-- Haester gets shredded! --
On January 24th 2019 I was invited to an official press event at the headquarters of Dunk!Records. A record label dedicated to doom, sludge and post-metal and whose activities also include the yearly 3-day event Dunk!Festival as well as the vinyl production plant Dunk!Pressings. My good friend Sean Vali (head of booking agency Arawn Agency) offered me to interview several of Dunk!’s associated bands and one of those was Haester. I sat together with vocalist Maarten and guitarist Wannes to discuss things like their appearance at Antwerp Metal Fest 2018, their collaboration with Dunk!Records and the songs their recorded with guest vocals from the likes of Aborted, Brutus and Stake.
All pictures by Elien Swinnen (https://www.elienswinnen.com/).
BMS: Hello there, folks! Let’s begin with a basic question. How did Haester come to fruition?
Maarten: Wannes and I have been lifelong friends and over the years we played together in a couple of bands such as the now-defunct thrash metal band Nemea. Wannes did a lot of songwriting for that band and had many songs left to use after Nemea’s demise. We didn’t want to let all that hard work go to waste so we both decided to form our own band and look for extra people to join us.
Wannes: That’s right. We began Haester a couple of years ago and we’re very pleased with how things are progressing for us.
BMS: Yeah, I’ve got to say that I like your material a lot! Dark and brooding with many bursts of raw energy and rage. I also feel that you, Maarten, have a large vocal range with both convincing grunts and screams, but I believe you can reach even wider.
Maarten: Thanks for the kind words! Yeah, Haester is still a young band and we keep on evolving!
BMS: So, what serves as your band’s main inspirations?
Wannes: Off the top of my head I’d say Pink Floyd, Cult Of Luna, Isis the band, Mastodon, Burnt By The Sun. I provide the main foundations for Haester’s material and then me and the other guys work it all out into fully fledged songs.
Maarten: I began my musical journey listening to the likes of Sepultura, Terror, Hatebreed and so forth but in recent years I began digging into more experimental stuff like Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Deftones. So given my own inspirations, I add lyrics and vocals that fit my personal tastes and overall strengths as a singer. And I admit that singing as a part of Haester has been my most challenging act as of yet. It’s a multi-faceted sound that, like you said earlier, requires an extensive vocal range.
BMS: And all things considered, things are paying off! Last year you played at Antwerp Metal Fest, one of Belgium’s major metal festivals! How did you make it to that stage?
Maarten: We have to thank our dear friend and booking agent Jan of RuffStuffMusic for that. Right after we had finished working on our debut album “All Anchors, No Sails” he emailed it over to the people at AMF and they invited us over to play there! It was an incredible opportunity for us since we were looking for venues to promote our then upcoming release. Playing at AMF was a fantastic experience, a large and enthusiastic crowd and much hospitality from the staff.
Wannes: Yeah, I still remember entering the stage and seeing all those people cheering us! The AMF gig currently stands as our largest show as of yet and I hope that we’ll be hitting that stage again in the near future!
BMS: I’m sure you will! So, you’re part of Dunk!Records, how did the collaboration go?
Maarten: Very good! Back when we had wrapped up our aforementioned “All Anchors, No Sails” debut release we sent it out to as many record labels we could think of and the folks from Dunk!Records reacted very positively to our material. Wout Lievens from Dunk! came over to see us play live and right after the gig he came over to offer us a record deal. Not only that, but he also suggested to produce a vinyl version of the album through his freshly established Dunk!Pressings plant! So yeah, we quickly sealed the deal with him and now we’re proud members of the Dunk! family. It’s such an indescribably good feeling to know that you have people out there who enjoy your work just as much as you enjoy making it! And not just to share that mutual love for the art but to also work together to further bring this music to the masses! The Dunk! brand and the people and bands they’re working together with all share that same sense of commitment, friendship and trust.
Wannes: As for me, I’ve been a loyal visitor of Dunk!Festival for many years now and like Maarten said, the camaraderie that flows through all things Dunk! is just incredible. We’ve been in contact with bands and people from all over the world and the Dunk! brand keeps on growing without ever sacrificing their personal integrity. And of course, to work with and play on a festival that you’ve loved and supported for such a long time is a dream come true!
BMS: Sweet! Yeah, my personal connection with Dunk! is still in its early stages but I already like what I’m seeing and hearing here! So, what’s next up for Haester?
Maarten: Our main focus is promote our freshly released album as much as possible, both in Belgium and abroad. Last Monday we played in Antwerp Music City and I recall that a couple of friends of mine came to see us and despite having little interest in the genre of music that we play, they were impressed by the raw energy that we were bringing out live on stage. All things considered, we’re more motivated than ever to make our young project as successful as it can possibly be!
Wannes: And we’ll be working on our second album very soon. 2018 was an epic year for us and we want to strike the iron while it’s hot!
BMS: That’s a true winner’s mentality right there! I also noticed that you used a couple of guest vocalists on your debut album, which were Sven De Caluwé from Aborted, Stefanie Mannaerts from Brutus and Brent Vanneste from Stake (formerly known as Steak Number Eight). How did that idea come up?
Wannes: That idea came up when we were recording the song “So That We Could Live,” , which is one of our most recent songs. It’s a slower and more melodic tune and I had the feeling that this song could use some softer vocals to complement Maarten’s style. We thought of Stefanie, contacted her and she immediately accepted to do guest vocals and thanks to her, this song became a whole different and much better beast! The same thing goes for both Sven and Brent, their unique vocal styles gave their songs (“Bucephalas” and “Graves” respectively) a unique personality.
BMS: Most impressive! Let’s see, what other things do you do aside from Haester?
Wannes: I enjoy the little things in life such as going to a bar with friends, having a few tasty drinks and relaxing.
Maarten: I often do sports because I want to be in good shape when I’m on stage as Haester’s frontman. Aside from that, I play as a reserve keeper for a local football team and I coach a roller derby team. I like to do stuff that keeps me physically and mentally engaged.
BMS: Great! So, is there anything else you wish to add?
Wannes: Thank you for your time!
Maarten: We hope to see you at our gig at Dunk!Festival this year! Or maybe earlier, we’re looking forward to hear your thoughts about our live performances.