Havok interview (06/2013)
|Conducted by:||D.T. Metal (in person)|
Havok just finished a weekend of CD-release shows in Colorado. Yes, not just one, but three shows to be exact. This was actually a pretty sweet deal for their fans since the $10 admission cost got them a copy of Unnatural Selection, the third album by the Denver thrashers.
I went to their second show and caught up with founder/vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez for a quick Q&A in regards to our recent review of their new album.
Birgit: Before we talk about your newest album, Unnatural Selection, let's touch up on a couple other things. First off, you just finished a run in Europe with Cephalic Carnage, Suffocation and Fallujah. Musically, Havok was definitely the odd man out on this tour. All things considered, how was the tour?
David: It was awesome. People like fast and heavy and we gave it to them. We had people come up to us and say "dude, I love death metal and I am not into thrash metal at all, but you guys are fucking awesome." Hearing stuff like that is really cool since I feel that our music can appeal to people that don't like bands such as Metallica. It's music and we try to make our stuff musical; not just thrash metal all the time.
Birgit: How would you describe the genre of your band then?
David: I would say we definitely have a thrashy backbone but we do get our influences from a lot of different types of music.
Birgit: So you are OK to be thrown into the "retro-thrash" scene?
David: I have to be OK with it. Otherwise I would get upset since everyone is throwing us in there. People can call us whatever they want but I definitely think we have a thrash core and I like that, since thrash is my favorite, but there are also some other flavors in our music.
Birgit: Do you prefer being on a bill with bands of the same genre or does it matter to you at all?
David: It depends. Variety is good when the bands are good. But it's also nice if everyone is in the same vein. I think it's good for fans, of whoever is headlining, since they get to hear what they came for all night long; just different versions maybe of the same genre.
Birgit: New album and your long-time bassist Jesse just left the band a couple of months ago. Did you even consider try-outs or was Mike your first, only and obvious choice?
David: When we toured with Mike (The Absence) a long time ago and while watching him on stage and getting to know the dude, in the back of my mind I thought that if shit ever hit the fan I would hit him up first. Well, shit hit the fan, we hit up Mike and he was down to do it.
Birgit: Did Mike contribute to the album or was it already a done deal?
David: Mike helped compose the bass on a few songs but for the most part the album was already written.
Birgit: Do you have a main song writer or does everybody contribute their parts?
David: Everyone does contribute, absolutely. Reese contributed a lot on this album, Mike added some pretty sweet bass stuff, Pete did his thing on the drums but mostly - well the arrangement and most of the music comes from me; including the lyrics.
Birgit: You recorded the drums at the Gothic Theater in Denver. Whose idea was it and are you satisfied with the end result?
David: I guess it was my idea. The big room is nice because you have the separation between all of the microphones. We wanted all natural reverb and we were able to achieve it there and yes, I do like the end result.
Birgit: Which studio did you use to record the rest of the instruments, including vocals, and where did it go from there?
David: Everything was tracked at my house. Then it went to Terry Date (Pantera, Overkill, Soulfly) to be mixed and James Murphy at SafeHouse Production (Aborted, World Under Blood, Abigail Williams) to be mastered.
Birgit: And speaking of studio; was it clear ahead of time that Jesse would not record the new album or was there a mad dash to the finish line because of his departure?
David: Well - I can't remember the exact month when Jesse left, but by the time we finished (writing) the album and with Jesse being gone, we had about three months to work with. It was a little hectic recording the album because we tour so much and we had to write and record the whole thing in-between tours. We had microphones break, hard drives crash, vehicles break downs, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
Birgit: In hindsight, do you feel the album was rushed?
David: I feel like it was rushed but not necessarily for everything; it just got rushed toward the end. We had a lot of the music already composed long before the album was completed.
Birgit: When writing the material for the new album was your approach different since there are quite a few mid-tempo songs on it?
David: No, but I think there was a conscious effort to have more mid tempo songs on it. There are still tons of fist pumping and head banging songs but we needed some slower ones since Time Is Up was so in your face; fast and aggressive the entire time. We wanted to have a little more of a laid back, more heavier sound on the new record so that when we build a live set we can have a roller-coaster of songs with peaks and valleys instead of just a constant barrage of speed. (laughs)
Birgit: Of course as an artist you want to release your best stuff. Are you completely satisfied with the new album or is there something you would have done different?
David: Honestly the only thing that bugs me about the album is some of the stuff in the mix. This is where things got so hectic and we were strained for time toward the end. Some things got brushed to the side and we really wished they could have made it into the mix. But like I said, time was not our friend.
Birgit: Is the new album and/ or your back catalog also available on vinyl?
David: The new album will be available on vinyl, Time Is Up is already, but Burn is not.
Birgit: After reading some reviews of Unnatural Selection the verdicts on the new album are rather mixed. What's your take on some of the reviews?
David: Well, you can't please all the people all the time. If folks like our stuff then - well, that's awesome and I am glad they do, but it doesn't bother me if some don't. They don't have to listen to it; simple as that. (laughs)
Birgit: True; and now to wrap this up, some odds and ends questions. What is your opinion on crowd funding for either an album or a tour?
David: I think it's all right since there is not enough money to be made in playing shows and selling records. If you can offer your fans exclusive merchandise, like one of a kind T-Shirts or patches and stuff like that, I think that is totally cool. As long as people like the band and are willing to fork over some dough - well, it's not like they are just giving away their money. With sites such as Indiegogo you get something, the fans buy something and not just opening up their wallet for a cause. I would feel bad just begging for money and not giving something in return.
Birgit: I know it happened plenty of times that your van had issues and you had to either cut some dates or the rest of a tour. Has Havok ever used Indiegogo?
David: We have not, but we have a blown cylinder in our van and I think we will soon start some sort of campaign to get a new vehicle. We tour all the time and we can't do that if we don't have a vehicle that works. Like I said, there isn't tons of money to be made with selling records and playing shows; at least not for the smaller bands in the industry.
Birgit: Unfortunately this is very true. Real quick, plug your next tour.
David: We will do our first headlining tour in North America starting in July. Support will come from local openers only and we are looking forward to playing the new songs live.
Birgit: For tonight's show I saw small cameras on your instruments and Mike told me that you guys recorded yesterday's show as well. Does that mean there is a live DVD in the works?
David: We might do a DVD at some point but for now we are just shooting some cool videos and getting some good footage from our live shows. For now it's mainly to put something cool on our youTube channel.
Birgit: Sweet. And now the last words belong to you.
David: Thanks to everyone for supporting heavy metal and music in general; don't ever stop doing that. The artist cannot continue unless you buy a T-Shirt, go to a show, tell your friends about a band, and buy an album. So, thank you if you ever bought an album, went to one of our shows or told your friends about Havok.
For Havok's upcoming headliner tour dates check right here.
Posted on 25.06.2013 by
Professional concertgoer ... dangerously armed with a camera!
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