Interview with Housecore Record's haarp Part 1
haarp (spelled with two a's, all lowercase, get it right!) is one of New Orleans' fastest-rising straight-up metal bands. With the support of their label Houscore Records and it's owner Philip Anselmo, they've got the go ahead to spread their metal to the masses. The band consists of vocalist Shaun, bassist Ryan, guitarist Grant, and drummer Keith. I had a chance to speak with haarp just before their show in Metiarie, Louisiana to discuess their debut full-length album soon to be released, what it's like to have Philip Anselmo as a boss, and Shaun's strange "stage" presence. A transcription follows.
Buick Mckane: Hi guys! How are yall doing tonight?
Shaun: Doing great.
Grant: How you doin’?
Buick: What I want to know mostly about it is this new album that’s supposed to be coming out that you’ve been working on for a while. Tell me all about it.
Ryan: We have been working on it for a while. It’s due out…when’s it due out?
Shaun: Should be out November.
Ryan: At the latest, November. Early November.
Keith: Here’s the deal: music’s all done, it’s mixed, it’s being mastered right now. It should be done within the week. All work is being finished; the finishing touches. We have to get that to do advertising, layout. Should be done in November. Nine songs. It’s all ready to go, just waiting to be processed and put out.
Buick: I see.
Shaun: It’s a full…it’s an hour of music.
Ryan: Shaun’s big on times.
Buick: How long were you working on it; writing and recording?
Shaun: It’s actually some of the songs that we wrote while we…actually when we just formed. A lot of the stuff we recorded on the two EPs is the stuff in between the first few of the songs and then…
Ryan: Yeah, it’s been a work in progress for a while.
Ryan: It’s got a few more months.
Buick: Are yall going to have an awesome release party when it comes out?
Ryan: If it’s coming out in November, it’s coming out right around my birthday, so we’re going to have a serious fucking party.
Shaun: We’re hoping to do a cd release show in New Orleans or Metairie, and then also we want to try and do one on the Northshore.
Ryan: I don’t know.
Keith: That’s what I said.
Shaun: If we think we can get enough people to come out over there. I don’t know.
Ryan: If the Greenroom buys a PA, maybe.
Shaun: We were thinking about it.
Buick: You have anything to say about a party on the Northshore?
Grant: If we could get some good bands out, that’d be great. But, it’s finding good bands.
Buick: Alright, well, after your big cd release party, are yall going to go on a tour? Anything like that?
Grant: Yes, we are. We’re going to try to tour on this album as much as possible. Hopefully do a North American Tour.
Buick: Who do you think you could get to play with yall on your tour? Who would be perfect?
Shaun: We talking about a haarp and Eyehategod tour.
Ryan: It would definitely be great fun to tour with them.
Shaun: Yeah, we had a lot of fun on those last three shows we did on the road with them.
Ryan: Those guys are a blast, man. They’re awesome. Lookin’ forward to that. Partying with those dudes for a few months.
Buick: Any tour they go on would be absolutely crazy. Like the one they did on the boat in New York. I saw the video and Mike punched a guy in the face.
Ryan: Yeah, I was about to say, Mike punched the dude in the nose…
Shaun: The dude thanked him for it.
Ryan: …and the dude thanked him for it. I’m like, “That’s pretty wild.”
Shaun: He was proud to have been punched in the face by Eyehategod. Yeah, they’re better than ever now.
Ryan: Yeah, they were pretty ridiculous when we played with them. Powerful. It was awesome.
Buick: Well, your label’s owner Phil Anselmo is absolutley in love and crazy about yall because he talks about you all the time. I’ve heard him do it. So why does he love yall so much?
Ryan: I don’t know.
Buick: How did yall get on his label?
Ryan: I believe it was…[Keith] was in contact with Rat in a Bucket. And then, kind of, after the storm, I think he got back in touch with Keith and we had haarp going. So it just kind of fell into place. So good timing, I guess
Shaun: Yeah, we were a very different sound from what he had been receiving as far as hopefuls in the mail. And…I don’t know. He says we’re one of his new favorite bands.
Keith: He’s absolutely terrible to work with. He’s mean. He won’t listen to you.
Shaun: He’s locked us in his house before.
Ryan: He yelled at me. He was very upset.
Buick: What did he yell at you about?
Ryan: I don’t know.
Shaun: He’s got a mean dog. Mean dog.
Ryan: Horrible dog!
Keith: Nah, he’s great. He’s more like a friend when we’re working with him. Supportive. He gives us opportunities. Good studio equipment, good engineer.
Shaun: He likes all of our ideas.
Ryan: He’s totally a friend way more than a boss. He’s cool as shit. Very easy to work with. He’s got a lot of good ideas. And Shirley the dog is the best dog of all time. She’s not mean.
Keith: Yeah, him and Kate are real open to what you need. They’ll work with you, they give you help, they give you support. They’ve helped us out with the artwork, mastering, engineering guys. It’s a pleasure to work with them.
Shaun: Yeah, they got a lot of good contacts. They’re family.
Ryan: It’s like a vacation rather than work; just getting to hang out.
Buick: Yall stay on the Northshore when you record or travel over there everyday?
Ryan: Stay when we can, you know? Unless it’s a school night. For the most part we go try to hang out; barbeque and record, barbeque and record.
Buick: Nothing else to do on the Northshore other than go to the Greenroom. Well, you’re playing style is very different than other bands because you like to walk around the audience and scream in their face. Have you ever got any strange reactions from people when you do that? Kind of like at the Westwego show but better. ‘Cause they were kind of freaked out.
Shaun: Strange reactions, yeah. But usually I’m looking through everybody. But sometimes I’ll see faces and usually they’re…I don’t know.
Keith: Taken aback?
Shaun:Yeah, taken aback is a good way to describe it.
Grant: I was horrified the first time Shaun jumped in my face and started singing. It was very uncomfortable.
Ryan: It gets very uncomfortable, and eventually we let him venture around the crowd.
Buick: So he wouldn’t have to do it to you?
Keith: He steps on pedals, steps on cords.
Ryan: Yeah, he steps on pedals!
Shaun: That’s why. They kicked me off the stage too many times so it’s easier to be on the floor than to be by them because I’m fucking shit up.
Ryan: That is how it all started. Cut me and Grant off numerous times stepping on pedals and what not.
Buick: Has anybody ever tried to push you away from them, not because they were trying to mosh, because they were trying to get you away from them?
Shaun: Yeah, there’s actually a girl in here tonight that I think I’ve sweated on so much she had to change clothes.
Ryan: Can you edit this? That’s ridiculous.
Keith: Oh, they’ve had people try to take the mic away from him, sing with him and everything.
Buick: Do you hit them in the head when that happens?
Shaun: I hung a guy off the one-foot stage at Checkpoint Charlie’s one night.
Keith: You did. Wrapped the cord around his neck and lifted.
Ryan: It was nice.
Shaun: His tongue came out and yanked back. And when he hit the floor, the crowd kicked his ass. It was pretty good, he deserved every fucking beating.
Buick: Was it a big show?
Shaun: No, it was a small show; maybe about 40 people at Checkpoint Charlie’s at two in the morning on a Saturday.
Buick: I was about to say if a bunch of people kicked his ass that’d be pretty fun to see.
Shaun: I can’t wait for everybody to hear [the album].
Grant: This is the best thing I’ve ever done. This is an hour of music I’m completely proud of. I’m glad this dude’s putting it out.
Ryan: The way it was done because the only recordings I’ve ever been on were two EPs and a full-length yet to be released. I mean, we recorded both EPs within a matter of a couple weeks, you know, and this has taken a while. But it was done right. It sounds amazing. Pretty sure it’s going to be fucking well received. Hopfeully.
Check out Part 2 of the interview here.
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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