The Aussie band HARLOTT are back with a new album on Metal Blade. If you haven’t checked them out yet I strongly advise you to do so immediately. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
We all come into music with our own baggage. We want different things from the music. How does the vision you had for the band when you started compare to the vision you have for the band today? What is this band really all about? What do you want with your music?
-I grew up with dreams of grandeur, but as reality and maturity set in I realised that those days are pretty much gone, and the odds are stacked pretty heavily against the music industry as a viable career if you’re playing a genre that went into decline 20+ years ago. Metal will always be there, its not a fad or a phase, it has managed to withstand the test of time, but it is undeniably out of the mainstream media and popular culture. When I realised that music was going to be a labour of love for me, and not something I could rely on to support myself in a lifestyle that would even allow me to consider creativity, I went about setting myself up financially so that I could pursue my passion. I work full time as chemical analyst, so that I can invest in creating the music I love, and allow people the chance to hear it. That being said… it is going WAY better than I had ever really imagined my little Aussie band would manage and if things continue on this trajectory I can honestly see myself turning a profit by 2035.
Is there a difference in people’s attitude towards you if you don’t come from a cool place like LA or NY or London?
-There is but ill be damned if it doesn’t work in my favour. We are an Aussie band, and there are large numbers of people in this world that find that alluring or at least worthy of investigation. How on earth they have managed to keep a positive opinion of the Australian people given my experience with them for the last 27 years is completely beyond me but im happy to ride the novelty wave as far as it will take me. It would be great if my music was actually good enough to get us there, but im not a proud man, and I will ‘G’Day’ my way to stardom if I must.
When you release an album that get pretty good feedback, how do you follow up on that? How important is that I as a fan can identify album to album?
-Unfortunately I can only really manage to write the music that I want to write. People enjoyed the first album, which was reassuring to me because it was 12 songs of the things I wanted to play, and it was what I planned to do for the next few albums. I found myself wanting to try new things on this release, but only within the genre of thrash. There is such a small window of sound that I identify myself with and very little will ever venture outside of that in my music. As for being able to maintain a sound from album to album, ive noticed that adventurous bands will be as aggressively admonished as unadventurous bands. It makes absolute sense to me that bands would want to change things up after a few albums, even if only for the sake of their own sanity and creativity, but Harlott are a thrash band, and the music is always gonna be thrash. It may vary within the spectrum, but its always going to sound like us.
What is the biggest challenge in the creation of an album? How do you write the really cool songs?
-I fluke it. I write songs that I think are cool, and sometimes it lines up nicely with what other people think are cool. I listen to a wide range of influences and know exactly the parts of songs that give me goosebumps and I do my best to think about how I would build that kind of emotion and response for myself. I also write everything on Guitar Pro and listen to my full album in shitty MIDI tones first, because if something sounds good in MIDI you know for a fact it is going to slay when its done for real.
I saw Dave Grohl’s documentary about Sound City and it made me wonder what it is about analogue recording that you don’t get with digital? Have you ever recorded analogue?
-I don’t really want to rant about Dave Grohl and his opinion on the music industry because he is not exactly in touch with how it is for 99% of people. Who wouldn’t love to record in a full studio with analogue gear for a month? Its very easy to say that it’s the way that things should be done when someone else is paying you to do it. I invest in a studio for drums because theres some things you just shouldn’t cut corners with, but with 90% of guitar tones in metal, your ideal sound is thin and scratchy so that the bass and vocals have room to sit around it, and technology is advancing at a rate that the human ear cant keep up with. Digital is the future. It’s cheap, it’s easy and its getting so close to the real thing that most people will never notice a difference.
What is it like to sit there with a finished album? Do you think much what people will think of it?
-I listen back to an album of shortcomings usually… I get an album to the point where I don’t hate listening to it, and I know that its ready for the public. Its difficult to hear your own work, and as a vocalist its pretty common to just hate your own voice and think you sound awful, so yeah, that playback of the whole album is always a little bit difficult. I am lucky enough to have some honest people that will tell me if it suck or not, and the label seem to like what I do, so I just leave it in their hands!
How important are the lyrics and what message do you want to purvey?
-The lyrics are just angry words for angry music. I have a message on the album, but its nothing new, and no one should be surprised by the things I say. Humanity is a disease on this planet, and our vectors are war, religion and terror. I watch the news to get inspired to write the lyrics, because the world is full of horror and bloodshed and all I need to do is put pen to paper. I don’t think expect things to change and I certainly don’t think my music will influence it at all, I just plan to keep doing what I do and sit back to watch the world burn.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-In this digital age when you can pretty much acquire any piece of music you might want for free, it is important to have a visually appealing package for those people out there that consider themselves collectors. If an album looks good, then any person that loves owning physical copies will find the temptation to buy much greater, and we honestly sell more vinyl than I had ever expected we should for that very reason. Your music is the product, but that packaging needs to catch the eye and draw people in, especially in this competitive market.
When you play live do you notice a degree of greater recognition from the fans with each new time you pass through town?
-Unfortunately for us we have only really done a run through most places once, but even playing in different towns, there was a notable increase in fans through Germany, as they were willing to travel a few hours each night to catch us play. The only real locations that weve managed to clock up multiple shows at are the various capital cities around Australia, which has a slow but permanent climb each time we play. Hopefully if things continue as they are, it won’t even be a waste of time to travel to Sydney soon. We need to get back to Europe mainly. That’s the goal at the moment.
What do you see in the future?
-Hopefully more albums and more tours. It’s been fun so far and i’m not completely burnt out just yet, so as long as I can keep affording the plane tickets and studio time, I should be able to keep things going and play more thrash. I also need Metal Blade to set me up with a tea party and King Diamonds house. I just need that to happen.