Interview by Tony Cannella
With their sophomore release “Evolution”, extreme metallers Once Human returns with an album that is just great from beginning to end. Taking nothing away from their excellent debut “The Life I Remember”, “Evolution” brings things to whole new level. Recently lead vocalist Lauren Hart was kind enough to take some time to talk to Femme Metal as she gave insight to writing lyrics, the recording process, and a myriad of topics. Here is what she had to say!
Hello Lauren. I wanted to start off by talking about the new Once Human album, “Evolution”. What can fans expect when they hear it?
I think people are going to be quite shocked because it sounds like a completely different band than if they heard the first album or if they’re fans of the first album, but there is still something for those fans who liked a lot of the clean vocals. There’s a couple of songs like “Passenger” and “Drain” that feature some clean (vocals). So far it seems like everyone likes “Paragon” the best and maybe that’s because it’s quite melodic and haunting, beautiful yet really heavy. It takes you on a bit of a journey. It’s a lot more prog than our last album. There is really few songs with verse/chorus/verse/chorus.
Do you feel like this is a natural progression or evolution, so to speak, for Once Human?
Yes, it definitely is. I think it became more natural when we met Max Karon and he’s the additional guitar player. We met him on tour with Fear Factory – he was Fear Factory‘s guitar tech – and we quickly swept him up after we heard a couple of his riffs. He immediately started writing with us. That’s why the album, I think, was done so quickly because as soon as we were done touring, we went to work. Unfortunately, the last album cycle for “The Life I Remember” ended quite quickly, but on the plus side it gave us a lot more time to write, invest and better ourselves on this album. I really feel like it’s come a long way. Lyrically, I put everything I have into it, so I think people are going to like this album a lot more.
I wanted to ask you about some of the lyrics. One of my favorite songs is “Eye of Chaos”. What can you say about the lyrics to that one?
The lyrics to that song was actually one of the first songs that I wrote for this album. It’s kind of one that kicked things into gear for me lyrically. I wrote about something that was happening in the world – I don’t really want to go too much into it, because that will just open the door for politics and opinions on different things happening, but there was an event that happened in the world at that time, and it inspired me and made me angry and it made me sad. I felt like that’s what I have to do. I need to write about things that are real and that really affect me and not worry about pleasing other people, or writing for other people or thinking this is what the fans want. I feel like if you’re true to yourself and you write about things that mean something to you – we’re all human and we’re all going to relate, if it’s real.
Do you look at writing lyrics as kind of an outlet for getting things off your chest?
Oh yes, definitely. I think I was afraid to do that before. You’re afraid to face that. I’m kind of one who sort of runs away from my anger and I hide it all away and shut it off and function above it and I think that is where I went wrong on the last album, I was kind of surface-y. On this album, I just let it all out and I think that is also why the vocals changed, because I believe what I am singing now. All that anger that I’ve hidden for so long is just coming out in my words and in the vocals.
What are the lyrics to “Paragon” about?
It kind of goes on a little bit of a journey. That song is about people who live behind this façade. You see it a lot in social media. Visually people put this fake person on-line that isn’t themselves because they want to be loved, liked or accepted, and what do you learn from that, what do get from that, what are you giving someone when you are doing that? All of these compliments or acceptance that you might get, what does it mean if it’s not real? Also, there is a part of it where they paint themselves to be this perfect person and they put you down. It kind of came from a personal experience for me. You know what’s funny? I actually have a really hard time discussing it. Maybe because it is so personal to me, I have a hard time putting it into words unless it’s pen to paper. In the end of the song, it talks about, in a world full of facades, you don’t know what’s real in the media and who’s lying and all of this. Be true to yourself and be the one little tiny cell of change, because it matters.
Can you talk a little about the writing and recording process for “Evolution”?
In the beginning a lot got thrown out lyrically, but I’ll start with the music. I stepped down from the guitar playing and the heavy writing for this album, and Logan and Max did a great deal more of it. I did a lot of the arranging and I added a lot of parts, but not as much as the last album. When all the music is done then the lyrics come; sometimes the songs can inspire the words. Lyrically a lot of it got thrown out because I felt like it wasn’t good enough, because the music definitely stepped up from the last album and I was quite intimidated by it, I told myself I wasn’t good enough, so therefore I wasn’t good enough, because I believed it. When “Eye of Chaos” happened, that’s when that all changed, but a lot got thrown out before “Eye of Chaos”. Songs were re-written and re-written and re-written and now we’ve got what we’ve got now.
You mentioned that you added a third guitarist, Max Karon. What do you feel he brings to Once Human as a guitarist?
I really feel like he and Logan are the reason the new sound sounds the way it is. Max has this alien-esque type of writing ability. He sort of thinks outside the box. It’s amazing, I swear he’s an alien (laughs). I’m like, “How do you do that?” He’s just brilliant, I don’t know how else to explain it, and he’s also a tech as well, so he’s got a really amazing ear. He did a lot of the synths and orchestration. He mixed with Logan‘s old school Machine Head-esque type sound is what makes this album so great.
You mentioned early that “Evolution” is different from your previous album. Where you concerned how fans of your debut album might receive this one?
Yeah, I was concerned, but I felt like everyone was going to like it more, just because it is so different and there really is nothing else like it. You don’t know until you hear it, and I think when they hear this album, they’re going to understand why we stepped away from that box and created our own.
You also recorded a cover of the Machine Head song “Davidian” as a bonus track on “Evolution”. Why did you decide to cover this song?
I think a lot of Logan‘s fans really wanted to hear him play that song again, because it’s been like 20 plus years. We needed a bonus track for Japan and we were really short of time, so that’s what we did. We all knew the song, because we were playing it live – we were doing that cover when we were out with Fear Factory – so we all knew the song and we did it and Logan had a lot of fun with it. The only problem was we didn’t realize the reaction of the fans, people were like, “why just for Japan, why not for us?” We’re going to do everything we can to get that streaming once it’s released, whether it be on YouTube or a download. We’ll get it out for everyone.
How cool is to be singing that song?
It’s awesome. I really want Robb Flynn to hear it and like it. I really tried to tap into my inner Robb Flynn to try and do it justice. When I was singing, it live before I felt like my vocals were stuck in this high range scream and I don’t think I sounded as good as I could do it now, because I’ve learned about this new tonal scream thing and that’s what I’ve been doing.
Vocally are you always striving to work on new things?
Yes. In between writing this album and going on tour, Logan gets me some co-writes for other bands. I’ll write top-lines for other bands. Part of what I feel like sells this top-line to the band is if I can try and sound like their voice, and that’s how this tonal scream came about as I was trying to sound like the singer of this one band, and Logan was like, “Hey, that sounds pretty cool”. That’s how you learn. I think a lot of singers can learn by imitating other singers. You might think it sounds silly, but if you listen back, it’s actually quite cool.
Do you listen to any current bands, particularly those with female singers?
The last album that I listened to with a female singer that I really loved was “Wages of Sin” by Arch Enemy. That was the one that sort of made me realize, “Wow, girls can scream too!”.
When can we expect to see Once Human out on the road again?
Well, we’re working on tours right now. It’s a little bit difficult because people are waiting to see how this album does. They judge it on sales of course. The first week needs to happen and we’re going to see how it goes, and hopefully if it does well bands will be approaching us to get on tour.
If you had your choice of one band to tour with, who would it be?
I’ve heard you’re also a big Dimmu Borgir fan.
Oh definitely. “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” is my favorite album. I learned how to drive a car to that album and I do not recommend that (laughs).
I have one final question Lauren. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I love the record and Femme Metal wishes you the best of luck with it.
In closing, do you have any final words for your fans to wrap this up?
Thank you so much for supporting us. We’ve got a new music video out for “Dark Matter”. I hope you guys watch it and enjoy it and we hope to see you all on the road in the pit.
Photo credit by Richard Marz