Interview with Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal
Band Photo: Hate Eternal (?)
Death metallers Hate Eternal have been thorugh some rough times, but nothing can stop them from continuing to rock the house when they play. Currently on the Decimation of the Nation 2 Tour alongside Cannibal Corpse and Hatebreed, the Floridians take the stage nightly and tear it up with crushing metal and techincal wizardry on their respective intruments. I had a chance to talk to Erik Rutan, guitarist and vocalist about the loss of bassist Jared Anderson, an upcoming album and how he got so damn good at guitar. During the interview, Hatebreed was on stage not far away, and the walls of the club were very thin. Fortunately, I transcribed the interview which is below the video.
Buick Mckane: Welcome to New Orleans.
Erik Rutan: Thank you.
Buick: How’s the tour been going so far?
Erik: It’s been going great. It’s great to be in New Orleans. I love New Orleans.
Buick: Really? Do you like this area of town?
Erik: Well, I would say that I’m not too familiar with this area of town. The last time I was here, I was at One Eyed Jacks. It was a great, great place to play and a great area to travel around.
Buick: That was in the French Quarter; it’s nice there. It’s been almost two years since your last album came out which was “Fury and Flames.” Do you have any plans for a new album?
Erik: Yeah, We’re gonna record in May of next year. We just started working on material lately, so we’re in preproduction. We’re gonna keep working on stuff; we got a couple shows next year, and we’re gonna record in May and June.
Buick: How long does it take you to record an album? What I really want to know is when you’ll be on tour again.
Erik: I would say probably not until October or September. But we won’t be touring for a while. We got a couple shows, but that’s about it. I have some other productions with other bands that I’ll been working on for a while. It would be ridiculous to try and squeeze it all in.
Buick: I was about to say you produce a lot of albums including Cannibal Corpse’s new album, a lot of Goatwhore’s albums which I’m very proud of. I love their last one by the way.
Erik: Thank you. It’s one of the best records I’ve worked on. Goatwhore and Soilent Green. They’re two New Orleans bands. And Cannibal Corpse. Those are the three best bands to play when; the best bands to record with. Goatwhore and Soilent Green, I’ve been working with them for years. I’m great friends with them; we’re like family. Same with Cannibal Corpse. It’s always great to work with such great bands. Being able to tour with Cannibal Corpse; we work together, we’re friends. So to tour together is pretty awesome.
Buick: Do you ever come down here [New Orleans] to work on albums? You know, I’d like to know, but if you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine.
Erik: It’s mostly at my studio in St. Pete, Florida. Most of the bands travel there. This studio is…beautiful studio. It’s right near the beach. Good vibe. I would love to come to New Orleans just to spend time here, but I would work here, sure, if I had the opportunity. But most of the bands want to come to my place.
Buick: So they do that for their vacations?
Erik: Yeah, I mean for them it’s getting out of town, wherever that is, to focus just on the album. Most of the bands I work with come from out of town, out of state. But, like Cannibal, they live in Tampa, so it’s pretty convenient.
Buick: How do you balance being a producer and being in your own band?
Erik: It’s hard. It’s hard to balance to two careers. And a life on top of that. It’s, like, hard work. Obviously, I mix a lot of records, tour and write a lot of music. I’m still finding a balance. You know, like, sometimes I work too much, and I realize I’ve got to [slow down]. So I’m starting to find a balance; tour this much, produce this much and have some time to write music and time to just relax. Still trying to find a balance, I guess. You know, trying to work out a balance.
Buick: Your bass player used to be Alex Webster, right?
Erik: Yeah, he played on “Fury and Flames.” He also played on my first demo before I ever made a Hate Eternal record. So me and Alex have been friends for a long time, we work together. I had Alex play on “Fury and Flames” because Jared Anderson, my old bass player, had passed away. He was going to be a part of the record, and when he died, I really wanted to have somebody fill in his shoes. Somebody that would be perfect, so that would be Alex. And Alex was a great friend of mine. It made every sense to have Alex play on the record in Jared’s place.
Buick: Since [you and Alex] are on tour together, I figured, maybe he would play…
Erik: Double-duty? We have a bass player who’s been playing with us for over a year now; his name is Jay. He’s doing a solid job, great job. He’s going to be on the next record as well. I got everything set up. And Alex, he’s a busy guy; being in Cannibal... But it was an honor to have Alex play on the record. He did an amazing job.
Buick: I was right in front of you when you were playing tonight, and your skills are amazing. I have to say, you’re one of the best players I’ve ever seen; the way you…you’re so fast. You did one part that was very soulful like Stevie Ray Vaughn; you made it cry.
Erik: That’s the song I wrote for Jared when he passed away. I wanted to write a song that was dedicated to him. The whole record was really in honor of Jared because he was a big part of the band for five years. He was one of my best friends, so when he passed away it just…that was how I was feeling at the time, so that’s how I wrote the song, and the solo is one of my best, I think. Play that song all the time because of that reason. It’s got a lot of sentimental value.
Buick: How did you learn to play so well?
Erik: I grew up in a classical family, so my sister played classical piano. My father played cello, my grandmother played classical piano. I played violin when I was, like, five, I think, for a couple of years. I didn’t stick with the violin. I mean, when I was a kid, I wanted to play football and what not. But, as I grew older, I just found the guitar, and I just took to it really well, I think, because I’ve always been surrounded by music my whole life; listening to complex music, classical music from a child. Listening to all sorts of music growing up…So I think when I applied it to guitar, it just came natural. I have a good ear. I guess that’s why I do what I do; producing and playing, I have a very good ear for music. I just put every bit of my desire into guitar. Also, guitar is a part of who I am. You know, like, when I was younger, when I was a kid, playing guitar, I started when I was like 15 or 16, and that was a way of expressing myself in a fashion that was positive. Rather than before I was playing guitar; I was kind of a juvenile delinquent. You know, I was always in trouble. So, guitar kind of gave me something to express myself with, and I guess that’s why I put all my passion into guitar. It’s all based on emotion with guitar playing. I don’t think about it. I guess that’s why when I’m on stage, I’m not thinking about any of it; it’s just fluid. It just comes natural. I just play. Just let it all out. It’s great expression.
Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Erik: I love New Orleans. I love coming here, and I wish that I could see more of New Orleans. Playing One Eyed Jacks last time was great for me because I’ve never been to the French Quarter. I got a little taste of New Orleans, but not enough. I hope to come back some day and really get to know more about it. I love the music from New Orleans. I love the history behind New Orleans, the people. It’s just great, it’s awesome. New Orleans just to me is a special place. I always enjoy playing here.
Buick: We would love to have you, so feel free to come back.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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