Louder Than War’s Lucy Shevchuk delves deeper into the world of Once Human with vocalist Lauren Hart. They talk everything Once Human, vocal technique, music and talk about their new album released today named Scar Weaver.
Hearing Once Human for the first time was like having a brick with “LISTEN!” engraved onto it thrown at my head as it screamed uncontrollably. Simultaneously, said brick grew arms and embraced me for a big warm hug and comforted me afterwards. Doesn’t make sense? You’re probably right. What I mean is, Once Human strike a brilliant balance between pure musical brutality and resonant melody. This group of stand-out musicians have come together to create something unique and Scar Weaver, their latest release, is a perfect ode to their talents individually and as a collective.
Founded by ex Machine Head guitarist Logan Mader and Lauren Hart on vocals, One Human has become a distinctive force within the metal genre. Mixing aggression with vulnerability and downright gut-wrenching growls with ethereal cleans, they fly through the metal airwaves on a path that’s truly their own. Versatile, unique, dynamic and experimental with deep, meaningful and poetic lyrical content. Once Human have proven from their debut in 2015 to their newest release of Scar Weaver today, that they are a force to be reckoned with, with no letting up. I speak to Lauren Hart about her writing processes, her insane vocal technique and ability and dig a little deeper into their latest album.
Louder Than War: How does it feel to be finally releasing an album after 5 years and what did you do between Stage Of Evolution and the upcoming album Scar Weaver?
Lauren: It feels amazing to finally be releasing this music! The gap in time between albums was due to a few factors. The first was, I toured with Kamelot for about 2 years because I was featured on their album. This played a huge part in my growth and the vocal development that is heard on Scar Weaver. While I was on tour with Kamelot, Logan also started touring with Machine Head for the ‘Burn My Eyes’ 25th Anniversary reunion tour. It was at the end of this tour that the pandemic happened. Our release date was then pushed back further, and now here we are. It feels good to finally release it now!
You released the single ‘Deadlock’ last July from Scar Weaver which tackles some really important and relevant topics. Was this song a product of the time or have the subject matters always been at the forefront of your mind? It’s very powerful.
Everything I sing in this song, I wrote, and everything Robb sings, he wrote. I can only speak for myself here. I have written songs about “media mind control” a few times. ‘Gravity’ being one of them. During the pandemic though, it was very much in my face. I was seeing so many people becoming addicted to these outlets telling them how to live, what their future will be, how to think, how to feel. I felt very frustrated by it.. and it shows in the lyrics.
It is very relevant to now and I completely agree with you. It’s good to see musicians tackling topics that affect us all, whether we see that or not. What was it like working with Robb Flynn and is bringing other musicians in for certain projects something you will continue to do? Do you feel it positively changes the creative dynamic?
Robb inspires me so much. I was so lucky to be able to work with him. I never would have believed you if you told me that 10 years ago that would be in my future. Of course, I have Logan to thank for that happening. Robb’s energy in person is the same as it is on stage. He has such a powerful presence and aura, he is so very compelling to watch and listen to. I would love to do more collaborations with different musicians because I think it’s challenging and fun. I also think the fans get really excited about it, and that in turn makes me feel even more excited!It’s always great to work with people who inspire you. Lyrically, you tackle a very wide range of subjects throughout the album. Where did you draw so much inspiration from and does inspiration find you easily or is it something that you need to focus on to try and find?
Sometimes, the words just write themselves. Other times, like in the storytelling type ones (like ‘Erasure’), I have to deep dive into these rabbit holes. I force myself to read and watch things that I would never do otherwise because I am a very emotional person. Some of these images I wish I could unsee and I am forever haunted by learning what still happens in the world. I need to fully understand what I am writing about and tell the story right. ‘Erasure’ broke my heart. In ‘Evolution’, I made a promise (in ‘Dark Matter’) to write honestly. In the beginning of Once Human, I feel I was writing for everyone else and not for myself. In ‘Evolution’, this changed, and now even more so. I just keep going deeper into myself and opening up to the world. I feel it’s important to be honest because it in turn keeps me very connected while singing. And I think people feel that. They can feel I mean what I am singing. So, the lyrics are difficult to write, yet sometimes therapeutic. In ‘Cold Arrival’ I was grieving a death. I remember the words just spilling onto the page, because they were words I wish I could have told my friend, my goodbye.
That honesty and vulnerability you show is what makes you, you and it’s endearing and inspirational. One track that stands out for me on Scar Weaver is ‘Bottom Feeder’. You can hear a range of influences in this track, the opening guitar melody is amazing. Can you outline what your main influences are as a vocalist and in general as a band and how you mix them to create Once Human?
It’s so funny you say that, the beginning of Bottom Feeder is my favourite riff on the album!! I remember our guitarist Max sent that to me and I played it on loop. I originally didn’t want any vocals there but something came to me in the car in front of the gym. I remember singing this top-line into my phone so I wouldn’t forget it. I feel like a lot of the melodies I write are very grunge/ 90’s sounding. I wasn’t super into the grunge scene, I was listening to metal mostly during that time. But I guess the 90’s subliminally must have influenced me because I hear it. I do LOVE Layne from Alice In Chains. My biggest influences are Mikael from Opeth, Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy), and Joe from Gojira. I must mention Lamb Of God too because I listened to their previous album right before going into the booth to sing, (to pump myself up!) I don’t really intentionally try to mix my influences into certain parts, but, I can hear all of the above shaping me in the album.
Another track that really caught my ears was ‘We Ride’. Throughout the album, there seems to be experimentation with audio effects/samples which is unique and adds a playful element. What is happening from 1:17 – 1:22 and can you explain the want to use those samples and effects?
All instrumental questions need to be asked to our guitarist Max (Karon), I can’t speak for him here! But I did have fun with this song. I think it’s a fun relief from the destructive, angry, and dire music tone in the rest of the album.
The fun element really stands out. It is noticeable that your voice has grown and changed since the formation of the band in 2014. Can you outline what kind of work goes into maintaining your voice while using such a difficult vocal technique?
I appreciate it! I must say a lot of growth came from the years with Kamelot, and just singing daily in general. I also write for other bands and this allows me to experiment a lot with different tones. Great for discovery. For the growls, I use a technique that requires a lot of air all the time. So, staying fit is very important for me. Also being really connected with my voice and knowing my limits, is super important. I used to push myself to where it was detrimental. I also have past work in theatre “voice” classes. Years of learning how to breathe and speak to an audience, without a microphone. Learning how to project in a healthy way and becoming aware of diaphragm support. Working with a vocal coach is super helpful too, Melissa Cross is the best! Also, I work closely with a laryngologist, Dr. Michael Johns, to make sure everything stays healthy!
Are there any specific tips you can give vocalists out there trying to learn distorted vocals/about vocal health?
Oh, see above! But the main tip is It should NEVER hurt! If it does, stop and work with a coach.
Outside of music, I heard you’re somewhat into fitness/Yoga, do you find having that as part of your life helps with tours/mentality/strength?
I am actually not super into yoga, that would definitely be Logan. I am very into the gym though and spin class. Yes, it is very important for my mental health as well as physical. On tour, we brought a spin bike and it really helps because there is a lot of sitting around on tour buses. Having an exercise routine on tour keeps you healthier, and it’s so important because you want to keep your immune system up!Who would be your dream bands to go on tour with?
Devin Townsend, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Dimmu Borgir, Gojira, Meshuggah… So many more to list!
What can people expect from Once Human by the end of 2022?
We really hope to be touring constantly! It’s up to the world opening up and letting it happen.
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All words by Lucy Shevchuk. More writing by Lucy on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive.
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