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Logan Mader was last in Australia twenty years ago, on a short press junket with then bandmate Robb Flynn promoting Machine Head’s second album The More Things Change…. Today, he and Lauren Hart, the Aussie-born singer for his current band Once Human, are on something of a sightseeing visit. Checking out the bluetongue skink environment at Sydney’s Featherdale Wildlife Park, Mader has still found a few minutes for a chat

“I’ve actually got a couple of these at home,” he says pleasantly about the native lizards before the conversation turns to more musical matters.

While perhaps still best known for his tenure as a guitarist with Machine Head and Soulfly, the best part of Mader’s career has been spent in the control room producing, mixing and mastering sounds for the likes of W.A.S.P., Fear Factory, Psycroptic, DevilDriver, Gojira, Five Finger Death Punch and more. All told, he’s now worked on over 35 albums. Once Human sees him back in the role he first announced himself to the world in – as lead guitarist in a metal band.

“I always played guitar when I was a producer, but it was more like a to job when I had to,” he says. “That kind of rekindled my passion for guitar playing as a player and a performer. When we got back out and started touring I felt really alive and felt back in my element that I had not participated in for so long.”

Coming together in 2014 around himself and vocalist Hart, Once Human began life as a four piece with drummer Ralph Alexander and bassist Damien Rainaud. By mid-2015 they had an album in the can and with the addition of second guitarist Skyler Howren and new drummer Dillon Trollope, Once Human toured the US, UK and Europe. Since then, the band has become a triple-axe six piece death metal assault, making the title of their forthcoming sophomore album, Evolution, particularly apt.

“The first album was Lauren’s first time in the studio, and my first time playing guitar in many years, because I have been producing and not playing,” Mader explains. “We put it out and did a direct support with Fear Factory in North America and then we did the direct support with Fear Factory in the UK and Europe. We only did two tours and that was it. We started writing pretty quickly after that. We added another guitar player to our line-up, whose name is Max Karon, and he’s a big part of the new sound we have on our second record. A good writer and an amazing guitar player, and now it’s three of us [writing]. It’s not just myself and Lauren, it’s me, Lauren and Max. In a lot of ways, this record [really seems like it’s] our first record, because it really has its own identity and it’s getting a good reaction already.”

Mader’s day job as producer, engineer, mixer and song writer and his vast connections earned through his long career has allowed Once Human to hit the ground running easily. Along with everything else, the day to day running of the band has fallen to him too. And he couldn’t be happier.

“I put on a lot of hats,” he says, ahead of a brief aside as he retrieves his sunglasses from the bluetongue cage. “I’m the producer and the mixer and the recording engineer and I’m the manager as well. But I love doing all those things. It’s a lot of work but it seems so natural to me to do it all. I’ve grown as a writer and a producer and a mixer and a visionary and I have a good knowledge of the management side of things in regards of things to do with getting a record out and putting a band on tour and all that stuff. I don’t mind doing it. It’s a natural progression of my skill set.”

He laughs at the suggestion that doing all the work himself leave him with have no one to blame when things go wrong.

“You should never point your finger at anyone else anyway!” he says with a chuckle. “Yeah, if things start to go south, immediately fire the manager! It’s usually not the manager’s fault, but that’s the way it goes.”

The guitarist is keen to point out, however, that he wants Once Human to be known as far more than just a Logan Mader project.

“It’s a passion project, but we are very serious about establishing this as a real band and not just a project that I did on a whim.”

He’s also serious about getting the band down here. With an Australian singer, it would only make sense that Once Human should make a visit sooner rather than later.

“I definitely want to tour Australia. I am sure we would have so many fans here, Lauren has lived here for so many years and on social media I get a lot of interaction from Australian fans so we’re gonna push for it in 2017.”