Exhumed's Matt Harvey: "Metal Is All About Tearing Down Sacred Cows"
What advice do you have for aspiring metal vocalists?
Oh, man, I don't know. Just sing, scream, whatever you do. Yell until it sounds cool. If it hurts, you're probably not doing right. Find something natural and don't lose the personality in your voice. Keep what makes your voice distinctive.
If you listen to King Diamond, you know it's King Diamond from hearing that voice, you know? Lots of people want to sound brutal, but you still have to be yourself. You can be brutal and intense, but if you sound like everybody else, then what? It's not about how good your voice is, think about Bob Dylan, Neil Young . . . dudes like that. They don't have the greatest voices, but people love them. The key is finding your own voice.
Who are your heroes?
Starting off, you know, James Hetfield, Donald Roeser -- people with a little more feel -- Michael Schenker [UFO]. I usually focus more on feel and voicing with guitar. I like a lot of people out there, and we still talk about our songs in terms of the bands we think [the songs] sound like, you know, like the solo goes into the slayer riff. That sort of thing.
As far as heroes . . . there are no sacred cows. I'm a huge fan of music. I've got hundreds and hundreds of LPs and shirts, all of it, but I don't really idolize anyone. Metal is all about tearing down sacred cows -- religion, politics -- tear it all down. You don't want to get into hero worship. To me, it's a very naïve, although if I was to run into KK Downing [of Judas Priest] or Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, that might be a little awkward.
You would be a 15-year-old again? How do you handle it when some young death metal fan comes up and expects you to be this super-brutal guy?
The vibe of our band is pretty laid-back, you know, conversational. We are always smiling. We want the crowd to enjoy this cool thing with us. We joke a lot on stage. We don't necessarily want to overpower the audience. Our shows are more participatory. We do this thing where we try to get the audience clapping with us.
Every once in a while you'll meet somebody who is just too brutal for life. You see kids who want everything to be brutal all the time. They seem a little disappointed, but what can you do? These days, there is so much more availability of the bands, and it is easier to get a sense of what people in bands are like as human beings. Kids have more of a feeling of like a peer to peer thing with a band, than "Oh, my God, I'm so nervous to talk to him."
Where do you find the balance between having fun and taking this completely seriously?
Because we play so much . . . we develop a lot of confidence in each other to get things done. We pick up for each other -- have a give and take -- if someone is a little hung over one day and moving a little slow, we pick up the slack 'cause they'll do the same [for me] the next day.
The songs become second nature and that allows us to enjoy the show. The more we play, the better we get and the more we can improvise our sets and pull out extra songs to help keep it fresh. If we're somewhere and maybe the promoter did a lousy job or the show is one where there aren't a ton of people at, we can try new songs out. Keep it fun.
It's kind of like when you are young and first having sex, you know? You just want it last longer than 100 seconds, but when you get older and get more experienced, you can try new things, new positions, [and] enjoy it more.
What's the biggest thrill so far, in your music career?
After doing it for so long, it's not like there is one moment. I see progress. We get better as song writers, better as players, get a bigger audience. Progression. It's more of a cumulative effect of what we are doing. We're really fortunate -- fucking lucky, really -- but the main thing is the kids keep coming to the shows and buying records. It is cool to see things moving forward.
Exhumed is scheduled to perform on Tuesday, January 28, at Club Red in Tempe.