Sunday 14 April 2013

Interview with Corey from HALMOS

Today it's my pleasure to be interviewing Corey (Guitars and Vocals) from HALMOS – the brilliant Psychedelic Sludge/Stoner Metallers who have just released their excellent new album – EXIST.

I recently described it as:

"Exist is a stunning début album from these excellent Psychedelic Stoner Rockers. It has the potential to show Halmos as one of the best upcoming Psychedelic Sludge/Stoner Metal bands currently out there at the moment."

Their blend of psych riffs with sublime vocals which all the members contribute to make this an album you cannot miss. It will definitely be claimed as one of 2013 best début releases.

So folks here is my interview with Corey from ace Psych Sludge Rockers - HALMOS.

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

I’m well, thanks.

Q2 – For people not in the know, can you give them a brief bio on how the band came about.

Travis and I started a band years ago after attending a Weedeater concert in Savannah, Georgia. That band dissolved when we relocated to Atlanta, but we decided to record an EP together (Vicious Cycle) as a two-piece under the name HALMOS. We anticipated the EP would attract like-minded musicians in order to expand HALMOS into a four-piece band that would write new material and rework what we previously recorded.

Q3 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as a musician.

Local Savannah bands such as Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, and Unnamed influenced the direction we originally wished to go. Our sound began to develop more as we became familiar with Kyuss, Sleep, and Melvins. Today, we continue to draw influence from these bands as well as our professional and personal backgrounds.

Q4 – You have just released your excellent new album – Exist – which totally blew my mind. Some great riffs and intense vocals as well. Was it an easy/hard album to write and record for. I know some of the tracks came from your début EP – though the versions on Exist are better in so many ways.

Thanks! The material we transferred from Vicious Cycle to Exist was easier to work on in the sense that we approached it from a new direction. Adding a second guitar and bass player allowed us to play with song structure, tempo, and harmony. We did not want to simply re-record the Vicious Cycle material after having added additional elements to our sound. It felt natural to evolve, and the new songs on Exist were fun to write as a complete band. Travis and I had already developed a productive writing process between the two of us, but it was fun to begin that process again when Melanie and Casey joined. The dynamic of the band changed, creating more opportunities to be creative with our material.

Q5 – So what is the meaning behind EXIST. A very trippy psychedelic ride from start to finish.

I am a fan of conceptual material. As we wrote new songs together, I began to piece together the lyrical themes I was exploring. When all nine songs were completed, I felt it natural to tie them together. I relied heavily on my study of Existentialism to do so.

Exist is nine songs divided into three sections, consisting of three songs each, that explore key elements of three major themes of Existential Psychotherapy. Existential Psychotherapy is a philosophical method of therapy that operates on the belief that inner conflict within a person is due to that individual's confrontation with the givens of existence. 

These givens are: Meaninglessness and Existential Isolation (tracks 1-3, the failures of an ethos, searching for meaning, and the individual alone and against society), Freedom and Its Attendant Responsibility (tracks 4-6, the danger of living limitless, having to face responsibility, and the role of religion), and The Inevitability of Death (tracks 7-9, blurring the lines of reality, choosing to accept the inevitability of death, and making the existential leap into the unknown).

Q6 - The vocals are killer. Love how you blend the different style for each member. Was that hard to do.

Thank you. Previous to writing the new material, I was only accustomed to yelling or shouting. I patterned my vocal style based on what I was comfortable doing at the time. With the addition of Melanie and Casey to HALMOS and the direction the new songs were taking, we felt that taking a risk by changing my vocal style would be in tune with the theme of Exist. We experimented with different styles of singing, settling on the psychedelic sound you hear on songs like Datura or Outcry.

Q7 – And are you happy with the final product.

We are very proud of this album and the wonderful job Robert Dyson and Garrett Scates of WizKid Sound Studios in Atlanta did with recording and mastering it. We worked with them on Vicious Cycle, and we challenged each other to approach this album differently. We could not be more pleased with the outcome.

Q8 – It's starting to receive some great praise amongst the Stoner Metal community. Seems you have hit a nerve with them but in a good way. Are you happy with the responses so far.

Every band likes good press, and we are pleased with the reviews so far, but what excites us most is when we receive an email or Facebook message from a fan directly. Nothing feels better than having someone tell you they connect with your music.

EXIST cover art

Q9 – Who came up the excellent album cover. Simple but ever so brilliantly effective. Gives the album a sense of calm which obviously isn't the case.

Ivy McLeod is a wonderful freelance graphic designer and illustrator based in Atlanta. We met to discuss the lyrical themes of Exist and bounce a few ideas around, and what she came back with blew us away. It was completely unexpected and not something any of us would have imagined doing, but it is perfect. Our immediate reaction was, “THAT is Exist. No question.”

Q10 – Is there a gig scene for you to perform regularly in your hometown or do you have to travel further to perform live.

There is a very strong, very close-knit music scene in Atlanta. Every band works hard to promote and encourage other bands. Finding our first show in Atlanta was not difficult, and finding shows since has never been hard thanks to the people in the scene. Everyone is very encouraging. Since gaining traction, we have tried not to over-expose HALMOS and only play local shows once a month. We are currently making a considerable effort to tour.

Q11 – Have you toured with any famous bands or artists. If so who have been your favourite.

We have not yet done a full tour with the same bands on the bill, but we have played shows with Pallbearer and Black Tusk (among others). I think those two shows have to be counted among our favorites. Those bands are excellent and put on a great show. Great group of guys as well.

Q12 – Are you full time musicians or do you all have regular jobs to pay the bills.

We all have jobs outside of HALMOS. Melanie is a scientist, Casey owns his own business, I have a full time job in a piercing studio, and Travis studies at a local university and works as well. HALMOS comes together when our schedules allow, but we’re always brainstorming and writing on our own.

Q13 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is it down to one individual

Usually someone comes in with a collection of riffs that we learn and refine as a band. We’ll place the riffs in a different order, try different tempos, and anything else we can come up with. We try our hardest to never be satisfied with a song until we collectively experience that moment of “Ah ha!” together. Any musician will tell you that the little brief moment of silence that follows experimenting with a new song, the moment when everyone just stares at each other, is how you know when a song is done. You just know it as a band that it is finished.

From that point I begin writing lyrics, experimenting with different themes and styles. The lyrics are then scrutinized by everyone, including myself, during rehearsals. We intentionally leave the lyrics open to new ideas and revision until it is time to record.

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

As individuals, we have an eclectic taste in music. Everyone’s iPod is a mix of different genres and artists. As of late I have been listening to a mix of modern day bands as well as classic stoner era music. Lately I have been listening to the new Royal Thunder album, the Kyuss and Sleep catalogues, as well as The Black Angels. Locally, I have been listening to Zoroaster, Demonaut, and Modern Man (Charleston, SC area) a lot lately.

Q15 – What are your views of blogs featuring and reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines?

I think online music blogs are a band’s best resource for being heard. There is a considerable amount of competition involved in being featured in a printed magazine as these publications need to generate profit. That isn’t a bad thing, but many music blogs I visit (and were sent Exist) are more open to reviewing and featuring bands that are not as well-known. We welcome any opportunity to speak with a music blog or printed publication about HALMOS equally.

Q16 – What are your views of record companies shutting down blogs and websites due to illegal downloading. Some people are for it and some people are against it.

I am not yet decided on the issue. I am not a fan of illegal downloading, but I am also not fan of record companies charging a ridiculous amount of money for a band’s merchandise and that band only seeing a very small percentage of that revenue. I think a middle ground can be found, but a part of it should involve leaving alone music blogs that stream an artist’s work. I like seeing bands and artists take a direct, self-release approach to selling their music and merchandise, but it is extremely difficult to do if you do not already have the capital to finance it and are not already well-known.

Q17 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. Obviously the reality of how expensive it is being in a band could be considered as a negative aspect.

HALMOS can be expensive, that is by far the least fun. We are very particular about not over-exposing ourselves by playing nightly, so we miss out on being paid often. But this has taught us patience and creativity. We spend more of our time refining our sound and working on our live show rather than digging ourselves a financial pit by continually releasing previously recorded material on various formats. We simply cannot afford to do it. But one way we have tried to combat this is by releasing our albums digitally, and then printing a limited number of physical copies to sell at shows. We do the same with other merchandise – doing select runs of t-shirts, etc.

Despite the financial headaches, it’s indescribably fun being a part of HALMOS. We are all great friends and see each other often outside of rehearsals, but we give each other enough space to have lives outside of the band. We don’t allow HALMOS to turn into a monotonous chore.

Q18 – Apart from the album, do you have any future plans for the upcoming 12 months or so. Anything we should be excited about.

We are currently planning a few “mini-tours” on the East Coast during the summer. We will be playing Doom at the Beach II in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on August 24 and hope to plan a tour around it. Our release show for Exist is Friday, April 19 in Atlanta, which you can find more information about on our Facebook page. We don’t rush anything with HALMOS, so we will begin writing new material when we feel re-energized and ready to do so.

Q19 – If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be.

Starting a band is a simple matter of just doing it. Buy an instrument, find someone to play with, and just start writing. Experiment with things outside of your comfort zone. If the band falls apart, it falls apart. No one - just starting out, with fifty years experience, thousands of dollars invested or not - should ever force the creative process or stick with a band that makes them miserable or does not fulfill them creatively. If something isn’t working, just let it go. Chalk it up to experience.

Q20 - Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

Plain and simple – THANK YOU. Our fans put our name out there. Without our fans, we simply aren’t able to be HALMOS.

Well Corey thanks for the great interview. Best of luck to the band with their amazing new album. Seriously folks buy this album now. You won't be disappointed. 

Check The Band from the links below.