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Interview

Kragen Lum Discusses The "Chaos" Surrounding Heathen

Photo of Heathen

Band Photo: Heathen (?)

Heathen is one of the original thrash bands. Beginning in the early 80s, the band carved a name for itself through the years. After taking a hiatus, Heathen is back and bigger than ever. Albums later and often touring, Heathen is currently supporting Destruction on a trek through the states. I got a chance to talk to guitarist Kragen Lum while he was riding the tour bus.

Buick McKane: How are you doing today?

Kragen Lum: Good. We’re just traveling on the tour, and we got a day off traveling to Texas.

Buick McKane: Great. Your latest album “The Evolution of Chaos” came out last year. Are there any plans for a new one yet?

Kragen: Well, I think we’re going to finish this tour and we’ll have a little time off in the summer while Lee [Altus] is doing stuff with Exodus. And then we’ve got a tour planned for later this year, and I think after that we’ll start working on the new one. But, you know, Lee Altus and I have a bunch of riffs and song ideas, so hopefully it won’t take us too long.

Buick: And it seems like things have been pretty crazy for yall over the past two years because of issues with the band members and tour problems, like getting kicked off the show in Detroit….

Kragen: Yeah, that was disappointing. We would have loved to play that show, but the promoter basically double-booked the venue that night, and he had the Destruction/Heathen tour and also the Cavalera Conspiracy tour on the same night. And he didn’t sell enough tickets to pay everybody so he just started kicking bands off the bill. There was us and I think one other band that didn’t get to play that night. That kind of stuff is disappointing, you know; we wish people could be a little bit more honorable. But there was nothing we could really do about it other than be there and hang out.

Buick: Right, at least get to be there and mingle with your fans.

Kragen: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Buick: Do you think things will kind of get back to normal after this tour ends?

Kragen: I hope so. I mean, you know, the beginning of the tour was kind of difficult trying to get things running, and we were having equipment issues and some other things. But things have sort of smoothed out, the shows have been really great, and we’re really hoping, once we finish the tour, now we can focus on getting some other things going for the band and work towards the tour we have coming up in November.

Buick: And is that going to be a US tour?

Kragen: That one’s in Europe. They haven’t really announced the lineup yet, but it’s going to be killer.

Buick: I wish I could see it. And yall have played some festivals before. Do yall have any booked for this year?

Kragen: No. Unfortunately, we don’t. Our booking agent in Europe wasn’t able to get anything for us this year, and we actually parted ways with him because of that. We’re working with another booking agent over there now. And it’s late in the year, we just now got it set up so that if anyone drops off of a festival and they need a band, we’re available. We’ll see. There’s still a possibility, but as time goes on, it’s less likey.

Buick: One thing you could do is the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise.

Kragen: Yeah, we’ve actually already been talking about that, and our manager is working on getting us on that this next year.

Buick: That’s great. A lot of thrash bands have formed in the last few years, and the original bands like Heathen have come back into popularity. What do you think about this thrash revival?

Kragen: I think it’s already starting to change a little bit. A lot of the younger bands that came out in the beginning of this sort of thrash revival were really enthusiastic about what they were doing, but their music was really derivative of the old stuff. You know, they weren’t really doing anything that was that original or interesting. There are a few bands that are exceptions to that, of course. I think it’s great that a lot of the bands that were playing that stuff back then, like Heathen, were able to come back and not just put out an album, but for us it was great to put out an album that we felt really great about. And it got such strong reviews from the press and from fans and everything, so we were really happy about that. And we’d like to see that continue.

Buick: Do you see a lot of younger people at the shows?

Kragen: Yeah. It’s great that there’s this group of kids out there that doesn’t know who we are, but they really like what they see when we play live; they’re like, “Yeah, you guys were great. Where can I get the CD?” And that’s exactly what the band needs to do right now is rebuild our fan base and build it back up because the band’s been away for so long.

Buick: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Kragen: Just want to thank everybody who bought “The Evolution of Chaos” or supported Heathen by coming out to see us or bought a t-shirt or anything like that. We really appreciate all the support, and we’re looking forward to coming back out and playing in everybody’s area. Hopefully, sometime in the near future.

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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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