Derek Harn - Himsa - Back
Interviewer: Cameron Edney -

Hailing from the streets of Seattle after eight years together, Himsa have delivered their finest album to date ‘Hail Horror’. Himsa’s latest offering is metal for the masses & has received praise from both fans & critics alike. Himsa carved their place in metal history early on with their first full length album ‘Ground Breaking Ceremony’ released in 1999 following the albums release the band embarked on a sell-out tour and won over metal fans in every city they played. By 2003 Himsa had released their second full length masterpiece & were now hitting the road with bands such as Cradle of Filth, Bleeding Through, Danzig & Arch Enemy. Even though Himsa have undergone a few line-up changes in the past, there is no doubt that the current line-up is the strongest to date. For those metal fans that have witnessed the band live it’s safe to say that Himsa have sheer intensity & raw energy onstage. Last month I had the pleasure of catching up with bass player Derek Harn while the guys were on the road with Darkest Hour, A Life Once Lost & The Acacia Strain. We spoke about the latest album, life on the road & I even got an exclusive straight from Derek that will have Australian fans jumping out of their seats. Step into the house of horror & read our in-depth interview with Himsa’s Derek Harn!

Metal Fanatix: Hi, Derek. First of all I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. You guys are about to hit the road, how have the rehearsals been going?

Derek Harn: Hi Cameron. Things got a little hectic there & we are now on the road with Darkest Hour, A Life Once Lost, The Acacia Strain, & Dead to Fall. The tour has been really fun & everyone on the tour has been really supportive. The shows have been packed & the kids have been going crazy, so I can't complain.

Metal Fanatix: What can the fans expect to see from you guys this time around?

Derek Harn: Sammi & Kirby have got new Dean Guitars, so you'll see them rocking the cock rock guitars [laughs]. We are playing a lot of new songs on this tour to push the new album, Hail Horror. We have eight new songs that we throw into the rotation on this tour. We are getting a real good feel for which ones are working live & getting good feed back on them from the fans.

Metal Fanatix: Derek, I want to talk to you a bit about the latest album ‘Hail Horror’ Congratulations on a job well done. Were you happy with the overall outcome on this one?

Derek Harn: Thank you. Yes, we are really excited about Hail Horror. We got a sound that we had been looking for through Tue Madsen & we feel like it really helped push the album's heavy side. Working with Tue was a great experience; he had the ability to push our playing & had good feedback for us on the song writing. We're looking forward to working with him again in the future.

Metal Fanatix: Did you approach it in a different way to ‘Courting Tragedy and Disaster’?

Derek Harn: I think the biggest difference on Hail Horror from the last album is that we had to fly to Denmark to record the album. That was a good thing because it really made us focus on what we were doing. We had a set routine for recording everyday & when we weren't working on the album we would just hang out at Tue's House and relax. We rarely left a one mile radius in the month that we were there. Having that kind of dedication all at once was really nice, we've never done that before & I feel it helped out a lot.

Metal Fanatix: What equipment did you use on the album?

Derek Harn: We had an electric shopping cart that we used which really beefed up the low end. Other than that, we used the Hatesphere drum kit that Tue had recorded many times before. Those guys were really cool for letting us use their kit. Tue got a Bogner for us too, that helped our guitar tones a lot. The Mr. Microphone that Pettibone sang through made his voice sound brutal.

Metal Fanatix: How long did the new album take to record?

Derek Harn: Kirby & John spent a full month there. Chad & I were there for about a week & a half. We split early because there was not much need for us after we did the bass & drums.

Metal Fanatix: Derek in a few words, tell us what comes to mind when I mention the following tracks!

Derek Harn:

The Destroyer: This has been the first song that we have been opening with on tour & it's getting a great reception. It's also the only song that is on our DVD that came out a year before Hail Horror so it's a little older. It's a favorite because it's got good heavy parts & it's really driving.

Wolfchild: Eighties rock with a little thrash thrown in. This song is fun to play & has good head banging possibilities.

They Speak In Swarms: This is one of Sammi's favorite songs. There is a lot of varying intricate guitar work on this song. We play this one live most every night.

Send Down Your Reign: I haven't heard or played this song since May of 05. I can't remember it, but I bet it's awesome though.

Metal Fanatix: You guys chose producer Tue Madsen, who has worked with bands such as The Haunted & Mnemic to work on Hail Horror. How did you find Tue to work with?

Derek Harn: Tue was recommended to us by Roy Z who was the original producer that was slated to work with us on Hail Horror. Roy had some health complications that didn't allow him to work with us so we contacted Tue & listened to his reel. All the work he has done has been consistently good & had a similar sound that we felt would work well with Hail Horror. Tue moved his schedule around to work with ours & the rest is history. We're really happy that it worked out the way it did.

Metal Fanatix: Are there plans to use him on the next album?

Derek Harn: We're hoping that he has time for us. He was booked out for a year after us. He has since worked with Sick of It All & some other great European bands. We do want to go back to him though.

Metal Fanatix: When you prepare to do a new album such as ‘Hail Horror’ what comes first the lyrics or the music?

Derek Harn: Music is always first. Once we get the songs down to a place we like them, we do a rough recording & hand the songs over to John. He then fits his lyrics down. A lot of times the songs will get parts switched & that fucks with the lyrics. John gets mad, but it's always for the best. Keeping track of the different versions gets difficult at times though. Sometimes he will use the working titles for the names of the songs. “Sleezevil” & “Wolfchild” were working titles that Kirby came up with. We all liked them so we kept them.

Metal Fanatix: Will you guys be filming any of these shows for a DVD release?

Derek Harn: We don't have any plans for doing another DVD right away. Hail Horror is the last record for Prosthetic & we're not sure where we are going to go once this album cycle is done. I imagine there will be another DVD down the road, but you can only put out so many DVDs before they get boring. I'm way more interested in the behind the scenes footage than the live footage personally. We're planning on hitting Australia & Japan later in the year. It would be fun to get some good behind the scenes footage from there. We're also touring Europe with Death By Stereo in May. I know there will be some great footage from that tour. They have some footage of us coming out on their next DVD that is amazing.

Metal Fanatix: It’s no secret that Himsa has already undergone a few line-up changes, are you confident that the current line-up is here to stay?

Derek Harn: Yeah, this is the best fit Himsa has ever had. We are all on the same page about what we want from this band. It took a long time to get here, but it feels solid. When Sammi came back into the band it felt like he never left. We are more brutal than ever now.

Metal Fanatix: Tell us something about the other guys in the band that we may not know!

Derek Harn: Kirby likes olives. Chad is drinking Arizona Green Tea. Sammi enjoys a nice pair of slacks. I have one hair that grows out of my forehead [laughs]. John says it's hair, not veins.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Derek, I want to talk to you about life on the road, what do you recall from the first show you ever played?

Derek Harn: I'm old. I can't remember anything. They all run together at this point. I think memory loss runs in my family.

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

Derek Harn: I stretch the fuck out of my neck.

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Dude as time goes on I find myself doing that now before gigs [laughs]. You mentioned that you guys will be heading to Australia have there been any dates penciled in yet?

Derek Harn: Why yes, there are. We're hoping that this November will have us touring Australia with Parkway Drive. We're working out details right now.

Metal Fanatix: Awesome I’m looking forward to it. Derek you’ve shared the stage with many great bands. Cradle of Filth, Behemoth & Arch Enemy to name a few. Who have you enjoyed touring with the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the tour?

Derek Harn: We like to pull pranks on the bands we tour with on the last day of tour. We played in LA for the last show of a Death by Stereo / Bleeding Through tour & DBS had these TVs that they had on stage where they would run all this footage of wars & crazy shit. We bought a She-Male porn & switched out their tape in the middle of their show. They didn't realize it at first, but when we pointed it out to them they all started laughing & they just let it run the rest of the show [laughs]. I don't know how the 1,000 people in the audience felt about it, but we were bent over laughing our asses off [laughs]

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] Oh that’s fucking great [laughs]! To become a star these days it seems the only way to make it would be to go on a reality music show like Idol or Pop stars (if you wanna call it that). What do you think about the mass wave of reality shows looking for so called “Talent” & do you watch any of them?

Derek Harn: I dig “The Amazing Race.” I don't care about the music or pop star ones. None of that is realistic. I like “The Amazing Race,” because it's fun to see dumb people from the U.S. trying to ride a camel in Egypt & everyone there is laughing at them. “The Amazing Race” is not realistic either, but it's edited really well & is a great concept for a show. I love to travel & I like it when they go somewhere I've been already.

Metal Fanatix: Where do you think the band will be twenty years from now? What direction would you like to see the band take?

Derek Harn: Twenty years!? Oh I have no idea. We will be going in the same direction that we are now. The band was formed in 1998 & it took five years to get it going in this direction. I don't see that changing down the road, but twenty years is a long time away. I can't predict that far down. We'll all probably being doing the same jobs at home that we do when we are home now.

Metal Fanatix: Besides playing bass in Himsa are you currently working on any other projects?

Derek Harn: This band keeps me pretty busy. Aside from touring & playing, I handle a lot of the business aspects of the band. I also do web design for people when I'm not rocking. It helps pay the bills & I get to work with some cool people.

Metal Fanatix: Derek what drew you to the bass guitar, I mean you could pick any instrument, has that always been the weapon of choice?

Derek Harn: That was the weapon that was easiest & fastest to learn when I was young. I stuck with it because every time I tried to play guitar or drums it just didn't feel right.

Metal Fanatix: What was the first bass you owned?

Derek Harn: I still have it actually! It’s an Ibanez Roadstar. It's a short scale bass that's claim to fame is that Sting used the same model at one time.

Metal Fanatix: When you do have spare time, what do you like to do?

Derek Harn: Sleep.

Metal Fanatix: Being in a relatively new band, in your honest opinion what do you think about the direction that hard rock & heavy metal music has taken over the last few years?

Derek Harn: I'm quite surprised that hardcore & metal has got as far as it has. I never expected to have a video play on MTV when I started out playing this stuff. It's been exciting, but I don't expect the popularity of the genre to get much bigger. Heavy Metal had more to offer in the eighties than our brand of metal does today.

Metal Fanatix: What other bands besides Himsa should we be listening to & supporting?

Derek Harn: Stay Tuned and the Misfits. I saw them play together a month ago & they were amazing.

Metal Fanatix: Already, there have been so many highlights in your career, what would you say have been your greatest achievements to date?

Derek Harn: That we're still together.

Metal Fanatix: What advice would you give to up and coming rock/metal bands?

Derek Harn: Be prepared to work your ass off & always appreciate what you have, even if it's twenty kids at a VFW hall.

Metal Fanatix: If you could put a band together consisting of musicians passed and/or present who would they be and what would you call the band?

Derek Harn: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, & Stephen Segal would be rad to have in a band. We would write the heaviest riffs ever & then they would go in the pit & beat the fuck out of everyone. Those dudes know how to kick-box. Mosh would never be the same [laughs].

Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] true, I think I’d be too scared to get into the pit if those guys were in it [laughs]. Derek I want to thank you again for your time today, all the best on the road mate, I will catch up with later in the year when you hit Australia. Do you have any last words for our readers?

Derek Harn: This is the longest interview I've ever done [laughs]. I hope people got something good out of it. I don't think there is anything left for me to tell you! [laughs]. Thanks a bunch.

Himsa’s Latest Album ‘Hail Horror’ Is Out Now! Grab Your Copy Where The Best Metal Albums Are Sold.

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© Cameron Edney April, June 2006 Not to be re-printed in any form without written permission.