Thank you, drive through

With Passion, recently signed to Earache Records, is adjusting to life in a tour van

The boys of With Passion—Jacob Peete, Sam McLeod, Andrew Burt, Brandon Guadagnolo, Shaun Gier and Michael Nordeen—represent on the steps of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

The boys of With Passion—Jacob Peete, Sam McLeod, Andrew Burt, Brandon Guadagnolo, Shaun Gier and Michael Nordeen—represent on the steps of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

In a little more than three years, With Passion has become one of the brightest (er, darkest?) lights in the local metal scene. The six members of With Passion came together in 2002 and played Northern California relentlessly. Recently, the band’s efforts paid off in the form of a worldwide deal with Earache Records.

The band’s technical, metal-hardcore hybrid sound deviates greatly from Earache’s best-known current and former acts: Morbid Angel, Deicide, Napalm Death, Nocturnus and Cathedral. That’s a good thing. Listening to With Passion, you might hear a hint of black metal only to have it juxtaposed by the band’s obvious nods to hardcore.

Vocalist Sam McLeod took some time out from the band’s first international tour to shed some light on With Passion’s quick rise from local to national status. “The signing has definitely brought us more attention from both European and U.S. markets,” he said. “We are still working on getting a U.K. agent, but for now, we are working with Earache for overseas tours.”

The band isn’t resting on its laurels and waiting for the accolades to pour in. Instead, With Passion has maintained a busy schedule on the touring circuit. “With Passion has played well over 200 total shows to date,” McLeod said. “The most standout show was with As I Lay Dying at The Boardwalk. With Passion was the main support band, and we played to a sold-out crowd of around 750 people. That was well over the capacity for the venue.”

When the band is not playing live, its members are busy writing and recording new material. “We are writing for the new album as we speak and are planning on recording at the end of the year,” McLeod said. However, the band’s first EP also is getting a second chance. “We are re-releasing In the Midst of Bloodied Soil because, although we signed with Earache Records, people still have no idea who With Passion is. We are going to support this album on the road and follow it up with the full-length release.”

Although it’s common for metal bands to get signed when the members are in their 30s and sometimes 40s, With Passion is an anomaly. “The median age of With Passion is 22. We feel our age is to our advantage because we still have the energy, drive and motivation to continue to pursue our dreams. At this age, we can focus on music only,” McLeod stated emphatically.

Although the band’s influences are far-reaching, as evidenced on its re-released EP and its bonus tracks, you’d never guess as much by the tracks currently playing in With Passion’s tour van. As McLeod described the van’s soundtrack, “We only have a tape converter and an iPod, but the main rotation is Necrophagist, Kalmah, Children of Bodom, Songs Ohia, Moving Units, Cryptopsy and Cattle Decapitation.” When asked which of his Earache labelmates he preferred, McLeod named several. “At the Gates, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Blood Red Throne, Cult of Luna and Callisto are all our favorites on the roster. We are familiar with the majority of the acts on Earache.”

With Passion is looking into the future already and plans to make its current vocation a lasting one. At the same time, McLeod is realistic about the uphill battle any new band faces in the race to sell records and keep up with an increasingly tough market. “Hopefully by the end of 2005, we will be in the studio recording for our full-length album and continue touring. We are planning on also having the opportunity to tour overseas. Some [of us] have more flexibility than others with time off from our jobs.”

The band’s manager, Eric Rushing (best known for his 720 Records dynasty), is working in tandem with its U.S. agent, John Finberg, to see that the six members don’t return to their day jobs anytime soon. With Passion already is set to tour the country with Deicide and Immolation in May and June, so it doesn’t look like these boys will have time for anything except hustling to the next show.