With Hour of 13 making amazing headway in the doom world, Chad Davis decided to strike out and conduct some interviews. Truth be told, I’ve been looking to get a hold of him for some time now so I jumped at the chance and I am more than grateful that he accepted to do one for the site. He’s a pretty interesting guy despite personally denouncing that fact himself. You should probably read on to see what I mean.
Hour of 13 has endured some instability due to Phil Swanson leaving briefly in 2009 then permanently early this year. Was vocal duty particularly challenging for you during those times? I noticed that in most the bands you play(ed) for, you stay away from vocal duty with the exception being Mountain Of Judgement and Hour of 13, why is that? Anything deeper than just personal preference and what made Mountain of Judgement and Hour of 13 the exception to that rule?
First off, I would like to thank you for this interview, Sarah. It's the first one I have done in quite some time, and a lot has changed in that time. The instability mentioned regarding Phil has, for one, never been because of the band's music, only dealings of issues with touring. If Ho13 were not trying to be a live touring band, his departure would not have been. Ho13 is no longer striving for the big tours, as the idea of doing that in reality is quite unrealistic. I myself do not have the time or finances to stay on the road for some self gratifying rockstar ideology. That has never been the premise of Ho13 and never will be honestly. We have built our following on our sound alone and that is way more important to us.
As for me doing the vocals, it was never a question of it being challenging, I just have never wanted to be the "frontman" so to speak. I quite enjoyed doing the vocals for Ho13 before Ben Hogg was brought in, but we needed a lead vocal guy and his voice fit right in. Alchemically, Phil's voice is the element that has always complimented Ho13 and that will never change. As for MoJ, that music was so airy and open and free that the vocals were never a focus, more so just an instrument like the rest of the music. But yeah, I do not envision myself a vocalist for any bands I do and generally will only do it out of necessity.
I noticed that the occult is a reoccurring theme in most projects that you are involved with. What attracts you to it so much and how long has it been an interest of yours? What was your first encounter with the occult, be it anything ranging from a book to personal experience, like?
Like any good old horror movie, the occult has been an interest to me since the first time I had seen anything like that. I remember being in early grade school, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, and a kid who's name was also Chad, had this pamphlet that was an advert for Gavin and Yvonne Frost, who had written a book on witchcraft. I thought it looked cool because of the imagery on the pamphlet. I had then realized I was being drawn to that sort of thing and never really felt to question it. I have attended many a church service in my younger years and had always felt it was just stories and I feel the same way about the occult. To correlate the two, there is absolutely no concrete evidence that either one are really true. Just, as I got older, I chose to be "into" the dark side of things not because of negative energy, but because of the comfort the dark lends to you. If it's dark and no one can see you, then you go unnoticed and people leave you alone. The dark allows you a place to retreat to that's safe and secure, and will allow you to wonder out when you need to search for something, and the safe haven for when you want to return to it...
Given the number of bands you have a hand in, including Hour of 13, you must be pretty busy not to mention passionate about what you do. So, what inspired you to start creating music in the first place? What was the first instrument that you picked up and why? How difficult was the transition from one instrument to another and what motivated you to give it a try? Has the music that you were raised listening to significantly impacted any of those decisions and/or the style of music that you currently play?
I am very passionate about all of the music I create and there are some bands that are seasonal for ethical and time reasons. The majority of bands I have done are since demised. As I get older, my time for all of them is lessened. I began playing drums at age 4, and began playing guitar at age 15. The transition was easy as it could be as I engulfed myself with music at an early age and it all just sort of seeped into my mind. I'm self taught on all the instruments I play and that is what gives me my ability to create my sound. I was raised on a myriad of different music, and I think it all just sort of congealed into what I do today. But, those influences do not enter into the Ho13 sound.
Would you say that Hour of 13 is currently your main focus above all other projects? In regard to Hour of 13, how did the concept (band name especially) and its eventual realization come about? Did you ever suspect that it would be as well received as it has been all over the world? What are you looking to accomplish with this band down the road before you decide to call it quits (if you ever do)?
Ho13 is definitely my main musical focus. The concept of Ho13 encaptures all of my ideals into a band I would want to listen to. Atmosphere, sound, structure, all of it. Although Ho13 has had a certain sound, I can assure you that a lot of people will be rather surprised at what the future holds for Ho13. Lots of changes are going on, lots of modifications are being made to ensure the longevity of Ho13. We have always been into other types of music rather than just doom/heavy metal, and a lot of the new material reflects that. We are not a band to not take chances and grow. The new album, as it is unfolding, will have elements of the staple sound, but will incorporate other ideas that create the atmosphere Ho13 is known for. And to me, atmosphere is far more important than the power of the riff. If the two can compliment each other, then the achievement has been fulfilled.
North Carolina has a beautiful landscape which pretty much makes it one of the best places for a nature aficionado to be. Has the experience of observing nature bled into your music and, if so, how has it manifested itself to that end? As an extension of that, how do you perceive the natural world and is it an important part of your life?
This area I reside in NC is a beautiful place. The people here are as daft as humans can be, but since I do not pay attention to them, they do not bother me. The landscape here is very much an important part of the sound of Ho13. Our mountains are majestic and the woods are beautiful, dark, creepy, inviting, and that is far more an influence on the music of Ho13 than any old metal band could ever be. Man is slowly but surely raping mother Earth of herself and no matter how beautiful she is, she will destroy us all, as seen by some of her current actions. And it's necessary for her to survive. It's necessary that we don't survive. That's the only way she will be able to preserve herself.
What is the song writing process like for you and, on a related note, do you prefer playing live over recording in a studio? Does any of that differ from band to band?
My songwriting does vary from band to band, but in the end it is all correlative. I do like playing live without a doubt, but it is not a necessity for any of my bands. The idea of creating music is far more gratifying than performing live.
In general, what's the experience like for you playing live and what is one of the most memorable performances for you?
The experience of playing live is fun and a hassle at the same time. I'm not really too fond of being out of my element, but shows such as the first Ho13 show in Dublin, Ireland last September makes it all worthwhile. That show was, by far, the only live show I have ever played that I truly enjoyed. So much energy and power. One never to be forgotten...
Work on a new demo along with a recent addition to the Hour of 13 line-up is very exciting news. Has there been any other significant changes made to the band aside from bringing Ben Hogg on board? Anything that will surprise old fans?
Ho13 has reverted back to what it once was; me on all instruments for the studio work, which will commence the first of September. The live lineup we had has since fallen and for a number of reasons that are unimportant. While I'm not at liberty to fully divulge all that is going on at the moment, I can assure all fans that they will either jump for joy or be like, "what the fuck?!??!?!"...
Most of the time, I don't find many people juggling more than two projects at once, so why five (Anu, Mountain of Judgemen, Profane Grace, Set, and Hour of 13)? Do you sometimes find it hard to stay committed to all of them?
It is difficult to focus on all at the same time and that's why I mentioned earlier that most are seasonal. Profane Grace is not anything that is mine, it is a band from Ixithra of Demoncy's creation of which I have not been a part of for many years now. Anu is over with the release of the next album, as will be Set. I have no drive for those bands and the best thing is for them to sleep. Ho13 is what I need and what needs to be focused on. MoJ will record one more record, but the future for that band is questionable as well. There is no need for it.
Is there anything else that you are passionate about that influences your music which hasn't been mentioned already? Are there casual past-times, or obsessions, that don't come up in your music but are still very important to you?
There are some things I do enjoy, like hiking and just being outdoors in the wilderness. Being a social butterfly is of no interest to me. I like drag racing, hate NASCAR. I'm really just kind of dull, other than the music thing. Old horror films. I do not really do too much.
Hour of 13 being taken up Earache Records must have been a pretty big deal for you, so, in closing, please describe for our readers your reaction when they showed interest in signing the amazing band that is Hour of 13.
The Earache deal has been a love/hate deal, really. Dan Tobin from the UK office is a pleasure to deal with. The rest, not so much. Dan is behind us 100% and as long as that is there then no problems. I have always been a fan of Earache and a multitude of great bands have been on their roster, of which I'm honored to share with them. We'll just see what happens in time, as time is all we have.....