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Logan Mader Once Human - Interview
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Once Human

Logan Mader is a name who will be familiar to metalheads not only for his production and mixing work on records from the likes of Gojira, Fear Factory and Devildriver, but also as the original guitarist in Machine Head and his late 90s stint in Soulfly. His current band Once Human is about to release their second album titled 'Evolution' so we catch up with Logan during his recent visit to Australia to discuss the album, how the band started and his experiences in Australia.



Steve: So how does it feel to have some new material out for yourself and the rest of the band?

Logan: Yeah it fucking feels really good! I'm excited to put this record out called "Evolution" and it's coming out January 20th and it's a really good album, I'm really happy with it. I'm excited for people to hear it. We released one song a couple of months ago called "Eye Of Chaos" and we did a video for that and it's getting a really good reaction from fans and the industry. It's gotten a lot of views, almost a million and in such a short time which is much more than was expected or hoped for so it feels good. We're going to drop another video at the end of this month and a pre-order for the album.

Steve: Which song are you doing?

Logan: I'm pretty sure the song we're going to do next is called "Gravity", we have a finished video for that. Have you heard the album?

Steve: I have yes, I've been listening to it all day actually so I'm pretty well versed with it. It's all killer, no filler!

Logan: Nice! I'm happy to agree with that. Yeah we shot a video for "Gravity" and we're shooting another video when I get back to L.A. next week and that will be edited quickly and that will probably come out in January during the album release day. I'm really happy that we got to do some of these videos and we'll do a fourth one that will probably come out in March or April. We're looking to hit the road most likely in America in January and then hopefully to Europe, I really want to come back to Australia and play here. I remember playing here when I was in Machine Head and had one of the best touring experiences I've ever had, the fans are great and I love this country. Every city that I've been to has been amazing. I love the wild life, I got to go out to the Blue Mountains on Saturday and hike with Lauren (Hart, vocals) for a few hours. I'm going sport fishing tomorrow with a few friends from here, it's nice, I like it.

Steve: Sounds like you got a full itinerary going both professionally and relaxation wise! So for someone who hasn't heard the band at all and you were to take your material to them, how would you describe it?

Logan: Well I guess in a short phrase I would say none of it sucks.

Steve: Yep agreed!

Logan: I would say it has dynamic, it has progressive elements, it's got groove, it's got some sick riffs and Lauren Hart really shines in her vocal performance. The amount that she has grown as a vocalist and a lyricist between the first album and this one is very apparent and I'm very proud of her for that.

Steve: Yeah for sure! So what is your favorite track on the album and why?

Logan: My favorite song is "Paragon" and it just hits me, it's dark and powerful and dramatic and just gets me every time. It's hard, I really love every song on the album. I listened to it today because I hadn't heard it in a while and I was listening to it like I was done working on it. I produced it, I mixed it, I played guitars on it so I was really involved in the album in many different ways for several months and then when I was finally happy with it I came back to it and listened to it as a listener and as a fan in a way [laughs], pretty fucking good! I like it, it's really good and I'm happy with it. I'll be proud of this record for like forever, I think it's going to resonate in the metal community for being really special. I think we've grown as a band and really defined a unique sound that is our own.

Steve: Awesome man! So take us back, what brought you guys together? I read that basically you wanted to pick up the guitar again and start something new, was that something that you first and foremost wanted to do? To create music again? I know you do a lot of production but as a musician, was that the starting point that you just wanted to get back out there?

Logan: Well no it started off as another production deal. Monte Conner from Nuclear Blast records, a longtime friend and colleague and ally of mine, sent me this video clip a couple of years ago of Lauren playing guitar and he said, 'I thought of you when I saw this video, want to do a production deal with this girl?' And I said, 'Oh interesting'. So I met with her and we had a good chemistry right away and so we started doing music and I was just going to produce it and help write music and develop her project and put a band around it and I've done that before. But I just got passionate about the music that we were making and I got an itch to play again and it felt like that was a part of my life that was kind of gone for a while. I was just in the studio all the time and I felt like, 'Fuck it, I'm going to play again'. I'm not going to stop producing, I still do a lot of mixing and producing but I felt a good intuition about this band and the whole concept and something was telling me to pick up the guitar again as a passion so I did it and I'm happy that I did.

Steve: For sure. So I know you were in Machine Head and you did a tenure with Soulfly, do you think Once Human musically is a different beast or do you think that your sound as a guitar player has remained the same?

Logan: It's definitely a different beast, I mean you have heard the whole record so what do you think?

Steve: I agree that it's definitely a different beast and it's definitely got a rollercoaster of a ride happening but I guess the same could be said for some of Machine Head''s stuff and Soulfly. It's just interesting to get your perspective on it.

Logan: Yeah I get it, I carry with me some identifying marks that you can kind of hear and feel if you know my work from Machine Head and stuff. But a lot of time has passed and I've worked on a lot of different music with a lot of great bands and I've grown as a musical mind and as a player. With this record too, one thing we added was another guitar player named Max Karon who collaborated with Lauren and I to make the music for this record and he played a pretty significant role and where we are right now, influenced me to play 7 string with a unique tuning with a DGCFAD tuning which gets pretty low. It's like a Drop C with the low string with it's weight on G which is pretty low, almost as low as an eight string in standard tuning. I really like the ability to go down there, it opens up a lot of possibilities for what we were finding and to get certain emotions across in the riffing. It opens the spectrum up a lot.

Steve: So how did you come across Max?

Logan: It was through friends, actually my friend Dino Cazares who plays for Fear Factory. I've worked with him a lot, I produced a couple of records for Divine Heresy, I worked on a Fear Factory record, the Roadrunner United thing, I did the the Asesino record a while back which was one of Dino's bands. I've worked with Dino a lot and then Once Human starts to tour and it was supporting Fear Factory and their guitar tech was Max Karon and so we met him on the first tour and he was a super cool guy and definitely vibed with him as a person. He was super funny and a cool, unique character and then we toured with Fear Factory in Europe and the UK just after the first American tour and we were sharing a bus with Fear Factory so all the crew and all of us were living together on the bus so we bonded with him even more and then one day he was like, 'Check out my music, check out this music I make'. He played us some recordings that he wrote and made and we were like, 'Holy shit this is fucking amazing!' We were pretty blown away so after that tour we talked about doing some co-writing with him, I also brought him in to co-write in another band I was producing that was more like rock-metal. He's super talented, he's a great writer and so Lauren and I talked together with him to collaborate on Once Human stuff and one thing sort of led to another and it was a good combination and he ended up really liking what we ended up with and decided to join the band so now we have 3 guitar players. I didn't want to fire anybody, I mean we have Skyler Howren on guitars and he's been with us since the beginning and he's a great player and super cool. There's no reason to fire him just because we could upgrade or something [laughs], But I said fuck it let's get 3 guitar players, we'll make it work. We do a lot of stuff on the album where there's a main riff and then an octave version of that riff either higher or lower and then a lead part so that's 3 guitar parts playing often in the recording. Now with 3 guys on stage we can do that organically live so it's cool. He's not in the first video "Eye Of Chaos", he was already sort of in the band and he wrote the record with us but he was on tour with Slipknot and Marilyn Manson and he was doing monitors for Of Mice And Men in America. So he's not in that video but he's in the next video after that and he's in all the others and he's going to be touring with us. He's actually living at our house with Lauren and I right now.

Steve: So he's part of the furniture, pardon the pun!

Logan: Yeah part of the furniture [laughs]. We're even writing music, he's also an engineer and has a little video setup in one of his rooms there so it's a pretty creative household. We're already working on material for the next record.

Steve: It's a never ending process then.

Logan: Yeah but it feels good though. It's definitely a good life experience, it's what I do now.

Steve: Just quickly, you were saying abut the Roadrunner United last year which is 10 years old. It doesn't seem that long ago, it must have been an amazing experience to collaborate with such a large roster of present and past people from Roadrunner. What was your take on that?

Logan: Yeah it was a big honour to be a part of that. That was a really pivitol point in my producing and mixing career too because although I had already mixed the first Five Finger Death Punch records, before I worked on that it was unknown at the time. But I was still sort of an underground freelance producer/mixer that didn't really have a big name for myself but when I got into the Roadrunner United thing it was cool because Dino had me play some guitar riffs on his songs and I was like, 'Fuck yeah, cool!'. They were working in the same studio where I had a studio, it was just the right place at the right time. I wasn't called in to work on his stuff but I was just there in the vicinity and I saw them one day pull up Dino, Roy Mayorga who at the time was in Soulfly with me and I think Dave Maclean was there too and he was the Machine Head drummer and I was like, 'Holy shit, what are you guys doing here?' and they said, 'We're working on this thing', and I was like, 'Cool let me know if you need any help'. And sure enough and I was working in my studio at studio B at that facility and they were in studio A and first day they had some glitches or something and needed help and I knew the room and went over there and helped with troubleshooting and helping out. Dino was like, 'Hey want to play some tracks on this?' And I was like, 'Cool yeah!' So I did it, I took the files to my studio and did the guitar tracks and then I was like, 'I'm going to mix this song'. I just mixed the song [laughs], they didn't ask me to do it or anything, I had the files and had the time and I mixed it so I gave it and said here's the guitar tracks and I gave them a fully mixed and mastered track and they were like, 'Woah this sounds pretty good'. And it ended up being the mix that went on the album so that moment was kind of the right place, right time and Monte Conner who is the A&R, that moment got me on Monte's radar and Monte started sending me some work. Like right after that he put Soulfly in my studio because I was going to produce Soulfly and produce Cavalera Conspiracy and then when I did the Cavalera Conspiracy record I met Joseph Duplantier who played bass on it and is the singer for Gojira. That job led me to working on the recording and then mixing and mastering "The Way Of All Flesh" by Gojira which was a very cool record to work on and it just snowballed from that point. So yeah Monte and Roadrunner and that core of artists on the roster have played a big role in my musical career as an artist and as a producer and mixer.

Steve: Awesome! I know you are here [in Australia] currently but do you have a message for the fans in Australia?

Logan: Message to all of Australia, I like Kangaroos [laughs]. We went to the Blue Mountains and hiked and we went to a place called the Blue Lake where there are these caves you can explore and there's platypus. I like the wildlife here, it's amazing. Great country, beautiful and amazing like no other place in the world. I went driving and pulled over to the side of the road and saw this kangaroo, just sitting there and it came right up to me and fed him some bread! He was friendly and let me pet him, I fed him a bunch of bread and he was just sitting there chewing it and then walked right off, it was pretty cool. And then I also eat kangaroo [laughs], we can't eat kangaroo in California and it's really good, it's really lean. It's good, I was eating kangaroo steaks [laughs] but it was awesome hanging out with them and petting them too so it's all good. Kangaroos are illegal to eat in California because kangaroos are so cute [laughs].

Steve: [laughs] Well it's been an honour to be speaking with you, thanks for your time, really appreciate it.

Logan: Yeah thank you, your welcome.

Interview by Steve Monaghan on November 7th 2016