Interview: Burn Halo
Tue, 28 Apr 2009 08:54:35
Burn Halo vocalist James Hart got his start in
Eighteen Visions, one of the first and most popular of the flood of metalcore bands that rose to prominence in the early '00s. Hart, known for his swagger and his confidence, exuded "rock star" from every pore. It was as though he was always destined for something bigger or something more.
While the diehard Eighteen Visions fans might not follow him into Hell, er, Burn Halo, Hart is more than content to follow his musical dreams and his heart. He's happy, he's rocking out and he's got a new self-titled album to promote. We sat down with the singer and talked about how he has transitioned from the underground to the above!
We heard your voice blew out. Feeling better?
Yes, thanks. I had to give myself a few days off, since we were in smoky clubs and it dried me out. I needed to recover. I'd take a week off if I could, but that's not possible.
SnoCore–sum it up in one sentence as you are in the middle of it!
For us, it's been good. We're missing Saliva , who haven't done the shows because the singer has an ulcer, so we're like the lone mainstream rock band on the tour. It would have been cool to have them on. We're up for the challenge to tour with bands we're not accustomed to playing with. The first couple tours have been easy for us, so this challenge is good.
How are the fans coming to the show reacting, since Burn Halo is new to them?
It's been real positive. Like I said, this tour is different and a little tougher to win the fanbase over, but it's a good challenge and we're seeing people attend these shows and become converted into Burn Halo fans. If you throw us in with the Avenged Sevenfold or Buckcherry crowds that we have toured with, then the conversion rate is more like 90%. But I have to say, it has been going well. As an opening band, we try and turn heads and let people walk away remembering us more than the band after us.
Why is this tour a challenge for Burn Halo?
It's a heavier crowd. It's more metal and more industrial. It's hard to describe the Static-X fanbase. It's a good mixture of different genre fans, and it's an older fanbase, too. But for the most part, they've been really cool. There is the occasional heckler, but that is nothing I haven't experienced before.
Think any old Eighteen Visions fans are coming out to see you as you forge your new musical path?
They definitely are. There are a few here and there that I've seen. We've toured this general area of the Northeast and the South yet we've not done a whole lot of touring work in the Midwest or the West Coast and that is where was the majority of the Eighteen Visions fanbase was centered. It will be interesting when we get over and tour there. When I started this band, my goal was to get 18V fans involved as well as market this as a new band and gain new fans that like the music.
How did you to get from A to B, musically, since Eighteen Visions were so brutally heavy and Burn Halo is much more hooky?
When the band broke up, this was something I had always wanted to do. I chose to continue and move forward with music on a touring level by releasing records and writing songs. With Eighteen Visions, I wanted to bring the rock element into the band from a writing standpoint. There was resistance here and there, and some of my ideas were embraced, but there was more resistance than anything. There were three songwriters and five different members, so that's how it goes. I knew I wanted to make a modern rock record with a classic vibe to it. For me, the best way was to just do my own thing and branch off from what I had done, by putting it behind me and not bringing in any of those prior elements into my new band.
Were you burnt out on metal? Or more specifically, metalcore?
It wasn't that at all. The whole idea behind this band, the record and the songs, is that I am a rock dude at heart. That's who I am musically. The mid-to-late '80s and the '90s was when I grew up and the music from that era is what I love to listen to. I wanted to make that kind of record. It's not that I was burn out on super heavy. I just wanted it to be very different. I had to re-invent myself.
What happened with Island, the label you signed to after Eighteen Visions split?
It was crazy. I got signed, made the record with them and a week before mixing in December 2007, my A&R guy was released from the company. From there, the label didn't know if they wanted to keep me or what they wanted to do with me. I got pushed aside and they let me go, which is fine. I am happy and content with my position at the Warner Music Group's Independent Label Group.
Did you initially intend to be a solo artist?
I started out that way. I wrote the record with a songwriter named Zac Maloy, who is formerly of The Nixons. He is making his way. I was going to do the solo thing, but I didn't have the resume to go that route, so I had to be careful. I found a great group of guys who believe in the songs and are eager to get out on the road. So that's where we are.
— Amy Sciarretto