Haunt – Hoist the Metal BannerSaturday, 8th February 2020
There’s something to be said for prolific songwriting and consistent productivity in heavy metal. These days when bands are spreading out their releases often three to four years as their touring cycles elongate, California band Haunt appears to churn out new 7”, EP, and album releases all within the same year. Their third full-length Mind Freeze just hit the streets – gaining acclaim on most metal websites as well as the cover feature in Decibel magazine. And with good reason, as the band know how to mix up speedy barnburners with solid mid-tempo headbanging anthems, all promoting the fire and brimstone aspects that heavy metal mavens love.
While on the road in Europe we reached out to main songwriter, guitarist/vocalist Trevor William Church to catch up on the latest thoughts for the band. You’ll learn more about the desire to add keyboards to the mix for the new record, how he is able to maintain such a prolific songwriting and recording schedule, expectations for the upcoming Satan, Night Demon, and Bewitcher tour – and a little bit more behind Trevor the person.
Dead Rhetoric: Mind Freeze is Haunt’s third full-length album – can you discuss where you believe the major differences are between this release and previous Haunt albums?
Trevor William Church: The one thing that is clear is John has taken over the lead guitar role. It’s been super challenging live for me to hold down vocals and lead guitar. He’s such an awesome player it was just a natural thing to happen. I’m always working on songwriting. Hopefully it’s matured a bit.
Dead Rhetoric: There is a prominent keyboard aspect to many of the hooks within these songs. Were you worried about how to incorporate this element without sacrificing the twin guitars and normal traditional hooks that have been important to Haunt in the past?
Church: I’ve always wanted to incorporate keyboards. It’s been hard to find someone to fill the role. So, I did my best to execute it tastefully. Now that I’ve gone there, there is no turning back. We are working on bringing them into the live setting without a human playing it via backing keyboard tracks. It’s getting there.
Dead Rhetoric: You are certainly very prolific in terms of output for Haunt. How critical are you of your own songwriting, and to what factors do you attribute your insane productivity/ creativity that pumps up out new material sometimes quicker than an annual basis?
Church: Coffee and just the love of writing. I enjoy the creative process more than anything. It’s why I play really. I’m not very critical on myself anymore. 5 years ago I was because I had just really begun my journey of singer/songwriter. In the past I joined other people’s bands and had a minor role. I just try and have fun with it good or bad.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the major differences between Haunt in the studio and Haunt on the live stage? Do you have a personal preference for one or the other, or do you find both equally engaging and stimulating, just in their own unique ways?
Church: I’m definitely a studio person but I enjoy live shows. I think live you just get more energy because we are running around rocking out making mistakes and what not. In the studio it’s all about precision and live it’s about energy.
Dead Rhetoric: How has fatherhood changed your perspective on your work in the music industry? How do you maintain the balance between your family life and your musical life?
Church: I just do my best to exercise time management. I’m lucky that I get to be at home most of the work week. I still hold a day job 10 hours a week which I’m really ready to quit. I still hold the same musical values in getting songs written and practicing getting better. I write in the evening most of the time. I use the morning time to refine the songs. Rex (my son) he chills out in the studio with me and mainly I just listen in there with him. He’s not big on me not paying attention to him so I can’t really write with him in there. But it’s fun to sing to him and dance around.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of the traditional metal scene today? Do you believe there is enough interest from the newer and older generations to galvanize the movement with these younger acts, especially considering older artists like Judas Priest, Saxon, Accept, and Iron Maiden are still selling out arenas and large festivals on a worldwide basis?
Church: I live in Fresno which I’m seeing a really good turn out to our shows here. We are still such a new band. It’s hard to really give a descriptive answer. The mentioned names above are household names at this point. I think all bands have a starting point and if they make it 40 years hopefully there is some success.
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise people to learn about Trevor the person away from Trevor the musician? Are there things that you would like to change about yourself, and if so, what would you change?
Church: I quit drinking 10 years ago (this June). Most of my problems died there. It was a hard road with tragedy. Most people have learned about the deaths in my family by this point. If there is one thing I’d change about me right now I’d say I wish I had time to do some community work. I’m just so busy and my creative mind is always spinning. It would be great to give myself to something musical or I don’t know. Even local politics just get involved and try to help better where I live.
Dead Rhetoric: How important do you take social media and branding to convey the message of Haunt to your fans/followers? It seems like you truly enjoy that engagement including live in the studio video clips from time to time…
Church: It’s really great to be able to connect with fans online. I can’t be everywhere but with the internet I can. It bridges the gap. It’s really nice to talk with everyone and share things. I look at the internet as a place to try and make positive with it having so much negative. Facebook is just filled with people arguing over topics. Some valid. Some just shitty opinions. Music is just so pure it feels good to share my excitement and maybe influence others to get out there and follow their dreams.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have long-term goals that you want to achieve either with Haunt or your other musical endeavors – or do you find that it’s best to stay in the moment and try to remain focused on what you want to do and achieve day by day, week by week, month by month?
Church: I want Haunt to be an established band. I’ve never really had a band last very long mainly because I was never the leader before. Beastmaker never truly broke up. It’s on hiatus for now. But I’d like to hit the five-year mark with Haunt.
Dead Rhetoric: What has metal meant to you personally as a genre? Can you think back to any specific times where a certain band or album(s) maybe helped you process tougher or difficult times in your life- and you were able to break through stronger and better?
Church: Music has always healed me. Now I listen to way more than just metal. I think the technical aspect of metal is what I connect with most and the attitude. There is a time and place for every band. When you are almost 40 especially. Blue Oyster Cult got me through a lot. Judas Priest’s early records like Sad Wings of Destiny. Diamond Head. Angel Witch. I can go on and on.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ll be doing a North American tour in April with Satan, Night Demon, and Bewitcher among others. What can the fans expect at these shows, and how do you feel about this package of bands – as it’s not often you see this strong of a package here compared to European tours?
Church: This is going to be a high energy tour. I feel like this is the kind of gig you can absorb something from every band playing. We’ve only done a handful of tours all of which I feel were awesome. Municipal Waste, Toxic Holocaust, Hell Fire, Idle Hands, and Screamer. It’s been rad and with this the awesomeness continues.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Haunt over the rest of 2020 – more touring, more singles/EP releases, more promotion, and has work already begun on album four?
Church: We will play a few shows in the summer and then tour in fall. New record in November or sooner. 7” splits. Hysteria will be out playing live and we have plans for another EP. it’s gonna be a productive year.