The War Inside My Head: Drew Hays of God's Bastard
We're happy to present a new series here at Machine Music – The War Inside My Head – where each time a different artists will tell us a little about the most impactful albums in their life. I have found that while it is quite difficult to get musicians to talk about themselves – and perhaps this is true of all art – one would be hard pressed to find a musician who doesn't love talking about his or her favorite music. And so, while the "song that changed your life" has become a staple of my interviews, I thought I'd like to expand that concept through a set questionnaire meant to both give artists I respect the ability to write freely about their influences as well as give a certain breadth of kinds of influences – from childhood enchantment to the minutia of music production. I hope to keep this going, albeit not always regularly, since as much as artists love talking about the important art in their loves, I equally love hearing about it.
And to kick things off I chose the artist that made me think of this whole idea, Drew Hays, formerly of Brooklyn black metal act Floods and currently one half of God's Bastard. Alongside accomplished drummer Lev Weinstein (Woe, Krallice, el al) he released a truly exciting EP by the name of Last Standing Village, with some of my favorite black metal this year.
But, aside from that, I found that we shared some tastes and impressions of bands, and so I was curious to see how he would answer the questions listed below. It turned out great, and is now officially the first chapter of the The War Inside My Head.
As always, if you like what you see around here, the feel free to check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify (shitloads of playlists), and even Patreon. Stay tuned for super cool stuff, like more from our Albums of the Decade series of interviews as well as our first collection of local bands, called Milim Kashot coming soon. But, in the meantime, enjoy.
What was the First album you bought with your own money and where did you buy it?
I was 12 and I had worked all summer carting vacation baggage for folks in the summer on Fire Island, and blew a quarter of it at Sound Exchange a bike ride from my house in Tampa three months later. These were the Limewire days so everything I picked up was full albums of bands singles I liked and had downloaded, before I swore off DLs. The first was Appetite for Destruction. Still one of my favorites and a masterclass in entertaining songwriting. Epic and surprisingly fucked up to my twelve-year-old ears, still doesn’t get old. I recognize this is not a cool answer, but I don’t trust people who’s gateway band was the Cocteau Twins or Merzbow, they’re hiding something.
What two-three albums did you hear the most growing up?
Dr. John – Dr. John Plays Mac Rebbenack, Vols 1/2
Golden piano tunes from someone people don’t generally think of as an utter Master-Dr. John is many things to many people, the Night Tripper chiefly among them. But foremost he is an astonishing piano player and a consummate songsmith. Never plays a wrong note he can’t make right with his impeccable swing (GB’s major french quarter music influence is mostly the Docs) and basking in production that feels like sunlight through a dusty window.
The Beatles – Help!
My dad’s a boomer, whatcha gonna do. I never felt obligated to listen, The Beatles obviously slap – but man, this album’s a charmer. Marks the start of their innovative period (the harmonies on this one are nuts and crazy dynamic) but still has that old hamburg boy band kinda thing. "The Night Before" is a perfect song!
The Mavericks – Trampoline
Sunny (I love the sun) southwestern country music with irresistible horns. Puts me in a good mood immediately without question, not least because it takes me back to the minivan on Saturday night when my family was still a unit.
What two albums taught me the most about recording-mixing-mastering?
I’m gonna take my one cop out: The two EPs I recorded with Colin Marston, which were Floods' Self-titled joint and Last Standing Village.
First off, can’t go without mentioning Colin: Dude is a legend for a reason – he has the impartiality and mien of a decent therapist; you are there to be you and his only input is an eye and ear for errors in the stems. I like to fire and forget with recording – almost no reverb; zero quantization, and just enough juice on the mic to make it scary, but Menegroth in Queensborough is where I finally felt like that approach could really sound world-class with the right ears in the booth. The greatest elements you can bring with you during studio time are preparation, patience, and nicotine gum if you’re a smoker. I’ll never forget the conversation about how much money my band had spent smoking cigarettes on a ticking clock – thought I was gonna die from shame.
Floods I: First time in, hours evaporate. KNOW YOUR PARTS AND BE READY TO PLAY THEM AGAIN WITHOUT FRUSTRATION IF YOU FUCK UP. Remember to eat and drink water or squabbles will break out by 7 PM. Mixing is arcane sorcery so tell the magician in question your vague notions and how best to address them: they’ve heard worse, I promise.
Last Standing Village: Second time around, nerves are still a factor. Invest in an eq pedal. Make sure your strings are new/set up. And have a drummer that can really save you time and heartache-I was extremely lucky because I asked my favorite drummer in music if I could hire him for way less than he’s worth, which is to say the man is priceless.
Overall, recording is hugely important not simply as a record of your musical offerings to a world that can always use more good tunes, but a time in your life you invested in something that you really cared enough to make real, so surround yourself with friends/good people and feel encouraged and happy to be doing something this special for you and others. You deserve it.
What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?
Lord Mantis – Death Mask
Obviously everyone lost their mind about the cover art and the language used therein, but it all kinda makes sense in the context of the album – Charlie Fell is a nakedly brilliant musician and singer, and the LP is this really dark, nasty, total overshare. It’s a complete package. I don’t think any one element would be as shocking if it were delivered separately. The first track has screams that sound damned and pornographic at the same time. What a hell of a thing to pull off!
What album relaxes or centers you the most?
Jim Croce – Photographs and Memories
Jim Croce was with us for all of ten seconds before his severely untimely death, thusly this isn’t a greatest hits album so much as an all-killer winnowing of his precious and limited discography. There’s a feeling I try and talk to people about when discussing what life was like pre-9/11, pre-social media, this ineffable intangibility where life was slower and less complicated. I don’t think it’s worth a value judgment, who knows if life is better or worse now, really? But this album defines that feeling for me. It sounds like days-gone-by in the best way. Good mood on tap.
What are two-three albums have you listened to the most recently?
Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading as Matter
Took me a little while longer to get into this than their older material. The band's artistic intent appears to be to get exponentially more alien and challenging with each release (we’re a long way from ‘my father died of cancer in Julyyyyyy’.) I’m jealous of them, I had wondered for years about making the riff version of a Shepherds tone and then they go and do it, or approximate it enough that the case is closed. Ambitious and very economically written – these guys don’t forget for a split second that they’re here to entertain you. One of the truly great bands operating in extreme metal.
The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
Sounds like you’re in an abandoned steel mill that’s come to life. Just really dark, sexy, impeccably composed ambient-It’s nice to be this late to the party on some
Artists; I’ll probably spend the next three years crawling around in the awful, alluring world this cat conjures. Your mileage may vary on the “souls journey through death” premise (hard to know yet if even the tibetans were able to nail that one down) but it bespeaks the level of ambition on display here-this thing is a mixers wet dream and feels at least appropriately massive and chilling/comforting.
Lingua Ignota – All Bitches Die
I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about this masterpiece. Harrowing and nearly perfect. I normally can’t handle this much noise but when the composition is this intense and transgressive it fits like a glove.
What album is grossly underrated?
the Atlas Moth – The Old Believer
Kinda got a meh from the community when it dropped, just a really sad, beautiful album that reminds me of later heavier Cure. It never rises above this kind of swirling murky feel but that just means you have to go down there to get it. One of my go-to grief records. God, I hate to say this, but nothing matters like having a killer drummer. The history of metal is like, half the story of bands getting hyped and inspired by scoring a decent drummer. You need someone who makes everything sound There enough to feel inspired and galvanized. What a demand.
What album would you recommend from your local scene?
One that’s really near and dear to me is All is Phantom by Ghostbound. I tried this drummer out for Floods and found he had recorded this thing in like 2015 with one of the dudes from Kosmodemonic, who I also recommend. When I first listened I was like “what is this mustache twirling dork rock” honestly, kinda like a gentler Forest of Stars steamprog vibe. But the more I listened (its nothing if not compelling) the more I heard all this really amazing musical reference and intuition at play. I couldn’t leave it alone at all. Then I found out the songwriter lives down the block from me, so we grab tea and talk about riffs sometimes. He’s rad.