Here in the UK, a power metal tour of any capacity is a cause for mass celebration due to their relative infrequency. Generally speaking, a power metal act will make a sporadic appearance in London alone, and possibly a major summer festival here and there, meaning that unlucky Richards like yours truly in the north or the Midlands will miss out on the action. However, if you happen to live in Mainland Europe, the possibilities and combinations of acts are endless. Continue reading
Mid-September officially sees the start of Crazy Season for album releases… But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered here at Ghost Cult with our round-up of some of this weeks and last weeks albums that may just have escaped your attention, for better or for worse…
Once Human will release their first live album Stage Of Evolution, on September 28th. Via earMUSIC. Hear them cover Machine Head classic track ‘Davidian’ below. Continue reading
With previous vocalist Roy Khan firmly in their rearview mirror (the band’s former singer himself recently announcing a return to the music scene in a solo capacity after a break of seven years), Floridian Power Metal act Kamelot keep to their tried and trusted formula for latest release The Shadow Theory (Napalm). As well as being the band’s twelfth full-length studio album, their third with Swedish frontman Tommy Karevik, this release also marks the end of the line for long-serving drummer Casey Grillo, who left in February. Continue reading
If you slept on Once Human’s The Life I Remember, you need to wake up. Right now. Evolution (both earMUSIC) is exactly as the name states; an evolution of extreme music blended into one glorious molten mold of metal. Continue reading
Within a band in modern times, musicians often maintain a larger role than originally expected. Logan Mader discovered this upon forming his latest musical venture Once Human, and aside from being the band’s guitarist and songwriter, he wears many other hats than the ones just mentioned, and explains about where his motivation comes from.
“I’ve been juggling my workload, as a freelance producer and writer – you kind of have to multitask a lot. I’m also managing the band Starset. That also takes up a lot of time as well. They’re quite busy. I just make it work. I don’t sleep. I’ve had to shift my schedule around a bit to make some time for Once Human. Even still, I’m producing albums and before we go on tour I’ll be producing this record during the day and then rehearing at night, in between hanging out with my kids a little bit and go to the gym.”
“I’m managing the band Starset and I can do that from anywhere as long as I have internet connection and a phone. I’m managing Once Human as well. I have a partner and his name is Steve Hutton from Uppercut Management. He and I are partners on the band Starset and Once Human.”
Being someone unafraid of new challenges, Mader took on the role of producing the band’s debut music video. He discovered that he thrives on working under pressure and finds a way to turn that into a positive.
“It’s a little overwhelming I’ve gotta tell you at some point and I helped produce our music video (‘You Cunt’). I’ve never done that before. I’m taking on a lot of workload and day to day interaction. It’s challenging and there’s a lot of prepping involved. I like the challenge and I usually work good under pressure.”
“Sometimes I want to run away from it all but I never do. I always chip away and make it happen.”
He explained what Once Human is all about and his reasons after bowing out of the touring life for the past 12 years and entering the studio world to returning to a world he once was a part of.
“Once Human is my rude awakening as an artist for me. It involves little bits of everything that I’ve learned throughout my experiences from the beginning. I’ve been doing music for 20 years and that’s all I’ve done. I’m wearing a lot of hats but not just a guitar player but a producer and manager. It’s a pure passion project that I feel inspired about it as I did when I first started playing in Machine Head. There’s something real here. I’m really excited about this. We’re gonna go with this and the fact that I can do it all, I can do this as well. I don’t have to just be behind the scenes in the studio. I can do this as well because I miss it. I like adrenaline and there’s only one way to get that is to do it.”
“I’ve tried other things like I do extreme off shore sport fishing. That’s when I have time. That’s a big adrenaline rush to catch a big 100 pound tuna. I get a similar type of rush from that. I play in poker tournaments and I get that adrenaline rush out of that. There’s nothing like playing at Dynamo Open Air Festival in 1995 in front of 110,000 people. Nothing can beat that, but it doesn’t even have to be 110,000 people. It could be 100 people. It could be 500 people. It could be whatever. That’s something I really love and makes life better to experience those things.”
The band just completed their debut US tour supporting Fear Factory and completed their first ever live shows during this tour. Despite never playing a live show together as a band, Mader understood what he was getting himself into and was up for the challenge.
“Well for me it’s fine because I’ve played over 700 shows in my life. For me as an individual, I’m ready to go. I know how to ride the bike. As a manager, I know real talent when I see it. I put together a band that could do this. These are people who are able to do what we need to do. We’re ready to go. Give it a little time. Any new band has to play a couple of shows before that real magical chemistry starts to naturally occur and build. Any band has to go through that, whether we play a local show or a couple of tours. It will develop in a live setting on a live setting over a natural course of time. But I know the foundation of raw talent is here. I’m confident about the fact we haven’t played a show yet and we’ve booked our first tour and we’re going to start touring in roughly a month from now. Especially the way we rehearse – we rehearse as if we’re performing. We’re pretty much rocking out in our practice room, like we would on stage.”
“I know it’s like the difference of a flight simulator and actually flying a plane. It’s about exactly the same but you can see that the energy and the live and the ability to do it live for real.”
“We just did our first video for the song ‘You Cunt.’ My singer Lauren [Hart] wrote the video and directed it. We’re really happy with the way it came out. It looks amazing. It’s a great story and narrative, and good acting in it and cool live performance. I think it turned out real good, considering for the budget what most people work with for a music video these days. The budgets are so small you’ve got to be resourceful and creative.”
On the subject of touring, he spoke about the possibilities of doing seminars on recording, and already had ideas brewing within his head about the subject.
“It’s funny you say that because I’m thinking about starting to think about doing some workshops for production, songwriting, recording, and editing. I’m working with Blasko. He’s producer managing me now. We just started it. He thought it was a cool idea.”
Lastly, he shared a story about going fishing with Devil You Know (and former Killswitch Engage) vocalist Howard Jones. The two shared a love of sport fishing and ventured out together to fish. Mader explains from there:
“I didn’t introduce him to fishing. When I was producing the first Devil You Know album, I looked at his laptop when we were writing lyrics. He had a picture of him holding a big fish. I asked him ‘do you fish?’ He said ‘fuck yeah I fish.’ I was like ‘Me too.’ We bonded on the sport fishing thing.”
“When we finished the recording I took him out on an overnight fishing trip in Mexican waters on my friend’s boat. It was a fun trip. First thing we know I overrun a 100 pound Blue Fin Tuna, a really good sized tuna. The conditions were bad. We were fighting the fish for over two hours. It wasn’t just me. I was handing it off because I wasn’t able to get it and it was kicking our asses so bad because we had a lighter rig and the fish was too big for the rig so we had to release it or the line would break.”
“It was kicking our ass for two hours so Howard broke the bad line. We were like ‘here you want to pull on the line for a little while?’ He was like ‘sure OK’ and then grabs the line and then within ten seconds the fish broke off and it got away. We felt bad. We were devastated. It wasn’t his fault. He felt bad about that one.”
“Later on that day we caught some other fish so it was all good. It was an epic battle and we will never forget that one.”
Logan Mader has faced many challenges over his two decade plus career in music. Whether it was coming up the ranks with a much talked then new bands like Machine Head or Soulfly, or his many studio production projects, he has found his way around each situation and helped shape their sound into what is now heard publicly.
He spoke about the creative process behind the album, and how he managed to write and record songs while he still maintains a busy schedule in the studio at the same time.
“It’s happened real fast. We initially had three songs over the course of two months. It was done sporadically. It was in between jobs I was doing. I would get together and write with Lauren. We did actually four songs over a short period of time in May/June 2014, and then I shopped it in the summer time. I got this demo together and put a band together and shopped it to seven record labels. Six of them passed on it and one said yes and they believed in me. They were getting it,” he explained.
He bucked the trend of joining the stereotypical supergroup model for collaborating with younger, hungrier musicians who are driven to find success. Considering the circumstances behind maintaining a new band, he likes the potential he is working with in Once Human.
“It’s a real brand new band in that respect. These guys are doing it for the first time. There’s something special about that because I got to do that for the first time with my first band Machine Head. It was huge and amazing. That inertia, inspiration, dedication, and willingness to get out there and do it for passion…and passion is first.”
“I would get a bunch of guys that were more experienced and older. It’s not as easy to hold it together. At that point they have other bands and other responsibilities. They’re just hungry and ready to get in a RV and tour. It feels good. I want that around me. It’s a new experience for me too.”
While he is no stranger to shopping various musical projects to recording labels over the years, he quickly learned the realities of getting a new band signed and where he needed to be in order to make it happen. Even a guy as connected as Mader found various roadblocks along the way, and things became tougher than expected.
“After a while there was a lot of rejection. I was quite discouraged actually. I did shop it prematurely. Normally a band in 2015 can’t just make a demo and shop it and think you’re going to get a record deal, even if you have history and reputation like I do. It’s not easy to make that happen. Your band has to grind it out for two years and play shows in their local scene and then try to get on some tours and have to have social media numbers and an existing fan base and a story. We had nothing. No announcement of the project and no social media. We had never played a show. We just had the music and my name and this amazing frontwoman on it. So I can’t blame them.”
“Monte [Conner] wanted to sign it actually. He liked it but his bosses at Nuclear Blast in Germany didn’t want to do it. So he was the first person I got it to. I have a lot of history with Monte as well, and Nuclear Blast is a great label. I’d like to be on that label.”
“For the rest of the labels, the main thing I got was that it didn’t really fit into any kind of currently trending subgenre of metal. You can’t put your finger on what it is. I think it is pure metal. It’s heavy as fuck. It is whatever it is. It is what we were feeling at the time or feeling right now, like being the guitar player, our collaborative energy as a creative team – it’s our souls. It’s real and we feel it. It’s a passion project. I don’t think anyone’s gonna get rich off of it but I feel really fulfilled creatively about it and I’m happy playing it.”
He eventually found a home for Once Human in EAR Music, and Mader talked about their new home.
“EAR Music in Germany – it’s Edel Music Group which is a pretty big European label and they have good info structure for distribution and with a team of marketing. The guy who runs it used to work at Roadrunner in Italy when I was signed to Roadrunner in Machine Head many years ago. He took a chance on this thinking and believing something good will come out of this. I think he was right. Once we got the green light for the record deal, then he put the pedal to the metal and started writing the rest of the album. The first five songs on the album were all written after the deal offer came. A few of the songs were…I feel like really were starting to find our groove and our sound, and started to define our own identity more so than on our first couple of songs that we wrote.”
Logan Mader is a man on a mission when it comes to his music. Best known as the original Machine Head and Medication guitarist, as well as a stint with Soulfly, he has now moved away from his recent day job as producer and engineer, and back on the stage with his latest band Once Human.
They have released their debut album The Life I Remember (out now via EAR Music), and Mader talked about how he was originally introduced to his now vocalist Lauren Hart as a potential production deal. He explained how he got involved in the project.
“It started off as a production deal with Lauren [Hart]. Monte Conner [former Roadrunner Records and current Nuclear Blast Entertainment A & R] referred her to me as a possible production deal with this girl and helping her build a band. I’ve done that before and I’ve had a bit of success. I have a passion for developing new talent and turning it into something real intangible. I got a couple of bands signed and in my production deal process I’ve been doing that. Monte signed one of my bands that I did so I was the first person he thought of when he got Lauren.”
“I thought it was interesting. I took a meeting with her and she started talking about her musical influences and the kind of music she wants to do, and it was really heavy. She was coming from a black metal background. As a fan of music, it’s like Dimmu [Borgir], older Opeth…Dimmu is her favorite band.”
Once Human was chosen as their band moniker based on lyrics about their views on society and their outlook on where it is heading. Add this on top of their already extreme modern metal sound, the band has a message that is quite direct and not sugar coated.
“It’s a real reflection of humanity in general, that we were all once human and all got lost. We just lost our way as humans. I could see it everywhere. I see it in the social and economic systems and religion is all broken. It’s all fallen apart. I think it’s all about to break. Something’s got to change. That’s where the name comes from.”
“Within our lyrical content, lyrics are quite relevant. Observations about the way we live and the way we see things,” he explained.
Having credits on a wide array of recordings ranging from Cavalera Conspiracy to Gojira to Five Finger Death Punch, he is far too familiar with the realities of the politics behind creating music. Leaving that aside, he was enamored with the fact that Once Human was real metal and far removed from the commercial accessibilities he was used to working with.
“I thought that was refreshing too because it was something that didn’t think about dollar signs or radio or being commercial. It was like real metal. It started to wake up my inner metal guy that had been kind of sleeping for so long. I hadn’t really been playing guitar unless I have to. I’ve been producing and mixing. It felt like it had that original spark that made me start playing music when I was a kid.”
Prior to being involved in Once Human, he was asked to play guitar in a solo project of Ivan Moody of Five Finger Death Punch. While this got him interested, the realities of Moody being busy with his main band made this idea short lived.
“Another thing is that recently before that, Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch approached me at the Golden God Awards in 2013. Out of nowhere he said ‘what’s up man! I want to start a side project and I want you to play guitar and be one of my writers.’ I was like…really? You have time for that? He’s like ‘yeah I wanna do it.’,“ he said.
“I hadn’t thought about playing for years before that moment, and I thought about it for a couple of days. Then I was like ‘I want to do that.’ I wrote a couple of songs and we were going back and forth through email about the project about some music. But when it came down to actually scheduling the recording to make the demos that we did, he just didn’t have time. He was in the middle of a double album touring cycle and every time he would have a short break, something would come up with his family or logistically it wouldn’t work out. So we got to the point where we’re all like it’s not the right time to do this right now. We both wanted to do it. He probably still wants to do side projects but it’s not realistic with his schedule with Five Finger [Death Punch] because it would always take the back seat to Five Finger.”
“There I was with my guitar in my hands, standing alone, a little bit disappointed but I ended up that I could play again. I wanted to play again so it’s almost like I had blue balls. I was ready to go but no…just stop. Then Lauren came along…and I don’t have it any more!,” said Mader, with a chuckle.
Once he began collaborating with Hart, they began writing together and seeing how their chemistry meshed. He discovered early on that the magic sparked and this band would be something special.
“The first song on our album “Time of the Disease” – that’s the first song we wrote together. By the time we were in the middle of the second song, I decided that the music was something I was really passionate about and I didn’t want to just build a band for someone else and set it free. I saw more out of it and I wanted to be part of it.”
“The band arranged to take a different path and we were still being experimental about what our sound is. The freedom was always there. We’re not worried about making radio songs. We’re not worried about sounding like anyone else. Just be passionate and be expressive and be the musicians that we are and feel it.”
Unlike many meetings where the artist comes in with rough versions of songs, Mader said all of the songs heard on the album were written together. Taking her ideas and combining it with his musical ideas, they created sounds that eventually shaped Once Human into what it now known as The Life I Remember.
“None of it. We wrote all of this together – 50/50,” he explained. “It was all from scratch. It’s the result of our creative chemistries combined. It’s not like she came in with a demo and I came in with songs that I had written before. We started from the ground up.”
“She’s really into orchestral music and she plays piano and guitar. She’s gone through most of her life hearing symphonies in her head – like all the time and she never had a way to let it out. When you hear the orchestral arrangements in the compositions from the intro of the album “Trail of Tears,” that’s something she’s had in her head for years. Working with me, we were able to lay it down and record it.”
“That’s where some of the orchestral elements within our music and certainly it’s been done before and in black metal a lot, as well as a lot of different kinds of music. I was excited to not have boundaries about what kind of additional production we can add into our metal to make it cooler, cinematic, darker, and epic. I’ve had some experience doing orchestral elements within visual media music. I worked on Metal Gear: Rising the video game. I did music for that. I’ve done a bunch of movie trailers where I do organizing orchestral elements with rock and with metal. I scored a couple of movies.”
“Over the years after my Machine Head and Soulfly days, part of my studio and creative development was about working with different mediums like orchestral elements and electronica and industrial and metal. Using those elements in Once Human came naturally and it felt right.”
Aside from Mader and Hart, Once Human features bassist Damien Rainaud and drummer Ralph Alexander, who played on the record. Since the record, the band did some lineup shuffling, which Mader had praises for all of the people who took part on the album and are incoming for the tour.
“They were not involved in the writing. Damien Rainaud wrote one riff. He was around since he was in the project, but all of the writing was handled by Lauren and I. Damien wrote some stuff, submitted it and a lot of it was pretty cool but didn’t make it except for this one. He did have this one awesome riff on ‘Ground Zero.’ “
“Ralph is this drummer I know from around LA, and one of my favorite drummers. He played on the record but we announced that he’s not going to be available for touring. I have a new drummer now. He’s on board to do this now. He’s performing in our music video and he’s going to be on our tour. His name is Dillon Trollope and he’s amazing. He’s a sick drummer and he gets off.”
“I also added another guitar player. I wanted to have two guitar players. We didn’t need another guitar player when we were writing the album. I did want some sick six string solos so I hired Bill Hudson to do them. He’s a great guitar player and I’ve worked with him on some projects. He’s really talented and he’s a sick shredder guy. He did some solos. I did half of the guitar solos and Bill does half of them on our album. If you read the credits, you’ll see which ones he did. But he’s one of those guys who’s in 20 different bands and he can’t commit to one because he goes on whatever band’s tour will pay him. That’s his sole source of income is playing guitar. He couldn’t commit to a baby band like ours because he doesn’t have an income at the moment. We’re just waiting to go out there and develop.”
“I got a guitar player who’s in the band now and his name is Skyler Howren. He went to MI on a scholarship. He got the Synster Gates Scholarship through Musicians Institute and he finished that. He was looking for a band to play in so he auditioned and played all of Bill Hudson’s solos and he’s killing it. He’s really good.”
Mader thought with the new members the lineup is set for now, and looks forward to what is to come for the band.
“I think the lineup is really solid. The lineup won’t change but you never know what happens in the future. As far as the creative force, it’s Lauren and I, and that’s the foundation of it. That’s the part that probably won’t change.”
“Damien is a good friend of mine and he’s happy to be playing in this band. He moved here from France to try to get in a band and also to work in my studio. He’s an engineer and my assistant. He’s a pretty good engineer and works on a lot of stuff. He worked on the new Fear Factory album. He just mixed a live DVD for Dragonforce. He’s working with 9Electric. He’s starting to get some good jobs as a mixer.”