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Wes Hauch: “’First I had to step in the role of the musical director of the band, but from now on I want it to be a full blown cooperation with everybody in the band, especially with Kevin”

De Amerikaanse extreme metal formatie Alluvial is de speeltuin van gitarist Wes Hauch. Van instrumentale band is Alluvial de laatste jaren geëvolueerd naar een viertal waarin zanger Kevin Muller een grote rol is gaan spelen. Zijn ruwe strot vormt het epicentrum van de korte songs die we aantreffen op dit tweede album ‘Sarcoma’. Volgens onze bronnen is Wes een aantal jaren terug naar Atlanta verhuisd, maar wanneer we hem aan de lijn krijgen, blijkt hij op vakantie te zijn in California waar hij vroeger woonde. Het is daar dan ook nog maar 9 a.m. wanneer we met Hauch spreken en dat doet hij van achter een kop dampende koffie.
Vera Matthijssens Ι  1 juli 2021

Alluvial is now signed by Nuclear Blast. Here in Europe Alluvial is still unknown. How come you evolved from an instrumental band on the first record, to a band with a vocalist on ‘Sarcoma’?
The first record was supposed to have vocals on it too. It was supposed to be a funny project and I think that I can say a lot about all the different dudes that showed up. They were all great in their own right, but the main thing came down at being undeveloped as a songwriter at that time and maybe not heeding my intuition to what it is that I wanted to do, because on the first album there are only very long songs in the 6 to 7 minutes range. I think that would be a challenge for anyone to walk into and try to make it a captivating song. So I think the biggest change was me personally working on my own song-writing and create a memorable sort of music that would be a good platform for Kevin. That took time, for sure. I think I started writing the stuff for this record in the beginning of 2018. I definitely took my time for it, scrapped some ideas and went through a couple of other vocalists that I was trying out, but I finally arrived at Kevin. So finding Kevin took the longest and was maybe the toughest. I am really grateful that I was patient and able to make it happen, because we are all very stoked on the new record and where things are going for the band.

Does it mean that Kevin writes his own lyrics, or do you do that?
Kevin came from a background with Merciless  and Suffocation where the subject matter of the lyrics was maybe a little bit different than where I wanted to go with subject matter of the lyrics for our record. I wrote all the lyrics for this record, but kind of sat down with Kevin in the sessions and as a result I think he has a more clear vision of where I want to go with the band in the future. So I am looking forward to that, because I am a very big fan of Kevin as a performer and as a vocalist and I want this to be a full blown collaboration henceforth. But first I had to step in the role of the musical director of the band, I wanted to give them a clear vision.

Sarcoma is a kind of cancer…
It is the kind of cancer that grows on the connection to you and your body. It grows in all of the places that connect your bones together.

After the first tour with Alluvial, you moved from LA to Atlanta. Why?
I am actually on vacation in LA right now, but yes, I live in Atlanta. There are several reasons why I ended up moving. LA has always been a kind of tricky city to live in. It has changed a lot over the last decades and not for the better. There is not much of a middle class in LA anymore. I found that the welcoming and sort of inspiring energy that I once felt here, was gone. I have always loved Atlanta when playing there and I also met my – now – wife there. I wanted to go and give it a try and it has been the best move that I have made in my life. I love it out there. I still love LA, I just love it in doses, you know.

The theme of this album should be hardship and problems that binds us and brings us closer together. Is that the kind of vision you had for the album?
No, I think you are reading from the bile that Rick Torino did, which I think is a great bile, but specifically the idea for the album is hard to pinpoint. I just started writing music and lyrics that were based on – either a personal experience of my view on something else and when we had wrapped the songs, Kevin pointed out that each of the songs dealt with perils between one man and another, based on their connections to each other. Whether that was just people using each other or something to do with drugs or corporations. He said it sounded like a metaphor for what sarcoma basically is. Basically it is this insidious growth that happens between our connections to each other and either causes us to have death or a ruined relationship that might result in drift or problems. It ended up in ploughing into the subject matter for all of the songs, so we stuck with it.

‘Ulysses’ should deal with your military service in Iraq. That must have been tough…
I was in Iraq in 2005-2006. It was pretty active as far as campaigns in foreign countries go. When talking about ‘Ulysses’, it is more a sort of coming of age, maybe perspective, the hindsight view on what living in the military was like. About that specific campaign, operation Iraqi freedom, I report now what I didn’t understand about it then and what I do understand about it now. A kind of mature vision.

Another heavy story is about Conrad Roy. He committed suicide, but he was forced to do it by his girlfriend?
Yes, the lyrics for that are loosely based upon the Conrad Roy story, somehow inspired by the vision that suicide can be seen as an act of love. It is a way to tell the story. I think it is unfair to say that we were specifically writing about his situation, but it was definitely a bizarre and very sad story. I think it is common and unique at the same time in a sense that it gained national attention and studies of the personalities who were involved. It is also about depression that ends into suicide. It is almost like an entity on its own. There is another reference to depression in the song ‘Sleepers Become Giants’, talking about the black dog. Winston Churchill famously called depression the black dog, like it was something that stuck you. There is this inner vision that no matter what you are doing, it will haunt you, like a physical entity.

What can you tell about live performances of Alluvial so far?
All of us have a broad experience of playing live with other bands for the last ten years or so, but Alluvial version one has only done one tour. We toured with Animals As Leaders in 2017 and it was the instrumental version of the band. Now we haven’t got the chance to go out and play, because of the covid-19 restrictions, but we have a few tours booked. I guess your guess is as good as mine whether or not they will be moved or happen, but we are definitely looking forward to go out and play where ever we can.

How would you describe your music?
Our music is metal. There is familiar kind of nomenclature from different types of metal – if you know what I mean – I would say there is an emphasis on death metal in certain parts. There is maybe some stuff with black metal influences, from American black metal bands like Lord Mantis, Cobalt and Abigail Williams. There are few of that. There is another emphasis on straight rock in a way, especially in songs like ‘Sleepers Become Giants’. I don’t know it is my job to tell people what we are. I think everybody can participate in what we do and enjoy it, but I leave it up to them to tell us what it is.

I also hear a kind of progressiveness in your music, because it is very technical…
Yes, I think there are elements of that, but the technical stuff is pretty exciting for all of us in the music that we like and I am sure it ends up in there now and then, but I definitely would say that the band is conservative as far as that technical part goes. We are definitely not a technical death metal band, I would not say that at all. There are parts of it in it I guess, but it is not the core of it. The main thing for me, I like to keep some of that stuff intact, mostly just because it is something that I enjoy, but my goal – for whatever reason – is just write songs that appeal to people, so that they can recognize emotions.

If there are technical parts in it, we keep it there as long as it serves us. I don’t necessarily feel the need to make complex musical statements, it is just going to end up that way.

What are the plans for the near future?
The plans for making stuff that people can participate in, are as follows: We have done a few videos of us playing songs, for example for ‘Ulysses’, made by Tim, our bass player. The internet behaves a whole lot like the real world used to behave and the way you got people aware of your band. In the eighties it was go out and put flyers on everyone’s windshield at a Metallica show. Us making footage and videos playing the songs, is kind of like flyering cars was in the 2000’s. It is the way you make people involved and make them aware of whatever it is you are making. So far that seems to be a cool thing and people enjoy it. There is also a component of overusing the internet that we are not interested in. We are not invasive, we just try to be authentic. If people like it, that is awesome. If people don’t like it, that is awesome too.

Have you been in Europe before? Any memories on that?
Yes, I have done a couple of European tours in my life and I love it out there. I have played in a band called The Faceless, I played with a band called Black Crown Initiate, I played with a band called Thy Art Is Murder. The other guys have been to Europe too. Kevin used to play in a band called Suffocation, Tim is in a band called Entheos. They have been to Europe. So we are definitely looking forward to go there and play, to all the great folks in the UK and Europe. It is going to be fun.