Interview by Tony Cannella
In past years guitarist Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head and ex-Soulfly) has taken on a more behind the scenes role in the metal industry. He has become one of the most respected and sought after producers. Now he returned to playing and recording with his new outfit Once Human. The band also features Australian vocalist Lauren Hart who provides a strong mix of hellish extreme vocals along with more melodic clean vocals. The band is completed by: Skyler Howren (guitars), Damien Rainaud (bass) and Dillon Trollope (drums). Once Human has just released the relentless – and I do mean relentless – debut album, which is titled “The Life I Remember”. Recently I enjoyed a pleasant chat with lead vocalist Lauren Hart. Here are the contents of our discussion.
To begin, can you please tell us how you got in touch with Logan Mader and what led to the formation of Once Human?
It was basically, I got back from Australia and came to L.A. – not exactly sure why. I just felt that I needed to be in L.A. I came with not very much money in my pocket but I had enough to buy a really cheap guitar and a really cheap amp and I decided to start playing again. I was just messing round and posted some metal riffs on Instagram and Facebook. I didn’t really think it was going to go anywhere, I was just doing it for my own entertainment. Then through social media it got into the hands of a former Roadrunner employee who sent it to Monte Connor. Basically it just went through the grapevine through to Monte Connor who put me in touch with Logan. He asked Logan, “Would you like to do a production deal around this girl?”, so I got pulled in by Logan and I didn’t know who he was, I never heard his name – I’ve heard of Machine Head, but not very much, I was sort of into a different type of metal although I do respect what he does a lot. We started writing straight away and we hit it off like crazy. By the second meeting we already had two songs going, then I begged him about five songs in to please join the band because he’s incredible and he should be there on stage and here we are now.
Your debut is called “The Life I Remember”. What can fans expect to hear when they buy the album?
They will hear a mixture of brutality and beauty. I think there is some beautiful orchestral elements that open up the album – quite similar to Dimmu Borgir’s “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia”. It has a beautiful orchestral opening and then it is just straight in-your-face fing metal! It comes back once in a while to some beautiful orchestral moments and it slows down, it’s like it gives you a break from the brutal, hard-hitting fing metal, it gives you a break just when you need it and you can hear some really nice acoustic guitars in some parts and clean singing, but mostly it’s f***ing head banging metal. I think fans are really gonna love it, just turn it up loud.
You mentioned that “The Life I Remember” has a mixture of styles and that is one thing I really loved about the record. I use a song like “I Am War” as an example of this. It is one of the shorter songs but it shows the diversity of the band – and it also happens to be one of my favorite songs.
Oh, thank you! That’s really cool to hear, thank you.
I wanted to ask you about some individual songs from the record. The first one that comes to mind is the single and video track. What can you tell us about that one?
“You C”?” Well actually the song lyrically, the chorus “You C“ actually came about as a bit of a joke and an accident because what we do is we write the music and then we listen to the music on loop and just let the music inspire the lyrics and then we write it together. We were listening to the chorus on loop and I felt like it needed to be “You” something, I couldn’t think of the right word and I just messing around with Logan and I’m like how about “You C“, because in Australia it’s just kind of a word that is said all the time, in a lot of Europe as well – England mostly. C is just a very loosely said word that doesn’t hit as hard as it does here in America. It wasn’t intended to be as vulgar as what it’s being made out to be. It’s a fun word to f***ing say but maybe you have to be Australian to say it (laughs). The rest of it lyrically is actually written because it is a part of myself that I wanted to let go of in order to break free and be who I am on stage. It’s hard to explain. It’s a personality within myself that I wanted to overcome to become who I am on stage.
I checking out the new video. It’s really cool. You wrote and directed it. What was that experience like?
It was amazing. I was so lucky that Logan let me take it all under control. It looks really – stereotypical, I guess – it’s a very stereotypical metal video with the scary doctor and all that, but that also has a different meaning to me. The doctor actually represents the music and entertainment industry and he takes his victims, he uses them up, turns them into his little puppets, little stars and once they’re all used up, he disposes of them and gets a new one. I felt I wasn’t taken seriously as an artist and people wanted to put me in this box, they would look at me and say, “you’re a pop singer, you’re not a metal singer, because you look a certain way”. And this is my of saying f*** you (laughs), this is who I am. The doctor didn’t pay attention in the beginning, he didn’t care about who she was on the inside, he didn’t read the charts, in the charts in the beginning it shows that she had symptoms of possession, symptoms of a demon within her, which he chose to ignore. He didn’t care about who the girl was on inside just what he wanted from her on the outside and in the end it ended up killing him. So that’s my message there.
Another song I really loved on the record was, “The Life I Remember”. Lyrically, what is that one about?
“The Life I Remember” was actually inspired by Logan. He had given up on a big part of himself when he stopped playing live and he just sort of settled back behind on the scenes and a part of him was missing and had died in a way. So this is about the killing of the old self and the rebirth of the new self into what he is now today and what he always was and had forgotten for a little while.
Once Human is presently on tour with Fear Factory. How has it been going so far?
They’re amazing! Honestly, we could not have gotten a better tour. They are mates of Logan and Damien and everyone here is on a mate level. We’re all friends, we get along really well and help each other. It’s really supportive. I feel great energy all around. Of course, I admire how Fear Factory have been around for so long and are still rocking out, touring like crazy. It’s great to be sort of a student and learn from that, along with of course being next to Logan as well. To me as a brand-new artist, this is a dream come true.
Have Once Human played live prior to this tour?
No. Our show in Flagstaf was our first ever show.
So, when fans come out to see you live, can you give us an idea of what to expect?
Well, a lot of people have come up to me and said, “Wow! You have completely surprise me. I was not expecting that”. They’re really loving it. We’ve already had a stage diver and mosh pits going crazy. For me, it’s so cool to see, and they love it. Fans just bang their head and go mental and that’s exactly what I want. So you can expect to come, and feel a little bit blown away, I guess (laughs). You’re going to have a good time.
What are your plans following this tour with Fear Factory?
More tours. I want to go to Europe, I want to go to Australia for sure. I want to keep doing this and writing ASAP another album and just keep doing this the rest of my life with Logan. This is a dream come true.
What has it been like to relocate from Australia to the United States?
Well, I was born here, so I am a U.S. Citizen, so it is basically just coming back and experiencing America again the way I did when I was young. I miss Australia, I call Australia home. To me the people in L.A. are a little different – they’re just different culturally. I miss the beaches, I miss the people, I miss the food – I miss Vegemite (laughs), you probably things that’s disgusting.
Never had it. I just know it from the Men At Work song. (laughs)
(Laughs). But then again if it wasn’t for me coming here, I wouldn’t have met Logan. So obviously, America, it’s true, it’s where dreams come true.
The band’s name, Once Human. Who came up with it and does it hold any special significance?
Well, it could mean a lot of things. A lot of our songs and a lot of the titles and this name in particular could mean something different to everyone. They’re written in a way so that people can take their own meaning from it. No one is right and no one is wrong. Once Human actually started out, I was thinking it would be called Once We Were Human just because of the way the world is going nowadays, because the fall of humanity and I guess the uprising of social media. The first song on the album (“Trail of Tears”) actually explains what Once Human is all about – the first song lyrically – but also I never really want to be preachy about, because I feel like I get a lot of it out in the music, and I don’t want to be one of the people that go around talking about humanity, you know what I mean? But it was called in the beginning Once We Were Human and then it got down to Once Human. Some of the boys take it like in the future we’re all going to be machines and so they can take it like that if they want. I think it’s more of a progression into more materialistic and technology, more computers and less physical contact, less interaction. There is a lot more division. Religion is dividing us and politics dividing us, we’re not one anymore. Do you understand?
Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more. I’ve read that you’re from more of a black metal background?
Once Human is a little bit different, but are you able to bring your black metal influences into the mix?
Oh yeah. It’s very much a good mix of Logan’s influence and mine.
I have one final question. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to do this. “The Life I Remember” is a great record and we wish you the best of luck.
To wrap this up, do you have any final messages for our readers?
I hope you guys like the album.