Humanfly is one of Europe’s best kept awesome hard rock secrets, a band who have evolved steadily with each release through hardcore to post-metal to a newfound prog direction that is so on point even Porcupine Tree, Three and Frantic Bleep fans with high standards will want to take these dudes out to dinner. The difference between what these guys do and bands who are genre hopping purely to see what sticks is that Humanfly are seriously creative people who are simply excited about music in many forms. Not ones to be limited and told what their own band is “allowed” to do, the UK based awesome rockers have penned AWESOME SCIENCE. Dave Jones (drums) gives us the lowdown on a record that has been getting critical raves nearly across the board and which needs to find its’ way to your ears.
With dates with Cult Of Luna and shows with Conan on deck, these guys are making sure 2013 is going to be…awesome.
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Ok, congrats on the release of AWESOME SCIENCE! As I write you these questions my neighbors are blasting Creed and I am drowning it out with your far, far fucking superior music! Thank you! It makes it so obvious why good prog rock and metal are important instead of crap, hahaha. But seriously, how are you feeling about the new record and the excitement of waiting for people to hear it?
Dave Jones (Drums): We’re feeling good that the album is finally out and that people are able to hear it. There’s usually a period of about a year from when tracks are recorded to when they actual come out, at least when you’re releasing it as a physical format. So it’s cool that people can get up to speed with where we’ve been at for the past couple of years.
AWESOME SCIENCE is a well executed and very strong release for you guys. Did you just create this album naturally or was there a plan to really push in this direction ahead of time?
The album came about pretty much completely out of jamming during rehearsals. We’d been interested in music that either had heavy elements of that approach to playing or that were solely improvised, so it seemed like a good time for us to try and embrace that, if only to see what would come out at the other end. We’d done a couple of gigs that were improvised/jammed with Damo Suzuki (CAN) and Trio VD, and whilst we’re not guys with jazz chops they were fun to do and they allowed us an opportunity to explore more in our playing to a large degree. That also helped to spur things on in the direction we took here.
Why do you think there is a stigma for bands who take their sound in different directions over different records? You guys have evolved through different stages, for sure.
I think it’s a shame that bands are stigmatized for it. In a lot of ways there should be a stigma for bands who don’t! Who wants to hear the same shit over and over again?! Mixing it up keeps things interesting and allows you to realize that you’re not just a one trick pony. It’s understandable if you’re a massive group playing at the 10,000 seater Enormo-Dome where there’s very little incentive for you to change your approach, but for the rest of us I’d say to keep things interesting.
A lot of listeners want the security that with each release a band puts out that their expectations will be met, which is understandable, so it makes sense from that perspective, but I always prefer people who keep their audience’s on their toes. We figure that if we’re interested in what we’re doing then others will be too.
I really enjoyed the gradual way “Golden Arrows” envelopes the listener. You get pulled further and further in as the song plays and it reveals a world to you. You guys seem very focused on building tension and mood organically. It reminded me of when Isis’ WAVERING RADIANT came out and how I would keep finding new things to appreciate about each song.
Yeah, the tension within that song definitely comes from an organic process. With a lot of these ideas coming out of jams you look out for moments where something needs to change dynamically, or by asking yourself, ‘what can we do with this that will take it somewhere different’, so it very much comes from being in that particular moment.
The guitar playing on this is so inspired. I love when bands are obviously cutting loose. And the rhythmic chemistry as well. I think this is a record that really proves you stumble across the best riffs by letting your freak flag fly. It opens up the doorway to the creative freedom in the soul.
Absolutely! Embracing different music, no matter what it is or where it comes from, is key when doing something different outside of what people usually expect from a particular band or whatever genre they’ve been lumped in with. In a lot of ways the record follows a pretty standard rock format but it’s been played around with so that it becomes less recognizable and harder to put your finger on.
We’re all into music that isn’t associated with the music we make in this band, which helps you to look at your output a little differently. So with this record there might be a moment where say the influence of a band like Kraftwerk has made its way into a particular idea, or something like that. We took a lot from quite a few Krautrock bands when we writing this album, as well as some more obvious influences like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana, etc.
So you guys are playing soon with Bongripper as well as Conan, amongst other shows. Is it intense playing with such a heavy band or do you just do your thing? I always think it is cool when regardless of genre bands just get up and show their own art instead of trying to only play with bands that sound like them.
We’ll just be doing our own thing. Currently we’re probably best known to people by the music we put out before this album, so there is a connection there with regards to the tour, but we’re not planning on playing anything from those records.The music will always have a ‘big’ edge to it as it’s still the same four people playing together. I’m naturally a hard hitter so the drums will always go “booooof”, but we’ll be seeing what else we can do with our instruments from now on that will hopefully take us somewhere else. We’re not reinventing the wheel here but we’ll be keeping things interesting for ourselves.
What was the hardest part about recording AWESOME SCIENCE? The tones are so professional and yet the album has a crisp but natural feel. It doesn’t sour after repeated listens and stays palatable and exciting.
Thanks. I’m glad to hear that you’re into it! The process of recording this album was very uncomplicated. It basically is four people playing in a room together and that’s it. We always record live and in the same room, so it sounds and feels as natural as possible. It’s how these songs were written so it’s how they’re recorded. Andy Hawkins recorded the album at Cottage Road Studios in Leeds and he was great at making sure he got good takes out of us to use. He’s got a great ear for getting sounds and is incredibly easy to work with. The guitars were all played live without any effects at all. These were added afterwards via a process of ‘re-amping’. This is where the guitar track is played back through the player’s cab and effects are added as the part occurs. It basically allows the player to concentrate solely upon the performance instead of peddle dancing. Also, the room we recorded in was quite small so we couldn’t have cabs in the room, so as a result everything was D.I.’d directly into the board and was run through amps afterwards in order to get each person’s desired tone or sound.
On this record, how were you most trying to push yourselves to grow as artists and yet still invite your old fans along for the ride? What are some moments of the album you are proudest of?
A lot of it just came from wanting to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones in order to see what else we could come up with. For me, I’d become tired of playing drums like an ape and trying to compete with the amplifiers, though they were probably trying to stay heard above the drums…. There’s only so far you can take knocking the hell of a kit with no dynamic changes before you either have to try a different approach or your curiosity pushes you towards it. No matter what you do in life, there’s a need to try new things, regardless of how big or small they are. Our main concern is always: are we getting what we want out of this? Other people’s expectations don’t factor into what we do musically. I can only speak for myself here, but one of the things I’m most proud of with this record is how different and successful our approach to writing has been for it. We’ve stretched ourselves more in the period of writing this that it makes me even more excited for what’s next to come.
Why do you think UK bands, when they are good, seem to be able to make it seem so easy? Hahaha. Seriously, there are places in the world that have never come near the rock glory of England.
I’ve never looked at it from that perspective. I honestly have no idea. It takes a lot of hard work to get noticed doing anything so bands really have to put the effort in and be genuinely good, which is essentially true wherever you’re from, be it within the UK or outside of it.
What are some other things you guys do that might be interesting for people to learn about? Anyone a glass blower or a sculptural gardener in the band? Any awesome scientists amongst your ranks?
Haha, no i’m afraid not. We all work straight jobs, but that shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise. Mat’s involved in photography and has been for quite a few years.
I’ve started doing a page of interviews I’ve done with musicians who I’m inspired by and that I’ve been lucky enough to speak to.It takes a lot of time to put together from start to finish so i’m going to plug it: http://sightsoundrhythm. tumblr.com
Besides that we all occasionally get involved in other projects, time permitting, but we’re mainly just concentrating on this and trying to write new material.
Thanks and best of luck!
No worries. Thanks!