Once Human – In a State of EvolutionWednesday, 31st May 2017
First putting their stamp onto the metal world with their 2015 debut The Life I Remember, groovy metal champs Once Human have made an even bigger splash with their latest effort, Evolution. Unlike many bands nowadays, they went sonically heavier on many levels (accurately described below by guitarist Logan Mader as “heavy as fuck”) and found what worked for them. As such, Evolution is an insidious piece of melodic death metal with some monster groove to it.
With a new album in tow, the band is out to take globe by storm. Starting fresh on a tour with Xandria and Kobra and the Lotus, they will continue to reach different audiences with future jaunts this summer with Wednesday 13 and Dragonforce here in the US. We reached out to Mader about a week into the Xandra tour to check in and discuss the changes within the band, the current/future touring, and their rather amusing vlogs (of which we shared one at the bottom of the article).
Dead Rhetoric: Being the most heavy/aggressive band on this tour – how’s it been so far?
Logan Mader: The response has been amazing for us. We’ve been having really good shows every night. It seems like the Xandria and Kobra and the Lotus fans are really open-minded to us. We are definitely the heaviest band on the tour but we go out there and kill it every night. A lot of the fans have not heard of us before and they are giving us a lot of love and becoming fans of Once Human. The tour has been amazing; we are having a great time and the bands are all really nice.
This tour has been really difficult for me [personally]; it’s the most difficult one that I’ve done. In an effort to keep costs down, I’m driving. I’m the driver for our RV and it’s a lot to take on. I’m not really sleeping enough, and it’s pretty stressful and exhausting, but every time we play my energy comes back. The shows have been so good that it makes it all worth it. I do not want to be the driver on any other tour ever again, but I got myself into this and here I am. We are making it happen and everyone is working together.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel the band has changed since The Life I Remember?
Mader: There’s a lot of evolution happening with the new album. We’ve added a new guitar, Max Karon, and he’s amazing. He’s a really talented writer, great guitar player, and he has some amazing energy. He collaborated on the music with Lauren [Hart] and I, so that was a big element. He played a big role in the songwriting for Evolution, and it gave us a lot of new dimensions. We changed guitar tuning as well. Lauren has developed her vocal style and abilities a lot since the first record, as well as her lyrical content as well.
In my opinion, it’s light-years ahead of the first record. The first record, I picked up the guitar for the first time in 12 years as a passion, as opposed to just being in the studio as a producer. It was also Lauren’s first time making a record. It was an important step for us to do that, and we did a couple tours and we met Max while on tour with Fear Factory. He was a guitar tech for Dino [Cazares] and one day, he played us some music that he was writing and we were like “holy shit, that’s amazing!” We became friends with him and collaborated – eventually he joined the band. He’s now in the band and he loves it. He’s amazing.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that Evolution is the statement you wanted the band to make, more so than your first album?
Mader: Yeah, in a lot of ways. We have found our sound. We have our own unique identity carved out with Evolution. We aren’t even playing songs off of our first record right now on tour. This is ground zero…our starting point. In a lot of ways, I feel like this is our first record, but it’s really our second.
Dead Rhetoric: Most bands start off heavy and get softer over time – what inspired the ramp-up in heaviness for Evolution? Was it that you felt that was where you needed to be as a band?
Mader: We just made music that felt amazing to us. Heavy is my forte, it’s my roots. Lauren’s strength is heavy. She can clean sing well, but we just did what we felt was right and made songs that made us feel something…and hope that other people might feel something as well. The agenda was not to become “more commercial” or get softer, just do to what we do best – which is heavy as fuck, and do it because we like it. We don’t expect to be on the radio, although Sirius XM is playing us a lot.
Dead Rhetoric: Given your history in Machine Head, was there any nostalgia in recording “Davidian” as a bonus track on the album?
Mader: Yeah, when I was tracking that, I actually went right back in time to recording at Fantasy Studios making my first album ever with Machine Head [Burn My Eyes] and it just put a big smile on my face. It felt good.
Dead Rhetoric: The band has been running a vlog for a bit before the tour (and during) as well as some clips here and there. What made you decide to do it?
Mader: Well, content is important for bands and all of us…Lauren, Max, and I, we don’t really jive to the typical social media “Look at me, this is what I fucking ate for breakfast, and I’m taking a shit now.” We’re not like that. But we like to fuck around and have fun, and not take ourselves too seriously, and Lauren is a really good director and video editor. She does all the filming and editing. We wanted to show people what it is like to be behind the scenes with us in the studio or on tour, or wherever we are. So she just rolls the camera all the time, cuts it up on her laptop while we are driving and posts it. It’s fun stuff. I think they are all pretty funny – Max is hilarious, he’s like the funniest person I know.
Dead Rhetoric: How has production/mixing over the years helped with jumping back to the other side with the band?
Mader: I think all of that builds my skillset. There’s a sense of convenience to have a producer built-in. It saves us money making records. It’s just the obvious, natural choice for me to be the producer/mixer. I feel like all of my experience has gathered over the years and I’m able to apply it to Once Human with respect to being an artist and a producer. I’ve been doing it a while, so the engineering/technical part is like second nature so that I can keep my creative head going the whole time. It’s a collaborative effort between myself, Lauren, and Max the whole way through. Everyone plays an important role. It’s a really nice chemistry between us all.
Dead Rhetoric: I saw a video that you and Lauren had done for Metal Injection about exercise. How do you stay in shape on the road?
Mader: Because I’m driving on this one, it’s really difficult. When we have a few hours to go find a gym, we work out. We have a Stim Bike in our trailer. Some days it gets put into the venue and we can use that. We also have a TRX and a weight vest. We’re doing pretty good. In the last 36 hours, we had a 1000 mile drive – Chicago to Denver. I drove like 10 hours, then we stopped and I slept a little bit. We found a gym in Omaha, Nebraska. So we got to work out and take showers and get back on the road and go another 550 miles to Denver. Lauren is actually working out right now with Kobra [Paige] from Kobra in the Lotus; they are doing a workout video at the venue. Because of my driving, I haven’t been able to work out as much as I normally do, but you have to make sacrifices.
Dead Rhetoric: I can’t even imagine doing all of that driving plus playing…
Mader: Max helps me out a little bit – there were a few times where we have had like 3 hours to go and it wasn’t safe for me to keep driving. He’s a morning person and I’m a night person, so he would wake up and take over. He brought us in the last few hours today; we are making it happen!
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel has changed in the scene since you were on the band side with Machine Head/Soulfly?
Mader: Everything has changed [laughs]. There’s no more money. We have to build our business through touring, and touring is really expensive. But it’s the only way to generate revenue because no one buys music anymore. I don’t know anyone who’s bought a cd. There’s competition as well…the music world has grown exponentially and the market has shrunk, as far as how much money you can make out there.
But, that doesn’t really matter to me. It’s really a passion project – I do it because I love to play. Lauren loves it, and everyone loves it. We are having good life experiences, and we are growing. Every tour we do, everything we do…we get one or two steps closer to where we want to be, and having a good time in the process of getting there. Everything has changed in the music business, but I embrace it. Adapt and overcome.
Dead Rhetoric: You have this tour, then the Wednesday 13/Dragonforce tours – any solid plans after that?
Mader: We are super stoked to get the Dragonforce tour. We are just going to keep on the road as much as possible, and hopefully end up in Europe for the 2018 festival season. We did get our first festival booked for Europe 2018…we have a really good agent over there internationally now, and a really good agent in America as well. Everybody is working hard.