Haunt - Interview
The US metal scene is an extremely rich and expanded community with an insane variety of metal subgenres you could ever think of, so it's very easy to lose track of the basic form of heavy metal within that deep ocean. However, that isn't to say that all hope is lost, because there will always be fans, enthusiasts and musicians that do their best to keep the spirit of traditional heavy metal flying on its wings, despite there being just too much to swallow and digest in this day and age. One of such respected US heavy metal bands of the modern era is Haunt from Fresno, California, which has recently released its ninth full-length album "Golden Arm" and third EP "Hell Tracks" on May 5th. Haunt remains constantly active and rocking, always recording and releasing new material each year, with up to a total of nine albums made just over the 6-year span of the band's existence. That is indeed an incredible achievement which requires immense dedication and will to pull it off, and it's obviously not something that many people can put to test. For this opportunity, I've decided to speak with the band's founder Trevor William Church, where we talk about the band's current status in the metal community along with some interesting bits along the way. Please welcome Trevor William Church, the main engine that powers the wheels of steel which Haunt rides on the hell tracks.
Haunt has just released the new album "Golden Arm" and "Hell Tracks" EP on May 5th, and there seems to be very positive feedback from the fanbase. Was there any specific reason why you've decided to release both the album and the EP on the same day?
Mainly because of Bandcamp Friday. It was a good day to promote the music of Haunt. But the EP is actually a 7" of two cover songs.
Since both releases came out on May 5th, they also clashed on the same day as Enforcer's "Nostalgia". Surprisingly, loyal heavy metal maniacs seem to show attention and support towards both bands without ever having to choose between the two. Have there been any concerns that Enforcer's "Nostalgia" might overshadow both Haunt releases due to the same release date?
I don't generally concern myself with what others are doing as far as release dates are concerned. Enforcer is an excellent band and I support them. I think Olof would tell you the same.
The band is always active and is frequently releasing new stuff each year, be it EP's, albums etc. There aren't many bands or even projects out there like you who are always optimistic and willing to work on plenty of new songs and release albums on digital and physical media. How come that you are always able to push Haunt forward with such dedication and willpower?
I have a recording studio on my property. It's a sizable back house and it's where I spend most of my days. It's very easy for me to find inspiration when I've been this lucky to have such a thing right out of my back door. I just constantly write music. I don't spend time learning others' songs so I just spend it making up my own.
Both of your bands, Haunt and Beastmaker, have a really so to speak a very specific vintage/retro quality to it, expressed both musically and visually on your album covers that look like old school posters. What exactly inspired you to take on this artistic approach?
The artwork I wanted to look like the graphic design work I saw on skateboards growing up. Also, I used to spend a great deal of time watching old movies and the lobby art and posters always caught my eye. I've always been fascinated with graphic design work. The old Powell Peralta boards are a big big influence as far as that goes. I don't make the art personally so usually I just kind of guide someone but generally I don't like to get in the way of anyone's artistic vision.
There are so many great bands that play this traditional style of heavy metal and still manage to dominate the underground with a mass support from followers. What is your take on this entire "New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal"? Do you think that this is a great revival/preservation of the old school spirit or probably just a lack of creative decision that poisons the deep ocean?
I think it's very different coming from California and not being in Europe where it seems to have a lot more traction. There is a great community of metal fans in the USA but it's designed differently. You have to travel great distances to even play all of the USA. As far as NWOTHM goes I'm all for whatever people feel the need to create. I've been around a while now and I've seen things come and go and come back again now that I'm in my 40's. I've noticed the metal has the best underground loyal followers ever though. Which is such an amazing thing that brings us all together.
Haunt can be considered as a good example of US heavy metal which successfully endured all these years in the modern-day era where so many bands of different subgenres seem to care too much about style over substance. What is important for you as an artist when working on your music? Do you focus more on simplicity or the catchiness of your songs?
I like to write music that is catchy. I like things to be a bit more on the simpler side of things so everyone can be involved. I love front row singers and that's generally how I gear my tunes. Is it memorable enough always is something I consider.
The modern-day world is primarily focusing on listening to music that is available on digital streaming platforms (Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music etc.), even within the worldwide metal community, but at the same time there is also a huge amount of people interested in buying various physical media, including 12" vinyls which are a bit more costly than CDs or cassettes. Do you think that Haunt would ever be as relevant or successful with this kind of reputation if it never released any physical media since its inception?
I don't use Spotify. I sadly have to be a part of what is happening in the current state of music. Since I do things very DIY I oversee the manufacturing of our records. I take great pride in this and try to craft everything with a vision. I don't have any vision for just digital releases. If that was the case I could put out an album every weekend. Nothing against people using these platforms, it's just not my thing personally. It is very convenient and inexpensive so I see why people like it.
Haunt's music is obviously inspired by various heavy metal bands from the 80's, but if you were born earlier and you got the chance to experience the late 70s/early 80s as a teenager and even form Haunt around that time, do you think it would have worked out the same way for the band in that golden era as it did today?
I think I would definitely have played music. What would I be playing probably heavy music for sure. I think it's in the blood.
How do you feel about Haunt's overall status within the music world after 6 years since it was founded? Do you think that it's working out pretty well so far or do you think that the band could probably be signed to a major label some day and be more widely available?
At my age I don't focus so much on those things. My priority is my goal as an artist. I want to complete 20 Haunt records and move on to something else. I'll be fairly older by the time I reach this goal. I love producing. I just produced the new Saber album and it was great, bouncing all I've learned about song writing to a younger bunch of head bangers.
Thank you for doing this interview, Trevor! I hope that we as fans will keep getting more excellent Haunt albums in the coming years and that you'll always keep on rocking. Are there any final words you'd like to leave to all your fans reading this?
I just want to thank all the Haunt fans worldwide for the support over the years. Shred till' Death!!!
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