MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Heavy metal band All That Remains stopped by Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to spend time with the base’s military metal fans recently.
Having just produced a new single “Stand Up” and a new album that sold more than 25,000 copies in its first week, the band’s music serves as a fitting anthem to Marines about hard work and the downfalls of romance. The themes are doled out with heavy guitar riffs and vocals alternating between melodic and intense.
“This is what I work out to everyday,” said Cpl. Eric Mascio, an anti-tank missile man with 2nd Tank Bn. “On deployments, we listen to it all the time. It’s the same music as our mentality. The military is a big fan base for metal bands.”
However, the band was not here to sell albums. Ralph Lewter, the retail advertising supervisor with Marine Corps Community Service’s Advertising and Branding, said the event was for the community, the families and service members of the base.
Cpl. Nicholas Koffarnus, a tank mechanic with 2nd Tank Battalion, has been a fan of All That Remains since his youth. He met the band four years ago and when he saw they were coming to the area he knew he had to be there.
Koffarnus held the first spot in the line, and when the band entered he was the first to shake their hands, share a few words and get a poster signed.
Moments like this are important to service members. They as one of the many ways entertainers show appreciation for their service. Since Bob Hope gegan visiting troops in World War II, it’s been said nothing lifts morale quite as well as meeting an icon.
“It’s cool to be able to do something like this and give back to the Marines,” said Phil Labonte, lead vocalist of All That Remains.
Labonte knows a thing or two about the military experience. At one point he stepped on the yellow footprints and briefly experienced the Marine Corps for himself.
Labonte was medically separated while training to be a mortar man at School of Infantry - East aboard Camp Geiger.
“I don’t rate,” Labonte said with a laugh, referring to using the title of Marine. “There are Marines out there who have done some real things. My wife is a Marine. She has deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. She’s done all the real stuff. I don’t count.”
Had things been different, the Marines at the MCX may be seeing Sgt. Maj. Labonte rather than a rock star. Most of the fans present were entirely unaware of Labonte’s experience in the service.
“It’s awesome he’s a former Marine,” said Melissa Patterson, who waited in line with her teenage daughter to meet the band. “As the saying goes, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine.’ He’s keeping it real and bringing it back to the men and women he served with. He hasn’t gotten too big for his Marines.”
The meet and greet took place during lunch hours, affording many Marines the opportunity to wait in line during their break to have their guitar, poster or covers signed.
“It brings a light to our day,” said Koffarnus. “We can take a break from work and meet cool people.”
The band was also grateful for the experience and appreciative of the service members.
“The military is voluntary,” said Labonte. “It makes the commitment more valuable. We’ve been at war for the past 10 years. People don’t join just for college anymore. (Service members) definitely have my support.”