Part Two: An Interview Andrew Haug of Contrive
Re-energised, re-invigorated, re-born; Contrive has been honed into a razor sharp two-piece metal machine. The twin brothers are two parts of the one whole, finishing each others musical thoughts like no one else can. The result is a potent collection of intuitive, progressive, heavy metal; Modern production and a liberal dose of electronic effects meet some old school metal crunch via surging riffs and punishing drums. Contrive have had a very prolific career, sharing stages with the likes of Opeth, Stone Sour, Sepultura, Soilwork, Machine Head, Testament, Cavalera Conspiracy, Coroner and more.
Known and well respected throughout the global metal community, Paul and Andrew Haug have always done it their way. On their own, independently and for each other as well as themselves. With Slow Dissolve, the brothers Haug truly are taking on the world together. Literally side by side. We caught up with Andrew to talk about the new album, getting back on stage, the current state of metal in Australia and much more.
On the current state of heavy music in Australia with all of the talented bands right now:
It's as good now as it ever has been I reckon, I've been saying that for a while now. I think more people are noticing now, which is great. I will always gun for the Australian heavy music scene, always. All through my career, I mean I started doing radio with a local demo segment, that's how I started supporting the community of heavy music and I've never stopped doing that. I've noticed that more Aussie bands are really fighting for their own sound now, it used to be a lot of emulation, and that's still prevalent. But again, you've got a band in Sweden that sounds like another bigger band, and I was always frustrated when all of these bands would come to Australia and everyone would come and flock to the show because they were from Sweden.
When there's another band here that's equally as good and they might play to 50 people the next week, and I always never understood it. I guess some people have a fascination with something that's not regularly from here, but that's changed, and seeing all of the shows that Aussie bands are doing now and selling out venues. It's just so positive now. Let's hope that it's going to continue and I just hope that segregation changes a bit more, just because there's a tonne of sub genres out there within the metal genre. It'd be good to see a little bit more mixed billing and more of different bands playing together. I've noticed even when that happens, fans of a particular band turn up to watch that band and as soon as they're done they all bail. Like, stick around and you might actually discover something that you'll enjoy, and a lot of it is peer pressure I think.
A lot of people don't want to feel like they watched the band that wasn't brutal enough because their mates are all into the real brutal stuff. I just always tell people, just get out and go to a show, you'll meet people and have fun. I think that's part of what the concept for Slow Dissolve is all about, the way we're all communicating with each other now, we've got more options, but the whole face to face thing is still a bit daunting for some people. Even to go to a local show and just stand there, I think people are starting to think, oh there's another human over there, do I need to talk? Just text me instead. A lot of people at shows now are no longer walking up to the front to participate anymore, my friend called it the 'Wall Of Fear' or the 'Barricade Of Fear', something like that anyway. You know, they stand 10 feet back from the stage, come a bit closer, we aren't going to bite.
On participating at metal shows and the image that fans worry about:
I think it sucks and I think kids these days are worried about being judged when they're at a metal show. I think the only thing that's separating all of this stuff is the fraction of an image, or a look. I just never got it, I was just there to get into heavy music. Who cares what jeans you're wearing or what band shirt you decide to wear?
Unfortunately is has become a little bit more image based and fashion based. I used to go to hardcore shows and see Mindsnare and I'd be there in a Kreator shirt with my long hair and I'd get looked at like I don't belong there. It's still heavy music and we shouldn't be judging people when at the end of the day they're there for the same reason you are. I just never understood that mentality. I think we're in a society of people being fearful and being judged, and fitting in and belonging to a certain scene and all of that certain stuff. That's the thing though, some of these bands don't even have that sort of mindset. I'm good mates with the Suicide Silence guys and they have no idea what deathcore is or what it's even about. Yet they're labelled that. It's just pathetic. They themselves never labelled themselves as deathcore, yet it follows them everywhere they go.
Sometimes bands don't have a say of what category they're thrown into, or what scene they belong in. It's pretty strange but you'd like to think that people will just go to a show to enjoy their lives and watch some good music, because that's really what we're there to do.
On supporting some of the biggest names in metal music and if there's a favourite:
That's a good question. I mean, most of them we were friends with already and they wanted us to play with them, and that in itself is amazing. Just to sort of get a call or an email and read "Hey man, would you like to open up for us?" and we're like "What? Are you serious?"
Obviously the guys in Opeth we go way back with, touring with them was an amazing opportunity. Sepultura would be another one, mostly being the reason why Paul and I picked up instruments and the whole brother connection as well. To play with the more modern version of Sepultura and then to play with the other part, being the Cavalera Conspiracy with Max and Iggor, to play with them was really, really cool. I remember when we were playing a show in Canberra and Max says into the microphone in his famous Brazilian accent, "This goes out to the twins in Contrive, we've been friends forever, this is Troops Of Doom" you know just hearing that was incredible. Money can't buy stuff like that, it was just godly. Playing Vietnam was also amazing.
Obviously playing with Devin Townsend is always a fun time and hilarious, he's a long time friend of ours. It's just good to share the stage with good people really. that's the thing I love about playing and touring. It's got the grind, it's tough and it can be tiring as well, but when you're in the company of good people that can change everything and it makes it all a lot better and easier rather than people complaining. It's not for everyone and it can be a tough business, but there's also a shitload of fun to be had, it just depends on how you approach it. You've also got to look after yourself physically, that's a huge factor.
On the new album Slow Dissolve and the loyal fans of Contrive:
We've got a new website up which is www.contrive.com.au we've just released some pretty cool merch for people to check out. We've printed up a limited run of CD's because people are more in the digital realm these days. A few people have asked about vinyl but we've held off from that for the moment, it just depends on demand and how well the rest of the stuff goes. I guess I just want to encourage people to have an open mind and not to proceed with caution. Paul and I really believe in this record and I think it's just a really honest album because that's where we come from.
We try to make music that we like and hopefully people can give it the time of day that it deserves. Take your time with it, don't just flick through each song and go yeah, cool, done. I mean, it's got 8 songs and it goes for 42 minutes, I think that's the perfect time for an album, the last couple of records have ended up being around that mark. It's not on purpose, we just try and write our best 8 songs and next thing you know it's 40-something minutes. I've listened to it a lot and I'm totally fine about flying my own flag because it is something that I'm proud of and we did work hard on it. I don't think it's one of those album that drags, it might be in a couple of years, who knows?
Hopefully people will give it a chance and hopefully they'll hear something a little bit different that they will appreciate and enjoy. Share it with your friends if you do like it and let them know, just like how I like to share good music around with others.
Slow Dissolve is out now and you can get your copy HERE.
You can also read Part One of this interview with Andrew Haug by clicking HERE.
Written by Steve Jenkins