Face to face Interview with Blake Meahl (lead guitars) from Huntress
22nd of January 2015 @ Colchester Arts Centre
Two years after releasing their successful second album “Starbound Beast”, Huntress has been chosen to support the mighty Vikings of Amon Amarth for their 2015 “Deceiver of the Gods” European tour. Before the beginning of their gig at the Colchester Arts Centre on the 22nd of January, I went to that nice church to ask some questions to Blake Meahl, the lead guitarist of those US heavy/thrash metallers.
Hello Blake! First of all, could you please tell me briefly what happened since the release of your last album “Starbound Beast” until now?
Briefly… It’s not easy because a lot of has happened! We just keep getting incredible tour offers and you know, it’s hard to deny them. We’ve been working hard, taking all these awesome tours, travelling and also writing a new record. We’ve always wanted to do one album a year and we’ve got a new one almost ready to go. But between scheduling timing with producers and release schedules with the label, and then tour opportunities coming up… Everything is getting pushed back a little bit. Our last tour over here was at the Download Festival and we did a bunch of shows in Europe and in the UK. Then, we went back home, we spent a couple of months just writing really hard and trying to get everything finished up and then, we ended up going out with Arch Enemy and Kreator in the United States. After that, we got home and jumped to the recording studio, pre-production with the producers, got all the basic tracks done and as soon as we get home from this tour, we’re going to finish the record (laughs)!
So, when do you think your next album will be ready?
It should be released in July this year. We should have it done within a couple of weeks really after getting home of this trip but then it takes four or six months for the label to release it you know.
So, I assume it will be released by Napalm Records?
Since you’ve signed at Napalm Records, are you satisfied with your relations with them and what they’ve done for you so far? Even though they started focusing on black metal only in the past (and diversified later to other genres progressively), do you think they’re the right record label for you?
Yeah! I mean, we’re a really tricky band to work with. We experienced a lot of these incredible tours. We realized more and more that we don’t necessarily fit into any micro-genre you know. So, it’s like we go on a black metal tour and we’re going to be the light sounding band. But we went on tour with Dragonforce and everybody thought we were the most evil thing they had ever heard! It’s just kind of funny how that works. This one with Amon Amarth is for us just an awesome pairing, it just feels very good but I think that it’s great they’ve diversified and that they’re expanding. When they approached us, it was: OK, they’re in the market of other types of music and they sign just a few black metal acts, not as many as they used to do. That’s probably because that’s not part of their business model that is going to make them any money which is part of survival but they’re a great label. You know it has been a cool experience being an American band with a European label. It’s kind of like most of time when people have a label and their nation of origin, they’re able to really focus on that one market and blow that up. Instead, we’ve kind of spread out all over the world practically and so, it’s an interesting slower burn but we’re conquering a greater territory you know.
Regarding your current contract with Napalm Records, you have already released two albums through them and how many albums left have you got?
Oh, this is the last one! Yeah, not the last time we work with them but the last time we’ve contracted for. What happens after this… I mean, the idea about thinking of soliciting and dealing with labels and contracts right now while we are in the middle of riding and touring and recording, it’s just too hard you know. I don’t have time to worry about it, I’m sorry this has to wait until things calm down a little bit until the record is done.
You have released three video clips so far for the songs “Spell Eater”, “Zenith” and “Eight of Swords”. I like them and it seems Napalm Records have invested a lot in you as they’re well directed with many special effects. How did it happen and did you have some control on the making of those video clips?
Hum, we have complete control over there. Napalm hasn’t suggested any directors for us in fact. They only focused on going with Phil Mucci who did our last one “Zenith” just because it was too expensive and we had to pay it ourselves. That’s just what is important to us, it’s like we have control over our music and we make a video that we put out. We don’t want to make shit you know. That’s our legacy, that’s our career, that’s what people will always know and look to about us. If we’re gone tomorrow, I don’t want to have crappy performance videos that were 500 dollars. That’s the part we actually get creative on. I’m not creative about what fucking van we tour in or like where we tour in, how and how often, I’m responding to e-mails… There is so much work that goes around it! The music and the videos are the two creative outlets that we have and we take those seriously you know.
Now, let’s talk about your music in details. Firstly, I really like your songs in general. It’s very well done…
However, musically speaking (I’m not talking about the vocals here), I’ve heard many striking similarities with bands like Overkill, Eidolon and Eldritch. For your future works, are you planning to experiment something different?
Yeah. But you know, I think our two first records are pretty… Large step apart from each other as far as we’re experimenting with different sounds and ideas and this third one will be the same as in different (laughs)! That’s because my philosophy on the song writing for this next record is less based on… I guess it was never really to emulate a sound but I was really focused (especially on our first record) on riffs, playing faster and technical riffs. Trying to be extreme, trying to be aggressive and that’s because I love that kind of music but it was an effort you know. The more we tour and the more I listen to other modern music that is coming out contemporarily, I feel like it’s… It’s such a pissing match as we call it in the States. So OK, I’m going to be more extreme, I’m going to play faster, I’m going to put in more arpeggios, I’m going to scream higher or lower or faster or start rapping because that’s more extreme. Whatever! I just don’t give a shit about trying to be more anything than anybody else and I think that’s what the metal is coming down to a lot, especially with the recording arts being on computers and digitalised. It’s very easy to create a product that you’re not able to play. To me, there is no point in doing that because I’ve already invested my time and life learning how to play my guitar and that human feeling and sound that come from a guitar… That’s what draws people to it. Not because you can play the most extreme arpeggios and put all the notes dropped in a place into a computer you know. So, the focus for me is more based on playing things that don’t sound like they were made by a computer. I want everything to be as human as possible and I want the songs to be good as possible because the one thing a computer can’t do is writing a good song. You know, a computer can make the craziest sounds you’ve ever heard but they can’t write the songs. At the end of the day, that’s really what counts. That’s what sticks with people as a good song in a good melody and something you walk away with, in your ear and that you just can’t get it out. That’s the goal!
The song “I Want to Fuck you to Death” has been co-written by Lemmy Kilmister. How did you get this great opportunity to work with him?
Hum, that’s pretty cool. You know, Jill knows him from… Back in the day when she was in a band called Chelsea Girls and it was like a cover band. They got to do a handful of shows with Motörhead. They headed off and had a good relationship. They kind of hanged out once in a while and she met up with him over a hip bar in L.A. called the Rainbow, a heavy metal rock bar of the Sunset Strip. So, he likes to hang out and she asked him to write lyrics for a song and he did (laughs)! Very well in the composition I’ve already written. It was pretty easy, it was like magic, they just came and fit together. The rest is history you know. It was a pretty awesome experience.
To conclude this interview, after your current European tour and after releasing your new album, what will be your next projects?
Hum, you know probably… I’m hoping we’re actually going to stay at home for a couple of months until the record comes out because we haven’t had that luxury in a long time (laughs)! And then, we’re going to tour and make a new record over and over again!