Prior to their incredible set at Heavy Scotland, we were lucky enough to catch up with Nick Schendzielos (bass) and Reece Scruggs (lead guitar) from Havok !!
Interview with Nick Schendzielos (bass) and Reece Scruggs (lead guitar) from Havok, by Rich Dodgin – Sat 1st April 2017
Hey guys, thanks for your time today!
So, the new album, Conformicide, has been out for a few weeks now, what’s the reception for it been like so far?
It’s been great. We’re really stoked about it. It’s been a polarised response where people either love it or really hate it, and that’s when you know you’ve hit a home run. It’s a good place to be – because when it’s all good and everyone says it’s amazing, it’s kind of hard to believe, and when everyone says it sucks it’s hard to believe, but if everyone says it’s middle of the road it’s pretty easy to believe. And it’s better be super hot or super cold – lukewarm ain’t gonna to do shit.
That’s great to hear guys, because I love what you’re doing and I love the fact that you’re creating the music you want to and staying true to what you’re passionate about.
So, let’s talk about your forthcoming European headline tour. You’re playing 27 gigs in 30 days, is that right?
Are you insane? (laughs)
We’re pretty used to that. We’ve just did 6 weeks on the road in the US, with only 4 days off. And that just finished 6 or 7 days ago.
It’s a Havok schedule. We once did a tour with Skeleton Witch and played 63 shows in 65 days.
Holy shit. So you’re used to this then?
How’d you cope with that?
I’m not going to lie dude, it’s pretty hard. It’s gruelling. Rest is a pretty important part of life, so if you can’t figure out a way of getting the sleep you need, when you’re always driving to the next place and never get a solid 8 hours in a real bed that’s not moving it can get pretty tough on you, and make you more susceptible to getting sick, and so on.
But the irony is that on the road you’re more likely to want to party, because you want to chill out and the drinking helps you sleep. So it’s tough as shit. Especially when it’s a long tour with no breaks. But we want to get the music out there. And we love playing for the fans, and getting that feedback from the audiences.
So you’re playing a lot of dates, in a lot of Europe. How are you guys going to be getting about? Are you going to be able to rest when you travel?
It’s worked out really well. We’ve got a night-liner coach which has enough bunks on for us, and the 3 bands who are on the tour with us.
So you guys, Warbringer, Gorod and Exmortus with all be on the same bus?
Yep. Which is really cool. We’re really looking forward to it.
Awesome. So, can you tell our readers about your influences?
Pantera. Mastadon. That sort of stuff. But also county and blues, and bluegrass stuff.
Ok, wow. Does that influence on the way you play?
Oh, one hundred percent. Because I (Reece) do some country picking on the record, and the stuff I listen to will influence my playing in some way, and I’ll sometimes throw it in there.
That’s very cool. And it shows, because from the record you can hear that you guys have created your own unique sound. You’re clearly opened minded musically and not afraid to experiment, if you know what I mean?
Yeah, definitely. We all bring influences from outside of metal and thrash, like for me (Nick) I like some jazz and funk stuff, which influences my bass playing. And that all helps us stamp our own sound. And it’s a good thing, because otherwise you’re just playing sub-average Overkill, or whoever, and that’s where you’re mediocre “meh” response comes in. If there isn’t anything that sets it apart, that might mean people either love it or hate it, then the music won’t have substance, it won’t be remembered, and people will just be like, “it was alright”. We’d much rather do our thing, and have people either love it or fucking hate, because we’re doing something a bit different – that’s cool.
So, it’s really important for you to keep your playing true to yourselves?
Absolutely. We want our fan base to grow, but we know we won’t please everyone – so we’ll keep developing as a band, and if people dig what we’re doing, that’s fucking awesome.
A big part of the goal as a musician is to remain being a musician, and in today’s world with digital streaming it’s hard. It’s really hard to make a living as an artist. We make more money out of touring and t-shirt sales than we do from selling our music. It’s the only way you can make money in a metal band. We’re travelling t-shirt sales men. Our songs are our jingles (laughs)
So do you guys have a preference between touring and playing live, and recording stuff in the studio?
Not really. We have like appreciation cycles. After a while in the studio you start to is the electrical energy transfer that occurs when you play a show – because ultimately that is what all live musicians play for, for people getting off on your music, and you getting off on them getting off on your music. But as the road gets tiring, you start to appreciate time away from the touring, when you can chill out and play anything you want t because you want to. And in the studio you set aside all the songs you’ve played to death on tour, and you get a chance to be a creator again, rather than a performer. But then after a while, you start looking forward to the touring and the live playing again…
Yeah, I can totally understand that.
So, speaking of playing live, what can Heavy Scotland expect from Havok when you guys play later?
Energy. A good energy transfer. It’s the first day of the tour, and the only festival date on it, so it’s an interesting start as it won’t like the rest of the tour where we’re playing a headline slot every night. But it’s cool because it gives us a chance to try a few different things and we’ve handpicked a different set. We’ll be playing 4 new songs.
Cool. I’m really looking forward to it! Thanks so much for your time today and good luck with the tour!
Awesome man. Cheers.
Read the full review of Heavy Scotland, including Havok’s set, here