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Interview

Hammerdrone Prepares For A "Dark Harvest" Of The Metal Scene

Over the last few years I've been consistently impressed with the quality of the underground metal scene across Canada.

Counted among that thriving metallic community is melodic death outfit Hammerdrone (and now I can't stop thinking about a drone that launches Super Mario style hammers instead of missiles - sorry guys, that's probably not what you were going for!).

Following the "Clone of Europa" album from back in 2013, the Hammerdrone is getting ready for another strike in the form of second full-length album "Dark Harvest." While that album isn't due until late March, we've got plenty of advance info to fans to wade through after checking in with vocalist Graham Harris.

From the real life, stranger-than-fiction origins that inspired the album to the tendency of Americans to view Canadians as hyper nice people, we cover a bit of everything below, including all things "Dark Harvest!"

xFiruath: OK, so totally random question, but I saw that photo on your Facebook profile with the angry Canadian maple leaf during a show and that's killer. Is there a story behind the shirt at all and do you guys think of yourselves as the stereotypical super nice Canadians?

Graham: Ha ha! Thanks for the compliment! I actually designed the t-shirt myself :-) I pull together the occasional t-shirt design and throw it up on TeePublic and usually I end up being the only one who buys it. It was really just a doodle but it's become one of my favourite shirts, precisely because of the play on the 'polite Canadian' stereotype. Just watch Canadians play hockey and tell me how "super nice" we are ;-)

xFiruath: It's been about three years between “Clone Of Europa” and now the upcoming release of “Dark Harvest” - and nearly as long since we posted a Hammerdrone news story at Metalunderground! What has the band been up to in the intervening time and what's changed on the Hammerdrone front?

Graham: It's funny to see that it has been 3 years since "Clone." We almost had "Dark Harvest" written within a year of that, so to have it take this long to get to the point of release has been a bit frustrating. "Clone" was well received and we did some great gigs on the back of that, but I ended up moving to Australia for work at the end of 2014, and only returned to Canada in Spring of 2016. So that did kill our momentum a bit, though I recorded the vocals over there.

The main change in the band has been that we welcomed our old friend Teran Wyer into the band on bass. Vinnie and I used to play in Reverend Kill with Teran, so when we parted ways with Steve he was an obvious guy to approach to help us out for a couple of gigs. He's still helping out... so I guess he's now a part of the band whether he likes it or not!

xFiruath: Musically, what can fans expect from this new release and how has the music shifted or stayed the same since the previous album?

Graham: I think this is our most coherent release to date. Every song flows and meshes together nicely and I'd say that the writing is more sophisticated, although it's stylistically similar to what we produced on "Clone," in that we're still firmly rooted in the melodic death metal genre. However, I'd say the listening journey on this album is more emotionally intense than on "Clone," like standing in the sea and having multiple crashing waves coming one after the other to drench you to the core.

xFiruath: Where did recording take place and how did that process go from beginning to end?

Graham: Vinnie actually recorded all the instruments, and mixed and mastered this one, at his home studio here in Calgary. Vocals were recorded in various rehearsal rooms in Brisbane, Australia. That's the beautiful part of the music-technology revolution - I simply laid down the tracks and emailed them 12,500 miles to Vinnie to add into the rest of the songs. In general I'd say that self-recording was a long learning curve, but Vinnie is a determined person and the kind of guy that does something right when he chooses to do it, so we were never in any doubt that the final product was going to be something we were proud of.

xFiruath: What was the Hammerdrone drink of choice during the writing and recording process for “Dark Harvest?”

Graham: "Drink of choice" implies too much like we care what we are drinking... generally, our jam pad is fueled by the cheapest, shittiest lager that Teran or Rick can buy. And lots of water.

xFiruath: Let's dive into the concept of the album, which I know is based on real events and not a fictional “dark harvest.” Can you explain what inspired the title and how that is presented through the lyrics and music?

Graham: Yeah, the "Dark Harvest" in question actually refers to the "Dark Harvest Commando," a real-life but little known Scottish terrorist organization.

The back story is that the U.K. government tested anthrax during World War II on a small Scottish island called Gruinard Island. The anthrax left the soil contaminated and the island uninhabitable and by 1981 it still hadn't been cleaned up.

So these guys - who were supposedly a bunch of university micro-biologists - landed on the island, carted off a whole load of anthrax-laden soil and sent parcels of it to various U.K. government locations, demanding that the island be cleaned up or that they would leave soil "at appropriate points that will ensure the rapid loss of indifference of the government and the equally rapid education of the general public!" So the title track "Dark Harvest" is directly about these events, but it's not a concept album per se.

On a similar note, tell me about the cover art – who handled that and how does it connect to the music?

Graham: Gladly! We are super pleased to have worked with Caio Caldas on the cover art and packaging design. Caio's a Brazilian graphic artist - who's best known for producing covers for Dragonforce - but we saw his work for Raven Lord's "Descent To The Underworld" and just loved the dark feel and strong impact it had. I described to him what we were looking for and he produced exactly what I had in mind. It's obviously a fantastical interpretation of the real-life events described in "Dark Harvest" but that's cool, 'cause it looks really METAL.

xFiruath: Are there plans for any music/lyric videos off this album?

Graham: There sure are. We have partially recorded a music video for the title track, and will be completing recording on that, hopefully, within the next couple of weeks. So you can look out for that hitting YouTube sometime soon.

xFiruath: Will this be an independent release or is Hammerdrone going to see distribution through a label this time around?

Graham: We're releasing this ourselves via Bandcamp, as we always do. Having said that, we would love to work with a label to get this out to a greater audience.

xFiruath: Is Hammerdrone gearing up for live shows to support the release, and what's the best show you guys have played in recent memory?

Graham: Yep, we're playing an official CD release in Calgary on March 24th and hope to get out to as many places as we can to promote the album. We had a killer show at the end of last year supporting Krepitus on their album release, together with Misanthropy and Train Bigger Monkeys - all great local bands. And we were also lucky enough to support Numenorean on their album release. So since I got back to Canada we've been lucky enough to be involved in some great shows.

xFiruath: Outside your own album, what tunes are the Hammerdrone guys blasting lately, and what's coming out soon you are looking forward to?

Graham: I'm currently listening to the new Morta Skuld - great to be listening to those guys again, given they were one of the first death metal bands I ever heard!

xFiruath: Anything else you'd like to add?

Graham: Downloading music for free is the devil's work... if you like someone's music, please do the decent thing and buy it. Producing music is expensive as shit!

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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