Matt Harvey is an interesting dude, and something of a legend. When he rerecords a record, you better damn well listen, because it just may change your life Interview by Matt Bacon (Show Review HERE) From Marchs' 2015 Edition - Cover Story - READ MORE ARTICLES, INTERVIEWS & MORE FREE
How have you been Matt?
Matt: I’ve been good dude, I’m just really cold. It’s redundant to talk about, but this tour has been freezing. Asides from that the shows have been awesome.
Have you had issues with weather stopping you from playing dates?
Matt: Not really, I know some of the trains were messed up in New York the other night but attendance has been really good and we’ve managed to attend all the gigs which is good. We drive slow, long and careful. Like old people having sex
That’s a beautiful metaphor
Matt: Slow, long and careful, you don’t want to break a hip!
I just finished listening to the promo of the Gore Metal Redux what is it like revisiting a record like that 16 years later?
Matt: For me it was fun. I know bands aren’t supposed to listen to their own records but I listen to my records from time to time. I don’t jam them at a party or whatever but I do listen sometimes. I try to listen as objectively as possible. I like all of them for different reasons to varying degrees except for the first one which I thought sucked. I know a lot of people liked it, and that’s cool, but I think it suffered sonically, the material was good but it was tough to listen to. We’d re-recorded one or two songs as bonus tracks and I really enjoyed those newer versions so I thought it would be a fun little project to redo the album. If the original tapes were still accessible we might have just remixed it. But they haven’t been seen since 2000 or so. Nobody knows where they are or what became of them. The only way to go back and clean it up asides from re-mastering was to re-record them which is what we did. The main thing I learned as we were redoing it, I felt like the same 16 year old kid writing our first demos coming up with cool riffs. Playing the Gore Metal songs made me realize we actually have progressed as a band which is pretty cool.
What changes in your approach to recording it and playing it did you implement?
Matt: Well we played it in time! (Laughter) That was the biggest one. We didn’t try to get too crazy. Normally when we do albums we do four tracks of rhythm guitar and I double track my vocals and we get fairly meticulous. We go over it with a fine tooth comb in Pro Tools. For this we only used two rhythm guitar tracks like in the original album. I didn’t double track my vocals, we just kind of let it fly. I think we recorded it in under half the time it took to do Necrocracy for sure. I don’t want to say it was off the cuff, but we just let it be a little more raw because we didn’t want to totally change the vibe of the album. I didn’t think it needed Heartwork type production with harmonies on the leads and all that kind of stuff which, if I was writing those songs now I would have put on there. I just tried to keep it as basic as we could. Having Ross do the vocals again made sure it retained the same sound. It still sounds like the first album to me it just sounds good.
So you essentially revisited the recording techniques?
Matt: It’s not the same techniques really because studio technology has just moved on. It would have been more expensive to find a retro studio like that. We did everything in Pro Tools and all the usual studio stuff since it just saves time and money. We just did it the same way we would have done it in ’98 we used the same studio we recorded Necrocracy in to do the guitars. We tracked the drums in a smaller studio in the town where we live. The guitars were done with Ross in Oakland and the other guitarist did his tracks in North Carolina where he lives.
Did that slow the writing of the next record?
Matt: The crazy thing is we recorded Necrocracy right before we went on tour with Municipal Waste and Napalm Death in the fall of 2012. We rerecorded the Gore Metal session in February of 2013, to me that album is really old. When I did the first couple interviews about it I could hardly remember. We just wanted to get into the studio to do our split with Iron Reagan. While we were there we were like “It seems to be a waste to just go in and record only two songs” we had already been playing a lot of Gore Metal live, so we knew most of the songs. So we just took another month to prepare and re-recorded the album.
Do you think it says something about the state of death metal today that kind of thing is even feasible?
Matt: I don’t know man. It is a bit of a vanity project, I don’t know how else to describe it. I don’t know if the world needs it. It’s just something I did for myself, because I do like to go back and listen to our records and I would like to have a version of this that I actually like the songs on. It’s not a new idea, Sodom did it, Exodus did it, Testament did it. It’s not as done in death metal as thrash for whatever reason. There’s definitely something post modern about it.
This is the first time you’re playing in Philly since Matt Slime, a Philly native, joined the band, do you have anything special planned for that?
Matt: We let him pick a little more of the set list (Laughter) We’ve only got thirty minutes and it’s not our stage. There’s too many bands, we can’t go pieing people in the face. It’s always fun to play your hometown so I hope he enjoys it.
How did you hook up with him?
Matt: We hung out with him and his band Coffin Dust a couple of times and we kind of got to know him. He and I have a lot of similar music taste I liked his band and hanging out with him and when we made the decision to let Rob go we didn’t really have anybody in mind. My girlfriend was coming over here and she wanted to get tattooed. So I was like “I know a guy in Philly” and she said “Can we stay with him?” and I was like “He seems really cool, maybe” and as I was planning that trip the little hamster on the wheel started walking and I was like “That guy is a really good vocalist” and “Do we need a bassist/vocalist or a vocalist/bassist” and I realized that we needed a vocalist/bassist. He was down and so here we are.
The real question is not “Would he consider doing it” but “How loudly did he scream?”
Matt: He was really cool about it actually. He flew out to California just to audition which I thought was really impressive. He just had a really good audition. I felt bad because if we didn’t pick him he would have spent a lot of money just to come out. He killed it though, he played great.
So after 23-24 years what inspires you to keep grinding it out?
Matt: There’s a lot of things. In terms of writing music I think it doesn’t matter if I had four kids and a mortgage and was an accountant I’d still stay up late and write riffs. It’s just what I do. You always find something new to do each record. Even in a style as limited as ours I like to think each record is pretty different. It’s interesting to explore that and see where you can go for the next thing. That’s what I’m always interested in, whatever the next thing is. We have a ton of songs written for the new album and that’s what I’m interested in more than anything. In terms of playing live, we’ve played live so much in the past few years that it’s sort of devolved into our devolved into our de facto lifestyle. We’ve played live a little bit too much and we’ve all kind of come to the conclusion that we’ve given too much supply and are thereby driving down demand. I enjoy playing live, traveling and seeing different places. The dudes in the band are chill, fly by the seat of the pants dudes who just take it as it comes!
I wanted to ask you about the new stuff… Necrocracy is so much more ferocious than the previous records, how did you manage that? It’s my favorite Exhumed record…
Matt: It’s our slowest record for sure. The whole time we were writing it we were all about getting more groove to keep the clarity and keep the groove. We slowed down even the faster stuff. Sometimes playing it you can go too fast and you lose the intensity. When the drums start to sound like a baseball card in the bicycle spokes you’ve lost it. We don’t want to do that at all. I like the percussive riffy part of metal. I grew up listening to Metallica, I like the chunkiness and the chords. The chemistry on that album was great too. We played live so much that we were able to write songs to each others strengths. Whatever that translates too whether it’s ferocity or I don’t know what…. It shows a bit of restraint which we hadn’t practiced before. I feel like it’s our best record so far, until the next one comes out at least! Unless we totally blow it and it sucks. (Laughter)
What do you love so much about music?
Matt: It’s one of those things where it’s always been there My uncle was a Jazz Fusion guitar player and my dad was a huge music listener, he always had stacks of records and stuff. It’s one of those things where I don’t even know how to answer because it’s so omnipresent for me. It’s like “What do you love about air?” It’s just there. Most of my stuff is my record collection and gear, and then after that you have comics and dirty old metal shirts. That was the thing that made sense to me when I was growing up. That sort of pivotal moment in puberty when it just sort of hits you the right way. The thing that made me incorporate it more into my life as an adult is that there is so much room to be evolved in it and in so many different forms. I get excited about all of it. I can listen to the same records I’ve listened to for thirty years and find something new. I love it.