Interview with Dave Haley of Psycroptic
Interview by Militia
Those of you who regularly follow our articles would know that we had once featured a classic interview with Dave Haley of Hobart`s death metallers PSYCROPTIC, courtesy of our old staff member Nick [Decadent]. A lot has happened in the 5 years since that interview and one bit of it is bands recent signing to Nuclear Blast. As the band commence a nation wide tour of Australia/New Zealand (and Europe early in 2009) in support of their new album `Ob(Servant)` their drummer David Haley checked in to answer a few questions about the band I set out.
HailMetal.Com: First up I`d like to congratulate you on a well deserved signing to Nuclear Blast. What did you guys do to celebrate?
Dave Haley: Thanks a lot...ha, we didn`t really do anything... we are boring dudes. We were just like `yeah, this is sick`. It did bring a new enthusiasm into the band though.
HM: Tell us honestly now, were you surprised it took this long for someone to get in touch?
DH: Not really... I guess its a bit of a risk for big labels to sign a band that is so far away from the main markets, but with all the touring we have done, Nuclear Blast were confident we would get out behind the album.
HM: Obviously this will mean your albums will now be able to reach people who have never heard of Psycroptic. What will NB do for you now that you`re signed to the label?
DH: Well, just give us a lot better distribution and promotion, actually make it easier to get the album. This has always been a problem in the past. They have been very supportive of us thus far.
HM: I am sure there is going to be a lot of responsibilities that the band must adhere to. How confident are you that the band will rise to challenges that lie ahead?
DH: Nothing has really changed, we have always worked hard, and toured as much as we could... so we will just continue to do what we have always done. We are always up for new and exciting challenges.
HM: Have there been any weird demands by the label that you needed to do (pre-post to singing)?
DH: None at all. They didn`t even hear a single note from the new album before they signed us. There have been no demands, no conditions, nothing. They are very cool to work with. We have 100% creative control.
HM: Going back onto the new album. It`s titled Ob(Servant). Since you`re the brains behind the lyrics, I need to ask what does the name represent, it`s meaning?
DH: I write lyrics in such a way that it`s up to the individual to figure out or give meaning to them. The title refers a concept of knowing all, but still being a slave to such knowledge. They all have a particular meaning for me, but everyone else is encouraged to give them their own meaning.
HM: How would you compare the new album to the previous releases?
DH: It`s a lot more focused...a lot ber. It`s by far our best material and release in all areas. I think it`s a fresh sound for us as well.
HM: What has the reaction been like to the new album by older fans?
DH: It seems to have gone down really well. Of course there will be people that will prefer the first album over anything new, but you can`t be all things to all people. We have to make ourselves happy first.
HM: New fans?
DH: Yeah, it`s gone down great. We`re happy with all the feedback around the album.
HM: I have noticed some similarities with old Hypocrisy (in melody) and particularly Alchemist with the track `A Calculated Effort`. The vocal screams after 3:46 sound quite Adam Agius like. What do you think of that observation?
DH: All eye of the beholder. If you see the similarities, then of course for you they are there. I haven`t really thought about it, so I might go and have a listen later.
HM: The release is definitely faster and more aggressive than say `The Scepter of The Ancients`, obviously helped out by the production. Was this a plan from the beginning, to make it louder than hell?
DH: We just wanted to write the best songs possible... not focused on speed or anything like that. It`s very varied in terms of the songs, lots of fast bits and lots of slow.
HM: The album is 10 minutes longer than your debut; do you think that`s due to a more mature form of song writing? This is your lengthiest album to date if I am not mistaken.
DH: Yeah, this one is probably the longest one that we`ve done, there are a couple of fairly long songs on this one. It wasn`t really anything planned or conscious on our part, its just how the songs ended up turning out. I definitely think that the songs are a lot more mature, but whether or not this is why the songs are longer I couldn`t say.
HM: The album is dominated by fierce drumming throughout. Obviously you were given considerable room to assert your dominance and you do hell of a job. How fun has it been for you during recording?
DH: Recording is always both a challenging and stressful time...I wouldn`t always say its fun. I am always happy once my drum parts are completed so I can watch all the other elements of the album come together. I try to play for the songs, and not for any `ego` satisfaction. The material written called for this type of extreme playing, so that`s what I did.
HM: I am sure there are many young drummers who look up to you in terms of technical proficiency can you offer them any advice? At this point I can not guarantee if they completed year 10 or not.
DH: [laughs] My advice is to try to have as broad influence range as possible. Learn from everyone and everything around. Don`t get myopic and focus on one tiny aspect of playing... and get a good education as well!
HM: Matt Chalk has obviously been of some influence on you. Why has the band parted ways with the former vocalist?
DH: We parted with Matt a fair few years ago, mainly because of his reluctance to tour overseas. There were many things that we wanted to achieve with this band that he was holding us back on and with Jason on the reins we can now achieve that. There were other personal reasons also, but that was about the core of it. He never really influenced us all that much, so the change never really changed the song writing at all.
HM: Jason Peppiatt who is the voice behind the past two albums now - is the man who replaced him. How has he settled in?
DH: It`s going great with Jason on vocals. We`ve known him for years (Joe, Cam and Jason went through high school together and Cam and Jason grew up through primary school even), so we all get along great, and that helps us to go on to try and achieve what we want with the band because we`ve all got pretty much the same goals. He`s also really found himself vocally on this new album, very brutal and powerful vocals throughout, and not too overbearing at the same time. They sit perfectly with all the songs.
HM: You are just about to hit Oz on a nation wide tour. Looking forward to it?
DH: Yeah, it`s great! We`ve just started it actually. Did Queensland on the weekend and will be doing NSW next. The shows went really well, so we`re pretty happy so far. I`m sure the rest of the tour will be a lot of fun.
HM: Have you got a favourite song you like to play and is there one in particular you`ve noticed your fans have started asking for?
DH: Well, we really like playing our new songs heaps but we haven`t been playing them live for too long. We seem to get a really good reaction to them all though. I think the last song on the new one (`Initiate`) is a really fun one to play, even though it`s probably one of the most difficult. People seem to dig that one heaps though.
HM: Favourite past Psycroptic live concert?
DH: Hmm, well I think that a lot of the shows on the US summer Slaughter Tour [The Black Dahlia Murder, Vader, Cryptopsy] were really awesome. They were probably some of the better shows we`ve done so far, it`s actually hard to pin point which one was best. There was also a show in Brisbane at the OverCranked Festival about three or four years ago that was pretty good for us. Also, the MFTB festivals. We`ve done a lot of shows over years, and a lot of them really awesome so it`s hard to say which one has been our favourite.
HM: I have to be honest with you; I have failed to see you guys live for a while now (since Hate Eternal Sydney show). I have forgotten what you guys sound like, tell us in one quick burst what can we expect from the live shows?
DH: We try to put on an intense and entertaining live show, with a wide range of material from each album performed.
HM: Give us a hint on what songs you will play live?
DH: Just come along and find out!
HM: What do you think about violence at metal shows (be it outside or inside the venue)?
DH: It happens in the pit, and if people are willing participants then that`s fine. If people are just starting trouble and trying to start fights, that`s pretty lame. I haven`t actually seen many fights at shows... and we have played a lot of them.
HM: Do you or any other members of the band have any urge to delve into outside projects?
DH: I also play in Ruins and Blood Duster, and do session recording for time to time. The other guys don`t really have time as they work full time jobs. I only work part time.
HM: Where do you personally draw influences from? Can you recommend some bands you think fans of Psycroptic would like?
DH: My listening taste is pretty broad. I actually don`t listen to much `technical` death metal... these days I find myself listening to a lot of older metal and rock stuff.
HM: What do you think of mallcore (numetal)?
DH: Well, it`s all but dead really. Nu metal has kind of molded into all these Job for a Cowboy rip off bands... that`s the new trend really. Its not really my thing, JFACB are OK, but the world only needs one of them, not thousands of them!
HM: Finally I want to know a bit about Tasmania. What`s the metal scene like down there? How cold does it get and have there been any sightings of Tasmanian devils anywhere? They are now classified as endangered species.
DH: It`s pretty small but very supportive of us, which is cool. There are only 450,000 people that live in Tasmania so of course in turn the scene is small. It does get quite cold in winter time, on the mountain above Hobart where we are base there is snow for a few months a year. You don`t see Tasmanian Devils too often, as they are nocturnal... but we have all seen them before.
HM: [laughs] If I have missed anything please feel free to add. Do come by our forum, register and say hi to our underground.
DH: Thanks for the interview and hope to see you at a show soon.
HM: Cheers for your time and good luck on your tour.
DH: Thanks a lot!