Middletown, Connecticut - Have a Nice Life?
The two-piece will soon release their debut album. It will actually be two albums, The Plow That Broke the Plains and The Future. DEATHCONSCIOUSNESS is the culmination of four years work and two hours of recorded material.
Musically the influences are clearly varied, from the more experimental black metal of LURKER OF CHALICE and XASTHUR to the alternative rock and shoegaze genres in the 80s and 90s, to recent drone acts such as EARTH. These influences coupled with the acts intention of creating a sound that is as close to experiencing the pain and release of death results in a dream-like soundscape with real raw power. It magnifies the grandiose nature of death and humanities troubled relationship with it.
Deathconsciousness will be released on double-CD with a 70 page book and made available on January 15. You will be able to order it at the Todestrieb Distro.
You can visit the band website and listen to "The Big Gloom" here: http://www.myspace.com/haveanicelife
Interview with Dan Barrett
22 December 2007
Please introduce HAVE A NICE LIFE.
HAVE A NICE LIFE started about 5 years ago when we (Tim Macuga, Dan Barrett) started trading tapes of songs we'd written back and forth. Tim was in a punk band called the DANGER STRANGERS, and I was in the band IN PIECES. We originally played only acoustic, but quickly got bored. When our respective projects dissolved we started dedicating all our time to HAVE A NICE LIFE, using it as a catch-all for the musical ideas we had floating around at the time.
We've released two demos, Have A Nice Life vs. You (cassette only, 50 copies) and Powers of Ten (CD, 75 copies), both on our home label, Enemies List Home Recordings.
The material for the 2CD package dates back four years, was it all re-recorded for this release?
The recording process for the record has been continuous, with different versions of different tracks evolving over time. The Deathconsciousness recordings represent the final and complete version of the material that first appeared in our early demos. It was completed literally only a few weeks before the release date; we're always working.
"The Big Gloom" has over 50 separate tracks, can you explain this process?
The Big Gloom started as just a few tracks; it's mostly bass. That song was one of the first where we explored layering tracks in such a way to create something different from what we were actually playing. Most of the tracks are playing different lines; the sound that comes about from those conflicting parts is different from any of the individual parts, as certain notes seem to jump out from the noise. It's a technique we'll be exploring more in our upcoming material.
The double CD will come with an impressive 70 page book. Who is writing it, what will it cover?
The book contains the track lyrics and CD information, but the bulk of it is an essay written by an old History professor of ours from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The lyrics on this record contain a lot of references to a sect of Italian heretics called the Antiocheans who were active in the 11th century; it's an theme that reoccurs throughout the album. Tim and I are Historians by training, and we were both really interested in the group and their beliefs. The record became so intertwined with the underlying religious ideas that we asked [this History professor] to write something about it for us. We were blown away by how much he gave us, and I really wanted to include it with the record. I think reading it makes a big difference in how people experience the music.
A blend of post-punk / industrial / shoegaze of the 80s and 90s with more recent doom / drone. Is that a fair assessment of the major influences?
I think that's fair. We never set out to sound like anything in particular, but our music took on a character of it's own very quickly during the writing process. We were both interested in bands like XASTHUR and LURKER OF CHALICE, who were exploring the bedroom-recording as an aesthetic, as well as older bands like MY BLOODY VALENTINE and SISTERS OF MERCY, JOY DIVISION, and so on. We operate on feeling rather than genre, so we just try and capture that feeling in everything we do, visually, musically, etc.
The title and its explanation is an "overwhelming awareness" of death. But that doesn't seem to carry a feeling. Is there a personal emphasis either way?
The record and the concept it's built around are very personal, in the sense that we experienced the deaths of people very close to us during it's recording - and most of the songs address that very directly. Deathconsciousness as a philosophical concept has it's roots in Antiocheanism specifically, but also in Buddhism and Existentialism. I think a lot of "death" inspired art doesn't really address death at all, but rather the idea of death - a caricature, but not the reality. That's what this record is about: forcing people to see death for what it really is, to see it for the first time. We used to joke that the idea was to make people listening to the record have a nervous breakdown, but in a way that really is the point. People forget they're going to die, and I think they're worse off for it.
You're based in New England, does your location play a part in the song-writing process? Is there a strong underground music scene?
New England is a huge part of who we are, and of our aesthetic sense. It's cold, it has a lot of forests, people stick to themselves and do things on their own.
There is not a scene for what we are doing. There is a small underground rock / hardcore / punk scene, but we are not a part of it. Hopefully that changes, and we're trying to make that happen and expand the boundaries, but it doesn't much matter to us whether that happens or not.
Have you ever played as HaNL live? Would it be technically possible?
We have performed once, but it didn't quite capture the sound we wanted. Our goal for the upcoming year is to take the band live, and to make the overall experience match the music. It's possible, but we're still researching our options. There's also a visual component that I'm looking forward to working on.
Finally... do you want the listeners (and readers) to have a nice life?!?
We mean that in the meanest way possible.