THE MAKING OF THE HUMAN ABSTRACT DIGITAL VEIL, PART 3: GUITARIST DEAN HERRERA AND BASSIST HENRY SELVA
Back in July of 2010, Axl and I visited The Human Abstract at the Machine Shop in New Jersey, where they were recording their new album, Digital Veil, with producer Will Putney. Between the (then) six members of the band and the two of us, there were way too many people to do one interview, so we ended up splitting up into groups and conducting three interviews. The first, with guitarist A.J. Minette (before he was a MetalSucks columnist) and vocalist Travis Richter was published in March; we posted the second interview, with since-departed guitarist Andrew Tapley and drummer Brett Powell, in April. Finally, today we present the final interview with guitarist Dean Herrera and bassist Henry Selva.
Herrera and Selva shared with us their thoughts on working with producer Will Putney, new vocalist Travis Richter, reuniting with guitarist A.J. Minette, their feelings on the band’s second record Midheaven, and some new music they’ve been digging.
Our chit-chat, across the digital veil.
How’s the recording process been so far for you on this record, working with Will?
Dean Herrera: Well, compared to the first couple of times, it’s the best thing ever. Part of it going so smoothly is us being prepared this time around, knowing how hard it can be to get through the studio process when you’re not completely prepared. This time around we demoed every song, everything was real organized when we came in, and Will was able to use a lot of what we already did to set the framework for doing the real thing. Everything has gone faster and we’ve gotten to the good stuff quicker. It’s been really fun. Will is an awesome guy. He works really hard. It’s been fun in the process, which I cannot say the same thing for every other time that we’ve been in the studio. The first record was fun, but it was super stressful because it was our first with a new singer and we didn’t know what we were doing. The second one was just a train wreck. It’s good to finally have a smooth and good experience.
For you [Henry], this is your first record?
Henry Selva: My first pro record as a musician. I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to have this as my first record. I didn’t go through the obstacles that these guys went through, but I did see them. I’ve been friends with these guys since the get go. I used to help them out at local shows back home. I’ve seen their struggle and all that, but I feel lucky [that I didn’t] go through all those hardships. At the same time, since the guys did go through the obstacles, they taught me a lot. They’ve eased me through the process. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous being that this was my first record. There’s a lot of pressure on me, but these guys have coached me through it and made me feel like I’ve been here since day one. I feel really lucky and blessed to be a part of this and have this be my first record with the guys.
Musically speaking, how do you think this record is a progression for the band?
DH: Compared to the last record, it’s a new band basically. The music couldn’t be more different from the last record. Even from the first record it is quite a bit different, but it still has the same aggression and the musicality that the fans came to expect from us from the first record. This would be the logical progression from the first record instead of the second record that we just had and put out. It’s really cool, and I’m excited about it.
Yeah. For you [to Henry], I guess as an outsider looking in on the past two records, how is it to be involved directly this time?
HS: I honestly feel, without a doubt, that this is the best the Human Abstract record.
HS: The heaviest, the fastest . . .
HS: There you go.
And at the same time . . .
HS: The most melodic. I feel I can say that as someone who wasn’t on Nocturne or Midheaven. I will say that I loved Nocturne when I first heard it when the guys came back from North Carolina and they showed me the album. I was blown away. Midheaven — I won’t really knock it but I’m just really happy that with A.J. back in the fold and now having Travis, the band has never been as strong as we are now. Personally, as a bass player, I’m also really excited to bring what I have to offer to the table.
[To Dean] You were about to say something there.
DH: I just don’t like people saying that this is the heaviest, this is the techiest, this is the fastest . . . Nocturne is Nocturne and whatever this one is going to be called are two different things. Nocturne has its moments that are super techy, and this one has its moments that have some techiness. I think in general that this album feels a little more well-rounded, more like a song than lots of awesome parts thrown into one song.
Is that how you kind of felt about the previous record?
DH: Midheaven? I do like parts of that album. Some of it I absolutely despise, and I wish that they would have let me take it off the record but that didn’t happen. There are parts of that record that I do like, but we weren’t ready to make that album yet. It was a little bit too soon to try and do stuff like that. I don’t like people saying that [the new album is] the techiest, the heaviest . . . it’s heavier than before. It’s heavy. It’s its own thing. It’s not heavier; it’s different but it’s still awesome. I guess that’s the point I was trying to make.
I guess this is more of a Dean question, but what’s it like having Travis in the band and having A.J. back in the band?
DH: It sucks actually.
DH: They can go home right now. How long do you have to talk about this?
DH: I can talk about this subject alone for an hour. I don’t want to call anybody else out that’s been in this band, but to say the band was never solid with the previous lineup of members (live or otherwise) . . . we haven’t played live with Travis yet, but we’ve seen him live already in other bands. We know it’s going to be sweet. It’s just awesome to have good attitudes and some camaraderie and solidarity. Those are things that the Human Abstract has never had before. I’ve always seen bands on the road that we’ve toured with that are all friends, and they’re always together. It looked like the experience mattered more, and they had more fun throughout the process. I think that’s something that I (at least) always wondered what it was like. Throughout this process and up to this point, it was dudes that I couldn’t stand the sight of in my band.
DH: That made it suck every day, day in and day out. Now it’s not like that. Now even if the music tanks, we’re going to have fun in the process — that’s important.
Weren’t you just telling me about 10 minutes ago about trash talking?
DH: I have no problems trash talking . . .
Brett Powell: Other bands.
DH: Unnamed individuals that used to be in our band. But I’m not going to trash talk bands. I’m not going to trash talk any bands — that’s something that I’ll never do especially since I’ve never met any of those other people, and I don’t know if they’re nice dudes or whatever. I wouldn’t talk trash about the band.
Plus music is music. You like what you like. I might not like it but that doesn’t mean that this person over here isn’t justified in liking it, so whatever.
What about some shit that you do like? Current bands, both of you guys.
DH: I haven’t really come across anything new in awhile that I’ve really liked, metal-wise anyway. For me it’s all the same: Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, In Flames, Dream Theater, you know, the main stuff.
DH: The prog bands.
The prog guitar player staples.
DH: Yeah. The new Deftones record — I love it. That one I’m stoked on, but I have been with them since the age of 12 or 11. What are some things that you want to listen to, that you guys have been liking that we should check out?
[Vince proceeds to tell Dean about the then-new Ihsahn and Ratt records. To Henry:] What about you?
HS: I don’t know, like Dean, I haven’t really followed or enjoyed a lot of the new stuff that’s coming out. I’ve actually been more into going back in time. I consider myself a fanatic of different types of genres, and I catch myself listening to a lot of Latin music, a lot of classical jazz, soul and all that. I’ve been more in a phase of re-listening to “the classics.” As far as new bands, I’m really excited about albums that are coming out like our friends Protest the Hero. I’m really stoked to see what they have coming up, and our friends in All That Remains – I’m really stoked to see what they have coming. It’s more like anticipating albums that are due in the near future. I haven’t heard anything . . .
That would be a cool band for you guys to tour with – Protest the Hero.
DH: That’s probably our favorite band to tour with.
You have toured with them?
DH: Yeah, Europe and I think once in Canada and once in the States. They’re awesome. I love them. That’s actually, I forgot to mention, I do like their band. It’s not that I just like them as guys, I really like the music too. There’s a new band coming from L.A. called The Elitist. They’ve been really sweet with the stuff they’ve come out with so far. They will, they will. We’ve been plugging them, but they’re actually good. They’re really good.
HS: I will say one thing: I’m usually not into deathcore, but Will’s band [Fit For an Autopsy] is brutally fucking heavy. I actually like it. It is what it is, but I’ve been listening to that band a lot. If Will reads this, then definitely. It’s a fucking brutal band.
Yeah, I’ll make sure Will reads it.