Phone interview conducted on January 28, 2011.
WULF: Alright, I’d like to start off by saying thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Congratulations on this upcoming album.
DAVID: Thanks for having me on.
WULF: OK, so I want to start off by saying I’ve actually known about you guys since the “Pwn ‘Em All” days.
DAVID: Oh man!
WULF: So I’m from Lawrence (Kansas) but there’s this band that moved here from Colorado (Elctrikchair) and for my radio show they gave me that EP, and were like, “Oh, here’s some Colorado metal!” And I was really impressed with it!
DAVID: Right on.
WULF: So it’s cool that you guys have come such a long way. But anyway, OK so my first question for you, just sort of a warm-up starter question…is there any chance that the name Havok comes from the X-Men (character) or is just Havoc (with a K) as in like, destruction and mayhem and that sort of thing?
DAVID: It’s havoc as in destruction and mayhem, and realistically, the only reason that’s our name is because the logo looks cool.
WULF: Yeah, the logo does look cool! Congratulations on that because a lot of times logos look generic and that sort of thing. I was just kind of curious, I’m an old-school X-Men fan. Just wondering.
DAVID: Yeah, no worries.
WULF: So, I want to know…this (new) album “Time Is Up” isn’t out yet, but I want to hear from you what’s the early reception for this album been like so far?
DAVID: Every review we’ve been seeing so far has been really, really good. The worst score its gotten so far is a 4 out of 5. So that’s not bad.
WULF: That’s good!
DAVID: The only bad thing that anyone has ever said about it is “ohhhh…it’s thrash metal”. Like, they’re so narcissistic about it just because it’s fast, old-school, riff-heavy heavy metal. And for some reason some people are bent out of shape about the whole thing, even though they love Slayer, Metallica, and Megadeth, they hate any band that sounds kind of like a new band.
WULF: Right. I would imagine it’s probably the sort-of, like, internet forum brigade. That type of thing.
DAVID: Yeah, totally.
WULF: They only like the demo, yeah. No, I just want to say that I was really impressed…I mean, I liked “Burn” a lot but I think “Time Is Up” is definitely an improvement. I feel like it’s more aggressive, and the drums (especially) sound absolutely incredible.
WULF: I feel like in a way it’s sort of angrier, or a more intense album.
DAVID: Yeah, it’s definitely more aggressive I think.
WULF: Yeah, for sure, and so I want to know if this is through personal improvements as far as your proficiency with instruments or were you guys going through some tough shit, or what was happening when this album was being made?
DAVID: We went through a few lineup changes between the “Burn” album and this album. But as far as the aggressiveness, it doesn’t have anything to do with lineup changes or personal changes…”Burn” came out and it had songs on it from when I was 15 years old, and it also had some newer songs on it. There’s some songs on “Burn” that I think are a very good foreshadowing of what is on “Time Is Up”. I think the best tracks on “Burn” kind of give you a hint as to where we were going, and with this album it’s all new, all fresh stuff, and I think it’s just a natural progression and improvement of our sound, just from getting more acclimated with our songwriting and the technicalities of music and the flow and all that type of thing. We’re only getting better, we’re not gonna put out a shittier album.
At least not on purpose.
WULF: Right, right. So lyrically (speaking), unfortunately with the promo copy that I got which is digital through Earsplit PR, I didn’t have access to lyrics. So I was kind of curious, for “Time Is Up”, why this title? I mean, do you mean “time is up” as in the end of the world, like 2012, or is it like the end of America, or “time is up” as in Havok’s gonna like, destroy everybody in the scene now?
DAVID: It…it means all of those things!
No, but realistically the song “Time Is Up” is basically written as if you’re on your deathbed and you’re about to be judged in your afterlife, and there’s a line in the song that says “plead your case, appeal to me, I’ll be judge and jury”, and that’s exactly what’s on the album cover. The whole entire jury in the background is dead, and there’s one person slamming down the gavel. Basically, the title “Time Is Up” is directly reflected in the album cover. But the phrase “Time Is Up” is the title of the album basically because it applies to every song. Lyrically speaking, the phrase “time is up” can apply to any of the songs.
DAVID: It’s not a concept album but it’s a general term that definitely is applicable.
WULF: It’s a common theme that brings the album.
WULF: And what sucks is that without having a physical copy, I saw the album cover but it was kind of small and so forgive me for missing that, that’s really cool that it ties all together.
DAVID: Oh yeah, no worries.
WULF: I want to know as far as during recording, was there a particular track that was more difficult than the others to nail down?
DAVID: I mean, there’s some parts on the albums that are definitely technically demanding on the instruments. There were parts that we had to redo a few times but we’re all pretty technically proficient, so it wasn’t a huge pain the ass to record, you know? I think all the drums were recorded over the course of three days, maybe four days? And then edited together and polished a little bit. Guitars, I got all the rhythm tracks for the left speaker all done in one day, and then I got the right speaker done the next day. The next day I laid down all my solos. So everything came together really fast. Bass only took two days. Solos took two or three days. If anything, the vocals took longer because the throat needs more time to heal, to get it back into recording shape. With guitar, I could play guitar for six hours and it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I can’t yell into a microphone for six hours.
WULF: So you’re a guitar player first and then sort of as a vocalist (you’re) trying to get up to that level as well?
DAVID: Yeah, if anything I’d say I’m a better songwriter than I am a guitar player or singer. I’m good at arranging parts. I’m not the most badass guitar player ever and I’m certainly not the most badass singer ever, but not to say I suck at them, but I think I excel in arrangement.
WULF: Alright. So I was looking at (Havok’s) Myspace and the first thing that you guys have up there, sort of a mash-up of all your footage, looked really cool. But I was curious, is there any chance of a music video for a song off of “Time Is Up”?
DAVID: Yeah, we’re probably gonna shoot a few. There will definitely be music videos for this album. We just need to figure out when and where we’re going to start shooting.
WULF: So you think around Colorado, that sort of thing?
DAVID: Most likely, but we tour enough to where if we wanted to shoot it in California or Texas we could totally do that, we just have to plan for it.
WULF: Right. OK, well that kind of brings me to my next question. You guys are about to go on tour here, but I must say it’s kind of a weird lineup. I do like the variety though, it’s cool that it’s not all bands that sound the same. So of all the different styles, which do you feel that Havok most closely relates to stylistically from those bands.
DAVID: On this upcoming tour?
DAVID: Well, the tour’s with Malevolent Creation, Full Blown Chaos, The Absence, us, and Beyond Terror Beyond Grace from Australia. Stylistically speaking, I would have to say we’re…we’re not really like any of the bands, but if I had to pick who we’re closest to I’d say The Absence. A lot of guitar riffs and the drums lock in with the guitars really tight, and I don’t know…but that’s a hard question to answer because we realistically I don’t think we sound like any of them.
WULF: Yeah, right. If I was going to guess, I would have said, at least stylistically, I was thinking Malevolent Creation just because of the old-school death metal thing.
DAVID: Yeah, and I could see that too.
WULF: But obviously, Havok is a lot different from those bands, and those bands are a lot different from each other. OK, so for this upcoming tour and everything you guys are going to be going all over, is there a particular city that you guys look forward to more than the others, that’s maybe notorious for having your craziest shows or your craziest fans?
DAVID: St. Louis is always pretty nuts. We played two shows there where literally the house that we played in got destroyed.
WULF: The house got destroyed?!
DAVID: Oh yeah, we played a few house shows in St. Louis and I specifically remember one show where we’re playing in someone’s basement and the crowd was punching out the tile of the ceiling, and at the end of the night there was dust and ceiling all over the ground. There was no more ceiling in that basement, and somebody thought it was a good idea to jump up and grab onto the AC and heater distributing ventilation system and ripped that thing off of the ceiling as well. Then somebody poured a bunch of kitty litter in the toilet, and the toilet had to get taken out of the house.
But every single time we play in St. Louis something happens.
WULF: Wow! That’s funny because for one, looking at how you guys are coming up (to Kansas City), I’m (outside) of Kansas City, and Kansas City is right after St. Louis, so hopefully we can measure up to that. I mean, I don’t know if you want to go THAT crazy but–
DAVID: I was about to mention Kansas City also though. Every single time we play there it’s almost like a hometown show because we hit KC so often because it’s the next city over to the east (from Denver) and we always hit it on the way to a tour from the east or on the way home from a tour from the east. So we come to Kansas City a lot, and every single time we come there it’s awesome.
WULF: OK, well that’s good to hear! Unfortunately I missed you guys in the past, but this time I will definitely be there this time. I’m really excited to see you guys, especially after looking at the live footage in your videos, it looks like it’s gonna be a blast.
DAVID: Yeah, thanks a lot man, it always is. I think we’re one of those bands that’s cooler to see live than to listen to on CD.
WULF: Well, I think there’s advantages and disadvantages but no I can definitely see what you’re saying, for sure. So I know we’re running low on time here, is there any chance you could answer one last question?
DAVID: Yeah, of course.
WULF: OK, my last question, and this is just kind of a question I like to ask, just out of curiosity…of all the bands that you’ve played with so far, I want to know who would you say is the craziest, the most nuts band that you’ve ever had an experience with? Besides yourselves of course!
DAVID: That puts on a crazy show?
WULF: Anything! Onstage, offstage, just…nuts dudes.
DAVID: Totally insane dudes…I’m gonna have to say the dudes in Witchaven are pretty fucking crazy.
WULF: Really? Witchaven?
DAVID: Yeah, the dudes in Witchaven are pretty nuts, but we’ve got a lot of friends in a lot of bands, and we’re lucky to know the people that we do because we’re bros with a lot of really awesome bands. But the Witchaven dudes come to mind right away for pretty crazy things.
WULF: OK, OK, well the only reason I ask is because one time I asked that to…I think I was talking to the band Warbringer, and the first thing they said was Belphegor…especially with black metal bands, they were like “those dudes are for real”…just…crazy, you know?
Like offstage they’re really fucking weird and so…nah, but I was kind of curious. Witchaven, alright! Actually, I’ve never listened to them, I’ve heard the name before so I’m definitely going to the check them out.
DAVID: Yeah, definitely check that band out. They’re badass.
WULF: Alright man, well speaking of badass bands, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.
DAVID: Of course man.
WULF: I really, really like this album, I’m really excited to see you guys coming up here, so yeah man. I just want to say good luck on tour, and do you have any last words you’d like to say about anything?
DAVID: Pick up the album when it comes out on March 29, it will be well-received by anybody who likes guitar riffs, cool drums, and cool bass. Anybody that plays in a rock band will probably dig it. If not for anything else, just the musicality alone.
WULF: I would 100% agree.
DAVID: It doesn’t suck, so…
WULF: It’s definitely very, very…it’s the opposite of suck.
DAVID: It’s blow.
This album totally blows.