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In-Your-Face Rock & Roll – An Interview with James Hart of Burn Halo

June 2009

by Melanie "Sass" Falina

Burn HaloOnly half way through 2009 and it's already been a busy, hectic year for Burn Halo. Having been touring pretty steadily since February of this year, Burn Halo isn't taking a break any time soon; with shows scheduled through August and more thereafter in the works.

"We're waiting on confirmation and things to go through on the business side of it, but yeah!" Says Burn Halo vocalist James Hart whist exuding an enthusiastic and confident rock and roll tone. "You know, it will definitely wear on you, we ended up having to take a week off at the beginning of June just because we'd been out for so long. And that was a week off that we didn't necessarily had to take off, we could have been doing stuff for sure but we've got a small break coming up here - a couple weeks off so I'm looking forward to that definitely. And then just get back on the road and get back to business."

But there is a fine line between wanting to get out there on the road and play everywhere you can, but then not push yourself to the point that you're compromising the quality of the show or desire to play.

"Yeah absolutely, and health becomes a factor too."

No newbie to the music business by far, Hart - prior to Burn Halo fronted the band 18 Visions for more than a decade. Now, with a new band and a new sound, is the feel itself all that different?

"Yeah you know, it's definitely a lot different. It reminds me of you know when, at least not being on stage just kind of the downtime just reminds me of when 18 V just started to tour and it was new and fun, it's new to a lot of these guys that I have out with me so they're kind of taking it the same way. And none of the guys in 18 V partied - some of my guys like to party - so it's definitely," Hart laughs, "It definitely gets a little crazy and rowdy at times which is fun. It's a good time. On stage, it's definitely different from 18 V. There's still a lot of energy but it's more of a raw, natural like in-your-face rock show. You know, 18 V had like a lot more production, I think we were a lot tighter band, we had been playing together for much longer. This has that kind of pure, just raw punk - rock and roll vibe to it, which is cool, I love it. It's fun, it's relaxed up on stage."

So is Burn Halo able to do any writing at all right now with such a chaotic schedule, or are new songs on the back burner until after the tour?

"You know, I'm sure we could find down-time to like sit down and write music together but it's not really a priority right now. The record just came out a couple months ago so I want to keep focusing on these songs that we have and promoting the single and then the next one. The time will present itself when it's time to make a new record and that time, hopefully, that's a long ways away and we'll have a lot of life out of this record."

Which songs off of the album is Hart particularly enjoying doing live?

"Yeah you know 'Save Me' is always great - the energy that comes along with that song is awesome. It's just got that groove and that vibe to it; I love it. Another favorite of mine is 'Here With Me' - it's just singing that song and playing that song is just a blast. It kind of brings me back to when I was a kid and listening to rock music in the mid-80s and late-80s and it's kind of the vibe and feel of that song, obviously with a much, much more modern feel to it. But that's the vibe I get from that song, I love it, it just brings me back to that time in my life."

Long-time friend Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold contributed to Burn Halo's self-titled, debut record.

Burn Halo"We've actually known each other for quite awhile. I grew up with a couple of the guys in Avenged, when I was in 18 Visions we put them on some of the first local shows, we were both support bands on some of the same tours. When they got huge they took 18 V out on the road a couple times. You know they're all just looking out for me so I've always been in contact with those guys and when I was going to do this record I hit up Synyster about doing a song together which we were able to do, and then having him come down to the studio and play on that song - which he did - and the opportunity presented itself for him to do 'Dirty Little Girl' with us as well and it was a good fit for his style of guitar and the song."

It's cool to see when not only a friendship can be maintained despite busy and conflicting schedules, but when two bands can tour together as often as possible as well.

"Absolutely. The bigger they got, the harder it became to take out their friends and stuff like that. But I think that everybody saw that this was really going to do something and it wasn't just like taking out a friend's band, it definitely made sense for the tour and where they're at as a band and where we're at as a band. And it's great that we can get out and do those things."

Is there any interest at all in having other musicians come in to make guest appearances on Burn Halo albums in the future?

"I'm not sure. We'll cross that road when the time comes and we do the next record and see what would be cool and what would fit the songs and stuff like that. I'm actually really looking forward to when I do a record doing it with the guys in the band, I'm really looking forward to getting in the studio and writing with them - I think that will be the main focus. We'll go from there as far as who's going to do what or who will appear on the record.

Since aside from Hart, the members of Burn Halo weren't who wrote or played on the debut album, going into the studio with these guys will be a new experience together for them all.

"In a sense yeah, it definitely will be a new thing," says Hart cheerily.

From the beginning as Hart was working on the songs on Burn Halo he absolutely didn't want to compromise - how did that drive and determination differ at all from his experiences in 18 Visions?

"It wasn't more so that I wanted my own way necessarily, and I think with 18 Visions - the three main song writers - when we brought ideas to the table sometimes we felt those ideas were the best for the song and we knew what would work best for the direction of the record and the song in general, and sometimes those ideas would get compromised because the next person wouldn't necessarily be a fan of the riff, or the vocal melody, or the lyric, or the guitar lead, whatever it was, there was always somebody that had to scrap great ideas - or what we thought were great ideas. And with this, it wasn't that I wanted to be a control freak and have everything my way, I just knew that I wanted to write a certain type of album, I wanted to write a certain type of songs, and I didn't want somebody else coming in with a different idea or different take on my songs. And that's kind of how it was with 18 V - the songs were presented, we would work on them together, and then everybody would put their different take on it, whether it was me writing or arranging vocals for a song that Keith [Barney] or Ken [Floyd] wrote, or me writing a riff and them feeding off of that riff and writing something else and having someone else say, 'You know, I don't really dig that, I think we should do this with it...' or 'I don't like that song at all, it's just not what I'm into...' You know, so you had so many different music backgrounds and influences writing songs writing for a band and a record, and with this it was just one musical influence and one person, and my ideas. It was much simpler and I think the songs came out much more direct that way."

Despite having begun anew with Burn Halo, after many years in 18 Visions was there anything else Hart was able to truly feel he'd accomplished after taking a step back from the recording of this album?

"I wouldn't say so necessarily, I think that on all the 18 V records I think that I pretty much accomplished everything that I wanted to accomplish given that I was able to put in my input and I did have to compromise things but all that aside, I feel like I loved every record, I loved every bit of my input, and I loved the songs. So when I compare this record to those is obviously the musical direction is different and I personally think that the tuning of the songs and the actual key of the songs is much brighter with Burn Halo and it actually suits my voice better, I feel like maybe I'm able to get a little bit more out of my vocals and my vocal range than I was on an 18 V record, but what I was doing with 18 V it really fit the music so I can't say that I would really change a whole or lot or that there were things that I was able to do different that I wasn't really able to do on the last record. I think I've done everything I've I wanted to do on every record I've ever released. It's absolutely satisfying; it's great, especially considering that the two are completely different, two completely different ends of the rock spectrum. I'm really happy with what I've been able to accomplish throughout the years."

So for the rest of 2009 just a lot more touring for Burn Halo?

"Absolutely. You know, there will be brief lulls in the schedule but as I said those are much needed and it's time to get healthy and recover and rest, and get ready to put on the show that we want to put on."


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