Andrew Haug - Contrive - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney - http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints

Forming back in 1999 Australian metallers Contrive took to the streets of Melbourne quickly building a reputation as one of the states hardest working bands! Twin brothers Paul and Andrew Haug alongside Tim Stahlmann released their debut E.P. in 2001 which was met with positive responses from both fans and press.

Contrive had set the wheels in motion for what can only be described as a rock n roll journey that's far from over! Contrive are a band that are known for giving 110% to each and every live performance, not a bad tag to have! This has led to these Aussie metallers sharing the stage with killer artists such as Mayhem, Sepultura, Machine Head and most recently Stone Sour.

Over the years Contrive have worked hard to achieve their goals and have proven that they can cut it with the best! 2005 saw the release of the bands first full length album 'The Meaning Unseen' which was praised by critics worldwide. With tracks such as 'By way of Choice', 'Beside Yourself' and a cover of Armored Angel's 'Communion', 'The Meaning Unseen' is an album that has something to offer fans of all sub-genres of hard rock and metal music.

Many Australian metal fans would associate Contrive drummer Andrew Haug with Triple J's kick ass radio show 'Full Metal Racket' and also for his work with record company Century Media. A few weeks back I had the pleasure of speaking to Andrew about Contrive's album 'The Meaning Unseen', life on the road, being on both sides of the music industry and much more. Kick back for some full metal racket with Contrive's Andrew Haug!


Metal Fanatix: Hey Andrew, How are things going?

Andrew Haug: I'm good mate how are you going?

Metal Fanatix: I'm doin' great mate, Happy Easter!

Andrew Haug: Yeah likewise mate

Metal Fanatix: Firstly I want to thank you for putting some time aside to answer the following questions for our readers. Congratulations on the release of The Meaning Unseen! The album has been out for sometime now; looking back is there anything you would have changed?

Andrew Haug: Fuck no, we're totally rapt with the way it is. It's a great example of what we were doing at that time, we keep pressing on and working on better stuff. We're still very happy with the result!

Metal Fanatix: How long did it take you guys to put the album together?

Andrew Haug: It was a combination of about two years of writing; we are certainly a band that likes to take our time. We don't want to think that we're going to do a "Metallica" and take five years to make an album. We love to think about what we do, how we write our songs and structures. I guess people say good things come to those who wait!

Metal Fanatix: Well dude this is true! 'The Meaning Unseen' was mixed by Fredrik Nordstrom who has done some amazing work with Arch Enemy and Opeth! Having Fredrick work on the album must have been pretty cool!

Andrew Haug: Yeah, it was great! It's really interesting 'cause a lot of people are always saying "how the fuck did you get Nordstrom to do it"?

What basically happened was, we were thinking once the album was recorded unmixed, who would we want to mix the record? We sat down and talked about mixers and the albums that we really liked; obviously you have to be realistic about your budgets too. We're not talking Bob Rock or anything like that [laughs]. Nordstrom certainly did cost a few bucks but that's the investment you put in. I went to his web site which had a phone number and I just rang it! I didn't expect in a million years that he would answer the phone. "Hello is Fredrick there please?" Fredrick answered "Yep". "Hi, my names Andrew, I play in an unsigned shitty band from Australia, would you be interested in mixing us"?

Metal Fanatix: [laughs]

Andrew Haug: What he wanted us to do was send him our previous release and press just so he could check it out. It took Fredrick a couple of weeks to get back to us and he told us he dug it but he's schedule was pretty full. We had to wait about 5 – 6 months before he had a break in his schedule to fit us in. During that time we remained quiet because you don't want to go shoot your mouth off and say we've got such and such and then at the last minute they can't fit you in! We didn't go to Sweden, the cost factor is way to high. We did it all online thanks to the wonderful world of technology we have today! Fredrick works pretty strict hours of nine to five. Once that clock ticks five he's out of the studio and on his way home! You have to understand he's the kind of guy who has to click off because he has done it for so long with so many bands.

Because of the time difference we were generally heading to our bass player Tim's house at two in the morning to wait for him to send through mp3 files and then we'd download them to a Cd and play them through various stereos and computers.

Metal Fanatix: [laughs]

Andrew Haug: It took Fredrick about a week to get through it, then we got the results back and got it mastered. We're still really pumped about it, he was awesome to work with online! We did have conference chats with him as well, he's certainly an interesting character via phone to say the least!

Metal Fanatix: I bet he was, will you guys be using Fredrick for the next Contrive album?

Andrew Haug: Who knows, like anything its a matter of how the songs come out and a matter of what kind of sound we want to get, its hard to say at the moment, we want to get all the writing done first before we look into that! Who knows!

Metal Fanatix: Mate, in a few words can you tell us the first thing that comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from 'The Meaning Unseen'

Andrew Haug:

By Way Of Choice: What a riff! The award goes to my brother for one of the best riffs I've ever fuckin' heard! I love it! Its pretty much always the opening song when we play live!

Divided:
Rockin'!

Prepare To Fall:
Just groove dude!

The Meaning Unseen:
Dark dude, dynamic!

Metal Fanatix: I am a huge fan of 'Communion' which as we both know is the Armored Angel cover. What I want to know is, out of all the great metal songs why did you choose 'Communion' to cover!

Andrew Haug: Paul and I used to go and see them all the time when we were under eighteen and just loved them, especially seeing brothers in the band, a three-piece band as well! They were just such an awesome band live and really an important part to the history of the Australian metal scene. We loved watching those dudes and started writing to them, and now obviously become long time friends. When most bands generally do a cover it's of an international band or someone completely non-metal related & obscure. I still have the original Armored Angel demo tape which we pulled out and Paul said, "we should do Armored's 'Communion'!" I said "fuck yeah, let's give it a go"! I know a few people say that its not really the right song for the album but I think it has the elements of a straight ahead rock song. It's not really a fast song in the sense of thrash which is what they were renowned for, it's just got a straight heavy Rockin' feel to it even though it's total metal!

Metal Fanatix: Now I imagine you guys are starting work on your next album!

Andrew Haug: Yeah, we currently have about three songs that are 90% there structure wise. But as usual we will just take our time and without being too cliché, take it to the next level dude! We try and create our own sound and I think we're doing that, but we don't want to repeat it!

Metal Fanatix: Well as I said to you via email a few days back, I really enjoyed the album and it was definitely not what I expected! In saying that, I don't really know what I expected [laughs]! I guess I was thinking more on the lines of extreme metal, and it was great for a change! Every song is diverse and complements the next track!

Andrew Haug: We try to make every song it's own voice, just because there's certain bands I like, it might be Jackhammer from start to finish and that's their sound and style and there's albums of bands I enjoy like that! Us as listeners and players to the music we make, we want to just try different shit! I don't think we're afraid to step out of our comfort zones! I find that some bands are afraid to do that especially once they get a following in case their fans decide to ditch them, but I don't want us to ever be afraid of that cause we're not really selling out cause we don't have a mass fan base to sell-out too so fuck it! [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] well like you said, you're not Metallica just yet! [Laughs]

Andrew Haug: [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: Every band has their own way of writing, how does the process work for you guys? Do you hold writing sessions or anything?

Andrew Haug: Yeah, I practice drums at home, and if I come up with a beat or an idea I record it on a mini disc and Paul will start on something at home, it really does work when we're all together. It's a very democratic thing as in no one says this is a song I have written therefore you have to play it my way! Paul's always got riffs and different things, he thinks of cool structures and I'm like" cool go for it" but you just know its going to change the minute drums kick in or whatever. Its like anything, we've all got our own individual influences that we can offer so nothing is going to be exactly the way you bring it to the table or vice versa! It's just a matter of jamming and nutting it out, just pasting songs together.

Metal Fanatix: Now for those who don't know, yourself and twin brother Paul formed Contrive back in 1999, I know it can be a nightmare working with any one person on a musical level let alone a family member, how do you guys keep from ripping each other apart when it comes to creating music?

Andrew Haug: [Laughs] Oh we do sometimes, as all brothers do but twins is a little bit deeper! But honestly I could not play in a band without him! We just know each other too well; we have the same goals! I could never see myself playing in any other band without Paul and obviously thanks to Tim he is the ultimate mediator [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: [laughs]

Andrew Haug: I always see that there is a special bond when I hear of any band that has a sibling in their own band, there's just something there that's hard to explain be it twins or not! There's just a certain bond that you just don't get from your buddy that lives down the street who has joined your band! When it's family it's certainly that little bit more special!

Metal Fanatix: Let's talk a little about touring mate, what comes to mind when you think back to those first International supports you were doing with Mayhem and Destruction?

Andrew Haug: Just another gig to try and expose what we do to different people, we weren't necessarily well liked or received but just the fact that we were out there take it or leave it! It was a great opportunity to take on board! I know a lot of bands who are more scared of what the audience are going to think because they don't fit and quite frankly we don't give a fuck! Without sounding arrogant we just take it as another opportunity to play!

Metal Fanatix: Well that's right, at least if you walk away with ten people enjoying the show, that's ten people who didn't know a thing about you earlier that day!

Andrew Haug: Absolutely, and even if the ten people hated ya, there still going to talk about ya! You still win in the end! No complaints mate any opportunity bring it on!

Metal Fanatix: Since then you have toured with Sepultura, and also Soilwork, who have you enjoyed touring with the most and can you give us a funny story from the tour?

Andrew Haug: The most…. Probably Sepultura because Paul and myself have been friends with those guys since 1992. I would have loved it to have Max there, but it was still awesome. Igor is one of the main influences on why I play drums today. One story after a Sepultura show comes to mind. We drove straight back to Melbourne cause we had a gig with them the next day! Literally after we played and watched Seps it was one o'clock in the morning we got in the car and drove ten hours straight back. I think we were an hour out of Melbourne and the trailer tire bursts, so we had to change the tire. None of us had slept, we went straight to the venue and loaded in and waited for our chance to rock! Another time we played in Sydney on the Saturday night with Machine Head and then drove straight back to Melbourne after that cause we had an under eighteens gig to do the next afternoon at 1:00 pm. We left at one am again and it's usually a ten hour drive from Sydney, we got into Melbourne at 12:30 pm, we got to the venue at 12:50pm and were onstage fifteen minutes later!

Metal Fanatix: Oh fuck man!

Andrew Haug: It's odd, we played to about twenty kids and I played better to them then I did the night before to a full house at the Uni Roundhouse [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]

Andrew Haug: I was saying to myself 'why didn't I play like this last night'? [laughs], There's been some mean feats there where you have to push your limits to get things done it's just all part of it. There's certainly no complaints here. There's so much downtime when you travel but there's never really a dull moment for us, we enjoy hanging out and kicking back!

Metal Fanatix: Tell me about the first show you guys did together, I believe you did it as a 2-piece at the Tote Hotel, how was the response to that gig?

Andrew Haug: Well that was very low key, we didn't tell anybody cause a lot of friends would always say "oh you're never gonna play". "You're just a fuckin' closet band" etc etc! This was cause we couldn't find a bass player for ages! We knew a few bands and we did audition a couple but no one was really a right fit for us! Before I went overseas for a few months we had about eight songs completed and I had said to Paul "Fuck this let's just get out there and do it"! We'd always written as a drum, guitar then bass band most of the songs and the sections were quite full. We booked the gig and didn't tell any friends, although some had found out but most of them got there after we had played, it was like cool you didn't miss much [laughs] it was daring, I don't know many other bands that would have done the same thing!

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Yeah mate, there's some footage to get my hands on! [laughs]. Andrew, for those metallers that haven't seen you, using only five words how would you describe the band live?

Andrew Haug: Honest, powerful, metal, passionate and energetic

Metal Fanatix: Do you guys have any plans for more shows over the next few months?

Andrew Haug: We've got nothing booked but we never avoid getting any opportunities whether or not people are sick of us, fuck it. We just love playing live and it's a better chance to improve, everytime you play! The album still feels fresh for us to play, I'm not bored of it, I'm itching to write more new stuff of course but I just love playing live!

Metal Fanatix: Now Andrew I wanted to talk to you about drumming. On the latest album you featured a track called Todoroki which is a piece you wrote using traditional Japanese drumming. How long have you been studying the art of Japanese drumming?

Andrew Haug: It's been about seven years now! It's very difficult to master plus you're playing with other people so if you're not locked in and on time it just sounds like a train wreck and that's what most of our classes sound like [laughs]. The classes have opened my ears and mind to so many different possibilities on drums and with song writing. Most people who hear our stuff say "your drumming is really weird and very tribal" pretty much most of the drum beats have come from those classes. The reason I put it on the album was to make people aware that Taiko drumming exists cause' most people don't know anything about it. It's something that is unique and it's amazing to watch even if you're not into metal, you can be into any form of music but when you see it live you will be blown away!

Metal Fanatix: Growing up, I was inspired by Eric Carr, Tommy Lee and Charlie Benante to name a few, who inspired you to pick up the sticks?

Andrew Haug: It has to be Igor man, I started late and remember seeing the 'Arise' tour in 92 and just going "oh my god" still to this day that was one of the best gig's I have ever witnessed. Watching Igor play was all heart and honesty and that's how we want to project our live shows, from what we saw Paul and I that night! There's so many others, Gene Hoglan, Danny Carey, Paul Bostaph; oh man I've got a laundry list [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs] I know what you mean mate, there are so many killer drummers!

Andrew Haug: I've always been into drummers that have their own sound. No matter what band they are playing in you know right away that it's them.

Metal Fanatix: What was the first drum kit you owned?

Andrew Haug: I still have the same one to be honest! I've never upgraded. It's the same kit I bought in 1994 and it's still in decent nick! Most people say the kit sounds great. It would be great to get an endorsement but if you look after your stuff, things last!

Metal Fanatix: Do you do anything specific to warm up and prepare for a show?

Andrew Haug: Stretches always, that's definitely an important factor and hand warm up's with sticks. Sometimes I use my Taiko baton sticks to really loosen my hands and arms so when the time comes to grab my normal sticks they feel like tooth picks and you feel ready to go!

Metal Fanatix: Andrew, Tell us something about the other guys we may not know!

Andrew Haug: Tim's just amazing. Paul and I had another band before Contrive which fell apart but we never had a bassist. We always had another guitarist. It's great to have a bassist that's so daring and who's an awesome person. If anyone knows about gear it's him, he's a freak [laughs]! He's so much fun to be around; he's the most outgoing guy I've ever met! That's saying that sincerely, I'm not saying that because he plays in the band with me! Tim would give you the shirt off his back, he's super nice! Tim rules.

Metal Fanatix: How about Paul?

Andrew Haug: Oh he's fucked [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs]

Andrew Haug: [Laughs] Paul's great too man. I knew other bands where they would bag each other out and say "I fuckin' hate my guitarist, he's such a dickhead" we just don't have that! We get along so well, we do but heads with idea's but no ones storming out the door. We're all on the same page and wanting to achieve the same goal.

Metal Fanatix: What's the craziest rumor you have ever heard about yourself and or the band?

Andrew Haug: We're shit! [Laughs] rumor I don't know man, I don't think people even bother talking about us like that to be honest, I've never really heard anything.

Metal Fanatix: How about yourself, obviously you're known for doing more surrounding the industry besides drumming in Contrive, what have you heard about yourself!

Andrew Haug: Oh yeah stupid shit like we only get supports because I promote shows on radio, it's all tall poppy rubbish. I just laugh because it's funny that none of these people say it to my face! Why are people so adamant about putting their point across and yet they never come and say it to me! If anything I'd set them straight and tell them how it really works. Most people don't really know how the biz works. They see what they think they know when really they don't. Sometimes I'd like to talk to these people who really have an issue and tell them how it works.

Metal Fanatix: Yourself being on both sides of the coin as the guy who works for the record company and also as the musician, what are the biggest differences you notice these days in the business compared to when you were starting out?

Andrew Haug: That there are too many egotistical assholes in the business that shouldn't be there. Most people start out because they want to be apart of the industry and see all the lights and think it's great but then sometimes they change and seem to forget why they got into it in the first place! I've spoken with people at work who say "man you really enjoy your job don't ya" and I used to work in a factory so anything's better! People just seem to lose their passion after a while and forget why they're in the business. They get a business card and all of a sudden the passion goes out the window. I really think you can mix business with pleasure if you do both of them right, there's days that I have that aren't great days and I have to meet deadlines and knuckle down and get it done, but on the other hand I could be out digging ditches, I don't for a minute take it for granted!

Metal Fanatix: What's your take on downloading and file sharing? Do you think it hurts the artists, or do you look at it as a great way to get your music out to so many more people around the world?

Andrew Haug: It's a total double edge sword, I don't think it hurts us cause I don't think our stuff's been downloaded at all [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [laughs]

Andrew Haug: bands certainly aren't selling as much as they used to because of it but in the same token tours are up because people have heard a song and would much rather spend their money on a live experience and a few beers as opposed to buying an album and sitting in their bedroom! Let's face it you can't beat the live experience! It's got it's benefits and it's downfalls but I think for most people it's a good try before you buy tool and I do know that most people still go out and buy stuff, especially in metal which is such a collectable genre. The artwork always looks killer for most bands and there's always limited releases that fans don't want to miss out on.

Metal Fanatix: What does the future hold for Contrive, where would you like to see the band in 5 years from now?

Andrew Haug: Oh triple platinum, living in the Hollywood Hills [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] I think we all wanna be there [laughs]

Andrew Haug: Seriously, I just wanna keep making music, we don't have a five year plan or any master plan like some bands do. You just can't predict where you are going to be in five years, you can't predict what people are going to be into next week! You just have to be true to yourself and the music you make and hopefully you will have touched a few people enough for them to stick by you and enjoy the ride and spread the word! Part of the excitement is not knowing!

Metal Fanatix: Andrew, there is no doubt that the Australian metal scene is alive and well. Besides Contrive what other kick ass Aussie bands do you recommend we check out?

Andrew Haug: Over the last couple of years I really think people need to take note of the Perth bands! I was in Perth a couple of weeks ago and boy they really do back their bands over there and I kinda felt ashamed coming from the east where people stand there arms folded at certain gigs. The people over there get right up the front, they get there early to watch the first band, they buy merch, it's almost like seeing bands overseas, and I was surprised by that! It's one of the reasons I love going to Perth. Pathogen is one to keep a look out for, Chaos Divines is another of course, the usuals Alarum and Alchemist which I've loved for ages and Cog which some would argue are not metal but they're a damn good heavy band. There's some really good bands out there worth checking out.

Metal Fanatix: Which record/song would define Andrew Haug to a complete stranger?

Andrew Haug: [Laughs] Fuckin' hell! Man I'm stumped it's too hard, dude I just cannot answer that [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Mate, as many people know you're also a very popular radio personality and over the years you have conducted your fair share of interviews! Of the large list of rockers, who has been the most responsive and fun person to interview?

Andrew Haug: You know what's funny man, people ask me who's been the best person it depends cause some are face to face and others are on the phone! James Hetfield was certainly a massive highlight for me face to face before the sold out Myer Music Bowl show back in 2005. Ozzy I've met a couple of times face to face which is just a highlight in itself because he's completely done it all and then some [laughs]. It's hard man there's heaps, Danny Carey from Tool was awesome, he was showing me his drum kit after the interview earlier this year which was cool. Most people have been great. I just take them all as people, I don't look at them as anything bigger or smaller than myself. I interviewed Vinnie Paul this morning and that was hard, I was nervous doing that interview. Dimebag's death still cuts me, it cuts everybody up, the way it happened and it's the most horrific moment in metal ever. Vinnie lost his brother, I play in a band with my brother and I know I'd be lost without Paul if anything ever happened.

Metal Fanatix: Yeah I guess doing an interview like that really brings everything back home!

Andrew Haug: Yeah exactly, Vinnie was cool. He's obviously been asked a few questions and I didn't really dig deep. We all know what happened I didn't see the need to re-visit it but getting back to your question he was great to chat with.

Metal Fanatix: Who is the one band you never want to hear again and why?

Andrew Haug: Disturbed [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: Really?

Andrew Haug: Yeah I interviewed Dave Draiman and the other dude and it did nothing for me man! There's some bands I interview that I'm not 100% into but I know the audience want to hear from them so I do my homework and make sure the interviews enjoyable, now I sometimes interview bands I'm not into where the chats have been great but I just didn't get anything from speaking to them and musically nothing at all! That's probably one of the only interviews that comes to mind where I have asked them standard questions and getting 'I don't want to be doing this answers!

Metal Fanatix: Andrew I want to thank you again for your time today! It's been a pleasure, do you have any last words for our readers?

Andrew Haug: Obviously thanks for taking notice of the band I'm playing in cause obviously not everyone knows us and obviously I can't play our stuff on the radio show!

Metal Fanatix: Wow, really?

Andrew Haug: Yeah it's a policy of the ABC that I can't play contrive music on the show

Metal Fanatix: Shit dude I didn't know that!

Andrew Haug: Yeah that's what's odd about the position I'm in, people think I'm in the upper hand position when they don't realize it's harder for us than most people. Thanks to those who have taken the time to hear about us and check us out. I know we've got a long way to go to spread the word and obviously with site's like yourself and your support certainly helps get the word out there for what we do. We love what we do and we're proud of it. We want people to check it out. I also want to just thank everyone for sticking with this kind of music, it's all we've got, life's too short to bitch that Slipknots just not brutal and all that shit.

Grab your copy of 'The Meaning Unseen' where all thrashin metal albums are sold!

To keep up with all the latest news & much more on Contrive check out the following websites:


http://www.contrive.com.au/ - Official Contrive Site
http://www.myspace.com/contriveaustralia - Contrive MySpace Site
http://www.myspace.com/insideout666ints - Inside Out 666

© Cameron Edney May, September 2007 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.