In 1995, Will Haven, named after a
fictional, self-created character, formed and released a six-track demo.
The band was formed from members of Sock, a band that was formed with
Shaun Lopez of Far. Will Haven's debut self-titled, seven-track EP was
released in 1996, to positive reviews. 1997 saw the release of
full-length ‘El Diablo’ bringing them increasing attention and a growing
fanbase. In 1999, they released ‘WHVN’, arguably their heaviest album to
date. In 2001, the band released the critically-acclaimed album ‘Carpe
Diem’, which saw a world-tour promotion, headlining shows in the US, UK,
and Japan, and playing the Vans Warped Tour in Australia.
Singer Grady Avenell left not long after
the tour. Haven released a DVD called ‘Foreign Films’ featuring their
last ever show in January 2002 - in a small coffeehouse in their
hometown of Sacramento, called The Capitol Garage - and a wealth of
footage from the final tour. Members of the band went on to form
Ghostride (with members of Tinfed and Oddman), The Abominable Iron
Sloth, and Death Valley High, as well as their own label, Distruktor
On October 12, 2005, Will Haven
officially regrouped and began writing new songs with original singer
Grady. They initially planned to release a five-song EP with B-sides;
however, during the writing process, the band decided to put out a
full-length album. As of August 2006, Will Haven has signed a record
deal with indie label Bieler Bros. Records. On February 19th 2007 Will
Haven played a free show at the Troubador in Los Angeles, where they
announced that Grady Avenell had left the band and been replaced by
longtime friend Jeff Jaworski. The band released the album ‘The
Hierophant’ on June 18th 2007 (UK) and June 19th 2007 in the US.
Recently I had the chance to ask
Jeff Irwin, guitarist of Will
Haven some questions, so
here we go!!!
I’m not that familiar with your band and music, so can you tell us what
happened after you reformed Will Haven in 2005.
After a few phone calls we talked
about doing a show here in Sacramento in January 2005. Soon after that
show, we started writing for a new record. In the middle of that, we
were getting offers to tour so we went over to the UK and did a two week
tour with Crowbar. Then, we came home and started looking at labels for
the new record. We found a home at Bieler Bros. and started writing ‘The
Hierophant’. That took about 4 months. Then, it was in the studio to
record, which takes us up to now.
Between ´Carpe Diem´ and ´The
Hierophant´ there is a 6-year gap. Did this break influence your style
or did you actually need this break because you changed your style?
Well, when Will Haven took its hiatus,
we started a few side projects such as Ghostride and The Abominable Iron
Sloth. We recorded a record and toured for both of those bands. So, we
were pretty active. When Will Haven got back to writing it was really
easy because we had been experimenting with new sounds and styles. So,
to make this record, I think we needed that break to go experiment and
become better songwriters.
In 2006 vocalist Grady Avenell and
guitarist Cayle Hunter left the band, did the lineup changes result in a
different style of songwriting or a new direction for the band?
No, neither of their departures had
any effect on our sound. I have been the main songwriter for Will Haven
since we started. Band members may come and go, but the sound will
always be my initial idea. Grady definitely had a voice that can’t be
matched, but the music will always be the same.
How did you launch into writing the
material for ´The Hierophant´, after your previous album, did ideas come
easily or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Well, for me, I am always willing to
push the envelope, but want to keep that Will Haven signature sound.
Sometimes it comes really easy and other times I will go weeks without
finding something I like. The most important thing to me is sounding
original in some way. That’s why the riffs have to have some kind of
emotion to them; feeling is big part of my writing process, if it
doesn’t feel right then I wont keep it, if it moves me in some way then
I will keep working on it until I am happy with it. Trying to create
something different and original is hard, but the pay off at the end is
priceless. I love that feeling of accomplishment, but on the other hand,
I am never fully happy and always want to make something better. That’s
what drives me.
Did you have a certain idea of what
you wanted to do on ´The Hierophant´, any elements you definitely wanted
to have on the album?
Yeah, I had a lot of ideas for this
record, I think we could have gone crazy with the ideas we had. We had
to be careful though, because being away for 6 years and getting a new
vocalist we had to make sure that we didn’t do too many things out of
the normal. So, we did have to tone it down a bit to make sure our fans
knew we were still Will Haven. I think ‘The Hierophant’ is the perfect
mix of new ideas and the old Will Haven sound. I know on the next record
we won’t be holding anything back. We have already started working on
ideas for the next record and it’s going to be insane.
Was it a conscious decision to do
it this way?
Yeah, we have a sound we were looking
for and it comes across a little bit on this record. Like I said, we did
have to hold back a bit. The stuff we didn’t do on this record just
opens up doors for the next record. We always want to make something
original and something that will hopefully be timeless. That’s why I
love this band; we all have a drive to create something different and
groundbreaking, not worried about anything else but our art.
How do you manage to come to one
musical agreement when you work on a new record?
We are all on the same page, we all
have our input when we write and some of us like to interject there own
influences, but at the same time we all have the same goal, to make the
most original record we can make, therefore, there are no egos in this
band. It’s so nice to write with Will Haven; there is no arguing, no
battles, just everyone knows what they have to do to make the song sound
good. We are a lucky band to have that, to be on the same page is a rare
thing in most bands.
Was this a natural thing?
We have been a band for 15 years now
so we know what our “signature” sound is. When we write it’s really
natural and easy. The hard part is adding more things to it to push the
envelope. Most bands are happy with there sound and stick to it, we know
we would hate putting out the same record over and over again, so to us,
if the following record isn’t a progression, then its time to call it a
Have you taken into account your
old school fans when you wrote your new album?
Yeah definitely, that’s why we had to
tone it down a bit. Our fans are so awesome, we have put out 4 really
different records and the true fans have found something in all of them
to love. So when you write a record, you have to think a little bit
about your core fans and don’t want to just leave them in the dust. We
know our fans love the wall of sound, the riffs, and the emotion so we
always keep that in our music. As we grow, so do our fans. So, I think
anything we put out our fans will get. With this record, we wanted to
show everyone we are still the same Will Haven and haven’t lost that
How hard was it to come up with a
follow-up after all these years?
It was really easy, ever since we took
that break in ’02, we were itching to write another Will Haven record.
So, we were really happy to work on these songs. Most of it came really
fast then later on when we started coming up with more ideas and started
thinking about pushing the envelope even more, but we had to stop
ourselves and get back to our roots and just concentrate on putting out
a strong Will Haven record, which I think we did and we are happy with
the way it came out.
What were the goals you had in mind
when you started to record ‘The Hierophant'?
Making a good record is always our
goal, but this one was a little more important being that we have been
gone for so long and to come back with a new singer. So, the pressure
was on but knew we could make a really good record, but that is always
our goal. Every time we start writing a record, to make the best record
Who was responsible for writing the
songs and the lyrics on the new album?
The music was written by Mitch, Mike
and I. I usually write most of the songs and record them at home, then
take them to Mitch and Mike and they put their ideas into it. It works
really well that way and we are more productive then just jamming. Some
songs I wrote the whole thing at home and we just kept it the way I
initially wrote it. For some of the songs on this record, Grady wrote
the lyrics being that they were older songs, but Jeff did most all of
the lyrics. We have been pretty lucky, Grady and Jeff both can write
What kind of things did you do
differently since you previous album ‘Carpe Diem’ and did you worked
different this time?
We didn’t do too much really; we have
grown as musicians so most of it came naturally. I think for this record
we were looking to get a bigger sound than ‘Carpe Diem’, such as adding
more second guitar parts and keyboards, but that was really it. When we
went into the studio, we were looking to try new ideas as well, which we
were able to do. So nothing is really different about this record, just
How did the recording process
proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?
Well, we recorded at 3 different
studios for this record. We started in Los Angeles at Shaun Lopez’s
house. That was a lot of fun because Chino was there for most of those
sessions helping arrange songs and ideas. We spent about one week down
there then it was back to Sacramento to record the rest of the record.
We put in some late, late nights and had to move to a different studio
after a few weeks. So, we spent about 3 weeks in the studio and traveled
over 700 miles to finish it. We had an awesome time in the studio for
this record. It was a lot of fun.
In song writing, what is according
to Will Haven the utmost important ingredient for a song?
Emotion. The song has to be full of
emotion. If it’s heartless, then it is fake. You will always hear a lot
of emotion in our songs and that is by far the utmost important thing
What would you say are the main
themes in your lyrics and how important is it to you that people pay
attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
The lyrics are important to our sound.
Our sound is filled with pain, aggression, death, and happiness. So, the
lyrics have to embody that. I know Jeff and Grady both wrote lyrics that
dealt with their personal lives; some people might relate to it and
others may not, but both of their lyrics are filled with personal
emotions. Lyrics are an important piece to the overall sound though.
Had all the lyrics already been
written before you entered the studio, or were many changes made during
the recording sessions and can you tell us something about them?
Well, Grady used to have the lyrics
already written before the music. He would keep a journal of his
everyday life and incorporate them into his lyrics. As for Jeff, he
likes to hear the music first then gauge the emotion of the song and
write accordingly to the felling he gets from the song itself. So, Jeff
wrote a lot of lyrics while we were in the studio recording the record.
He didn’t have much time since he joined the band after we had already
started recording, but he did an amazing job.
Could you please describe the
implications of the title ‘The Hierophant’, what does it stand for and
is there a special meaning behind it?
We wanted something spiritual for this
record, but we didn’t want to be religious. I am really into ‘day of the
dead’ type stuff and wanted to create the alter you see on the cover to
incorporate that. As for ‘The Hierophant’, that is a tarot card, which
means wise teacher. We felt that everything that card embodied was what
this record was about. So we combined the idea of spirituality and tarot
and came up with the title and the artwork for the record. We have some
twisted minds in this band, but that’s what makes us what we are.
Do you have any favorites on ‘The
Hierophant’, songs that you think are somehow above the others and what
about the CD are you most proud of?
Yeah I have a lot of favorite songs on
this record. I love “Kings Cross”, “Firedealer”, “Day Without Speaking”,
but I think my favorite is “Caviar With Maths”. I wrote that whole song
in my house and when I brought it to practice everyone said its perfect
we don’t need to change one thing. So, to me, that is my favorite song
because it has so much emotion in the sound, the lyrics and the ending
is strong. It’s also a lot of fun to play live as well. I am really
proud of this CD. With Grady leaving and the time we had on this record,
we put out an amazing record. I think it’s definitely up there on one of
the best things I have done in life.
Have you received any feedback on
the new album yet? How do you feel about this album – are you satisfied
with the outcome or would you have liked to have changed anything in
The feedback has been awesome. The
reviews have been amazing from all the magazines and the fans have been
very supportive. I am very happy with the way it all came together
especially with Grady leaving. I don’t think we could have made a better
record unless we spent 3 years on it. So, I think we came back strong
and showed everyone that we can endure anything thrown our way. I
wouldn’t change one thing on this record.
What is your opinion on the heavy
metal scene these days, is there anything missing?
I think it’s really lame. I have been
so disappointed with the heavy scene in the past 5 years. It is so
watered down now. I used to love putting on Pantera or Sepultura and
having that adrenaline run through my body. Those bands had so much rage
and emotion you could just feel it through the speakers. Now you have a
handful of bands that can pull that off, it’s so sad. Thank god for
bands like Deftones and Neurosis who still know how to create heavy
music with passion and emotion.
Which album has been your biggest
musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
All of Neurosis. When I first heard
that band was ’Word Is Law’, but then when I got ‘Souls Of Zero’ I was
like “this is the perfect band”. I mean I have a lot of other influences
like Bad Brains, Mr. Bungle, stuff like that, but the dark, emotional
power of Neurosis cannot be matched, they are the darkest most evil band
to ever make music, and I absolutely love it.
Okay, if you could choose three
bands to get on stage with, who would they be?
That would be a good show!
What can we expect from Will Haven
in the future, any touring plans for Europe?
Yeah we are touring the UK in November
then coming back to the US to do some things here. Then, hopefully, back
to Europe soon after that. We want to tour on this record as much as we
can, this album is a lot of fun to play live so we don’t want to waste
Is here anything you’d still like
to share with us?
I would love to thank everyone who has
supported us and kept the name alive. Its really hard for a band to
survive as long as we have and still be able to put out records and play
live. So, to the fans thank you, to the press thank you, and to everyone
who has helped us thank you. It has been a lot of fun and we appreciate
everything we have been able to do as a band, but we are not done yet,
we still have a lot of music to create and share with the world.
Peace and much respect!
Jeff Jaworski – Vocals
Jeff Irwin – Guitar
Mike Martin – Bass
Mitch Wheeler – Drums
Grady Avenell – Vocals (1995-2006)
Cayle Hunter – Guitar (2005-2006)
Wayne Morse – Drums (1995-2000)
Dave Hulse – Drums (2000-2001)
Chris Robeyn – Drums (2000)
El Diablo (1997)
Carpe Diem (2001)
The Hierophant (2007)
Will Haven Demo (1995)
Will Haven EP (1996)
The Best Song On Here (Demo) (2000)
EP (Remastered) (2003)