Saturday 22 December 2012

Interview with HUATA

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing the excellent French Occult Based Sludge/Stoner/Doom Metal Band - HUATA

HUATA's style of music incorporates spooky lyrics with awesome Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal riffs. Think more of an Occult based Church Of Misery and you have HUATA's style of Occult Rock.

They released their brilliant début album – Atavist Of Mann – in late 2011 to massive critical acclaim from fans and critics alike.

So much so I bought a copy on Vinyl. And what a a great record it is to. Brilliantly designed that matches the eerie mood of their music.

Well HUATA have agreed an interview with yours truly. So lets get started.

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you Today.

Ronan & Ben: Hi Steve, and thank you for letting us preaching in the Sludgelord Chapel. Today it's the cold season, our favorite one, and it's a good thing to see the frozen waves sweeping over old Europa. We toured over Iberia at the end of September, and from then we played over five festivals, some in France, Netherlands, and also one esoteric event in Sweden. The gigs are over now, and we're gonna take some time at home to prepare new tracks.

The northern winds of wisdom bring us good omens; a split with the Batavian giants from Bitcho, a participation at the Danish festival Heavy days in Doomtown, if this edition's line up is as great as the last one, for sure it's gonna be a great ritual. We are also preparing a tour with Dopethrone from Montreal over Europa this spring.

Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of the band and how it came about.

Of course. Huata is a four-pieces band, coming from Brittany, a Celtic country in the west corner of France. We play some kind of Doom Stoner, with occult themes and lyrics.

We started the worship on 2006, and with some line up issues we recorded an EP with only two members. From then, we became a real band in 2009 and started to play on good shows. In 2010 we recorded our album Atavist of Mann, and released it in the beginning of 2012. Since then we had a bigger international activity, supporting bigger bands in foreign countries.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound as I class it as Occult based Sludge/Stoner Metal.

Well, yeah you're right. We're not looking after anyone to tell him the exact kind of music we play, and neither we won't importunate him telling that we don't want to be classified. We follow the legacy of the Doom music, from Black Sabbath to Electric Wizard, Cathedral, Bongzilla, Ocean chief, etc. But we also take inspiration in the old stuff like Coven, Black Widow, Magma, King Crimson... Originality is not our purpose, it's all a matter of feeling, and we just have our will to play the music we want, to fit it with the identity of what Huata should be.

Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians.

We're inspired with both actual and retro stuff, but notice that it doesn't mean we're only listening to this kind of music. We come from various musical scenes, and we'd like to play many kind of. But we don't want all of our influences to come into our composition process, otherwise it would be a messy melting pot.. We go on with the idea that Huata is like a whole entity, and we're here to build it with the most homogeneous inspiration it can fit with.

Q5 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to pay the bills.

We're not full time musicians, all of us have a job, or try to get one. You can say whatever you want about the Doom's rising, the ones who get enough bills to live with their bands are a chosen few, and it takes at least a decade to come up. If ever we'd get this opportunity, we'd be glad then, cause it would help us a lot to increase Huata's universe. From now on, our Oracle remain silenced with this point.

Q6 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

No we can't say that unfortunately. They are not understanding our purpose, for our families we are just making loud noise.. But we do have some devoted friends who believe in our works and understand why we are doing this, furthermore than as musicians but also as persons.

Q7 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.

We (Ben and Ronan) write all the lyrics, and the most part of the music is composed by us too. The rest of the band work the arrangement and bring some good ideas also. But each guy in the band has his own part of the job outside the rehearsal room : Chris is our sound engineer, since our EP Open the gates of Shambhala and Alex cares about all the merchandising sending and orders. Ronan works on the booking and contacts with labels and gig organizations and Ben does all the visuals.

Q8 – Atavist Of Mann has received some brilliant press. It has already got some serious praise. Mainly by ourselves and other Stoner/Doom Websites. Have you been happy with the responses so far.

Of course we're glad, and thanks to your help and all the other websites that supports the doom scene !

Q9 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

Yes it was quiet easy to compose actually, we worked together (Ronan and Ben) in a cave on the riffs we had and how to arrange them to make interesting stuff. The recording was a bigger challenge because we've never recorded with "pro" conditions. For the first time, a sound engineer (Chris) was working directly with us on our fuzzy sound and he made a really good job. The interesting part of the recording is the moment when we make all the arrangements and orchestrations (organ, effects, drones, choirs, samples etc) because it brings back the composition in the process and it's the moment when the whole atmosphere of the album was born for Atavist Of Mann.

Q10 – Is the Occult Side of your music a big part of your lives or just for when performing with the band.

The Occult side in the music doesn't means for us "to look occult" or "to have an attitude"... We're not wearing grimmrobes all day long ! We're just involved into this culture of mythology, and the hidden side of the history. Trying to make a magic ritual, or some kind of ceremony on stage. Many of our personnal beliefs are based on occultism but we don't feel like wearing an "occultism apparatus" outside the band. The tales and the songs we write are enough to catalyzed this aspect of our life, Huata is really the right spot.

Q11 – Is there a scene for Sludge/Doom/Stoner bands to perform in your home town on a regular basis. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform on a regular basis.

Actually there are good Doom and Stoner bands in France, and in Brittany (the West coast community,, but the audience is still small, so it's hard for us to help the foreign bands to come on tour. Fortunately to us, we managed to cross the frontiers, and play in big festivals like the Roadburn or so. No needs to tell you we hope to help the other french bands to do it either ! And we really begin to get a fan base in Netherlands, mostly due to the Bitcho's guys ! In any case it's easier to play in foreign countries for us, both for the quality of the venues and the number of people showing up.

Q12 – Do you have any interesting and exciting stories from tour. Have you toured with anyone famous. If so who have been your fave band to perform for/with.

Well we made our tour over Iberia, our first "long" tour, and we had this gig in Coruña, Galicia (another Celtic country). The show was fucking awesome and the place is amazing : an old monk school within a Chapel, something like 6000m². The greatest squat we ever saw.

We played with some great bands, Ramesses, Electric Wizard, Monarch!, Kadavar, Belzebong, Year of no light, Aosoth, Vulcain, and of course at the Roadburn 2012 (YOB, Sleep, Voivod, The wounded kings...). On of our favorite was to play with Electric Wizard, a good smoky time indeed hehe.

Q13 – You performed at Roadburn earlier this year. How did that go for you on a professional level and on a personal level as well.

On a professional level, no needs to tell you that it helped us a lot since then, this was an open door to the festivals and invitations to gigs. But it happened thanks to the Mudfest (NL), and Jaap Melman : we played at this fest in January and Walter, the Roadburn manager, was here as a DJ and saw our show. He seems to enjoyed our performance and bought our LP, and a few days later we were invited at the Festival. This is such a good event, and however a lot of people would say this is an expensive event, the place is small and the bands demand a tough organization. Walter is not a hype dealer at all, he's just a passionate guy about music, and the event totally worth the experience.

And personally of course this was a big step for us, something like "We did it, fuck yeah". The gods of mystery are leading us to the glorious times. Millenium !

Q14 – What are your favorite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom Metal.

Ronan: In my case, i'm listening a lot to old and new Doom Sludge Stoner stuff, nothing very original in a way hehe. At the moment, I'm listening to the latest Ancestor's album, to me it means a musical achievement I never expected. We discovered on stage Belzebong, and also Kadavar, Captain Crimson. I would also mentioned the russian band Pressor which is a damn good Weedeater-like, and the american band Planetoid that is also an awesome Hard rock band. And Häshcut, the french band, their EP did something to me i never felt since the first time i've been listening to Electric Wizard. But i also like to listen sometimes to old stuff like Steeleye span or Fairport convention...

Ben: I'm a lot into jazz stuff and I've recently discovered Fontanelle (Southern Lord records) which I dig a lot. The latest Eagle Twin, Astra, Deftones albums are great as always and I really enjoyed the noise-hardcore band Family with their Portrait album. I can also mention the french bands Filiamotsa and Bagarre Générale. Chris and I best discoveries of the year for sure. Classy stuff !

Q15 – What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines? Has your music reached the mainstream mags, at home or around the world?

It's difficult to see when we're in a mainstream deal, or an underground one... Actually all are calling themselves as underground supporters. For sure we dealed with some big magazines like Hard rock, Metal Hammer or Xroads, but the guys are deeply involved in the music, as passionate people, and they're not kind of mainstream people, but just working on mainstream mags, that's the difference. Working for the music is a common thing, but getting bills with it sounds like a privilege, so it's like you should work three times more if you want to deserve an acceptable payment... DIY passion and money are always delicate to deal with.

Q16 – Atavist Of Mann has been released on Vinyl via ThroatRuiner Records. I love the design of the entire Vinyl Cover. Like a mini horror movie with the pictures and scriptures with in it. Who come up with the design.

Actually, unless a lot of people tell it was released only by Throatruiner, please notice it has been released by the De Arte Magica cult, including also the participation of Boue Records, Psychedoomelics, Odio Sonoro and Mordgrimm records.

As we mentioned it, Benjamin is the designer of the band: he made all the LP, tapes, CD, t shirts, tour poster and logo artworks. As he's also involved in the lyrical and musical composition, he knows how to transpose the atmosphere and our aesthetic visually. For Atavist Of Mann we worked with Lucie Inland a good friend of us to make a photo shooting of the sacrificial ritual you can see on the whole artwork, which was the base Ben worked on.

Q17 - What are your future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

Yes for sure. As we told you upper, we'll come up to the Heavy Days in Doomtown (Denmark) in early May. We're also preparing an Europa invasion with our friends of Dopethrone (Quebec), they will come overseas to rumble France, Germany, Poland, Benelux, and in UK too where we'll share two gigs with the Wounded Kings. By the way thanks to them who helped us to organize gigs there !

We are also very proud to announce that we're gonna release a Split album with Bitcho (NL), thanks to the french label Musicfearsatan, on 700 beautiful LPs. The sound will be awesome, so stay tuned.

Open the gates of Shambhala cover art

Q18 – There are a lot of great Occult Based rock bands around at the moment. Seems to be a genre of music on the rise. Are you proud to be part of that scene. Any bands that stand out from that genre of music from yourselves.

We are more familiar to the whole Doom/Stoner/Sludge scene actually, so it looks more like a big family to us as we played with many bands from that scene. But we don't mind if some people think that we are more occult/retro rock affiliated. If you take a look at Dopethrone, Bitcho, the Wounded kings, they all are standing on a different "doom" subgenre, but who cares, we're proud to be in that sort of brotherhood. Real support between bands comes out from friendship and respect, not from the kind of music you play.

Q19 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band?

Oh man, the least rewarding moment for sure is to bring up our heavy material on stage and load it after the show when we're still sweating like hell. Heavy volume needs Heavy gear, and we've got some. The other important issue mainly comes from the sound volume... it's quit hard when the owner of the venue ask us to put it down, cause we don't want to do any compromise, in order to make the show as good as possible, as it first goes with the sound and the feeling you can have with it.

But the better moments are on stage during the ceremony. The fuzz shall penetrate you and transcend your soul to open your third eye. We like to continue this experience after the show, sharing some beers with the crowd, fans and the other bands. When you make everything possible to go further than just a show, it's like trying to invoke something deep together.

Q20 – Does it surprise you that people buy merchandise from you guys.

Yes it does, surprisingly our LP is already sold out in less than a year, so we're trying to repress it. It is quit amazing that the people enjoy our album and stuff that much.. Thanks to the merch we sell, we can cover our travelling expenses, but we still have to put money in the project so the merchandise helps a lot for the financial health of the band.

In France the situation is quite hard, financially speaking, for "metal" and "hardcore" bands.. only Gojira have a great international status and may not have the financial issues we're dealing with. Closer to us, the only well known band in our genre are Monarch! and the merch they are selling is also very important to them, so every underground and DIY band needs that support from the fans and listeners.

Q21 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

Yes. We want to take the opportunity to thank them for their unexpected support, which helps us to go further. We mean to play the music we like in a first row, and when it comes to the public, and make fans, it's just more than what we expected, just because we play what we like. This sincerity means a lot to us, the gods of mystery shall be grateful to them.

Well guys thanks for doing this interview. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord. Can't wait to hear what you guys have in store for future releases. Hope to see you on your UK tour next year supporting The Wounded Kings. Cheers. Steve.

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