Pounder: The New Band from Exhumed’s Matt Harvey Trades In Horror and Gore for Sex and Sleaze
Exhumed’s front-man Matt Harvey is gracing us with his musical genius for yet another project. His newest band, Pounder, is the traditional metal influenced album we will all be blasting this summer from our t-tops while driving to the beach in our trans-ams (we can wish, right?). This time, we will get to see him expand his vocal range with ballads, songs about sex, sleaze, and even some sorcery. Don’t worry death metal junkies – this is just one of his many side projects. At this point in his career, Matt can do whatever he wants. His musical resume is a testament to a man who puts 100% into whatever project he is consumed with. Zero fucks given. Matt Harvey, we salute you.
Why did you decide to start Pounder? How would you categorize it? To me, it’s NWOBHM but also some thrash tied in. Aren’t the three other amazing bands you are in, enough? (I say this with love).
MH: I think Pounder was a long time coming. As time has gone on, Traditional Metal has occupied more and more of my listening and I kind of can’t help myself from writing songs in a style that I really care about. Honestly, we would have been doing this 4 years ago or more if I had realized that I’m not as terrible a singer as I thought I was. I would categorize Pounder as traditional Metal – there’s definitely Speed Metal tendencies in there, influences from Iron Angel, Savage Grace, and early Running Wild / Helloween / Warrant (GER) and stuff, but it’s mostly rooted in all the faster songs by Diamond Head, Tygers of Pan Tang, Sweet Savage, Iron Maiden, etc. etc. But there’s also influence from the other side of the coin too, sunset strip stuff like Dokken, early Motley Crue, W.A.S.P. and things like that – I’m not sure if that’s cool to say or whatever, but it’s stuff that we are all into. We listen to a lot of Blue Murder and even AOR stuff like Night Ranger or Aldo Nova or FM and things like that. So it’s really melodic in a way that maybe a record like “Wiped Out” or “Spellbound” isn’t. There’s a strong Hard Rock influence I think – Gary Moore, Y&T, Scorps, Blue Oyster Cult, Uriah Heep, even stuff like Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot. And of course a lot of Manowar. So there’s a lot of stuff we can do here that wouldn’t fit in my other bands, which is really fun and exciting to me.
As far as scheduling and all of the logistical stuff, one band is too much, but I’m pretty restless. Especially considering the turnaround time it takes to make a record – there’s just so much down-time between everything that I have to do something. For example, Death Revenge by Exhumed – writing finished in January 2016, pre-production finished in May 2016, then we went on tour, negotiated a new record contract, etc. etc. so production finally finished in April 2017 and the record was released in October 2017. The new Gruesome album will be out in late June / early July, I finished my writing and pre-production in November of 2016 for that record. That’s sooooo fucking long. I simply can’t wait that long for something. I need to move on to the next thing or I’ll drive myself nuts from inactivity.
When did your love for NWOBHM begin? You have said onstage how much you hated Def Leppard when you were growing up, but now you cover them! Was it always a guilty pleasure? Who is your personal favorite band from that genre?
I really didn’t know much about it for a long time, aside from Di’Anno era Maiden and the Diamond Head songs that Metallica covered. I went from Maiden / Ozzy / Dio in early 87 to Metallica / Slayer in late 87, and then Venom / Celtic Frost / Kreator / Sodom in 88, and Napalm Death / Death / Carcass / Bolt Thrower by 89 that I never really took the time to discover Witchfynde or Tokyo Blade or anything. I think at the time I was so enamored with the way that Death Metal and Grindcore bands were demolishing the cliches of 80s metal that I wasn’t particularly interested in going backwards. That changed around 1994, when I started rediscovering Thrash Metal like Razor, Assassin, and Protector and the original generation of Death Metal, like Slaughter, Infernal Majesty, Necrophagia, Necrovore, etc. It wasn’t until about 2001 that I really started digging into NWOBHM with any degree of seriousness. A girl named Natalie who had a crush on the old Exhumed drummer gave me a couple of GREAT mix CDs of British and Swedish Metal that got me started seeking out stuff like Fist, Heavy Load, ATC, Praying Mantis etc.etc. That was really when my interest was piqued and I wanted to go beyond Tank, Angel Witch and Diamond Head. I think Diamond Head is still probably my favorite NWOBHM band though. They’re a bit more versatile than a lot of them that weren’t Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon or Angel Witch. I think Living on Borrowed Time and Canterbury are just as compelling as Lightning to the Nations, but in vastly different ways. I think the Death and Progress record they did with Sean Harris in the late 90s was also brilliant. They always had a really soulful, melodic edge that was the creative and crucial through-line in the catalog, not just playing fast stuff like “The Prince” or whatever. I mean, it’s tough, I go through jags where I’ll just listen to Rock til You Drop, Wiped Out and All for One for like 3 months straight, but I gotta go with Diamond Head. Lightning… is a universally-hailed classic, but later songs like “To the Devil His Due” are just mammoth, masterpiece level compositions.
Matt also has a killer Spotify playlist:
Being a “death metal” vocalist, is it more liberating to expand your vocal range through Pounder? You sound great! Do you ever have stage moments where you want to go death metal but then remember you are actually singing in this band?
I was mostly concerned with my lack of ability, honestly. I wrote the music (some of the songs are 4 or 5 years old at this point) with someone like Sean Harris or Bruce Dickinson in mind, and I have a hard time meeting my own expectations. Once Alejandro (Corredor bass) and I met Tom (Draper, lead guitar) and he was interested in jamming with us, I knew that the most important thing was to simply get moving and do something with the material, rather than waiting around for the next Michael Kiske or Geoff Tate to pop up. It’s a lot of fun to write the melodies and stuff, and challenging in a different way to execute. It’s like a whole new set of toys to play with that I don’t have in my other bands. It was really intimidating at first, but I think I’ve really improved in the last couple of years. The vocals I’ve been doing for the full length are so much better than the performance on the demo, but I’m still learning and trying to improve as much as I can, as fast as I can. I’ll never be able to do the stratospheric falsetto stuff (I’m 42, so that time has long since passed) but I’m getting more and more comfortable and confident as an actual “singer” the more stuff we do with Pounder.
Tell me more about Tom Draper (guitar) and Alejandro Corredor (bass). I don’t know too much about either one so can you give us a little background on how you decided they were the fit you wanted for Pounder? How did you first meet them? Their previous endeavors are very impressive.
I’ve known Alejandro for 6 or 7 years now, he’s worked extensively with Exhumed, as our guitar tech, sound guy, babysitter and everything else. He’s one of my closest friends and we always talked about doing a band together. He’s played with Nausea (LA), Vallenfyre, and a bunch of other stuff around Southern California. The idea for Pounder was kind of kicking around on the back burner for both of us, until I stumbled upon Tom. My wife introduced me to Tom at the first Frost and Fire festival in Ventura – They’re both British (Tom now lives in California) so that was the initial thing. I hung out with him a couple of times and was suitably impressed when I learned he’d done a stint in Angel Witch (I had a lot of annoying questions for him) and he showed me some of his Crowning Glory stuff, which was also quite good. Eventually I worked up the courage to show him the rough demos I had of the Pounder songs (sans vocals). He was into doing something and that sort of lit the fire under our asses.
I heard a rumor that the new full length may have a ballad on it. First off, that would be AWESOME. Second, do you think you are going to get shit from your “death metal” fans? Will we get to hear a softer, more romantic side of Matt Harvey?
The full-length has TWO ballads on it. One thing I don’t hear a lot of current Trad Metal bands doing is ballads, which is a bummer, as I personally love songs like “Still Loving You,” “Child in Time,” “Sleeping in the Fire,” or “Remember Tomorrow” and things like that. “Before the Dawn,” for example, is one of my absolute favorite songs of all time. It almost makes me cry. We felt that it was an area we could do that hadn’t already been done into the ground by current bands that we dig like Visigoth, Gygax, Night Demon, Enforcer, Cauldron, High Spirits, etc. etc.
I don’t really care if Death Metal fans like or hate the band – it’s pretty clear that it’s a different thing. If Exhumed, Gruesome or Expulsion had a ballad, they would have every right to hate it. I’m honestly more worried about people in the traditional metal scene thinking, “Who the fuck is this Death Metal asshole and what does he think he knows about Gotham City and Medieval Steel?” you know?
You are releasing the new album through Hells Headbangers. Is there a release date yet? Tell me more about the artwork, who did it and what is the inspiration?
The album artwork is done by a guy named Marc Schoenbach – I almost don’t want to give out his name because I don’t want a bunch of other bands using him. He’s fucking incredible. The concept came from a piece of flash art my good buddy Matt Slime came up with for his tattoo shop, and Marc turned into a more elaborate painting kind of thing. Suffice it to say that it’s evil, sexy, and very 80s all at once. Another thing we specifically wanted to do with Pounder was keep the lyrics sexier, because a lot of the early NWOBHM and Metal stuff in general was a lot sleazier and sex-oriented than most traditional Metal bands are today. We still have occult / sword and sorcery themes, but a lot of our songs are just about getting laid and sexy women. So all of that is reflected in the artwork, and the band name for that matter, haha!
The record is ALMOST done being recorded and mixed. We hope it will be out by late summer at this point. In the meantime, we have a 7” EP that will be coming out first called “Faster than Fire,” that has three songs on it and an Angel Witch cover. We’re just waiting on artwork to wrap that up, so hopefully it will be out in a couple of months. A great comic book artist named Kelly Williams is doing that art, and again, it’s sexy, evil and very 80s (there’s a theme here).
So much of your writing is inspired by horror/gory shit. What is inspiring you lyrically with Pounder?
I love horror and gore, but it’s great to be able to take a break from those themes and write about other stuff. We have songs about partying, songs about sex, sword-and-sorcery stuff, the Manowar inspired “Metal Pride” kind of stuff, there’s just a bunch of stuff in there that’s really fun to sing about. “Lonesome Gambler” is about one-night-stands on tour, “Hot and Runnin’” is about motorcycles and hot women, “Give ’em the Hammer” is about playing loud rock and roll and getting laid because of it, and “Web of Fear” is about being stalked by a killer that may or may not be all in your mind. The record and 7” we have coming up has similar kinds of stuff, plus the other shit I mentioned. It’s been so fun writing the lyrics for these songs.
Shifting gears, you have been around a while now to see changes in the music industry. What bothers you most about the current state of the business? What is a positive you see?
The biggest positive is that music listeners have unprecedented access to music via streaming, youtube, etc. People are constantly discovering bands that would have otherwise been forgotten – Manilla Road and Satan are bigger now than they have been in 30 years, and so are bands like Demilich, Demoltion Hammer, and Razor. That has been such a boon for the underground and has allowed younger kids to acquire a deep knowledge and appreciation for underground metal of all stripes. It’s really inspiring to meet a kid who is 25 years younger than me and is excited about Warfare, Satan, and Thin Lizzy, or Carnage and Morta Skuld. Like it or not, the internet makes that possible. I don’t get hung up on whatever changes there are – as long as people are still into good music for the right reasons, I’m not terribly concerned if royalties are down or Joe Elliot has to sell one of his yachts. The only real negative I see is that it’s difficult for people to take the time with each record because they have so much access. But that’s really just nit-picking.
I don’t think it would be appropriate to not ask you this: Seen any good horror lately? Any new inspirations?
I haven’t seen much newer horror lately. I just started Ash vs. the Evil Dead on Netflix. It’s pretty good, but feels so familiar, like too familiar. Maybe that will change as it goes on. I’ve been more into going back and re-reading all the Lovecraft stuff, which I haven’t really touched since High School. It’s partially for research for a comic book script concept I’m working on, and partially just for personal enjoyment, revisiting stuff I forgot about or kind of took for granted. I thought Housebound was fun, It Follows was decent, and The Vvitch was really good. I know there’s tons of stuff that I completely miss, but I was always a die-hard Marvel and DC comics reader growing up, and so much of my TV and movie time has been eaten up by their 8 gazillion properties that are getting developed into shows and movies, so I have a hard time finding time to explore a lot of horror stuff.
I know, I’m a disgrace and I apologize.
I guess I forgive you. Who are some current bands that you have been loving that the readers should know more about? (Any genre).
MH: Hmmm… I like a lot of current artists like Carolina Eyck, Lazerhawk, M83, Tame Impala, Enforcer, Cauldron, Vulture, Ripper, Extremity, Madrost, Ruin, Skeletal Remains, Tau Cross, Hellbringer, Amulet, Gorephilia, Nekrofilth, Hammock, Steel Panther, P.L.F., Cryptic Void, Seprevation, Visigoth, High Spirits, Blade Killer, Gygax, Revolution Saints, Night Flight Orchestra, Night Demon, Vastum, Mortuous, and all kinds of stuff I’m probably forgetting. But I still mostly listen to old stuff, haha!
What’s 2018 looking like for a man as busy as you? Where can people find out more about Pounder and anything else you want to promote?
2018 is shaping up to be another busy year, which is the way I like it. The new Gruesome record will be out this summer, Pounder will have a new 7” EP and a full-length record coming out at last, and I’m working on some other stuff just for my own personal enjoyment as well. And in case anyone’s wondering, Exhumed already has a 5 song EP partially recorded and I have about 13 new songs to get to work on. So I’ll be keeping myself as busy as I can while adhering to my dubious personal quality standards.
Last, Can you tell us your best “Spinal Tap” moment?
Hmmm…. One that sticks out: Exhumed was in the Czech Republic getting ready to play Obscene Extreme – this was during our Slaughtercult era, so we were primed to go onstage, shirtless, wearing copious spikes and ammuntion belts, and covered in fake blood. Just as we were going up to get ready, the stage manager tells us that there’s a hurricane coming and the show (an outdoor festival) is going to be shut down for the day. We’re then led to a bunker where the bands are waiting for the storm to subside so they can return to their hotels. Once inside the bunker, we drink with intensity for about 3-4 hours straight (we’d already been drinking before the show) – liquor, beer, shots, whatever, and then someone comes into the bunker – we think they’re going to say, “okay, we’ll get you to the hotel,” and instead they say, “okay, the storm has passed, time to go play the gig.” At this point, most of us can barely stand, and we are ushered through the rain and mud onto the stage, where I honestly don’t remember anything that happened, so I have to assume that we were magnificent.
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