Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19th, 2017 - Paragon Of Extreme Metal Guitar: An Interview With Logan Mader

When you mention the name "Logan Mader" to a metal head, he/she usually thinks of the original two albums by Machine Head.  Or his name may conjure images of his dreadlocks flying with Soulfly.  Many will remember his amazing production work of bands like Cavalera Conspiracy, Soulfly, Gojira, Devildriver, W.A.S.P., etc.  What you really need to know now is that after a 10 year break from playing, Logan Mader formed an amazing melodic death metal band, Once Human that has produced two brilliant albums.  Their latest, "Evolution" was released in February of this year.  They recently finished a very successful tour with Xandria and Kobra And The Lotus.  They are now touring with Wednesday 13 and Gabriel And The Apocalypse... a show you don't want to miss!

I sat down with Mr. Mader this past weekend when his band, Once Human opened for Wednesday 13 at the Metro Music Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.   Here's what Mr. Mader had to say about music, his band Once Human, touring, and the immediate future of Once Human:

1.      When did you first start playing guitar?  What got you into music originally?

I started playing guitar when I was 15 years old.  And I taught myself how to play.  I just decided I wanted to be a guitar player.  My mom bought me a cheap acoustic guitar.  I was actually in drug rehap at the time.  I taught myself how to play guitar pretty quick and that’s all I did for many years… play guitar.

2.      Who are your biggest influences as a guitarist? 

Well, in the beginning, as inspiration to be a guitar player was Bay Area thrash metal… all of it: Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, Violence, Metallica.  And then I got into Slayer as well.  And just the darkest, heaviest, most brutal shit is what spoke to me.  That’s my shit, yeah.

3.      So you’ve produced some heavy hitters over the years including W.A.S.P., Soulfly, Cavelara Conspiracy, Gojira, Five Finger Death Punch, Devildriver, to name a few.  Although you are currently very busy writing, recording, producing, and touring with Once Human, do you plan to still produce records from other bands/musicians? 

I still do.  Yeah. I just finished the new W.A.S.P. album. And I have mixes… I’m mostly mixing right now.  And I have a mobile Pro Tools rig that’s complete with everything I have in my other studio so I can work from the road… and I do.  I work when I’m at home.  I love producing, I love mixing.  It’s a big part of my life and I still do it.

4.      Who is the one band you really would like to produce if you could?

Metallica… yeah, Metallica!

5.      What musicians/bands are currently on your radar? Who do you listen to on your downtime?

There’s a band called Invidia. I actually produced them, cowrote, and I manage the band.  And actually they are coming on this Wednesday 13 tour when we leave to go play with Dragonforce.  Invidia is coming on to take our place with this tour and they’ve got a bigger tour coming in September.  I can’t announce it yet.  But it’s a really cool band.  I love Gojira… everything Gojira does always.  I love Meshuggah.  All the classics of course!  But other bands on my radar?  I like Code Orange… pretty fucking awesome!

6.      For my readers that may not be familiar with your background, what was the catalyst that prompted you to transition from an active and successful musician into the production side of things?   What prompted you to return to playing again after a 10 year absence?

That’s a lot of different things, but I always loved being in the studio even when I was just a musician… and making records. It was the time around the year 2000, 2001 I decided I wanted to become a producer and a mixer so I did.  And I focused all my energy on that.  I felt like I did it full time and I didn’t want to be in a band at the same time.  I wanted to cultivate that part of my life.  I did a lot of records and made a bit of a name for myself and I really enjoyed doing it.  And I still do.  And then when I met Lauren [Hart], as a producer and a cowriter, it turned into this, which is Once Human and I’m really glad I made that choice to start playing again as well because I missed it and I love it, and I had a good intuition about this band with Lauren.  I think I was right.  It’s still a lot of hard work, but at the same time, my life doesn’t depend on it.  So I get to do it with the mindset that it’s fun.  And it is part of having good human experience.  And I don’t have the stress.  I mean it is stressful because I’m the manager of Once Human, I’m the tour manager, I’m the mixer, and the producer, and the guitar player.  I wear a lot of hats and I take care of my people, but I really enjoy doing it most of all.  And the band… everyone in the band… amazing people.  We’re all really good friends. It’s nice.  I think you can see it.  I think it translates on stage as well.  We love each other.  It’s nice… a bonus.

7.      Yeah, you guys look like you’re having a blast on stage.

Yeah, that’s what we’re supposed to do, you know? Yeah!


8.      What gear do you use in the studio?  When touring?

For guitar?  Same shit, I use a Kemper Profiling Amplifier.  It is the single most, I think, important technological advancement in guitar since the invention amplifier [laughs].  It has the ability to capture any amp tone that you can produce and reproduce it digitally so you can take it with you anywhere you go or you can trade and you can share.  It makes things very convenient and consistent on tour because my whole rig is a fucking lunchbox with no speakers.  We go direct to the front of the house.  We use in-ears for monitors.  We don’t really have a stage volume.  All you hear are drums on stage.  So we have a really good mix for our monitors.  To travel with just Kemper as opposed to heads and speakers and all that other shit and moving them all over the world.  We don’t have that anymore.  Our whole backline could be carried on an airplane as a carry-on.  That’s what we use.  And I use them in the studio as well.   


9.      The new Once Human album Evolution is a wonderfully heavy, unique, complex, honest, and powerful album.  Do you have a favorite track on the album?  

Yeah, “Paragon” is my favorite song and it always was from the beginning.  I think its my favorite still, but I love them all.

10.  Is there once that you like playing live more so than others? 

Yeah, like “Eye Of Chaos”, “Killers For The Cure” are really, really fun to play live.

11.  There’s a notable difference in musical style between Once Human’s debut album, The Life I Remember and your latest Evolution.  Was that a conscious objective or as the title suggests, is this just the evolution of Once Human?

It was both.  It was conscious to make a better album.  And then I can say in two words… Max Karon.  He’s a big part of the reason for the changes that we made creatively.  So we brought Max in on the second record as our new guitar player and he’s a great writer, and a great player, and a great person.  We are very fortunate to have him with us.  Before it was just me and Lauren on the creative side, but now Max is a big part of that.  It is these three musical minds combined that makes the new sound of Once Human, which really to me is our identity.  I like to look at [the album] “Evolution” as kind of our first album even though it is not.  We are looking from now and into the future.  We really have clearly defined our own identity and I think it is quite unique and special and it speaks to us.  We are happy with it.

12.  How do you work as a songwriter in Once Human?  Is it more on an individual basis or is it more collaborative?

Yeah, it’s the three of us collaborating.  Max is more like a riff guy and lead guitar guy.  And Lauren and I… well, I write riffs too and Lauren writes riffs too, but Lauren and I are more involved in the arrangements.  We spend a lot of time perfecting arrangements, which is a bit time consuming and Max is around for that too.  It’s the three of us all playing our parts in a way that works really well combined.  Max will do a lot of riffs on his own and say “here’s this… check this out”.  Lauren and I will sit together and I’ll write riffs and she’ll be with me and help write riffs.  We all kind of work together with the arrangements.  Lauren does all her own top lines by herself... usually in the same room as me, but she goes off with her headphones and pad of paper and writes lyrics and patterns and melodies.  It’s all her.    

13.  Are you guys starting to write material for a follow up album?

We have a little bit of bits and pieces, but we are going to be touring quite a bit and it is not easy to do all these things and tour.

14.  You have 5 young children.  What do the kids think of daddy’s music?  What do they thing of rock star dad?

They think it’s cool.  They don’t really get it.  They are all still really young.  I think when they get a little bit older they might think it’s cool.  Or have an opinion about it. [smiles]  Right now they’re just too young to care.

15.  How do you balance family life with touring/recording?

It’s hard.  I mean something always suffers a little bit, but I do the best I can.

16.  What does the future hold for Logan Mader and Once Human, both short term and long term?  What do you see happening next?

My specific goal for this album cycle is to tour as much as possible and organically grow our fan base as much as possible through touring and that live interaction and face-to-face connection with fans.  We are at the point financially where we can actually break even while touring, if not even make a little money.  That’s part of the development and growth I’m concerned with as the manager and doing everything I can to get to that point.  Every tour gets a little better for us.  We have a really good agent in America.  He’s amazing.  He’s too good for us.  He believes in us.  He’s kind of a big agent, but not too big to not care about us.  He cares about us.  We are lucky.  He helps a lot in getting these tours.  It is very competitive to do what we are doing.  And we have a great agent for international.  We are about to go to Europe in September.  The immediate goal for this album cycle is tour as much as possible through this year and into 2018 and finish it off with some summer festivals in Europe, which we are just starting now to get accepted on for 2018.  Yeah, and then go make a third record that blows away everything else that we’ve ever done and see where we are at.

17.  My blog Brews and Tunes pairs craft beer with metal and hard rock.  So Logan Mader comes home from a show or a long day at the recording studio… what craft beer does he grab and what album does he spin to help decompress?

Well, I don’t drink a lot, but I like IPA when I do.  Any kind of good IPA is okay with me.  I know Lagunitas is not really a micro.  It’s kind of a corporate at this point, but it’s pretty good though.  Their IPA is really good.  Umm… I would pair that IPA with “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals. [laughs]  Thank you!

Make sure you catch Once Human on the road right now with Wednesday 13 and then with Dragonforce later this summer!  

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