After spending their formative years in Byron Bay self-financing two Eps, In Hearts Wake signed their first professional recording deal in 2012. Despite several personal changes since the early days, in the years since they’ve established themselves one of Australia’s most well-known metalcore groups and gained a significant following in North America.
2014 and 2015 were undeniably huge years for In Hearts Wake, with the band recording two albums Earthwalker and Skydancer at the same time but taking the unusual step of releasing them a year apart. Skydancer was kept a secret for almost a full twelve months and the release of two records that are complimentary through representing two distinct parts of the band’s sound. Following the release of the second of the two albums, the band embarked on their biggest tour to date, playing nine dates across the country over two jam-packed weeks.
Earlier this year the boys from Byron announced that they’d be hitting the road again for a national tour, this time as a double-header with good mates and fellow hardcore rockers Northlane, in a string of shows at major capital cities in June. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, they’ll be kicking around rural Australia in April as part of Groovin’ The Moo alongside a diverse line-up including Alison Wonderland, Danny Brown, The Rubens, ODESZA and more.
We caught up with vocalist Jake Taylor ahead of the tour to chat about recording two contrasting albums simultaneously, what makes rural festivals like Groovin’ The Moo so special, and why this dual-headlining tour will “smash the mould of a traditional tour”.
Music Feeds: It looks like it’s about to be a busy few months for you guys with the national tour coming up, and you must be excited to be on the bill for Groovin’ The Moo?
Jake Taylor: We are very excited to be holding the heavy music flag for our genre at Groovin’ this year, yeah!
MF: What do you think a more rural festival like Groovin’ provides for punters differently from big city festivals?
JT: It’s definitely more of a laid back atmosphere. Particularly with people arriving, and then setting up camping, the city world is one hundred per cent different. Although most festivals do take place just outside of cities because they need the ground space.
Regional festivals and tours really give people who don’t live in major cities a chance to check out something that’s not normally in their area. And that in turn brings people to the cities when tours go back to the city. So it’s just a wonderful experience to be able to play for people who don’t normally get a show every week, like they would in Sydney or Melbourne.
MF: Do you personally prefer playing tour gigs or at festivals? How do you think the experiences can really differ for fans?
JT: I don’t really have a preference, they’re so different. At a festival people are spoiled with so much content, so many acts. With a festival there’s a lot of talent and like an Instagram news page with so many images scrolling past it’s a bit hard to focus on which one really stands out. But the other story there is that people will discover new artists that they otherwise might not have paid to go and see at a headliner.
That’s a really wonderful thing at a festival like this [Groovin’], we have to stand out. And as a heavy band we tend to make an impression whether they like it or not. A headlining intimate show is a whole ‘nother experience, they are always more chaotic because people are coming there just to see you. So they all know the words, there’s not many people just there to check it out. So that’s good and all, but it’s nice to have a balance of both, just to keep things fresh. Festivals really keep you on your toes too.
MF: What was your first ever festival?
JT: My first festival… I think it would have been Splendour In The Grass. Back when kids could go for free and it was held at Red Devil Park in Byron Bay at a football ground. It was literally just on two football pitches, and all kids under fifteen got in for free. I think I was eleven or twelve at the time, and it was a great time.
MF: After Groovin’ you’re straight onto The Equinox Tour with good mates Northlane. How did it come about that now you’re playing a double billed headline tour with those guys?
JT: We’ve been criss-crossing paths ever since our bands both formed. So it’s always been a case of ‘oh yeah I can’t wait to play a show together’, whether it was when we were both in the UK and at Unify last year. There have always been these moments where we’ve crossed paths, and we have toured together when our bands were younger, much younger, in 2011-2012. It’s just always been in the dialogue, wouldn’t it be cool to tour again and actually do a bunch of shows, rather than just the one night thing.
We were in North America touring together last year in July. We had such a fun time and we just wanted to do it back in Australia. So Josh and I were talking over a barbecue thinking how we could make this happen. The timing does feel right given we’re on the same cycle, two to three albums in, and at a similar level in Australia.
We might not be at these levels later on, who knows where we will be, so this is the time to do this and to really make it special. We’ve got a lot of surprises that we’ll be doing live that we’re still creating now, so it’s going to be very cool.
MF: So you guys and Northlane must just have a great mutual respect and understanding going between one another then?
JT: Oh yeah we’ve got huge respect for Northlane. John, I guess you could say ‘he is Northlane’ in terms of the writing. He’s amazing at what he does and he’s pushed a few boundaries within the genre. We definitely respect a lot of Australian bands but they happen to be one that we definitely dig. We were friends before we liked their music so that’s the special thing about our bands.
MF: It’s been sold as a tour that’ll ‘smash the mould of a traditional tour headline show’. Can you shed any light on what sort of stuff will be happening on stage?
JT: I’m not sure how much I can say other than, I guess with a normal headline or co-headline mould would be one band plays after the next. One band would get up, and one band would get the final spot. With this we’re doing an intermingling of sorts that we’re designing together and we’re also designing something completely new and fresh which I can’t talk about.
It’s not going to be conventional, one band after the other, it’s going to be quite different. We’re just going to do this once and I doubt we’ll ever be able to do it again. We’re going to attempt.
MF: Getting into the music now. Your last two albums Earthwalker and Skydancer were kind of these two sides of your sound that complimented each other. What was it like recording them at the same time?
JT: There were 22 songs that we wanted to get done. After a while we had 16 and we had to come up with another six or seven, during our time in the studio. So it was so intense, most bands take that time to come up with one album, we did two. There was no one after the other, it was just ‘let’s do this song’, ‘I want to do this song next’, and all the time as I was shaping the lyrics we were shaping both sides to see what was missing from both albums. We really had to sculpt either side, and that’s how it happened.
MF: Was there ever a bit of a mode switch; was it easy to record each type of song?
JT: There was definitely a mode switch, but like with any album you’ve got songs, you’ve got your highs and your lows, so just imagine that but times by two. So just more content, but with lyrics I didn’t find it difficult changing modes, because you can’t keep watching the same genre of movie over and over again, it was the same here. I like to go from comedy to thriller and vice versa, so it was nice to keep things fresh. Just doing what we do and make sure there’s a bit of dark and light.
We had a few moments with outro tracks with just spoken word where one’s male and one’s female. That’s a different mode but they’re both two sides of the same coin. I think it’s nice when both sides come together as one. That was always the plan to release the albums that way.
MF: There are interestingly contrasting emotions conveyed on those two albums. How do you reconcile these two starkly contrasting themes in a live performance?
JT: Well we’ve done that a lot with our art, particularly. At Unify we had visual themes for each song and each album. That helps to differentiate the songs and the themes. When you add image to a sound it definitely changes a lot. That’s how we do it live.
Obviously people want to hear the hits, but we like to make sure we make a nod to both albums equally. We like to bring them to life with our art and our visuals.
MF: Do you think you’ll ever record two albums in the same way again?
JT: We’ll definitely try different things; I don’t think we could ever do it again. Recording two albums isn’t easy, and it’s more due to the amount of songs, recording that many songs in that amount of time. It’s definitely something I wouldn’t recommend unless you believe in it, as we did.
But it took its toll man, that’s for sure. Rolling out two albums, you’ve got to do it all at once. You’ve got to do the artwork for each one, film clips, all your ideas, everything. Then as one comes to an end instead of creating something new or taking a break, it was like; now we’ve got another thing we need to do. It was such a roller coaster ride, just doubled and intensified over two years. But it’s paid off and I want to let that duality have its moment and then not do it again.
MF: Much of your music on Skydancer and other albums have social and cultural dialogue regarding the earth and the importance of respecting nature. How important is it for you that your music conveys a message of real significance?
JT: There just came a time, we were I think 19 or 20, and it came to thinking should we go to college or go to uni, what’s next? We thought that if we wanted to keep doing this and we want to keep playing music, we want to make not just good songs but they need to be of substance and have weight to them. That was really important for me and the guys, while we’re at it, while we are doing what we love, we need to be saying something that’s really important to us.
Not just important to us but important to the planet. So that’s were our love of Byron Bay, just by default because we were surrounded by such beautiful sights that people come from all over the world to see. That’s naturally bled into our music and now we’re sharing that joy in our music as best we can, and also the need to project it which isn’t so joyful. There’s a lot of dark stuff out there.
In Hearts Wake play Groovin’ The Moo 2016 and join Northlane on tour this June, grab all the dates and deets below!
Northlane, In Hearts Wake Equinox Tour Dates
Friday June 10
Metro City, Perth (18+)
Tickets: Live Nation
Saturday June 11
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide (All Ages)
Tickets: Live Nation
Sunday June 12
Festival Hall, Melbourne (All Ages)
Tickets: Live Nation
Friday June 17
The Tivoli, Brisbane (18+)
Tickets: Live Nation
Saturday June 18
Big Top At Luna Park, Sydney (All Ages)
Tickets: Live Nation