Harm’s Ways passionate brand of metallic hardcore has won them fans the world over since their inception in 2006.The Chicago band are about to release their furious new album Posthuman (go and grab it as soon as it drops), the follow up to 2015s Rust on new label Metal Blade and we caught up with drummer Chris Mills to hear all about the album, life on their new label, touring with Soulfly, the bands Chicago influences and the power of hardcore.
Your new album Posthuman is out soon. How did the creation and the recording of the album go?
Writing for Posthuman actually started almost 2 years ago, but a lot of the songs and ideas that were around at that time have been long forgotten. We had been writing the material that ended up making it onto the actual record about a year ago, when Nick officially joined the band and started writing with us. A thing happens with every band I think where you write “the best record that has ever been made, ever” and you are super excited to record it exactly how you have it written. That’s how the recording process started, but we ended up changing literally every single song and even writing a couple songs, in the studio. What we had compared to what we have now is quite literally night and day, I think. I could not be happier with what we produced in the studio.
You worked with Fit For An Autopsys Will Putney on the album. How was it working with him and what did he bring to the Harms Way sound?
Working with Will was fantastic, we really liked him. He pushed us, he was responsive and respective of our artistic vision, and in the end, he helped us enhance this record to a point I didn’t really think was possible. He brought a real feeling of “we can do whatever we want”; that, coupled with the 3 weeks we spent with him, really opened our eyes to a lot of possibilities for the record.
Will has previously produced records for the likes of Body Count, Bury Tomorrow and Sworn In. Were you a fan of his production style before?
We were. We very much enjoyed his production on Low Teens by Every Time I Die. The tones are a little more raw and better represented what we wanted to do with our record.
Is Posthuman a continuation of the sound you demonstrated on your last album Rust?
I think there are elements of Posthuman that will remind a listener of Rust, but I don’t think one could call it a continuation of that record. That record had a very specific tone and vibe, and we like it that way. I think this record stands out on its’ own as a new junction for the band.
Is their any significance to the albums title?
Absolutely, there is every significance to the theme of the record in the title itself. The entire thing is about feeling detached and separate from the rest of the world. What being a modern human is, is becoming harder and harder to identify with.
This is your first album on your new label of Metal Blade. How are things going on the label so far?
Fantastic! It has been an actual joy to work with the MB team and we are very happy to be a part of their stable.
Were you big Metal Blade fans before you signed?
Metal Blade was a label that we have respected and followed for a long time, but never thought we’d be a part of. Kind of one of those things way in the back of your mind that you hope for, but never really plan on.
What Metal Blade bands and albums are you fans of the most?
Those Once Loyal by Bolt Thrower is one of the heaviest pieces of music every created. Currently, we are happy enough to be on the same label as our friends in Twitching Tongues.
Are you still affiliated with Deathwish Records as well?
Yes, even if only in spirit. Deathwish was a label who treated us with respect and helped us propel ourselves towards progress. One of the wonderful things about this partnership with Metal Blade is how cool they are with collaborating with other labels. Posthuman has a limited color vinyl being sold by Deathwish, and another one being sold by Closed Casket Activities, who we worked with prior to Deathwish.
After the record is released, Harms Way are hitting the road in the US with Ringworm, Vein and Queensway. Are you excited to get back on the road?
If you would have asked me this like 2 months ago after our last tour, I would have given a pretty luke-warm answer. However, it’s been a good amount of time for us since we have toured heavily and I have started to miss it. This year will be one of our busiest, and I am definitely excited.
Will you be playing a lot of new material at these upcoming shows?
Yes, we will be playing several new songs.
You played at the FYA Fest with Chain Of Strength, Code Orange, Infest and Earth Crisis amongst others. How did the show go?
I am writing to you the day after we have played, it was quite an ordeal getting home due to flight delays but the fest was great. Flying out for one-off shows is always a little weird, but we felt at home.
What Harms Way song always gets the pit going the most?
It really varies from place to place, but luckily our set lists are pretty diverse across all of our records so a couple of them usually do the trick.
Who have you enjoyed touring with the most?
This might be the most difficult question on this entire thing! It’s tough to say, though we have never had a tour where we were dying to get away from any of the bands or anything. Anytime we get to tour with our friends, it’s suddenly my favorite tour of all time so I think I just have to keep it with the most recent: the tour with Every Time I Die, Knocked Loose and Eternal Sleep was an absolute blast.
Who would you love for Harms Way to tour with in the future?
We would love to tour with Hatebreed and Nine Inch Nails. Together.
Will you be making it over to the UK and Europe next summer for the festival season?
How did the Point Blank tour with Soulfly, Noisem and Lody Kong go?
It was great. It was kind of strange for us because we were only on the tour for such a short amount of time (2 weeks) but we very much enjoyed sharing the stage with everyone in the bands and their road crew.
Were you big fans of Soulfly, Nailbomb and Sepultura?
On every single Harm’s Way release, there is a song that is simply called “Sepultura” during the writing process, as a temporary name. I mean that quite literally, every single record. Although Soulfly and especially Nailbomb were relatively new to me, Sepultura was a huge influence on all of us.
What was it like touring with such a metal legend as Max Cavalera? It must have been a big family vibe with his sons band playing as well.
It was great, they are all very cool and down to earth, I am happy to say. It was awesome watching them go out and perform the hell out of that record every night without a hitch.
What is the hardcore scene like in your hometown of Chicago at the moment?
The hardcore scene here is thriving, to say the least. There are lots of younger bands from the city or surrounding areas that are getting more and more attention country wide and I am very happy about that.
Were Chicago hardcore bands like The Effigies, Articles Of Faith and Los Crudos an influence on you and your sound at all?
Quite frankly, no. We are all familiar those bands and I know a few of us are fans, but the musical style had very little in common with what we were trying to do. Some of our bigger Chicago influences come from a band called The Killer, Weekend Nachos and more recently, earlier Ministry records.
You mention Weekend Nachos as an influence, what about other powerviolence bands from DeKalb, Illinois like Charles Bronson?
Well, Charles Bronson was definitely a band that could have influenced us, at least when it came to energy and vibe. I remember getting their discography as a young man and listening to it on the bus to high school, I wanted to play music like that and Infest. Nachos started very shortly before Harms Way did, John from Nachos was actually our first bass player for a couple of records, and Andy from Nachos produced every single Harms Way record until Posthuman. So, you could say that Weekend Nachos had a huge impact on our band.
What does hardcore mean to you in the year 2018?
More than anything, hardcore to me is a sense of community and friendship. I couldn’t care less about what style any band is playing, whether it’s heavy/beatdown kind of stuff or more pop/punk kind of stuff. Hardcore is hardcore.
What new hardcore bands can you recommend to us?
Vein from Massachusetts will have a new record coming out in 2018 on Closed Casket Activities.
What are your top three hardcore albums of all time?
Age of Quarrel – Cro-Mags
Master Killer – Merauder
Satisfaction is the Death of Desire – Hatebreed
What is the greatest hardcore show that you have ever seen?
I think my favorite was a show in Chicago in like 2010 or 2011, it was, Cro-Mags, Merauder, Death Threat, The Killer, Convicted (a band 3 of us from Harms Way were in) and Left Hand Path.
It was just a lot of fun and everyone was excited to see every band. I think it’s the last time I can remember all of my friends participating in a show together.
Which band have been the biggest influence on you as a musician?
That’s an interesting question. There’s really a lot of possible answers, but I think I could just say Metallica.
What were your top three albums of 2017?
The Demonstration – Drab Majesty
Hiss Spun – Chelsea Wolfe
As You Please – Citizen