Interview: Phil Labonte of All That Remains and Cryptocurrency

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Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Phil Labonte, an American musician who is best known as the front-man, creator, and lead singer of the heavy metal band All That Remains. The band has released eight studio albums and has sold over a million records worldwide. Phil has also sung for other heavy metal bands such as Killswitch Engage and Five Finger Death Punch.

McGruff: For starters, it’s really cool to be able to talk to you at all. I’m a big fan of the band, and again, I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to speak with me here.

Phil: Definitely, anytime.

McGruff: I want to keep this focused on crypto, I’m sure you’ve done a billion interviews about the band. What I find really cool is, I think I saw you retweet one of my things and I was like, “Oh shit, check this out.” You’re into crypto and I thought that was really cool.

One of the things I’d like to get started with is, how did you get into crypto and what drew you to it?

Phil: Well, first of all, I was exposed to crypto and Bitcoin fairly early, this was before Coinbase, before the streak of last year and stuff, and I was like, “That’s cool.” Digital money. It’s a way to get out of Federal Reserve Dollars and that sounds great.

I didn’t know how to get it, I wasn’t sure where you could access it, where you could buy it. I remember in the very end of 2016, or middle of 2016 it was, I was interested again but Bitcoin was like $700.

I didn’t even know you could break Bitcoin down further than one Bitcoin, so I was like, “I don’t really have the money right now to buy a couple of Bitcoin or whatever.” It just went away– Not really went away but it wasn’t present in my mind.

Then in December of last year we started to tour and our tour manager, he was interested in crypto and he owned Bitcoin and he told me, “Hey, check it out. You should get Bitcoin.” I was like, “I’ve wanted to get some I just don’t know where you can get some, I know it’s expensive and blah-blah.”

He’s like, “No, dude.” Then he let me in on the fact that you can break it down to the eighth decimal point by just one Satoshi or whatever and he showed me the Coinbase app. Then I got some, downloaded Coinbase, bought a little bit, and that’s when I started paying attention to what Bitcoin really is.

To the average person it’s like, “It’s internet money.” It’s so much more than that, and there’s all the different coins that are available and stuff. That was my exposure to it.

Once I got Coinbase I started watching stuff on YouTube and started listening to things and paying attention to the charts and trying to understand technical analysis and all the different aspects that that go into crypto and this whole space.

That was my intro, a guy just showed me Coinbase and that’s what I’ve been trying to do ever since, I’m telling all my friends, “Look, just to get the Coinbase app and buy five, 10 bucks worth, it doesn’t matter how much you buy, just buy enough so that way it’ll raise the awareness in your mind when you see something about Bitcoin you won’t just say, ‘Bitcoin.’ And then go about your day, you’ll be like, ‘Bitcoin.’ And you’ll pay attention.”

I think that’s one of the things that space needs the most is the average person to have a reason to pay attention to it. That was my intro.

“It’s a way to get out of Federal Reserve Dollars and that sounds great.”

McGruff: I had something similar, to an extent. I got in about a year ago now. It was about May of last year. I got in because some buddies were telling me about Litecoin and I had a similar experience where I started off on Coinbase.

I started right at the peak of alt season last year, I threw a lot of money into stupid stuff, got rekt, and learned a lot of hard lessons that way.

That rolls into my next question, what exactly do you do? Do you trade? Do you mine? Do you just buy the dips? What’s your deal with it?

Phil: All of the above, I have a miner run, right now downstairs, with six, 1070 TI’s running. I have a solar array on my house, that’s a really nice way to offset the cost of running the miner. I’m looking to expand and start doing a farm in my barn.

Get some ASICs to mine actual Bitcoin, as opposed to mining Ethereum and getting paid in Bitcoin. I’m mining Cloud Money with NiceHash, right now. I’d like to be an actual Bitcoin miner and stuff. I do trade a little bit. I try to buy the dips.

Right now, I’m stuck in a trade. I’m holding a bag of Bitcoin, because I bought at the wrong time. I’m waiting for that to get to the point where I break even again, so I can sell it, and start trading in and out again. It’s really all I was looking to do.

I have some Altcoin’s, not a ton. I’ve got some Monero, as much as I know that people are going to hate on this, I do own a decent sized bag of Ripple.

McGruff: [laughs] Ain’t nothing wrong in that. My mentality behind a coin is; I’m a trader. When it comes to the end of the day, I have very few bags that I like investing for long-term, but I don’t care what the coin is if it makes me money in my trades. That’s what I care about.

I owned a bag of Ripple, not too long ago when it had its big parabolic run. It is what it is. If it’s making me money, I’m happy with it. My goals are to make more Bitcoin.

Phil: Yes, me too. That’s really the goal for me, because I’m one of the believers that it’s going to be, basically the default currency, or the reserve currency of the internet. I think that’s a pretty realistic thing, because everything’s priced in Bitcoin.

All the cryptos are priced in Bitcoin. I think that’s going to be the same for the foreseeable future. Obviously, like I said, I’m a noob, I don’t know a whole ton about Bitcoin and there’s people that are far more experienced and know far more than me.

As far as I can tell, just because of the name recognition and the fact that Bitcoin is the major on-ramp for people, I think that Bitcoin’s going to be the one for a while and sure just like Myspace, there could be another killer app that comes out.

I listened to a lot of Andreas Antonopoulos stuff. The stuff that he says about the transparency, I think that matters. I think that the fact that it was designed to be like gold, that’s going to matter. I think the Bitcoin probably has a good long while as the reserve currency of the internet.

Something could come along and take its place. I don’t see a need for something else right now, because once you get into the space you know that Bitcoin isn’t the fastest and there’s Litecoin and there’s other coins that are faster for payment.

If you want something that’s more private you get the privacy coins and stuff. There’s different coins that are used for different stuff and once you wrap your head around the fact that that crypto’s is are just more currency in an already expansive currency market, with the dollar, the yen, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is.

Once wrap your head around that, then whether or not Bitcoin is as fast as a visa transaction becomes irrelevant because Bitcoin is the gold of the internet.

“Bitcoin is the gold of the internet.”

McGruff: I’m with you. I think a very key point you pointed out too, was how Bitcoin is that common denominator across all the exchanges and things like that, and while you do have Ethereum, and different things like that for some of them, I don’t know a single person in all of my trading circles that trades based off Ethereum.

Everybody trades out of Bitcoin, and until you see that flip happen, that’s it. That’s the ‘gold’ standard.

Phil: I feel like there has to be a reason other than ‘this is new’ and has a utility that Bitcoin doesn’t. Just because a coin has a utility that Bitcoin doesn’t, that doesn’t mean that people are going to stop saying Bitcoin is the store of value for cryptocurrency and for money of the internet or whatever.

I know that I’m not going to be the guy that comes up with the idea for the killer app, or the next killer app. I still don’t see it can have a reason why any other cryptocurrency would take Bitcoins place, when everything easily changes in and out of Bitcoin, and everything’s priced in Bitcoin.

I don’t see the need for it and that’s another thing that Antonopoulos was saying, he was talking about, I think TCP IP, there’s other protocols that have been better, or that have come up that are better.

Once the infrastructure’s there, it’s pointless to change everything to something better when you can just build on top of it. I feel like that’s what a lot of the Altcoin’s are doing. It’s like Bitcoin is there, and sure Bitcoin had some flaws that people can come up with and can say, “This I don’t like about it. That I don’t like about it.”

There’s other coins that would fill your need, and the idea that Bitcoin won’t be the big dog for the foreseeable future, just doesn’t make sense to me, at this point.

McGruff: Obviously, we’ve talked about Bitcoin. Do you have any other projects that you think are really cool or that? Any ICO’s maybe or anything that you think provides revolutionary change?

Phil: To be honest with you, I still feel like I’m far too inexperienced to know what a good coin would be, or a good token is.

McGruff: That’s good. That means you’re not buying into the crazy hype and all the bullshit like that, just throwing your money around, so that’s great. I think that’s a very responsible answer for that.

I’m the same way, I’ve been doing this for year and I’ve only invested in one ICO and I have the same mentality with margin trading. I don’t get anywhere near margin trading because I don’t know enough about it and I’m terrified of it.

Phil: I don’t even know how to short something.

[laughter]

Phil: Yeah, do you know who Carter Thomas is?

McGruff: I’m familiar with the name.

Phil: He’s got a great podcast called Coin Mastery. It’s really cool podcast that I listen to basically every time he puts one out. He’s of the same mind. He’s really interesting.

McGruff: I’ll be sure to check it out. It sounds like I pretty much already know this answer, but are you Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash?

Phil: [laughs] Bitcoin. Roger’s funny, and it’s cute that Roger calls Bitcoin core but just yesterday I saw something that he’d said on Twitter and I couldn’t help but just reply and be like, “Roger, it’s not Bitcoin core. It’s Bitcoin. Nobody calls it Bitcoin core, except for you. It’s Bitcoin. Knock it off. It’s not going to catch on.”

“It’s Bitcoin. Knock it off. It’s not going to catch on.”

McGruff: No, it’s not. My favorite is the CNBC polls that keep rolling again and again and again, and Bitcoin takes them from a landslide every single time.

Phil: Yes. It’s crazy, come on.

McGruff: Do you have any Crypto Twitter personalities, that you really enjoy following or is there anybody else out there that you really enjoy following through the space that you haven’t mentioned?

Phil: I like Crypto Rand, he’s funny. Crypto Cobain is hilarious. I like watching the chart guys for technical analysis. They’re just a wealth of information and those guys, I don’t miss a video they put up.

It’s honestly, it’s easier for me to find people that annoy me than it is to find people that I like, but I’m not going to dog people out.

McGruff: I take it that’s why you’re following me. I probably fall into that, that annoying category. [laughs]

Phil: No, not at all. One thing that I really do love is how creative and funny the people in the crypto world are, with the names and the Twitter handles they come up with. Crypto Cobain’s another one that just kills me all the time.

There’s definitely some influence’s out there that I follow closely and pay attention when they’re talking. Cheds, the guy that just beat his cancer. If you see this at all, Cheds, congratulations dude. Great for you.

I started following him and I noticed that his tweet was, “I will beat my stage three cancer,” and I was like, “Oh God, that’s such a fucking struggle.” It sucks, I’ve lost family members to cancer and most people have. To see that, it was a drag to see.

Then I remember seeing the day that he posted, “I beat my stage three cancer.” I was like, hands in the air, yes, and I’m thinking, “I’ve never met this guy.” I’ve never talked to this guy and I don’t think we’ve even interacted on Twitter, but I just felt like a huge charge of, yes, thank God, it’s great, or whatever your deity of choice is, I don’t care- Just, yes, super excited and happy that this guy did beat his cancer, because it’s such a mother fucker.

“I’ve never met this guy. I’ve never talked to this guy and I don’t think we’ve even interacted on Twitter, but I just felt like a huge charge of, yes, thank God, it’s great.”

McGruff: Well, we already a bit talked about it, but what do you see for the future of crypto? You said you thought it would become the common denominator for the internet. Is there anything else you want to add on that topic specifically?

Phil: I think McAfee might have to eat that dick.

McGruff: [laughs] I just bought a shirt recently, It says 1 million or bust and it’s a picture of him with his shirt off and a tie. That’s my favorite shirt right now. McAfee’s one of my absolute favorite personalities on there, because of just how insanely bat shit crazy he is.

I think he is a good guy. He’s just misunderstood, or I don’t know how else to really talk about it, but I love him. I really do enjoy following him.

Phil: He’s great. He’s hilarious, he just walks around with his middle fingers in the air all the time, he is like, “If you want to get onboard with me cool, if you don’t here you go, go fuck yourself.” I’m just like, “Yes, John, yes, yes that’s great.” He’s awesome.

McGruff: That’s a great way to put it. As you’ve gone through your crypto journey, you got any advice for anybody who is just now rolled into the scene, maybe some lessons that you’ve learned along the way?

Phil: I really feel like I was fortunate that I found out about Coinbase and everything, right at the peak of the bubble. Some people might be like, “Why wouldn’t you want to have gotten in six months ago?” Blah, blah, blah. But I feel like I didn’t have time to throw, to get wrapped up in the excitement and then do a dumb thing like, remortgage my house, so that I could buy crypto or anything.

I saw what a bubble popping can do. It also gave me a chance to buy in and average my buy, way, way, way down. I bought some Bitcoin at 6500 or– Like right close to the very bottom, so I felt good about that.

I was like, “Man, I’m buying this now.” There’s so much stuff that I have learned, because like I said, it’s such a new thing. It’s reinforced my opinions on what money is, which it’s not Dollars, it’s an idea.

I’ve learned that it’s the biggest opportunity that we’re probably going to see in our lifetime. I was a little too young to really capitalize on the internet. I remember days before the internet but —

“It’s reinforced my opinions on what money is, which it’s not Dollars, it’s an idea.”

McGruff: Like the dot-com bubble?

Phil: Yes, the dot-com bubble and stuff. I’m 43, so I was a teenager, early 20’s, and just completely focused on being in a band and playing music when the dot-com bubble was going on.

McGruff: That seems to have worked out for you. [laughs]

Phil: Yes, it’s alright. My day job doesn’t suck, but I didn’t really understand anything. I didn’t have any money to put into the dot-com bubble, even if I did know. I feel like this is another chance that could actually be a bigger deal than the dot-com bubble, or the internet becoming ubiquitous thing.

I think that probably within the next — I think it will be within the next 10 years where Bitcoin is as ubiquitous as the internet cryptocurrencies in general will be. I still think that in 10 years Bitcoin will still be the big dog.

I don’t see a reason why not. I don’t know that I could pick one thing that I’ve learned. If I could give people advice it would be if you buy something and it tanks, just hold it, just hold onto it. Especially, if you’re talking about the big dogs, and you should probably, when you’re starting out, stay away from Altcoin’s until you learn a decent amount.

I bought some Altcoin’s and I didn’t throw a ton of money at them, and I didn’t lose my shirt or anything like that. The Altcoin’s are there for fun, but I don’t know that the Altcoin’s and the fun is really the point of buying crypto and being in the space.

It is fun, but I don’t think that that’s really the most important thing.

McGruff: The Altcoin’s, in my opinion, are your penny stocks, you’re looking for that lucky lottery ticket to get you a good chunk of Bitcoin or whatever the circumstances are. I knew you were older than the average bear in the space I’d say, I would say the crypto space is late teens, early to mid-20’s mostly. I’m 32. I think I’m probably a little older, even for the group. It’s cool to see some broad spectrum on the age side too.

This leads me into, what do you think it’s going to take for full mainstream adoption, what has to flip to get it where grandma suddenly has Bitcoin?

Phil: One of the things that I heard Antonopoulos talking about, that I agree with, he was talking about, it’s got to be easy.

“It’s got to be easy.”

McGruff: I agree with that, 100%.

Phil: That was the thing, for me, I would have been buying Bitcoin two years ago if I knew about Coinbase and I knew that it was– Or a year ago or whatever, whenever Coinbase came out, if I knew about it, I’d know how easy it was.

I think the idea that when the institutional money comes in, which everyone talks about all the time, I don’t know that it’s going to be a situation where some company’s going to come in and then the next day Bitcoin is going to pump 10x or whatever.

I think that the more ways you can get into the space, the better it is for the space. I think that’s the most important thing. I think the technical side, the Lightning Network or how fast transactions are and stuff, I think that’s all secondary, I think all the important stuff is already in place.

Now, the thing that needs to happen is it needs to be easier, because I’ve been wishing for everywhere to take Apple Pay forever and it hasn’t really materialized. I love the idea of not having to walk around with my wallet anymore.

I can leave my ID, leave my driver’s license inside my car and just grab my phone and go and pay for whatever I want from my phone. That’s what I really want predominantly, is to not have to worry about a wallet and a phone.

I’d rather it all be on my phone, once you can do that with either Bitcoin or whatever coin someplace takes, then that’s what I would use all the time. I think that’ll come as more people use crypto more frequently.

I think that really the thing is it needs to be easy to use, and once that’s handled then things like how fast the transactions happen and stuff, those are all things that the engineers can worry about and they’ll figure it out.

That’ll take care of itself, once more people start using the network and start using Bitcoin on a daily basis because now I always look to see if I can pay with Bitcoin, anything that I buy I look, especially online, anywhere that will take Bitcoin, I’ll pay in Bitcoin.

McGruff: I recently just bought a laptop in Bitcoin back in mid-January, I thought it was the coolest thing ever and it was weird though, at the same time it almost felt like I didn’t spend money, because my bank account didn’t change, but it was still really cool to be able to just straight up pay with Bitcoin and be done with it.

Phil: That’s the day that I’m looking forward too, when I can just be like, “Okay, pay–” They’ll take Visa, MasterCard, cash or Bitcoin. I’m in the gun world too, and that’s one thing that you see a lot of gun guys, If you go into a gun shop, now, I’m not talking about like a Walmart or a big chain gun store, or whatever. If you go into a small gun shop, I would almost guarantee if you walk in there with a gold coin, you can walk out of there with any gun that you want.

The people in the gun world understand trade and barter far better than your average person. My buddy’s got a gun shop that I’m involved with and if someone walks in and says, “I want that and I got a half ounce of gold that I’ll give you.” He’ll be like, “Yup. No question. No question.”

If someone says to me, “Yo. I want to buy that gun and I’ll give you one tenth of a Bitcoin.” You know it. All right and it’s that easy. No question about it, because that to me and to people that think like me and well like us, that actually has value and it’s going to go up or at least it’s going to stay the same.

Whereas, the dollar is not nearly as stable as people like to act like it is. They don’t see the inflation. They don’t think about it. They don’t think about the fact that inflation is slowly eating away at the value of your money and stuff.

It’s one of those things where I’ll take silver, I’ll take gold, and I’ll take Bitcoin, for any transaction, and I would prefer them to Dollars, if the person that’s coming to or that wants to do the transaction is on the same page. I would prefer them to Dollars.

McGruff: Do you find that you’re surrounded by skeptics, or that most people around you seem to be on board or–?

Phil: Most of the guys in the band have some Bitcoin. Actually, I think everyone does. I think our guitar player Mike, is probably the slowest, and I don’t think he does, but he has Coinbase, he just hasn’t got around to actually purchasing it.

I’m like, “Dude, you missed an opportunity. If you’d bought it two months ago. It’s $2,000 more than it was at the lowest.” Everyone else is pretty much into it. Most of the guys that I find in the music industry, they’re generally, fairly open-minded people. You tend to be if you’re a creative, artist person.

This morning I was talking to Jason Hook from Five Finger Death Punch, were just bullshitting and I mentioned to him about my miner and stuff and he’s like, “Yes. I got some. My buddy, blah, blah, blah.”

Zoltan, I know is into Litecoin and stuff. There’s a lot of people in the music industry, in bands that have crypto. I don’t know so much about people on the business side of it, but I know that there are definitely a lot of artists that have cryptocurrency and stuff.

McGruff: That’s really cool man.

Phil: It is really cool.

McGruff: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, I’ve really enjoyed this.

Phil: Anytime man.

You can find Phil and his band, All That Remains and their touring schedule here. Also, you can find Phil lurking around on Ivory Mountain, the Discord based Crypto group that I helped found and is free to join and participate in.

You can follow him on Twitter here and myself here.


Interview: Phil Labonte of All That Remains and Cryptocurrency was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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