So here we are back at it @skopemag.com. It feels so good to be back after a week in North Conway, NH – The White Mountains. I suggest you all take a trip and embrace nature’s beauty. So today we have an amazing country band by the name Havala. We got the chance to chat with Lorenzo but before we get to that lets do some music news. First up, at the EU-Japan Summit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission announced political agreement on the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement/Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union (EU) and Japan. In other news today, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and the Estate of Michael Jackson have announced a long-term extension of Sony/ATV’s worldwide administration of Michael Jackson’s extraordinary Mijac Music catalog. Founded by Michael Jackson in 1980 as his personal publishing company, Mijac Music grew to be one of the greatest catalogs in popular music, and includes – in addition to the universally acclaimed songs written by the King of Pop – the classic Sly and the Family Stone catalog and songs by the legendary Philadelphia soul team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff as well as songs made famous by other artists such as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin. Now lets fire up the grill, grab some whiskey, Bud Light, and loud speakers and play the amazingly catchy songs of Havala. These guys have so much going on and I am convinced once you hear them, you will be hooked. Join us today July 26th as Lorenzo speaks on forming the band, the new EP, working with Ben Schigel, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how is your summer so far?
L: The summer has been a blur so far – I’m at home in Tampa now but I just got back from some shows in Ohio and now we are planning to go back to Ohio in a few weeks. Even when I’m home, it’s a little crazy –you tend to have plenty of visitors when you live in Florida and this year has been non-stop. It’s been fun though.
Stoli: Any music plans for this summer such as festivals or live shows?
L: Actually no, but it’s kind of a nice break. We are heading back to the studio to write a few more new songs and finish the rest of the CD. We are also planning on shooting our first video. Should be a busy couple of months but any time we can spend creating is always good for me.
Stoli: Offer us a brief history of how Havala came to be and how did you get the name – Havala?
L: Sometimes the universe gives you signs. When I moved to Florida, I posted an ad for musicians and one of the guys that responded was Scott Rose. We actually got together and found out we were both from Ohio and knew a lot of the same people but things didn’t work out. So after I recorded some new Country/Americana songs, I posted another ad for country musicians and Scott responded again. When I told him it was me, he just laughed and we figured it was a sign. He says those are the only 2 ads he has ever responded to.
We started playing through the songs and Scott suggested we write some new stuff at his friend’s studio. So, we headed over to what turned out to be Brett Hestla’s place. While we tracked there, we met guitarist, B.G. Simpson. Finally we took some of the songs to Ben Schigel and developed the songs a bit more with him and – boom. Havala.
The name came from Scott – It’s a historic word for heaven and ironically, money laundering. Seemed pretty appropriate.
Stoli: You have put together such an impressive group of musicians for Havala. How long did it take to create your niche sound?
L: It’s so funny. It really didn’t take any time. When we went to Brett’s, I thought we would redo some of those original songs but then they asked me if I had any new ideas…At that time I had a chorus idea so we jammed it out a bit and recorded it right there that night. That’s the way we would end up doing all the songs – We literally went to the studio with nothing in mind and then would come up with a little music hook, arrange it, record it then I’d start the words when the music was done. We literally wrote them all on the spot. It’s not like anything I’ve ever done before, but we did all 12 songs like that. Some of the drum takes are literally the first takes. The process is really the opposite of what I’m used to – I like to plan out lyrics, parts etc, but the guys really just decided to focus on letting the live stuff just happen. So we did – It was really magical to be a part of it. I’m sure you can hear a bunch of mess ups and wrong notes but those songs are real, and live. I think it would be great to work with real Nashville producers and compare the processes of writing and then recording but this definitely made us better songwriters.
Stoli: I am a big MGK fan. How did you link up with Ben Schigel and how did he enhance your sound and recording?
L: Scott and Ben have recording together since they were kids. I think half way thru the recordings, Scott missed Ben or something and called him and asked if he wanted to be a part of Havala in some way. Ben actually mixed one of my old band’s EPs a while back so I didn’t argue when Scott brought up the idea. He and Scott work really well together – they almost have their own private language.
I think Ben is just one of those guys that has “it”. He hears things that normal people don’t hear. Plus, he has the knowledge to get it to sound like he imagines it. It’s pretty fun to sit there and watch him make the songs better. I think the really impressive thing is that he does what is best for the song. I don’t think he cares about format or what other people are doing. That’s what makes his music stay ahead of the trend. That is what you really need a producer to do.
Stoli: I love all the songs on the Havala sampler via Soundcloud. What is “Friend Of The Bride” about and is that based on real life?
L: I usually don’t right about real life. I really enjoy just setting a scene and escaping into a song by creating characters, plots, twists – kinda like a short novel but yes, Friend of the Bride is a true story. I wrote that chorus in the church at one of my best friend’s weddings a few years ago. It’s funny, I tried to finish that song many times since and the universe never let me. It just wouldn’t work out. I guess it was finally the right time.
Friend of the Bride talks about that one person everyone thought you would end up with while you’re growing up – from grade school or high school, then for some reason, life changes those plans.
I’m sure my good friends know who the song is about and I won’t name names but yeah, real life. Real girl. Some of the details changed a bit, but Waterville is a real town near where we grew up and we really met on a bus in 2nd grade.
Stoli: If you were to do a full blown music video for one song what would that song be and how would that look?
L: We are actually shooting one but I haven’t been told which one yet. I’d love to see Friend of the Bride get done but I think that all of the songs really lend themselves to a story-telling, cinematic video. We’ve talked about doing “Jackin’ it Up” where the big monster trucks drive down South Beach in Miami, but I would imagine there are some permits required for that…
Stoli: Country music is really gone mainstream with acts like Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown, etc. How do you see Havala fitting in and what makes the genre resonate with so many fans?
L: I honestly don’t know where we will fit in but I know we are a fan of all those artists. So much great music is being written now, we just want to be a part of it. The genre isn’t as import to us as being known for having great songs. Personally, I just write the song, sometimes it comes out rock, sometimes it comes out country and sometimes it’s something else. And that’s ok with me as long as it’s a great song.
I think what is resonating with fans now is what is real. So many of these artists are coming from the same background as the fans. They understand working all week and wanting to do nothing all weekend. They really want to just hang out with their friends and have a drink and chill. Kids, cars, love – nouns. That’s real life. People can relate to that.
Stoli: How much time per week is spent on the band and do you also have work/family as well?
L: We are not like a normal local band that works during the day then gets together at night to practice. All of us live in different cities and have our own businesses/hobbies since our previous touring bands that everyone is kinda known for.
Scott rebuilds engines & works on cars, BG works on his Audio/video business, Ben is constantly busy recording and I create art and work with other artists. But recently, we are starting to focus more on Havala. Only one of us has kids so the families are very understanding.
We get together for recording, rehearsing & live stuff and then work like a small label when we are home. We do all the social media, promotion and distribution. That is slowly evolving into all of our first jobs as we get closer to releasing the CD.
Stoli: Does it bother you that music fans can stream all music for $0 on YouTube, Spotify, etc and how can bands/artists supplement lost revenues elsewhere?
L: We never went into this with the thought of making money. So when we make anything, it’s a blessing. No one is going to practice for hours in his/her room for money, it has to be for something deeper, or more substantial. I think for most artists that’s true. Creative minds find creative ways and the cream will rise to the top.
Some of the better ideas that I’ve seen for bands to make money are creating comic books, pledge music and of course the tip jar. I like the pledge music option because it creates a bunch of ways to raise the money at different levels – Signed instruments, personal performances, band experiences. I think that is a great way to promote the band while making money.
Stoli: What does music provide your life like nothing else spiritually, mentally, & physically?
L: Creating music for me, is something that just happens. I constantly hear melodies, lyrics & music. I think whenever that happens, I have to get it out. I have to share it. When it’s right, a song will finish itself, like following your inner voice. Those are the days that I feel like I have achieved something. Maybe it’s my art school background or my workaholic nature but I always feel guilty if I’m not accomplishing something. When I finish a song, it’s a good day.
Stoli: What is coming up for Havala and where you @ online?
We have 3 songs available now online but the whole EP will be released July 18th. We are going into the studio in a few weeks to mix another 6 songs and record a couple new ones as well as shoot a new video.