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Heathen Eyes - Heathen Eyes Interview

28 Aug 2012 // An interview by Alistar3000

Auckland's Heathen Eyes are creating a real buzz in the local rock scene. Alistar Wickens caught up with front man Jason McIver to find out what that band has been up to and where they're heading.

You’ve got a new single, Ocea, out right now. How’s the response been to it?

It’s been really good, I’ve been really happy with the response to it so far. I’m kind of lost for words with it; it’s been received way better than I thought it would be.  

How did you go about recording Ocea?

The recording of it was actually really cool. It was a prize pack from MAINZ, from going to music school there. We won two days at Roundhead studios, which is Neil Finn’s studio, which was pretty awesome.

Did you know you’d record that song, or did you win the competition and then have to find a song to record?

It was when we had the original line-up, so we were going to go in and re-record some older tracks, but in the end that felt pointless in a way, to go and redo things you’ve already done. I’d had Ocea sitting around unfinished for about, well, 12 years. I’d worked on it when I was about 16 and come up with verses, then decided to revisit it one day when I was stuck for song ideas.

It’s worked out quite well for something that was sitting around for 12 years.

Yeah, it turned out quite different in the end. The original song was played in almost a rap metal style, so it was very different.

You seem to be taking the approach of releasing singles slowly, rather than an album or EP. Was that a deliberate choice?

It’s more to do with the opportunities we’ve had to get our music out. We had an EP, a low, low budget EP, done a while ago. We had no money to record, so we did it on the cheap and it didn’t really sound that good. I’ve kind of had the opportunity to record songs, like this one, and the previous single [Sun], primarily by myself, but bringing in outside people. Those songs sort of worked out the best and I didn’t want to put anything out there that didn’t cut it. We’re writing at the moment to try and put together a five track EP. We’re still trying to sort a few things out with the band, but hopefully that will happen towards the end of the year. We want to play the songs live and rehearse a lot more before putting anything down in the studio.

You’ve had some line-up changes in the past year or so. How did that come about?

There was a bit of building tension within the band, with some people wanting to go in one direction, other guys wanted to go a bit more metal and technical, and I kind of just stuck with my guns on the project. I’ve been working on this music for quite a while before the band started, so I didn’t want to stray from that original intention. Now the line-up is people who are on the same level, so it’s onwards and upwards.

Was it frustrating to have to recreate the band and what you were doing with a new line-up?

Yeah, really frustrating. After playing together for a couple of years, and getting really tight with each other, to have to start again is hard, but it’s fun at the same time. There’s new approaches being brought into the songs, into a couple of the older songs that we’re playing live, and it’s a bit more relaxed and freeing writing now, because I guess there’s not so many different opinions. 

So you’re at the point now where you’re finalising the line-up?

Yeah, we’ve got Chris [Birch, drums] in there now and bass player Karen [Ayria]. We’re looking for a second guitarist at the moment and we’ve been trialling a few people, getting a feel for what’s out there. There’ll maybe be keyboards in there at some point too. I like having heaps of layers and textures. 

What does the new line-up bring to the band?

A bit more experience. With the original line-up it was everyone’s first band. It was quite cool for the first band we were in, to get to go over to Australia and support some great bands, but now I think we’ve got more experience [with the new line-up], because Chris has been playing for a while with Kasium, playing around New Zealand and in England. Karen’s been playing in bands for a few years as well, so there’s definitely a bit more experience and maturity to the approach of songwriting. 

The songs you’ve got out at the moment have a very ‘90s alternative rock feel to them. Who inspires your songwriting?

Definitely bands like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, who were the first band that got me into playing guitar and thinking about writing songs, A Perfect Circle, bands like that. If I could write songs as good as them I’d be pretty stoked. So that’s what pushes the songs.

How do you write songs as a band?

It can vary. I’ll quite often come in with a crappy recording of riffs I’ve been playing with and we’ll start to piece it together and play around with it. So I guess I’m the primary songwriter, but we all kind of have a hand in as to what gets into the final song.

Do you find you get a lot of support in the local scene for the music you’re making?

Yeah, it’s been pretty good. There are people like Paul Martin, from the Axe Attack, who have been phenomenal. We’ve had gigs with bands like World War Four and Devilskin who have been really good to play with. Other people like the Freak the Sheep radio show have been good, we’ve been on there and had interviews and stuff like that.

If you could play a gig with any New Zealand band, past or present, who would you choose?

Definitely Shihad, the General Electric era Shihad. They’d still play the older songs, but definitely General Electric.

What’s the long term goal for Heathen Eyes?

It’d be nice to take this overseas, we got to Sydney earlier in the year, but I’d like to return and really extend on that and have a decent stab at it. So it’s basically getting an EP out and getting that to the right people and trying to get backing and support. The main aim would be to take it full time and not have to worry about working. It’s feeling pretty positive at the moment so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

You can check out the new single Ocea on Bandcamp now.


About Heathen Eyes

Heathen Eyes formed in Auckland, 2010.
Their first single, Ocea was regularly featured on The Rock FM during 2012 and was included on the Blunt Magazine CD sampler distributed throughout Australia.

Heathen Eyes have just released the second single of their up coming release titled You're Gonna Need A God to a great response.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Heathen Eyes


Heathen Eyes
Year: 2013
Type: EP

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