THE DEMO CORNER
This interview was conducted by Philip A. Wickstrand with vocalist Stephen Holdeman and guitarist Nick VanWalleghem at Branx in Portland, OR on June 17, 2012.
Pagan Black Metal from Kansas? You’d better believe it! With the recent release of their sophomore album, Concerning Old-Strife and Man-Banes, STONEHAVEN is set to show the rest of the country there’s more than just corn growing in the Mid-West.
Phil: First of all, tell us a bit about the four show West Coast run you’ve been having.
Stephen: We made it in two days from Kansas City over to the West Coast. We played a place called the CIA in Los Angeles with CONJUROR, ICON OF PHOBOS, and some other guys who we were running around with, and that was good. We played Oakland again with our buddies in ICON OF PHOBOS and HORDES OF HATE, who we also played with and a good turnout for that sort of thing; it was a good underground show. Last night here in Portland we played the second day of the Northwestern Black Circle Fest; that was a pretty good turnout. We played pretty early in the night, so wish we had bigger crowds, but it’s alright; there were a lot of big bands playing that night. And then tonight’s been pretty good.
Phil: Tell us a little bit about your new album, Concerning Old-Strife and Man-Banes.
Stephen: Concerning Old-Strife and Man-Banes is pretty much a culmination of lots of things we’ve been working on in the past. Anyone who’s listened to our previous album before will notice all the sort of areas of Black Metal and other sorts of Metal that we’ve kinda branched out to, and I think in Concerning Old-Strife and Man-Banes, you see us kinda twine it all together and you get a good distinct feeling for our sound and our capabilities, so I feel it’s obviously the best thing we’ve put out. We have lots of good stuff still to come, so I think this has been a good foundation for us to show an international scene the things that we’re good at and the type of music we’re playing.
Phil: Tell us a bit about how the songs came together for this.
Stephen: Nick wrote most of the songs.
Nick: Yeah, basically… there isn’t a particular way I bring the songs together. I basically write the music, present it to the guys and make the changes that we need to make. Stephen, while we’re doing that, listens to the music and comes with something to write the songs about.
Phil: What was the time in the studio like?
Stephen: Studio time was separated in two big breaks really. Our last tour [when] we came around here, we wanted to get four songs out of our kind of newer material just to show a scene that we’ve already toured around how we’ve evolved and stuff like that ‘cause no-one wants to listen to the same band that makes the same music constantly unless you’re really basic in your needs. So we recorded four songs then, and then we came back later on after we got back from tour and we made four more songs, remastered our old songs and kind of put them together. We had a real good experience recording; the guys who were taking care of us had recorded a lot of guys, at least just locally and things like that. They’ve done sound for us at a lot of our shows before and really helped us put it together and watched out for things, at the same time keeping and respecting the same amount of raw sound we wanted maintain without too much over-production and too much unnecessary trinkets thrown into the music; we wanted to show off good clean talent without it being oversaturated with gimmicks.
Phil: What would you say are the strongest points of the album?
Stephen: The whole album itself I think is strong. One of the best things about it, I feel, is that there is no [one] song in it that I feel is weak in the set. I feel every single song in there, if I had a random person listen to it, I’d be confident in the ability and some of the things that they would hear in those songs. So that’s one of the quality things. The next thing is the culmination of everything combining together. My lyrics tell a big story, things like that, that’s been worked from beautiful music made by Nick and all of it mixed together; the art, the music, the sound, the lyrics, all of that, I think is the best part of it.
Nick: I think what you’ll find in this album is the music portrays a lot more horrifying aspects of what we talk about, like the lyrics. There’s not all this victorious music that you hear in albums past.
Phil: What has inspired your stage garb? It kind of reminds me of SKYFORGER meets WOLVEN ANCESTRY.
Stephen: See, no band has been any sort of influence. A lot of members of the band and I are real dedicated to history. We’re not historians ourselves, but we’re fans of history, you could say, and we’re very careful about the things we do. The time frame for our music is very particular, so we try to dress to portray the same sort of characters and things that we’re singing about. Now, like Nick said, it isn’t based on any sort of glorious Viking deeds and things like that that a lot of bands with Viking themes seem to kind of culminate and hash out over and over again. Honestly, that stuff’s kind of pathetic to me. We present an ancient time where things are horrifying and life is very hard and that’s what we want to show in our music. Our stage garb is just a representation of that. The things we wear are things that you would see a thousand years ago, except for a few things, you know, obviously for comfort on stage and stuff like that to make it not so bad.
Phil: What do you have planned in the next year for STONEHAVEN?
Stephen: In the next year we’re working on a lot of music. We want to make our way out to the East Coast; we’ve played the West Coast several times. Eventually we want to have a big national tour where we start from the west and work our way east and back home and definitely hit the South and things like that. Really we’re just working on that and getting some good, good music together before then; hopefully by the end of next year we should have the majority of a new CD, [or] at the very least a new demo, to show how we’re coming along. Our label, Horror Pain Gore Death, has been real helpful at getting things around, along with Earsplit PR, who’s been helping get us a lot of reviews and things like that, and hopefully with a mix of those things together and our new music we should be able to find ourselves all over the United States and then eventually we want to move to Europe.
Phil: Recommend a book for our readers and then explain why you recommend that particular work.
Stephen: With the nature of our thing, I would recommend the Heimskringla, which is the saga of the Norse kings and a lot of the saga art you see on our shirts and our CD’s and stuff like that is based on art that represents that, so I guess I’ll directly send you to that. All the lyrics are also based off of that sort of style that you see most represented, I think, in Heimskringla compared to other Norse sagas. Also the poetic Edda, and a few others, kind of educate yourself and also at the same time entertain yourself with things that happened a thousand years ago.
Interviewer: Philip A. Wickstrand
June 18, 2012
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Of Oak and Iron (2010)
Stonehaven Demo (2011)
And Man-Banes (2012)
Stephen Holdeman: Vocals
Nick VanWalleghem: Guitars
Caleb May: Guitars
Jackson Ferris: Drums
PHOTOS BY PHIL A. WICKSTRAND
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
(Click on Photo to Enlarge)
Kansas City, Kansas USA
Label: Horror Pain Gore Death
Genre: Folk / Black Metal