Hæster • Live at dunk!festival 2019 [Video + Interview]
Hæster live at dunk!festival 2019.
While this band may be new on the scene, its members are all heavy music veteran, having been born out of several established acts. They fully capture the spirit of Belgian metal: intense, deep, dark, guttural and muscular, unafraid of staring directly into the void. Attendees had better come fully prepared on Thursday afternoon, because the vibe is going to be crushing in a short order. We spoke with Maarten Levecque about all the excitement advancements the band has made in recent months.
Stargazer: You were signed to dunk!records based on a single performance. That must have been a hell of a show. What can first time audience members expect from you when you hit the festival stage?
Maarten Levecque: First of all, it’s amazing how kind and trusting dunk!records have been from the start. What the audience can expect, I’d like to believe that we’re bringing a lot of enthusiasm and intensity to the stage. I think for most bands and musicians out there, creating music and bringing it live is what we’re passionate about. We’re bit heavier than a lot of other bands on the line-up, so I’m really looking forward to the dynamics between us and the audience at dunk!festival
Stargazer: Your debut record All Anchors No Sails is a pretty accomplished and fully-realized work for a first outing. You all have plenty of experience in the metal scene though. Can you tell us a bit about that and what the various paths were that led to Haester’s genesis?
ML: Actually, Wannes and I have been in bands for many years before Haester. After the demise of our latest band, prior to Haester, Wannes still had a lot of ideas, riffs and songs that just sounded great to us. We didn’t want to let it go to waste, so we demo-ed those songs at Wannes’ apartment and used those demos to find people who believed in these songs as much as we do. So, throughout our search we came across people who in turn ‘knew somebody,’ and after a few months of people coming and going we finally found a steady line-up with Thijs, Ace and Joan completing Haester. I think the pieces really fit with this line-up.
Stargazer: All Anchors No Sails is an evocative title. Can you tell us how this informs the aesthetics of the album and the band?
ML: I’m not surprising anyone if I say that it’s a challenging time to live in. Climate change, terrorism, right wing politics. It can be hard for a lot of individuals trying to express themselves to feel accepted, to feel supported. I think that especially in niche genres, like we are in, this is very recognizable. So, of course this impacts our music and our lyrics and reflects itself in the way we try to present ourselves. Most of our artwork, our shirts, our designs, have that sort of looming darkness.
Stargazer: Being a band comprised of members who have plenty of experience, what is the writing process like? Is everyone bringing pieces to the table and then blending them, do the songs grow organically out of practices, or how does it typically work for you?
ML: For our debut album Wannes did almost all of the songwriting, so we actually had the perfect basis to start rehearsing and recording. It was bit atypical that way, having the songs before we had the band. So, it will probably be a bit different when we’ll start writing for the follow-up of All Anchors No Sails
Stargazer: The Belgian metal scene certainly has an entrenched, unique sound. Can you speak to this? Is there something about this region that inspires this kind of gritty-but-fiery heavy music? What is your view of the scene as someone who lives inside of it?
ML: I think it’s impressive the range of variety this scene brings forward. We inspire and respect each other so much, that it pushes every band forward. Just look at the line ups we were able to play with the dunk!nights in March and April. Sharing those stages with bands that sound so different, but still have that mutual passion and respect for each other. I think we can only cherish what we have going on here.
Stargazer: You’re still within the early stages of being a band, but it’s certainly been a great start. What can fans expect from Haester going forward?
ML: Let’s hope we can continue to grow and keep on performing as much as we can. I’m hoping that in the future we could set up a tour and try to show ourselves to as many people as possible. Just keep it going I guess, with a healthy dose of ambition.
Hæster • All Anchors No Sails [LP]
Comes on 180g colored vinyl.
Interview by Young Epoch.