The spirit of 80’s thrash, the best music ever according to some of us at Mass Movement, is very much alive in Havok, and it’s just as frontman David Sanchez points out; he proudly wears his influences on his sleeve. With ‘Time’s Up’ that statement came true all to well, an amazing. pure thrash record. In between shows, on Havok’s first European tour with Three Inches Of Blood and Angelus Apatrida, David got in touch with MM, to chat about everything Havok related…
Interview by Martijn Welzen
MM: When comparing modern day thrash to the original eighties wave, people often talk about how the music business has changed or how politics are different, now that the cold war is over. Apart from that is there actually anything fundamentally different about the genre today, in terms of playing / writing lyrics etc.?
David: It’s all fast, heavy music and that’s the main thing. Nothing is very different in guitar playing nowadays versus the 80’s. Solos and heavy riffs are still just as cool as they ever were!
MM: Do you use, for your own music, all the modern techiques? Everything is digital in this day and age, and that might, according to some folks, take the sting out of pure metal. Are you an old school band as fra as technology is concerned? What 21st century technology, if any, really helps to give your songs that extra punch?
David: We record digitally because that’s the easiest way to record these days. I don’t think that recording digitally takes anything away from the music – The MUSIC is what really matters, not the medium used to track it.
MM: What makes thrash in general as relevant as it is in 2012? Is it due to the successes the ‘Big Four’ have (had)? Metallica are hardly a thrash band anymore, but have opened so many doors for a ton of bands.
David: Thrash will always be relevant as long as people like good guitar riffs and face-paced rhythms!
MM: And what about the response from from younger people who didn’t experience thrash the first time around?
David: We get a lot of younger kids at our shows and it’s really cool to see, because for them, seeing us is like seeing Slayer back in the 80’s, ya know? They get to be young and experience the bands when they’re still new and putting out what may become “classic” albums someday. The response from the younger generation is both awesome to see and inspiring.
MM: What I like most about your band is the fact you seem to play what you like most, without any concern for being original or way out there. How would you describe your own music? Are these resemblances to other bands more like an ode to your main influences, more than anything else? Can you also tell what part of your music you think is orignal to Havok?
David: I don’t mind wearing my influences on my sleeve because, who doesn’t?! We have parts in songs that definitely were influenced by certain bands, but on the other hand, I think that HAVOK has a unique sound. A lot of the riffing doesn’t sound exactly like anybody and if you really pay attention, you can hear jazz, punk, classic rock, and funk influence in our music.
MM: One of the things that seems to be still very much important in thrash is the strength of the individual, you decide what action to take and what life to lead. Is that same Us Vs. Them mentality, the metal heads Vs. the rest of the world, still alive and well? Is that also important to you?
David: The “Us Vs. Them” mentality isn’t important at all and actually does nothing but divide people from each other. What IS important is the notion that every individual person has the choice to make their life whatever way they want. Everyone has the capability to change their own life and the world around them.
MM: And how about DIY? I sometimes think that the original wave came to a halt, when bands signed to major labels who didn’t really care about thrash. These days the best bands are on independent labels and, like you, crank out one great, and above all aggressive song, after another. Is keeping the control of both your band and music the best way to keep thrash alive?
David: Bands SHOULD be in control of what they’re doing and it’s sad when you see bands that become run and directed by their labels. The best way to keep any genre alive is to support and spread the word – without that, it will die.
MM: Is that also the reason why you don’t have a strong social or political message in your lyrics? You don’t really want to point people in a certain direction?
David: There are social and political commentaries in some of our lyrics, but they are not there to try to change anybody’s point of view.
MM: Although a song like DOA points out the stupidity of drunk driving. Is there a message behind your lyrics in that sense, in that you’re warning people about the more dangerous and / or stupid elements of everyday life?
David: Driving when you’re 100% smashed out of your mind is not the smartest thing you could ever do. Everyone can agree with that. The idea for the song originally came just from thinking about the brutality of being in a fatal auto accident where the body gets completely mangled and incinerated. When you hear “D.O.A.” you’re supposed to picture twisted metal and be able to smell the burning flesh. The song came from thoughts of gruesome death, more than the idea of “you shouldn’t drink and drive”.
MM: What I find interesting, is that most songs deal with the thrid person perspective, but with ‘Covering Fire’ and ‘Out Of My Way’ you switch to the first person. What makes these songs different from the others, what,if anything, makes them more personal?
David: “Covering Fire” was inspired by the movie Saving Private Ryan. It’s about the mental effects of warfare and killing people to survive. “Out of My Way” is about not letting anyone hold you back from accomplishing your goals. These songs aren’t necesarily the most personal on the album, but it is fun to write from different perspectives… Otherwise, writing gets redundant and boring.
MM: Your album’s called ‘Time Is Up’ is that about the end of the world as we know it? It’s interesting in the sense that several bands already gave up on us 30 years ago, but we’re still here screwing things up. Can we maybe survive even with the mess we created, or do you really think the end is closer now than it ever was?
David: Isn’t the end closer every second that goes by? The album title is open to interpretation and it’s always interesting to hear different peoples’ takes on it.
MM: At the moment, you’re currently off for your first European tour. What expectations did you have about the continent, and how true or false were they? I’m not so much asking about difference in touring, but more from a cultural perspective. Do people experience metal differently you think?
David: Europe is just as cool as I expected it to be. The greatest thing about music is that it’s universal. Everyone can understand it, regardless of language or culture. It’s so cool to be in countries that we’ve never been to and there are people that know all the lyrics.