- Tue, 2010-11-23 12:27
Alaska-born 36 Crazyfists have been rocking the metal scene since forming in 1994, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in 2000 when they were signed to Roadrunner Records. Refusing to be confined to a stereotype, the band has gathered an army of fans with their mixture of passionate, personal lyrics and fierce, heavy roots, blending the melodic edge of hard rock with the brutality of full on metal based rage.
Currently touring with DevilDriver, I Like Music caught up with guitarist Steve Holt to chat about his guitar collection, the future of metal and his work as producer for the fifth 36CF album, Collisions and Castaways.
"I Like Music because… it soothes my soul.” Holt, 36 Crazyfists
ILM: Hi there! How are you?
Holt: I’m good, alright I think!
ILM: You’re into the first few nights of the tour with DevilDriver, how’s it been going?
Holt: It’s going great. This is the fifth show on the tour and it's cruising along. We’re all good friends so it’s super fun to be out with them.
ILM: Being on tour conjures up some very enviable scenarios. Does it live up to its reputation?
Holt: I don’t think it’s as easy as it might seem. Just this first week we’ve been getting our sleep right, trying to eat right and all that kinda stuff that comes along with it. But yeah, there is some drinking and good times after the shows too! It all depends on the night you know, some nights are slow-ish, some nights are pretty hectic.
ILM: What do you look forward to the most about playing live?
Holt: It’s fun to meet people. You know, we’ll play, DevilDriver will play, then we'll go clean ourselves up and go out and hit the bar. It’s always fun meeting the people that are at the shows and hanging out and having a beer or a shot of whatever. Yeah, that’s always a good side of it.
ILM: Do you get a chance to write whilst on tour?
Holt: We generally don’t write on tour, we’ll just concentrate on the shows, have a good time with those and work on getting the songs better, that kind of thing. But as far as writing goes, we generally don’t do it until we’re off the road.
ILM: How would you describe the 36 Crazyfists process of making music?
Holt: Thomas will play at home and I’ll play at home. A lot of times Brock will have a song title or something a song is about and we can kind of write around that. Thomas will have a drum beat that I’ll write riffs to, or vice versa, and we’ll get together and start hashing up the music. It’s mostly me and Thomas doing the music stuff. We’ll write a bunch of guitar riffs and then kind of pick and choose the ones we like the most.
ILM: You produced your latest record Collisions and Castaways, how do you approach production, how do you like to work?
Holt: It’s really cool being able to do it myself now, you know? We did the first two records with different producers and stuff. That can kind of interrupt our own scheduling. So, sometimes one guy would get up at like three in the afternoon and not start till the evening. But Thomas and I like to get up, drink some coffee and go at it nice and early. Beyond that, we’ve been doing it long enough to know what we’re going for, so it was just a lot easier to split the middle man and start doing it ourselves.
ILM: Collisions and Castaways came out this year. Have you started thinking about what’s next?
Holt: It’s hard to say. We went into Collisions and Castaways thinking we were going to write a mellow, kind of straight rock record. What I really wanted – what I still want - is to have a record that has more rock singing and less screaming. We were going to do that for this record and ended up writing all kinds of heavy stuff. Not super heavy, but you know, heavy for us. We ended up thinking “that’s more like our heavier stuff…oh well, that’s what’s coming out, so let’s just milk it.”
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Holt: Me and Brock have been listening to a lot of singer-songwriter stuff: there’s a guy called Bon Iver that’s really cool, and The White Buffalo who’s awesome. Some Jeff Buckley and things like that. Just mellower stuff to be honest with you, not a lot of heavier metal. It’s just a step away from what you’re doing already, you know what I mean?
ILM: On the heavier side of things, who do you enjoy listening to?
Holt: There’s the classic stuff like Lamb of God, and of course DevilDriver make great heavy stuff. Those are two bands at the forefront of metal these days. There’s more of course; there are so many bands out, it’s hard for me to keep up with all the heavy stuff these days. But I’m on an old 70s kick, I’m listening to ‘Sabbath and ‘Zeppelin and just re-falling in love with classic stuff like that, which is great too.
ILM: You mentioned the forefront of metal: how as a band do you push yourself to progress? What do you think is next for metal as a genre of music?
Holt: That’s a tough call. The heavier stuff has been doing really well. There’s tons of bands right now – there used to be less bands and bigger bands, and now there’s a lot of bands that are all about the same size. It’s hard to say what the next thing will be but it should be good ‘cause there’s so much music out right now. There’s so much good stuff it’s hard to keep up with, but I think it will build in a good direction hopefully.
ILM: What would be your advice to new bands?
Holt: You’ve got to play the music because you love it. You can’t get into it because you think you’re going to make money or this or that. And you’ve got to enjoy all parts of it. I know a lot of people in the industry; some people like the studio stuff and don’t like to tour, some people like to tour and don’t like studio stuff – you’ve just got to love what you’re doing. We’ve been doing this for years, we also worked jobs at home, you know? It’s not like there’s a ton of money in it. So you’ve got to be sure that you love what you’re doing otherwise it’ll be a short trip.
ILM: When did you first realize that it was what you wanted to do?
Holt: You know, I’m not sure. I was pretty young, I guess 12 or 13, when I started actually getting serious about guitar. Then I focused on song-writing and moods and things like that. Some time right before we started this band I was like “this is what I want to do”. I got lucky and I got a good bunch of guys that were in it for the long haul. But it was at a young age that I definitely was like “man this is awesome, this is what I love”. Not necessarily just playing music, but making music too. I've always loved the making side of it.
ILM: Do you have a big collection of guitars?
Holt: I think I have like 27 guitars now. There’s one I’ve had since I was 17 or 18, it’s a ’64 Fender Jaguar. That’s always one that I love to get out and play but I’d never take on the road. I have my Ibanezs that I take out on the road and I love those guitars, I’ve got a favourite black one that’s out of order at the moment. If I had more money I’d be a collector – I’d love to have some great Gibsons and some great Fenders and just a lot of stuff like that. But yeah, I mean they’re all pretty modest guitars but I run a real straight forward set up, so I love all of them really.
ILM: When you look back on all the things that you’ve achieved throughout your music career, what are some of the highlights?
Holt: One of the highlights for me is just how long we have been a band. This will be our 17th year, so we’ve been doing it a long time. It’s not unheard of but it’s fairly unheard of to have bands that last as long as we have, so that’s something I really take pride in. We’ve just kept trucking along and kept the band together, and we do it because we love it. That’s what I really take pride in. As far as shows go, the Download shows over here are always amazing and we’re doing Soundwave in Australia again in February-March. We did that 2 years ago and that was a great highlight. Getting to go to places like Japan and Australia, all these places, we’re really lucky to be able to do that.
ILM: What it is about the heavier side of rock that you love?
Holt: I think that comes down to the live show. You know there’s nothing like seeing bodies move and things happen like that. When you’re writing a song, I think you always feel “how would a crowd react to this or that.” That's what draws us back to the heavy music. You can’t wait to play it live and to feel all that energy that you can create with the crowd. That’s what draws me back for sure.