Tomas Haake Q&A At 2011 NAMM Show
(Above) DRUM! assistant editor Andrew Lentz bro-hugging Tomas Haake. Photograph by Dave Constantin
When we bum-rushed Meshuggah drummer Tomas Haake and his girlfriend at the Sabian Party at the Anaheim Hilton during the NAMM show, we thought the imposing Swede might pulverize us as bad as he does those double bass drums. Turns out the guy’s a big teddy bear and was more than happy to let us grill him on the band’s as-yet-untitled album, slated for release this fall.
You leave for Stockholm in the morning to resume recording. So the band already has a few completed songs?
We haven’t tracked a lot of stuff yet. We kind of got the mikes set up and started to get going. We have actually recorded a couple tracks but we still don’t have anything yet like “Bleed” [from obZen]. A lot of people like a lot of the double bass [type of tracks]. A lot of it so far has been more earthy. We’re definitely going to re-record them. What we’ve been doing, it was more like trying out the recording procedure and seeing that everything is working out fine.
It can’t be easy following up an album as crushing as obZen. Any trepidations about that?
Haake Basically you got to approach it like any album in the past, just kind of go with whatever is happening in the music. You got to practice, you know? It’s a good thing in a lot of ways because we’re really lousy at practicing and we don’t really rehearse as a band unless we got shows coming up or have a new album that we have to learn. And I’m like that as a drummer too. Sometime I’ll stay off the kit for months on end so I actually look forward to this time where you have to get into the mode of being there every day and practicing the drums every day. The approach is not going to be much different from any other album, you just got to try and learn the sh__ and do whatever you can with those tracks.
Have you been listening to other drummers that might have unconsciously seeped into your playing?
Not really. I don’t listen for inspirations to my own drumming in other bands, I really don’t. I just get this feel for what we’re doing and I want to put my own imprint on that and just kind of do that in my own way. There’s a ton of bands that are really inspiring over the last few years like Gojira and Mastodon and there’s a sh_t load of bands that I really dig – not only the music but also the drumming – but still it’s not something that I take to heart. I try to come with things that are unique and that I haven’t heard before, that’s kind of what we go for. Not always though. Sometimes the drums take a step back and it’s more about the guitar tone and a guitar riff than it is the rhythmical aspect of things, but for half the songs of any given album there’s definitely a driven, rhythmical aspect to it. For me I just try to come up with something that’s creative and something that’s different from ourselves in the past. I don’t really try to copy a style or do something that you’ve heard, I just try to find new avenues to play to a certain riff or whatever and try to make it interesting.
Is anyone special on board to produce?
No, actually. We’ve never bought in any outside producers to any albums that we’ve done. Even though it says on one or a couple albums that it was produced by Daniel Bergstrand he wasn’t really the producer. He didn’t really have any say in the matter as far as like the song structures or anything like that but we kind of considered the whole sound production of things as being a producer too and he definitely had a say in that. But actually Daniel Bergstrand is going to be mixing the album because the last three or four albums we’ve also done the mixing ourselves.
Even just farming out the mix is a big deal for Meshuggah who like to have control over everything.
Yeah. We feel we’re the only ones that really know our music. We do things our own way and it takes time. The end product is all that matters and I think we’ve been doing a fairly good job of that but it’s kind of a treat to just hand it over to someone else and let them have their go at it. Fredrik [Thordendal, guitar] is a really good engineer as far as when we’re recording, but it just wears us down too much when we’re doing everything ourselves, that’s one of the reasons. And also, we just kind of want someone else to put their ideas into it. So it would be the first time since [1998’s] Chaosphere that someone else has done the mixing.