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Van Halst - Interview

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Edmonton,Alberta  based metalers, Van Halst have released their new album ‘World Of Make Believe’ so we decided to catch up with the band to find out more about the album and the writing and recording process behind it. 

How are you?

“We are great, thanks for your time.”



You are about to release your new album, can you tell me a little bit about the release?

“’World of Make Believe’ will be released world wide on March 4, 2016. The album as a whole touches on a variety of social justice issues such as religion, victim blaming, youth homelessness, poverty, rape and mental illness. We wanted to write music with meaning and raise awareness about important social issues.”



What is your favourite track from the album and why?

“It's really hard to pick a favourite because each song really means something. 


Kami: “Being that I wrote the lyrics for all the songs I really don't have a favourite. I wrote all the words for a reason and love singing them all. I do really love seeing the crowd's reaction to ‘Save Me’ though. In addition, Ryan's song is one I love to perform live, especially if my husband's in the audience.”


Brett: “‘The End, Monster’ and ‘World of Make Believe’ have got some fun drumming!”


Scott: “‘Save Me’ and ‘Put Him Down’ are my favourite songs because they have a great groove to them.” 



What was the recording and writing process like for the album?

Kami: “For this album, myself and Scott Greene (guitar) sat down and wrote seven out of the ten songs together. My friend Ed Smith helped me write the last track, Perfect Storm and my sister (Brittney Grabill) and I wrote two of the tracks. Basically what would happen is Scott and I would sit down and decide on a tempo and theme for a song. For example, for "Save Me" Scott had an idea for a groovy tune, that was heavy, had some cool drums and talked about Religion. He played around with some riffs until he had the main guitar line that you hear through the intro and the verses. From there I added the melody and the lyrics. Once that was done we just kept re-working the song into something we all really liked. 


“Scott and I had been in the studio together quite a bit before this project. I had also worked with Phil Anderson before so I knew what to expect from them and they know how to get a great performance out of me. Phil has been an amazing mentor to me throughout my career as well. This was the fist full-length album that we had recorded so there was some stress there. I wrote one of the songs on the album (Ryan's song) for my husband to say thank-you for being so supportive of my career. That was a really hard song to get down in the studio because it meant so much to me. All the songs are important but this song was for the most important person in my life and that came with a lot of pressure.”


Scott "Myself and Kami sit together and brainstorm. I'll play some riffs and Kami will tell me if something strikes her..then I'll go with a quick recording. Kami goes home, writes lyrics..we meet back up in a couple of days and start piecing thugs together..some songs happen fast, others take a little longer to get "found". "There's always going to be some adversity throughout the recording process..if not, you're not pushing yourself to the limit...we pushed pretty hard on this record. "


Brett: " For myself, I always try to write drum parts to compliment what the rest of the band is doing, while at the same time adding something unique, and my own layer to the music. I believe drums aren't meant to be just the beat to a song, but also a lead instrument of its own with something interesting and creative to add to the mix. I often come up with a couple different grooves for song parts, and purpose to the band which groove they like best, that adds the most to the music, without getting carried away and taking away from the integrity of the song.”


“We had a lot of really fun times in the studio as well. No conflict at all, we demoed and re-wrote these songs so many times that we all knew exactly what we had to do. We have a great team of professionals so recording went pretty smooth."



Who and what influences you as a band?

Kami: “When I was younger I was a huge fan of Bon Jovi. I always thought Jon Bon Jovi had such a stellar voice. He was so much fun to watch live and I really liked how their album "These Days" was a little darker and spoke to what the world is really like. 


“Now my biggest influences are Shinedown and In This Moment. Brent Smith (Shinedown) is the most amazing vocalist and performer that I have ever come across. I saw them live a few years ago and I don't know what hit me, I was blown away by the band and the connection they have with the audience. Their music is so deep and they're very socially conscious. I’ve never been affected the way their music hits me before. 


“As a band we draw a lot of influence from Maria Brink and In This Moment. She is one badass female vocalist and an amazing songwriter. When we decided to get into a heavier rock/metal sound we really looked at who was the best of the best and Maria Brink is the best. They write about a variety of social justice issues and female empowerment. Her voice is also like nothing that we've ever heard.”


Scott "So many, perhaps too many to list but I will say I'm a big Opeth fan, Dream Theater, Steven Wilson and Black Sabbath. So I lean to the progressive metal side but also with an old school vibe.."


Brett: "I'm a complete prog-head when it comes to drums. Biggest influences being Dream Theater, Rush, Spocks Beard, and Tool."



What can fans expect from the new album?

“The new album is a bit of a roller coaster. We experimented with a lot of different sounds and ideas so the listener doesn't get ear fatigue. From beginning to end each song is very different. Fans can expect to hear a variety of dimensions to our sound and Kami's voice.”



Will fans be able to see you out on tour in support of the album?

“We will be touring Canada through the spring and summer. We are having the album release in Edmonton on April 2nd at Filthy McNasty's and will be playing at a few festivals though the summer. All announcements will be made on our website.”



What are you most excited for this year?

“We're just really excited to have the album out. We've been sitting on the release for a long time and it feels great to finally have something to show people. We're also really excited to get out on the road and play some new stages for new fans.”



Describe the band in three words.

“Rock/Metal fusion.”



Where can fans find out more about you?

“All of our information is on our website


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