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Interviews : “You could be the best drummer in the world, but if you’re an arsehole, you won’t be playing in any bands” – An Interview With Dave Haley (Psycroptic)

By on February 16, 2017

psycroptic

Dave Haley – Psycroptic

David Haley. Need I say more? The drumming legend of Psycroptic fame is easily one of the best in the business, and definitely one of the most versatile drummers the country has. From Psycroptic and Ruins, to KING, managing Direct Touring and organising mini-mosh festivals around the country, Dave essentially has his finger in every pie in the industry. We sat down with him to have a chat about his bands, his drumming style, how he manages time, and, of course, the Thrash, Blast and Grind festival!

“Things have been good and I’m keeping busy,” Haley opens. “We’re pretty much working on the new album at the moment and are three quarters or more through the writing process. We want to get back to the studio as soon as possible. We felt with the last album we built up some good momentum and we were just really enjoying playing songs, touring and whatnot but thought we’d see if we could shorten the gap between release. The aim is to get back into the studio and have the album out mid to late this year.”

Psycroptic’s last album was quite diverse as compared to their older material. While still maintaining their signature sound, it’s clear the band experimented here and there. Dave shared a little about what fans can expect from the new record. “I thnk the same sort of progression basically is what we’re keeping in mind; but we’re picking up where we left off with the last album. To us it almost seems like a continual progression in the writing. All the albums are different but there is a common thread from one to the next, we just let it be as natural as possible in terms of writing.” Quite often categorized as a tech-death band which holds true for some of the music in their older albums, still limits the description of what they actually play. “I have to agree with you there because in the past we would probably be categorised as a technical band. We’ve always just done whatever we do. Honestly, I’d just describe it as metal. We take influences from all genres of metal even music outside metal. I don’t think the tech death tag really applies to our later albums even though the the riffs are quite technical. But in terms of tech for tech sake, we just try to make the music as catchy as possible, and still keep hanging on to our signature sound. Joe is very original so that definitely helps.”

Dave also shared his thoughts on how the band’s approach to creating music has changed over the years. “It has definitely changed and evolved because back in the early days we’d always rehearse a lot before going in to record the album, not so much demoing but we’d just have everything written before going into the studio and later on develop it and do the pre-production. But now Joe is actually pretty much the primary songwriter, so he’ll demo it and even the ideas behind it, and then I’ll come in and help with the structural arrangements. Lyrically, Jason has pretty much taken over the writing. I was the sole lyricist for a few albums and then once Jason became more confident, that kind of phased out.”

So how did the amazing Thrash, Blast & Grind Festival come into existence? “Well the idea came together when myself and Youngy from King Parrot had been about playing some more shows together. It’s always sick hanging out with the guys (King Parrot) so I guess from there is where it started. After that we talked about going on tour, then stepped it up a bit and thought we’d do a mini-fest, also given that there is a bit of a hole in that market at the moment. We’re also very good friends with the boys from Revocation so we had a chat with them and they bought their flight tickets the next day! In terms of putting the line up together, it was easy, the work came when we had to figure out the logistics. But we’re all very excited about it.”

Not only is Dave one of the brains behind this heavy festival but if you love your black metal, he’s got something even better coming up in March, and trust me, it’s a real treat of a line-up. Direct Underground Fest is scheduled to take place on March 17th in Sydney and March 18th in Melbourne and features the likes of Polish lords Mgla, the mighty Marduk and some of Australia’s finest acts as well. “I guess over the years, just being in the scene and knowing a lot of bands, we have a lot of mutual friends. I asked a mutual friend and hit Mgla up with an offer. It’s simple; usually t’s just hittingg up bands like that and then negotiating till both parties are happy. There’s lots of bands I’d love to tour but sometimes it doesn’t always work out. Something like Direct Underground, I’ve worked with Marduk and Gorguts before, I consider them friends so it all worked out. Communication is key.”

Dave also plays in a band called Ruins that steps into the darker realms of metal and certainly brings out his grim side. “Alex is pretty much the mastermind behind Ruins and is the epitome of an artist. As long as  he can hear the music he’s happy. He was in zero rush to release it; I tracked drums quite a number of years ago, but he was happy to plug along at his own pace with no real motivation to release it. He didn’t really care to be honest! It was more everyone around him hounding him to get it done.It was a bit of a slow process and the recording was a little bit different as well for me because at the time  I had just come off the back of quite a bit of touring  and I hadn’t really jammed along to the songs. But I had learnt the riffs and the music so when we went in to the studio, we kind of just went for it in terms of trying lots of different ideas, and were quite spontaneous in terms of creating the drum parts which was quite enjoyable for me.

“In terms of the overall sound of it, we don’t think about it too much, we try to keep the instruments as natural as possible. We don’t have a clear image or a vision I guess of how it’s going to sound. we do have the songs in our heads and there might be certain parts that need to be accentuated, but in terms of the prcoess its more fo a layering process, at each stage, we assessed, and then made a decision based on that. It’s a bit like a painting in terms of tthe structure; if you don’t like something you can paint over it.”

Another guilty pleasure of Dave Haley is KING: a black metal band that absolutely slayed with their debut album that was released last year. Two years in the making, but well worth the wait, the band played quite a few shows following its release and Dave is keen to keep going with the project. “I’ve known Tony and Dave for years, so that was the driving force behind KING. When they asked if I wanted to drum on the album, I said, ‘yeah, of course!’ without having actually heard the material. But playing with friends was a no-brainer. That was another album I was very spontaneous with when we recorded.  Dave game me some guidelines and drumming styles so I kept that in mind but went about it very naturally. It was supposed to be just a project, but for sure; I don’t mind continuing. If I’m having fun doing it and I have the time, why stop?”

Playing in multiple bands and being a session drummer, it takes a lot of effort even if you’re passionate. I spoke to Dave about how he approaches working with each band and whether his mentality changes at all depending on the band he works with. “That’s a great question and I’m wondering how to answer it: you could  be the best drummer in the world but if you’re an arsehole and you don’t get along with people, you’re not going to be playing in any bands. The personal aspect and the interpersonal relationships in a band is as important as actually performing, in some cases even more important. You’re effectively living with those people for months on end; you’re on the stage together only for 40, 50 minutes, but you spend a large part of your time otherwise with them. So that’s something that you always need to keep in mind. My approach is always being professional and as prepared as possible, especially in terms of being in a band and just be a good dude. It’s the good dude policy!”

Being even in one band these days isn’t an easy feat, let alone being in multiple ones, touring and managing your own touring company. How does he do it! “It’s actually pretty easy to be honest and I feel like I could do a lot more. It all comes down to time management really, have a calendar, write things down. I’d like to spend most of my day on the drums but it’s actually behind the computer. Just scheduling in rehearsals and recording sessions, my own practice time and making sure you’re organised, it makes things easy. I don’t find it challenging.”

Catch Psycroptic on the remaining dates of the Thrash, Blast and Grind Festival.

Direct Underground Fest takes place in March. Be there!

thrash-blast-2017

 

About

Prarthana is a vegan, Indo-Aussie, heavy music addict, fluent in sarcasm and metal. Traveling is an obsession as she enjoys taking in the history of various countries and following her favorite bands. She's either eating, teaching grammar or learning an instrument, when not occupied with windmilling in the faces of other humans.