Interview: David Sanchez of Havok

Havok are currently gearing up to release their brand new album entitled to the masses. On the day the band released their second single, our senior editor got the opportunity to chat with frontman and founding member David about both the new album and his thoughts on what is undervalued in the music industry.

Havok are gearing up to release their fifth album entitled V. How has the response been to the songs you’ve released so far?

Yeah, the response has been good. I haven’t gone through and seen what people have been saying about the song that came out today, but people really seemed to be digging “Phantom Force”. Hopefully people are digging the new one as well.

This was also the first album with new bassist Brandon Bruce. What has it been like working with him on the album?

Working with him was smooth sailing for the vast majority of it. We got together and worked on a lot of bass lines and he really helped with some of the lyrical structures and song structures. It was nice to have the outside perspective as he was a fan of the band but not in it before.

Was the process behind this album any different to previous ones?

Since half of the band doesn’t live in this state, we did a lot of it remotely. Thankfully, you can now have a cloud Pro Tools session which anyone in the world can access. We used that to bounce ideas back and forth really quickly and work on the same project. You can get a free version of Pro Tools nowadays which is really good. You’re limited to like 16 channels or something, but it’s free.

What equipment do you typically use in terms of guitars, amplifiers and other things?

We used real amplifiers and tried out 13 different heads, 9 speaker cabinets, 5 guitars and like 11 or 13 different basses. We even tried different drum heads and cymbals. We spent a long time on getting tones for this album.

What would you say was your main inspiration when it came to writing this album?

The inspiration whenever we go into writing mode is to try and outdo the last album. That was the goal here and we made the point to streamline and trim the fat. We wanted to make things precise and in a way create a heavy small rock to throw into everyone’s face.

What’s your thoughts on the current global situation?

[Note that this interview was done in early March and held back to tie in with the album release – things have obviously moved on since then, so don’t judge the answer to this question too harshly!] Obviously the virus is a real thing and people are dying, but the reaction is way over-exaggerated. It makes me think this is maybe not about a virus but something else. I was looking yesterday that only 10 people have died from CV in Hungary and the whole country is on lockdown. The entire country of Hungary is on lockdown over 10 deaths. It makes me think this is not just the virus but something other than that. More people have died from the common flu than CV in the US. It’s smart to wash your hands more and practice social distancing, but the freak-out from it all is completely out of proportion. 

What would you like to see less of in the music scene?

That’s a really good question. I want to see less people talking shit on the internet instead of just going out to a show and experiencing stuff. People will take it upon themselves to trash stuff in a genre that they like, but they don’t even go out to concerts. Watching a show on YouTube is not the same as experiencing it in person. The energy is totally different.

What do you enjoy doing outside of playing/writing music?

If music was completely out of the question, I like to hike, watch documentaries, read books, hang out with my dogs and doing a bit of cooking. I like to make breakfast fried rice often and all kinds of other stuff. I don’t really do baking as you have to be very precise and it makes a big mess.

Once this pandemic has passed, what are the band’s plans?

Our plan is to go out and bring our music to the masses. It’s going to be fun to play some music. Every year the band gets bigger and bigger and I think when people are back to work and earning money, live shows are going to be growing again. People are going to be starving for live music so we want to get out there and bring it to them.

What would you say are some of your favourite places to play?

There’s a lot of nice places to visit but the shows aren’t fantastic there. If we’re talking just on playing shows, Latin America is one the best places. People there are starved for shows and they love metal. I would say that Colombia, Mexico and Denver are really places for us. Denver is our hometown and we don’t get to play there often as half the band doesn’t live here anymore. It only really happens on tour and ends up being about once every 9 months.

What is something you think people undervalue in the music scene?

Well, like I said, concerts. Bands take a lot of risks and leave a lot of comforts at home. It’s’ not an easy life to be a travelling t-shirt salesman who plays jingles on a stage in front of people. A lot of musicians say they want to go on tour and then when they do they say “F*** this!”. I think appreciating the fact that bands are in your town and are not just there for the night like you might be. They are doing this and travelling and putting their all in night after night after night for many weeks at a time.

A lot of artists these days are not making money on record sales and streaming services are not extremely profitable for artists so the best way to support them is to buy merch and show up to concerts. The number one way to support them is to turn up to their show and, if you can afford it, buy a t-shirt or a patch.

Going forward, which bands do you think will be headlining the main stage of the big festivals in the next 5 to 10 years?

That’s a good question. I’m hoping that Havok is among those top lines. A lot can change in 10 years and our first record came out 10 years ago. I’m hoping that in 10 years we’ll be among those top lines. I think Turnstile and Power Trip may become very big.

I’m trying to think of newer bands but most of the music I listen to these days is older stuff as there’s so much new music out there. I can’t even keep up with it due to their being so much stuff. Even if there was no new music that came out ever again, you wouldn’t be able to go through everything that still exists in one lifetime. Even if it’s just one genre, there’s too much to be into it all.

I’m pretty well versed in metal, but more often than not I’ll be aware of a band but never listened to them. There’s just not enough time in the day to listen to all the bands that I get recommended.

That being said, I’d love people to listen to the new Havok record!

Tea or Coffee?

I like both, but I tend to drink more coffee. I like strong coffee such as espressos as it’s pretty heavy.

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