A couple of months ago Revelation released a new EP by the American band Himsa called “Death is infinite”. I knew their previous LP “Ground breaking ceremony” which I thought to be quite ok, but sometimes a little bit too noisy in my eyes. But the four songs on the EP (in fact there are five songs on it, one of them being a hidden track) totally blew me away. With a totally new line-up Himsa’s sound is now way more straight, way more brutal and way more… metal. Yeah, you can definitely hear great metal riffs on this EP, and I can’t wait until their next full length album came out. In the meantime there’s this interview I did with Derek, bass player in Himsa and the last remaining original member. Here are some reasons why Derek was the best one to do this interview in his own words:
Sorry it took awhile (answering your questions). I've been trying to get some of the other members to join in with answering some of the questions, but they're lazy asses! Plus, I've been in the band the longest so I KNOW EVERYTHING... I really don't, but I like to act like I do. Hehe.
So how are you doing at the moment Derek? Although it’s already February, what do you expect for 2002 concerning Himsa as well as for your life apart from the band?
Hi Stefan! I'm doing OK at the moment. I've had a killer cold and I'm full of snot. Himsa has big plans for 2002. This year we plan to make it out on the road a lot more. We're planning on touring the US through the summer and then move on to Europe in September and October. As for me personally, I'm just going to try to stay healthy and focused on making the rock a bigger part of my life.
Last November your new EP "Death is infinite" came out and I like it a lot, a lot more than "Ground breaking ceremony". What have been the reactions to the EP?
The reactions to the EP have been surprisingly good. I thought reviewers were going to rip us apart because the new EP is more straight forward than Ground Breaking Ceremony. It's really different, but that's because there's a whole list of different members now. I'm really happy with the direction we're heading. I think a lot more people will like what we have to offer now as opposed to what we did in the past.
I agree with you that the EP is more straight forward than "Ground Breaking Ceremony”. Will the songs on the next full length go in the same direction?
Yeah, the song structures were more complex before, but the riffage wasn't. Now we have the ability to throw-in solos and more intricate guitar and drum work. The next LP will have even more metal licks in it. You're going to hear some rock type stuff you haven't heard for 15 years in there. I'm very excited about it. It will be an all-encompassing metal-rock record.
On the CD version of "Death is infinite" there's a live bonus track, which song is that and where was it recorded?
We put "Tempest in Seconds" on the end of the CD to help the length of the record. There are only 4 songs on "Death is Infinite" and they're pretty short. We wanted to give our listeners a little more. The official recording of that song will come out on the Revelation Rarities 100 comp. We actually recorded it about 2 years ago and Revelation had problems getting the comp out. We had that live recording and we figured we'd put it on there because Rev was taking so long with the comp. Most of the band doesn't like the song anymore anyway so it's kind of out dated. Plus it sounds nothing like our new stuff. That song and the EP were in the "Clean out your song closet," meaning we had written that stuff awhile back and we just wanted to get it out and move on.
There's also a "new" version of "Another version of the twist" on the EP, but I would rather say it's a completely new song, because the music's different and the lyrics, too. Would you agree? Why did you "re-record" this song for the EP?
"Another Version of Twist" is actually the last half of "Another Version of the Twist" from the GBC LP. We decided we didn't like the first part of the song and we'd only play the last half. John wrote new lyrics for it, Tim wrote new drum parts for it, and we added a solo in there. It sounds totally different, but it's the same notes. We just took out the Metal Pump and inflated it to capacity!
I heard people say that they feel reminded to (Swedish) death metal when listening to your new EP. Well, I think that some parts really sound death metal like (the guitar riffing), but apart from that I would say that your roots or influences are more in hardcore. Do you agree? What's your opinion about death metal and which bands do you like from this genre (I listened a lot to death metal in the early 90s, and I still love all the old bands like Entombed/Nihilist, Carnage, Morbid Angel,...)?
If you thought the EP sounds Swedish metal influenced, wait till the LP! We all listen to a lot of Swedish death metal bands. I don't know what's up with those guys over there, but they know how to rock! We are still very much a hardcore band though! We support the hardcore community and are always trying to build on our local scene. In fact, there are a ton of great metal-hardcore type bands from Seattle. Bands like Botch, Left With Nothing, Grieving the Days to Come, Cepheid, Hardesty... all are very good. You'll hear more about them in the future I'm sure. Our posi-hardcore scene is also exploding here. Champion and xStayGoldx have just recently signed to national labels and there are many more bands getting noticed right now. It's a good time for Seattle and hardcore.
There have been a lot of line-up changes in the past in Himsa. Compared to "Ground Breaking Ceremony" there's only you and Brian left, right? But now I read on your website that Brian is no longer in the band but Sammii Curr instead? What were the reasons for those immense changes between two releases? Did you ever think about giving the band a new name?
A very well deserved question. We have gone through a complete restructure and it hasn't been easy. I'm basically the only original member left. I know that's kind of shocking to some because we still have the same name, but when we first started this band we told ourselves we would never define our sound or pigeon-hole ourselves into one type of music. We stick to that plan now, it allows us to change and be artists without boundaries. Loosing members has been a stretched-out event. It started with Aaron, then went Christian, then Mike, then Brian. There have been other members who have come and gone in that time-frame as well. It has been nothing but frustrating and discouraging, but for the members who came in and helped build Himsa to what we are today, it would have been a total let down to change the name. Everyone has an investment in this band now, whether it be 3 years or 6 months. So most people only see the line-up change from one record to the next, but it goes much deeper than that. Himsa has paid its dues and we're ready for action!
Do you still get along with the ex members? I heard there have been some problems with Christian, your former vocalist, and the rest of the band?
I have talked to everyone within the last 2 weeks. Aaron did the layout for our latest recording and he helps us out with other design elements as well. He moved to Portland and plays in The 6 Minute Heartstop who just released their first EP on RiseRecords(.com). Christian is in a band called the November Group and they've seen some touring on the West Coast recently. Brian is still my good friend and he hasn't moved on to any other projects as of yet. Mike is finishing school and getting his degree this Spring. Now if you asked other past members what they thought of each other, you might get a different story. It wouldn't be hardcore if there wasn't drama!
In the special thanks list on the EP credits go out to the former members "who all contributed to the creation of these songs." So were the songs for the EP written by the old line-up or are these all new songs written by the new line-up?
Like I said earlier, we needed to kind of wipe the slate clean so we could move on. We needed to get the older songs out because we had been playing them for a long time and they hadn't been recorded. Some of the songs (Exhale, Tempest, and Twist) on the EP were written before anyone had left the band in '99! They had all been performed by the previous members. The other 2, (Hellbent and Born) were created later, but they were also shaped by previous members. Now that the older songs are out we can focus on having a more uniformed LP.
What about the involvement of Aaron Edge in Himsa? I mean he does not play an instrument for Himsa any more, but he was responsible for the cover of the EP, so would you consider him as band member as well?
I guess we could consider Aaron "A friend of Himsa". The concept for the cover was ours, but it came from earlier work he had done when he was in the band. We help each other out with design and Web work. He's a very motivated individual when it comes to his art.
Do people ask you a lot about the bands you used to play in? I mean some of you played in Trial, a band very famous in the hardcore scene. Does that get on your nerves or is it ok for you? By the way, I heard that John Pettibone, your "new" singer was in Undertow before, so do you get a lot of questions concerning his former band?
No one ever asks me about Trial. Trial was a band that taught me a lot about being in a band and getting along with people. I will always have fond memories of Trial. John doesn't get asked about Undertow either, I think people here either aren't familiar with our past bands or just don't care. It all seems like a very long time ago, but it's funny how people don't forget.
How did you find John as your "new" singer?
I called this sex hotline and he answered the phone... or we just asked him and he said yes... I can't remember.
What about the next full length? I heard it will come out this spring, so what can you tell me about it? Did you record it at Rainstorm studios as well? Will any songs from "Death is infinite" be on the full length?
The next full length will be out when it's done. I've learned to not open my mouth when it comes to putting out records. If I say it will be out at a certain time, it never is. Let's just say we're working on it now. I think I've already given you some idea as to what it's going to sound like. It will be all new material.
Clay Layton is responsible for the electronic parts in Himsa's sound. How important are those elements for the band's music and will there be more electronic parts in the future?
Clay now joins the ranks as an ex-member of Himsa. He couldn't commit to touring and he just had a baby so he needed to focus on that. I guess I took over with the electronic elements. Right now we run a sampler while we play and I get to try to push buttons and play bass at the same time. It's working out well, but we have talked about finding a new person to run keys and samples for us. Only time will tell...
I just checked out your website, and I think it's one of the best (band-) sites out there, because it's far away from the usual band stuff. Who came up with the concept of the site and what about all those pictures from people that supposedly killed themselves? Are you fascinated by suicide in a way?
Thanks. I designed and built the site myself. It took for damn ever! I work as a freelance web builder here in Seattle and I just sort of brainstormed a new site concept. It took it's own shape over the course of about 3 months. I'm pretty happy about it, but I still find it hard to update it regularly as I update sites all day long and am burnt out by the time I get home. I hope that makes sense. The photos on the front are of actual people who shot themselves. I got the idea from a poster that someone gave me about gun control. The links to all the video clips were found from just surfing around. Some of my friends can't believe I made such a gruesome site, but they haven't seen the pretty pastel sites I've made that are all happy and pretty either. There's a little bit of disgust in all of us I think.
Do you think it is important for a band to have its own website? Is the internet an important media in your opinion? What's your favourite site?
My favorite site right now is the Emerica site. It's all small and cool. I like small sites right now. I think every band should have a web site. It's so easy for people to check you out and know what you're all about. It's a fast and great way to build community at home or around the world. We toured Asia a year ago and it was all set up over the web! I didn't call one kid over there and only one show didn't work out when we got there!
In the past you toured through "exotic" countries Thailand, Philippines or Malaysia. What about coming to another exotic country like Germany ;-)
We'd love to come to Germany! Europe is the one place I've wanted to tour and never been able until now. We're working with Yvonne and Marcos from Join the Team Player Records/Avocado Booking on setting up a European this fall. We're all really excited to go over and supply some head-banging sessions for the kids there! We're still working on the exact dates, but it will be September and the first part of October. Get in touch if you have any ideas about where to play and who to play with - firstname.lastname@example.org!
On a live pic I saw that John had an X on his hand which I thought was very cool because I am sXe, too. So what about the rest of the band?
John and I are the only SxE guys. It's kind of funny too because we're the oldest members!
Well, I can’t think of any more questions actually. Do you have anything to add?
Christ, that was one long interview! I hope everyone reading got something out of it! Thanks for checking us out and feel free to get in touch at himsa.org anytime! Take care and God Bless America! - No, just joking - fuck america.