin, John Henry, Mike Schleibaum,  Aaron Deal
METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with Metal Pulp And Paper, we appreciate it. 
Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora is set to be released March 10th. If it were put on a hospital operating table, and an autopsy was performed, what would we find and hear on this release? 

MIKE SCHLEIBAUM: You would find pummeling, crushing, no compromises style heavy metal music. There is a special vibe to the sound of this record, it feels classic in that way. At the core, of course, is not only the band but our loyal friends, family, and fans who have sheltered this band and given us fertile ground to grow the seeds of the distorted majesty that is this album. Combine that with the beating heart of a band that has bled to exist for 21 years and you would find something very special inside indeed. 
MPAP: You originally wanted to self-fund and self-release, Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora, so why did you partner with Southern Lord Records? 
MIKE: Self-funding this album was key to its creation. We didn’t want ANY outside forces this time, creatively that is. But it has been a long process and as this has all unfolded we have found it very useful to lean on trusted partners so that we make sure to complete the creation of this album at the highest quality we can. Southern Lord Recordings has been instrumental in the manufacturing process as well as the promotion and distribution process. In the end, we had to make sure if we WERE going to partner with someone that they had integrity and commitment to quality. Southern Lord has both and that’s why we are both proud to partner with them AND excited to push this release forward! 
MPAP: In early 2016 Darkest Hour launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign.? How did you think it would go at first? Were you surprised when you surpassed your $50,000 goal by raising $67,707 from more than 1,200 fans? 
MIKE: We were a little skeptical at first of the crowd-fund process; it was actually our manager’s idea who pushed it. After we sorted a plan we started to feel confident about it. Once the internet came to our rescue and the pre-orders started rolling in we realized, WE CAN DO THIS! After that, it’s not only been a great learning experience but also a crucial step in the business evolution of our band. To survive for 21 years is to learn to evolve fast. This is just an extension of that. We are a great team and something like this showcases that together as a unit (with the support of our fans) we can create epic albums that we love dearly while continuing to retain ownership of. In the end that’s all we ever wanted to do. 
MPAP: You collaborated with Kris Norris, a former Darkest Hour member on Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora
MIKE: Yeah, we thought since we were able to control things this time that we would step out of our comfort zone and try some new things. Co-writing with other producers is something we have done in the past but this time rather than look outward we decided to look inward. Kris has remained in contact with not only me but current Darkest Hour lead guitarist, “Lonestar” Carrigan. We always talk music, riffs, guitar, life, etc. One day Lonestar suggested we just pull the safety jacket off and start riffing with Kris again. The results were great. Three of the songs on the album involved Kris’s input and I can definitely say the album is better for it. 
MPAP: How was it working with him musically again? 
MIKE: We have a great chemistry so it was all in right from the start. I think letting go of our egos and just letting the best riff win was actually really rewarding. Everyone had great ideas this time and the result is an awesome album that showcases that. It was definitely not ONE person's effort or writing and I think that’s why it's such a deep, varied, but still very, focused album. 
MPAP: It’s been three years since your previous self-titled release, Darkest Hour, came out. How do you feel you have grown since then in between those years as a band? 
MIKE: I feel great about it, without that past, we couldn't have gotten here, period. Regardless of if you're talking about the creative side or the business side of things, self-titled was a great learning process and we're still really proud of that record. We spent two years writing and recording it. It’s the most time we have ever put into anything and was a gloriously hard, but rewarding, experience. 
MPAP: Dillinger Escape Plan was just involved in a huge tour bus accident recently. The Ghost Inside was also involved in a fatal bus accident back in November of 2015. Hellyeah had to cancel a couple shows at the end of a tour in December 2016 because their tour bus caught fire. And even in the same year, a couple of months before Hellyeah’s fire, I Prevail lose their tour bus and belongings to a fire on it. Being a musician out on the road can be dangerous? 
MIKE: Yes, and our hearts and good vibes go out to all those bands for sure! We are very close especially to the Dillinger guys and that wreck hit us very hard and very personally. I mean when it happens to your friends it just puts it all into perspective. I am really happy they are all healthy and still alive. Music gear, etc. can be replaced no matter HOW sentimental you are, but lives, those are so precious! 
MPAP: Do you have any tour bus stories you can share where you were involved in something that you might have feared for your life? 
MIKE: Oh god, I hate to think about this shit, but of course! We have been robbed, in fights, arrested, stranded, and of course in our fair share of ALMOST wrecks. We are lucky and try to be as safe as we can. We are thankful that we have survived so many potentially bad situations and again do our best to be as safe as we can out here. I’m not sure if the average person can understand the amount of sacrifice a normal musician makes to live this life, the struggle is real. 
MPAP: I’m sure just about everybody in the metal music community has now at least heard something about what happened at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards show this year and what happened during the Metallica and Lady GaGa live performance. What did you think of it? 

MIKE: I thought the band did a great job. I would have preferred to hear a medley of older jams, just showcasing their whole catalog ending with maybe a part of a new jam. I would have preferred to see Gaga jam with the band on an instrument rather than just twerking the whole time but I think it was a brave endeavor and I always respect Metallica for that constant evolution. Of course, they are god hero status – some of those early albums are PERFECT in my opinion. 
MPAP: Has a Darkest Hour show ever experienced major audio technical difficulties like James Hetfield did of Metallica with the mic not being turned on and almost ruin the show? 
MIKE: Oh god yes, it's hard to deal with, and it stays with you. In the end, the best thing to do is push forward because all it takes is that NEXT great performance to set your mind right! 
MPAP: When the performance was over, James did end up kicking the mic stand and throwing his guitar as he walked off stage. When something like this has happened to any of you, is it hard not to lose your cool? Or are you just thinking, things happen, you have no control over it and just move on? 
MIKE: Of course, music is about passion and it stirs up emotion, it’s easy to have that well up and overcome you no matter what. As musicians, we are also people and that’s WHY other PEOPLE love the music. I have absolutely lost my cool, done things I wish I hadn’t done later. Live I try to react in an honest way to things and sometimes that honesty is anger! Regardless we love you James, fuck it, nothing will ever take away all the joy that man and band have given me and countless other people! 
MPAP: Darkest Hour has gone through various lineup changes throughout the years, when this happens, does that throw a rock into the gears of creativity, or does it just primer the engine to run even better when a new member joins? 
MIKE: I think the honest answer is new blood has always been good for us. Regardless of our loyalty to past members or past albums, the truth is that we have always evolved and are at the top of our game. Some of the other ex-band members may have blazed the trail but it is US that carries the torch to light the fire of the future. It may take time to adjust but when we do this band always grows, that’s why we are so excited to be where we are now creatively and as a unit. 
MPAP: A lot of people might still think it’s all sex, drugs, and rock and roll being in a band. Do you feel this is still true from what you’ve seen in your over 20 years of being backstage and seeing what other bands do? 
MIKE: I think that there is a lot of temptation and madness out here in the world. I would say if that’s what you seek you will absolutely find it AND the baggage that comes with it. Although we do love sex, drugs, and rock and roll we have done our best to make our priority’s: Rock and Roll, Sex, and then drugs!!! Haa..maybe that’s a better order! 
MPAP: Before the show who comes up with the set list? How is it decided which songs are going to be played during the tour? 
MIKE: We decide ahead of time usually. That way we can practice etc on what really matters (the band as a unit). It takes some adjusting and we are not afraid to change the sets up night after night, but we always have a plan. We have been working on trying to know EVERY one of our songs but there is a huge catalog and we keep adding so it's taken a bit. One thing is definitely true, though, we can rock any song of ours anytime (as long as we prepare before J! ) 
MPAP: Is it difficult to come up with one since Darkest Hour has quite a large catalog to choose from? 
MIKE: Oh yeah, but right now it's all about the new jams. We play three new songs right now and mix of our entire old catalog. We love to mix it up and we don’t like to forget or move on from records. Every one of our albums has a special spot in our hearts and those songs all have a place in darkest hour setlists. We can only really play for about an hour to an hour half so we fit in what we can hand hope people enjoy what we choose to play! 
MPAP: What’s next for Darkest Hour after the March release of Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora
MIKE: Just tour, tour, tour!! We need to bring these songs to your ear holes live! We will be touring for the next two years or so, if you get a chance to come out and rock, then do it! These songs, this music, and this band, is best experienced live! It's what we live to do, it's what we love to do!  
MPAP: This brings our interview to a close, is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans and the readers of Metal Pulp And Paper? 
MIKE: Thanks for the interview and thank you to anyone who has pre-ordered the album or contributed in any way to our crowd-fund campaign. We are honored to be able to still be doing this band and making albums and this music that we love! Thank you all, and when you get this new album, CRANK IT UP! 
MPAP: Once again, Mike, thank you for this opportunity and taking the time to speak with us here at Metal Pulp And Paper. Look forward to the new release and seeing you play live soon.