Latest release: Heaven on Your Minds (independent)

High Plains Drifter is a stoner band from Brisbane. In late ’09 they released their debut album Heaven on Your Minds. Loud got Liam Guy to catch up with Luke and Nate from the band to get the goss on this upwardly mobile unit. 

How long did you guys spend in the studio and what are your thoughts on the final product?
LUKE: We spent a week recording with Nik Carpenter (ex-Devolved) out at Core Studios on the Gold Coast and even managed to get our mate Mike Gemzik (ex-Beijing Tank/Homeless Yellow) to come in and drop some guest vocals on two tracks. It was a massive week – there were childish pranks being pulled, displays of public drunkenness, arguments followed by drunken hugging and all-round exclamations of “I love you man” and there was even one fist-fight. We all had heaps of fun and got to know the music (and each other) a whole lot better and I’m sure Nik was happy to see the tail end of us!
NATE: Being that my favorite Aussie metal band growing up was Devolved, it was amazing to have an opportunity to work with one of my heroes – Damn, that guy can get a lot out of you! I had about a day and a half to record all the vocals and despite the fact that I had tonsillitis, Nik and the boys managed to rev me up enough to get it all done and it just adds to the unadulterated rawness of the album. We could’ve easily done it cleaner and spent more time on it but I doubt we’d have wound up with a record with even half the personality and power. I’m happy. Very happy.

How long have the band been together for?
LUKE: About a year. Our launch will be almost eleven months to the day since our first gig.

Singer Nathanael was initially heavily involved in hip-hop before joining HPD… quite a big jump from hip-hop to stoner/metal… how did you guys and him get together?
LUKE: We’d been jamming for a couple of weeks and had a pretty distinct idea of where we wanted the sound to go vocally but were convinced that we’d never find anyone who could pull it off. So, I was getting wasted at Rosie’s one Friday when I walked past Nate in the toilet. He was singing Corrosion of Conformity’s “King of the Rotten” at the top of his lungs while taking a piss – we’re talking seriously wasted. I was wearing a Superjoint Ritual shirt so we started talking Southern metal and I remember thinking “this psycho in the purple glasses looks like David Allen Coe”. He drunkenly agreed to come to our jam the next morning and I even told the guys “look, I may have found a singer, but even if he’s keen, he’s not turning up – he’s gotta be ridiculously hungover right about now”. Anyway, the next day we were jamming away and in walks Nate in his purple glasses and he just started riffing over the tracks we had arranged – we were all on the same page from day one. Not many people in the Brisbane metal scene can sing with the grit and power of Mike Williams from Eyehategod, let alone with the range and weirdness of Mike Patton.
NATE: I’m still doing the hip-hop thing; collaborating with heaps of Brisbane artists, playing shows and working on my next solo album but metal and hard rock are nothing new to me. I was a metal kid growing up and my first bands were math-metal and psychedelic acts (like Tool and the like). I’ve always prided myself on keeping my genre-fusing as tasteful as possible, though, so rest assured: You won’t be hearing any rapcore from HPD… and even if I wanted to, the guys’d kill me if I tried.

What’s your opinion of stoner rock bands in Australia?
LUKE: To be honest, I’ve only heard a few current Australian bands doing the stoner/doom thing but I love what I hear. We just wish there were more people melding rock and metal together so we’d have a few more bands to play shows and drink with.
NATE: We’ve played a few shows with Shellfin and always love what they do but I can’t think of many other stoner bands who are still going. I remember five or ten years ago, Queensland had a really healthy stoner scene but it seems to have died down a bit. Beyond that, there are acts with serious stoner/doom elements like The Dead who are undeniably one of Brisbane’s best metal acts and one of the reasons I’m in HPD. I only met Luke ‘cause The Dead were playing that night at Rosie’s – otherwise I might not have been there.

The future of the band after this recording?
LUKE: We’re aiming to improve as much as possible. With our latest songs, we’re cutting more of the fat off and only keeping those riffs that stay in your head for three days. We’ve developed a more mainstream approach to writing and song structure but we’re still keeping it hard, goovin’ and offensive as all hell. In the more near future; we’re currently in the process of lining up some interstate dates so we can promote Heaven on Your Minds nationally.
NATE: Keep doing the same thing, just bigger and better.