One of the most anticipated releases of this year must be the new Have Heart record. Where I totally loved 'Things We Carry' it took me quite more time to really get into 'Songs to Scream at the Sun'. The artwork for the new release also raised lots of questions all over the internet. Still Have Heart has managed to release another outstanding record. Enough to justify a short talk with guitarist Kei Yasui.
-Did you ever anticipate 'The Things We Carry' being so well received and did that record also put pressure on the band writing a new record? I had the feeling the record was a slowseller, meaning there wasn't a big hype when it came out but slowly a lot of people started to pay attention, how did you experience that?
I can tell you that there was a time right after the record was finished that the only thing we were listening to was our own record. We were all so psyched on the way everything came together that we couldn't help ourselves. We had written something that we could all listen to and enjoy so that might have given us some clue as to what the reception was going to be. But even after that we really had no expectations as to how the record would be viewed.
The pressure was never on to write for the new record because, as cliche as it sounds, we wrote the new record for us and not for an audience. The new record is again what we want to do and what we want to hear.
The last record was a definite slow seller. We knew we had a solid lp but we didn't know what other people would think. Over time we saw more and more people getting into it and we just kept hearing good things.
-I think 'Things We Carry' and 'Songs To Scream' are very different, was that also one of the goals you set for the new record, not to rerun what you've done before or was it more of a natural process? The record is much heavier and a bit slower than past HH records, what were the main musical influences when writing it?
There was never a goal for the new record. We just wrote what came naturally. It is definitely a slower and darker record than the last one and I know that people are instantly going to associate that with Modern Life is War. The truth is we tried our best to NOT sound like Modern Life is War. If you really think that we are copping their style, I think you should dig a little deeper. If it still sounds like it to you, then we've failed. Some of the direct influences while writing were Far, Deftones, Lifetime, and Helmet.
- Your going to be on tour with Verse and Shipwreck in Europe how important is it for you to tour with bands you get along with and would you ever consider touring with some band because it would get you more fans or more dollars and doing a tour with bands you actually like?
Touring with our friends is what we love to do. I don't think we'd ever go on a tour where we didn't like or respect the people on it. Since we are a hardcore band it is easy to not jump into the world of assigned package tours and support slots that have become the norm. I can't see us every doing something like that, especially in the states.
- You seem to have a love/hate relationship with touring (Pave Paradise) so how do you spend those boring times between getting on stage, do you also try and go into cities and do some sightseeing when on tour?
I think most people have a love hate relationship with touring. Its an almost constant grind that can definitely get people down. There's nothing specific we do to kill those times of boredom but somehow we always do. We definitely will try to get into the cities and eat whatever they have to offer but time is often limited and we don't see much.
-What do you guys do besides the band and what would you love to do besides the band?
Pat is gonna go to grad school to be a teacher in the next few years.
Ryan just graduated and I have no idea what he does.
Briggs worked as a machinist for a long time, now he works at American Apparel and wears a fez. Shawn plays in Verse, and plays a lot of video games.
I am currently taking my last class, Soviet Secret Police, learning about the cheka and the KGB.
-The artwork of the new record seems to be a bit controversial, many people think it's too much like nineties grunge records. Who came up with the idea of the artwork?
Pat found the photo, showed it to me and I instantly thought no way. About 30 seconds later after thinking about it, I was fully convinced that it HAD to be the cover. After a long time of going back and forth, everyone was convinced that it was going to work. My first reaction to the photo was "Chumbawumba or Soundgarden". I actually think we all thought that. Its unavoidable. But I think its pretty successful in that if people either love it or hate it, it will still stick with them.
-Looking back did you ever hope HH was going to go as far as you're now and where there any moments you thought about breaking up as most bands in the genre do pretty easily. What keeps the band moving and going?
I remember after the last record was finished Pat told me that we weren't gonna do another record because there was no way he could think of something else to write about. Things changed and I know that his writing output since then has been enormous. The band keeps going forward because of our desire to travel for free and to write songs. We will never overstay our welcome though, and I think we will always be in touch enough with hardcore that something like that will never happen.
-The Boston hc scene was pretty impressive some years ago with In My Eyes, TYF and then American Nightmare and Panic. How's the scene right now?
The scene right now is pretty cool. A lack of a really solid venue in the city has put a damper on things recently. I was getting into hardcore right at the start of the AN era so for me, just since I was so new to everything, nothing will compare to seeing AN, Reach the Sky, Hope Conspiracy or Converge in the early 2000's. There are definitely some great bands going in Boston right now, Shipwreck, The Carrier, and Energy to name a few.