Once Human

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Separating yourself from your love and passion is never an easy thing, but after years spent playing with bands that possess the caliber of Machine Head and Soulfly, Logan Mader did just that in 2003, suddenly deciding to stop performing and instead focus on the production side of music, much to the disappointment of the metal community.

It wasn’t until a chance introduction years later via video with Australian-born Lauren Hart that Mader elected to come out of his self-imposed exile and return to what he was born to do. Play guitar.

“I had been producing bands and mixing records for the fifteen years previously but I hadn’t really played my guitar as a passion in that time,” he recalled. “I played it when I had to – when I was writing music or helping out producing stuff -and then I came across Lauren. Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast sent me a video of her playing guitar with a view of me producing her and said he thought of me when he saw it. He had the idea of me forming a band around her and the video which was interesting enough so I met with her and we hit it off immediately. We started writing music and she said she wanted to do a really heavy form of black metal type of thing and I got inspired by that. She wanted me to play guitar in the band and I was like ‘fuck that’. Part of me was saying I should start playing again because it was a big part of my life that I had missed for a number of years so eventually I said ‘fuck it, I’ll do it’ and gave it a shot. I’m glad I did. It feels good to be playing again. It feels good to tour. As an artist, I have that passion again. I’m also the producer and mixer of the album and the manager of the band so I’m wearing all of these hats (laughs).”

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With Mader’s reputation in music circles he could have easily formed a band comprised of established musicians and gone down the supergroup road that is the flavor of the moment. Instead he chose a group of relative unknowns, with Hart never having fronted a band previously.

“It’s more challenging to do it the way I did,” he explained. “I have a lot of confidence and I like a challenge. I like it when things are difficult and I like to compete against the odds and take on things that seem impossible. I do my best work when I’m driven the most in those situations. I wanted a fresh, new band and didn’t want people to think it was a studio project or side project that I did once and didn’t think of again. Our first record was actually Lauren’s first time making a record. She was never really in a band before.”

Perhaps because of this, or maybe just because the band has had time to gel, Mader believes the upcoming sophomore release Evolution is a much better reflection of the band than their debut The Life I Remember, which was released in September of last year.

“We have definitely found our unique identity as a metal band,” he enthused, “and that is just real fucken metal! I don’t know how to classify or categorize it but it is quite dramatic and emotional and heavy and groovy but it has progressive elements as well. Lyrically, Lauren has grown a lot in her ability to tell stories and with general lyrical content that is

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meaningful and heavy that is not provoking but complex and intelligent. It is a reflection of how far she has come with her vocal style and her delivery from the first record. We did a couple of tours to get her feet wet and her main growling tone is much deeper and more guttural now. She also has this total screaming voice that also hits the notes. Her clean singing has evolved a lot too. We don’t use a lot of it on the record but there are songs we perform that call for it and she really kills it on those.”

When it came time to start work on ‘Evolution’, Mader says the goals were simple.

“Our goal was to make an important album that was going to resonate in the metal community and go down in history as an important metal album and I think we’ve done that,” he said confidently. “The initial response has been really good with our first single Eye of Chaos performing amazingly on You Tube with almost one million views already, which is far better than anything we’ve done before. Another thing with this album is we have added another guitar player, Max Karon, who is a really amazing player and riff writer. He collaborated with Lauren and I on the record. He brought speed to the music and with three of us on guitar now it has taken it to a whole new level than the first record. We’re now using a lower tuning with seven string guitars so the riffs are amazing.”

With intimate knowledge of the behind the scenes process of putting an album together, Mader took most of the duties on himself but admits that bringing in outside factors for part of the cycle was imperative in bringing the best out of the band and their music.

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“I’ve been producing long enough to be able to separate the creative, the technical and the sonic side of things,” he said.

“The sonic and the technical are second nature to me. I know how this record needs to sound so it was really a producer’s dream project for me (laughs). I didn’t really have to step away. It’s almost like it all came together itself. Lauren worked really closely with me on the arrangements and we tore the songs apart a couple of times and put them back together until they got to where they needed to be. Some of them started off as two separate pieces of music – two different songs – and ended up being cannibalised into one song and somehow working.”

“It was one of those things where you never settle, you never give up; you just keep going. I did want to get a different set of ears on the mixing so I hired Jens Bogren to do the mastering and I have never done that before. I normally do my own mastering and I can do it well enough but I’ve been a fan of Bogren’s work for a while and I wanted to hand it over to see what he could do. I let him do what he does and he has some amazing analogue gear plus he’s got a great studio in Sweden, so I felt confident he could bring it to the next level sonically and he did. He got it really loud and gave it some harmonic distortion. I’m happy we decided to use him. It felt good to step away from it at that point. It was like I got it to the finish line but let someone else take it over and put the icing on the cake, which he did.”

Written by Kris Peters

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