Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Thrasher rockers Havok will be releasing their ferocious new CD, V, on May 1st via Century Media Records. It is the follow-up to their highly regarded 2017 release Conformicide. The high-octane outfit consists of David Sanchez [lead vocals, rhythm guitar], Pete Webber [drums], Reece Scruggs [lead guitar], and Brandon Bruce [bass].
I caught up with David Sanchez to discuss the new release, how it compares to the creation of their last CD, and how COVID-19 may impact their touring.
Robert Cavuoto: Before we talk about the new CD, tell me a little about the band’s origins.
David Sanchez: I started it when I was 15 years old back in high school with a drummer that I knew. We would jam to Metallica because we were such big fans and knew their catalog so well. We soon started writing our own music, and I fell in love with it. From there, I learned how to record. Fast forward six years and I was working with our bass player, Brandon, and together we started on the second album. While we were writing, Pete joined the band, and he knocked out all his drum parts. At that point everything was tracked except the lead guitar; Reece joined after and did all the leads so we released the CD. We got on some national tours with bigger bands and things snowballed from there.
Robert Cavuoto: How does the creation of this CD differ from Conformicide?
David Sanchez: The approach was similar as everyone contributed. It truly was a collaborative effort. A big difference was making the three stringed instruments do their own thing rather than locking in on one piece of music. We wanted to make the music more interesting, dense, and with an interwoven layer to it. When we decided to buckle down and start writing, things came very quickly as we had all stockpiling riffs for a few years. We also had some leftover songs from the previous record. With our giant riff pile [laughing], we were quickly able to pull the trigger. Since half the band doesn’t live in Colorado, we used ProTools in a cloud; it allowed us to record then send the music to each other so the next guy could start working on their part.
Robert Cavuoto: Sonically the CD sounds great as I would have never thought you weren’t all in the same room.
David Sanchez: Thanks, we are happy with the mix. We worked with Mark Lewis, who engineered, mixed, and mastered the CD. He had wanted to work with us for a long time and we decided to work with him because of his enthusiasm for the project. I think it came out excellent and it doesn’t sound like anything Mark has done in the past. Not that any of Mark’s work is bad by any means. We had one goal; when people heard it, we wanted them to be surprised that Mark did it. I think it happened and Mark would agree with it.
Robert Cavuoto: With all members not living in the same state, how does the music typically get generated?
David Sanchez: We would bounce ideas back and forth, and then clip all the parts together. Once the ideas were on their way to being finished, Brandon and Reese flew to Colorado so we could all be in the same room to flush out the parts as well as get accustomed to how we would play it live. So we didn’t work entirely remotely; we did meet up. It’s hard when people live 2,000 miles away and have jobs. It’s also very costly to fly back and forth.
Robert Cavuoto: Tell me about who inspires you when writing riffs or lyrics?
David Sanchez: The band that first inspired me to pick up an instrument was Metallica. That’s a wellspring of inspiration right there. I’m also influenced by other metal bands plus funk bands, jazz bands, classical music, progressive bands, flamingo, and gypsy jazz. I take influences from a lot of different places and stir them into our little pot. A lot of Havok fans like jazz, classical, and funk – they just don’t realize it [laughing]. We sneak it in under the radar. I think that is what gives out band flavor, were not just into distorted guitar music.
Robert Cavuoto: What’s next for touring with the virus concern?
David Sanchez: We had some tours planned but are now being canceled. We were supposed to go to Europe in late July but now waiting to find out if it will happen. It’s hard to say as it is so far away and things with the virus are evolving so quickly. We had planned to start touring the day the CD came out, but that is no longer in the cards for us. The songs would have been fresh to people; now, they have a chance to absorb the CD before seeing us.
Robert Cavuoto: Was there any consideration of pushing back the release so you could tour immediately to support it?
David Sanchez: It was something that came to mind. We asked, and it was just not possible. There are a lot of bands in the same situation as us; we are not alone.
Robert Cavuoto: What does success look like for the band?
David Sanchez: Every year we get bigger and attract more fans. Also, the value of the bands seems to be increasing as well. As long as that keeps happening, I would say that we are successful. If it ever starts going the other direction and we start getting less popular and less valuable, then we need to reassess what we are doing wrong.