Heathen Metal Rock Music Interview with Hauk

CHRISTOPHER BLACKWELL

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How does Heathen metal music develop and how does being Heathen affect the music? I contacted Hauk (leader of the band HAUK) and he soon responded with background information that led to this interview.

HAUK is:
Hauk: Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Duke Dubeau: Keyboards, Vocals
Chris Dooly: Drums, Percussion
Karin Dell: Violin

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Christopher: First, what was your own musical path? How long have you been a musician and what was your training and experience before you became Hauk?

HAUK

Hauk :   I was in fourth grade when I first heard Guns N Roses on MTV- and I stood up in my living room and said “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!” Everyone in my family laughed, but I started studying as much music as I could- learned flute and saxophone, and ended up playing everything from classical to jazz to ska and punk. I got to college and started learning how to play guitar and write music- again everything from classical and beyond. I’ve written symphonies, chamber music, metal, folk, rock, punk, jazz, and on. For me, music is music-the differences being the focus and arrangements.


Christopher: What bands have influenced you?
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Hauk: As a child I remember rummaging through my Dad’s LP collection, and listening to everything from Tchaikovsky to Simon and Garfunkel. These days I mostly listen to underground metal and a lot of singer/songwriters- guys like Josh Ritter and Ian Moore. Musically, most of my songs are a blend of Manowar, Skyclad, Sentenced, New Model Army, and whatever else I happen to be listening to at the time. I go through phases where I’ll listen to nothing but folk music for a few weeks, then nothing but angry death metal, then mix it up. A fair amount of classical too- I love Hillary Hahn’s interpretations of Bach, and I’m a big fan of Jeffrey Kahane’s piano playing.
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Christopher:  You have a pretty thorough education in music, beyond what is average for most rock musicians. How does that change what you can do with the music you play? What does  knowing about orchestration of music, writing your own music and writing your own words as well as playing and singing  allow you to do that might not be available to many rock musicians?
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Hauk: I got my degree in Music Education at USC a few years back, and studied formal composition and arranging. It’s one of those things that both helps and hinders my creativity- I’m aware of the many possibilities of what I can do, but the theoretical training sometimes gets in the way when you want to break musical rules. On the other hand- when I hear a song in my head, I can hear the complete possibilities. All in all, it was definitely worth it. I think it makes the process of songwriting easier- I already know the finer workings of music and can get down to the fine tuning of a song that
much quicker.
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Christopher: Back in the 60s music overpowered vocals sometimes just so controversial lyrics could get air time. Back in stereo days [two tracks] we could turn down the music to hear the lyrics.  I notice you keep the vocals balanced so that they can be heard through the music. Hearing lyrics is important to my enjoying music.
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Hauk: As a songwriter, my primary goal is to tell a story. When I write, I almost always start with the lyrics first- I write the story, then set it to music. This means the instrumental parts mold themselves around the voice, so it’s probably easier to hear.
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Christopher: How long have you been Heathen and how did  you become Heathen?
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Hauk: About eight to nine years. I was a recovering Catholic with severe depression, and was looking for a different way to life- something that made sense. I looked into Wicca, Taoism, Satanism, and a few other paths before I stumbled into Asatru. The way of life instantly appealed, but I was skeptical until the Gods showed up in my living room and claimed me. That was a trip- changed my life and I’ve never looked back since!
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Christopher: At what point did it start affecting your music?
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Hauk: Hmm… almost instantly. I had made a conscious effort for a long time to not be overt about my religion in my music. I don’t want to seem preachy. When we recorded our third album “No Mercy for the Slain” I decided- F— it! I’m gonna sing about whatever I want to sing, and if anyone doesn’t like hearing songs about Odin, F— ‘Em!
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Christopher: How did you find the people in your present band? What does each one add?
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Hauk:  Duke, my keyboardist, and I went to high school together. He’s a brother- good people. He can really play anything I put in front of him. Chris, my drummer, and I met at a Helloween/Beyond the Embrace concert. We played together in my old band Mythreal for a few years before that collapsed. Boyd, my lead guitarist, was dating my old cellist Helen Valentine and came along on a short tour. Actually, he ended up playing drums for one show because Chris had to leave for a funeral, and he kept time on the bass drum. After the tour I asked if he played anything- he said he was a decent guitarist, so I gave him a tape to learn. He came to practice and blew my and Chris’s minds with his playing. He is definitely the Slash to my Axl- we feed off each other in concert. He joined right as we were finishing NMFTS, so I plan to really feature him in future recordings. As a band, we feed off each other, in energy, in ideas, in just getting out there and kicking ass.
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Christopher: Why do you write music and is all of it to be recorded?
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Hauk: Why do fish swim? I could no more stop writing music than I could stop breathing. I write songs or melodies or ideas on a daily basis. The majority of what I create does not get recorded. I don’t have the time or energy to do that- it takes at least a year to finish a full length album- If I don’t work on anything else during that time. Usually by the time one album is finished, I’m already working on the next two albums, if I haven’t already finished them. I hope to build a home recording studio in the next few months, which should help get songs out faster.
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Christopher: How long does it take between writing music and then coming to record it?
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Hauk: Depends. I wrote Baldur Rising- the final track from NMFTS a year before I released my first album. Sometimes it takes a couple years to record a song- sometimes a couple months. SOB and No Mercy were written a couple months before we started the NMFTS sessions. Sometimes I like to let songs ferment and see where they might go.
Christopher: Let’s talk about your two latest collections. Tell us something about No Mercy for the Slain. How would you describe it to someone who has never heard your music?
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Hauk: It’s the soundtrack to Ragnarok. Total Heathen Folk Metal! I tried to basically write songs about being a Modern Heathen- what it means to live with the Gods in the world. Musically, we take from Metal, Classical, Irish, and bits of rock and punk.
 
Christopher: What about your latest collection, To Hear the Trumpets Call?
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Hauk: That one is more Heathen Metal. No pipes, fiddles, flutes, just ass-kicking guitars. This one was a little more “old school” with the lyrics- we stuck to more traditional Heathen stories- songs about battle and Ragnarok- less modern subjects.
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Christopher: How has your music gone over with the Heathen Community?
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Hauk: Pretty good. It’s funny, but I have a larger following among the Wiccan community than I do among Heathens. Don’t ask me why- I have no
idea!
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Christopher: Where can people hear your music, buy your music and find out more about your band?
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Hauk: We have five songs up for listening at our Myspace page, www.myspace.com/hauk and they can buy CDs at either www.haukmusic.com or www.witchcraftmusic.com. We also have NMFTS and “To Hear the Trumpets Call” on Itunes, Napster, Rhapsody, and most other download services. Definitely send us a friend request on Myspace and let us know what you think!
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Christopher: Anything else you would like our readers to know?
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Hauk: Spread the word! If you want Pagan/Heathen music to become Mainstream, then we need your support! Tell all your friends to check us out, buy CDs if you can, and spread the word. Check out other Heathen acts like Tru Spirit and Hagalaz Runedance- the more demand there is for music about our Gods, the more the music industry will pay attention. Check out witchcraftmusic.com for other good Pagan music- the more support for this genre, the more there will be.
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