Latest release: Hunter (Denovali/FUSE)
Melbourne post-rock architects Heirs are about to hit the road on a short Australia tour. The band, reknown in Europe for sensory-overload performances featuring stark visuals, incense candles and hypnotic, sombre compositions, attained a level of notice in Australia in 2011 when they supported Alcest. This time they head out in support of their own EP, the 10″ vinyl release “Hunter”. Loud spoke to drummer Damian Coward about what to expect at the shows and their plans for the rest of the year.
Q: Thanks for the chat Damien. Now, Heirs are back and doing three shows this time around.
A: Yes, we’re doing three shows with the main content that we usually do, and then we’re doing three sideshows on which we’re doing side B of the “Hunter” record, which is the Sisters of Mercy song “Neverland”.
Q: So you’re basically doing a show just with that one song?
A: Yeah, basically the way we’ve re-written it, it’s about thirty minutes long.
Q: The B-side version is about fifteen minutes anyway isn’t it?
A: Yeah, we’re gonna stretch it out and have a good time with it.
Q: Well I saw you play with Alcest and that was very much like a single song set. I guess people wouldn’t even realise you were just playing the one track unless they really knew it. The original Sisters version is pretty long anyway, isn’t it?
A: The one they did that didn’t get released first up I think runs to about 12 minutes. We tried to keep the version on the EP as close to the length of that as possible, so I’m pretty sure it’s 12 minutes.
Q: These shows are in support of the “Hunter” 10″. Compared to say, Fowl, for example, it’s somewhat different to what you’ve done before.
A: I guess so. There’s a binding element, I think, in the way that everything still remains as cyclic as it ever has. Our songs usually work on a rotation, in a sense. I think that was our main goal with Heirs. And I think that’s the tying bind through all three releases that we’ve done. That all the songs loop within each other and everything kind of stays within the same context. So all the songs have a similar kind of hypnotic feel to them and I think that on “Hunter” we used that and really tried to shorten all the procedures so we got more to the point about the songs.
Q: You use a lot of visuals in the live show as well.
A: The whole deal with Heirs is to kind of do something that we would actually like to go see. Something pretty stark and slightly confrontational, I guess. Something loud with all sense kind of taken care of. It’s something that we really want to put forward in the sense of using the audio and the visual; we also use oil-burners and stuff like that. The idea is to kind to use all sense at the same time to kind of create a memorable night. So if that smell comes back again in someone’s life, they can be reminded of that in a subconscious sense or an instant remembrance. That’s kind of the idea of what we’re doing.
Q: When you’re thinking about the visuals to go with a particular track, how do you decide what goes best?
A: We’ve become a lot more controlled with it, as in, every time we do a tour we pick visuals that match the set we’re playing. This next one, we’ve got a lot of lighting visuals that are going to go with the projections so the lights we’ve got will kind of link up with the mini-tracks and stuff like that. It’s pretty much above my head as a human being, but Brent (Stegeman) our guitarist seems to know what he’s doing. The other times we’ve used them, it’s been for different reasons really. Like, it depends on the scene and how stark it’s going to be. We’ve done fifteen or sixteen different visuals at our shows. So it comes down to what we feel like we want to do at the time. We have it all planned out at the moment, but that could change pretty soon.
Q: I find it very difficult to describe what Heirs do. If someone asked me to describe your music, it would find it hard to explain. It’s just something that needs to be experienced.
A: Well, what we’re doing is an actual experience. It’s not something that people have felt they’ve experienced before. There’s always going to the facets that you see that come from something else, but that’s just the way things are. But I’m hoping that what we achieve is something slightly indescribable and something that has be experienced in order to understand what it’s all about.
Q: You spend a lot of time working overseas, probably a lot more than you do in Australia. What’s the reaction and what’s the difference in the reaction between the audiences here and there?
A: I guess what it comes down to is, Europe’s a bunch of different countries. So when you start touring there it becomes obvious that borders are in place for a reason. You go from Spain to France, and there’s a general attitude change as you go through. All of the countries have their certain nuances, some of the countries are really into having a good time and partying, some of them are into the art scene and the art side of it and are very attentive… It’s the same as everywhere. It really does come down to that. Having said that, what we have on our side in Europe is that we are known as an international band. So when we go there, we have what you would consider the perks of being an international band, in asmuchas a bit more respect or… they just treat you a little better, and you do end up playing to some very receptive audiences. But you have to take into consideration that you are an international band.
Q: So you would get treated the same there because you come from Australia as, say, a French band would when they come here?
A: I would say there’s some weird sort of sliding scale. If you’re from America you’re kind of laughing everywhere! Europeans love American bands, Australians do, Asian countries. They obviously do really well. And it kind of slides down from that, if you know what I mean.
Q: After these shows, what’s the future for Heirs?
A: Well after there main shows we’re basically about a third of the way through our next album, which is going to be out about February next year. February, March or something. So we’re going to spend May to August just fixing all the songs up, making sure everything is good to go and get all that prepared. Then in mid-August we go to Europe to do about 32 shows and then we come back in late October and I think we’ll just have a big relax until about January, and then we’ll start recording the album. We like to record really, really fast; get things done as quickly as possible. I daresay by that time we’ll have things ready. We’ll be playing some new songs from the album on the European tour so we’re kind of excited about that. It’s going to be the first time we’ve played new songs for that length of time, and then go in to record them. It’s always been the other way around: we’ve recorded them, and then toured it. It’s the first time we have space for the songs. It’s an interesting kind of project. We’ve never really recorded anything we’ve played like, after a European tour where you get 40 opportunities to have a stab at it.
Q: So you’re basically going to have to really nailed by the time you go in to record it.
A: That’s what we’re hoping. We won’t be playing all of it. We’re planning on doing a double album next time, so eighty minutes of music and about twelve or thirteen songs. So, we’ll probably pick about four of them and throw them into the set. Because for Europe we usually have to play between an hour and an hour and a half, so we’ve got the time to do it so that’s pretty cool.
Heirs play the following dates with local supports:
4/5: Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane QLD
5/5: Bald Faced Stag Hotel, Sydney NSW
11/5: Curtin Bandroom, Melbourne VIC