Interview with Johnny Haven, The Burning (January 2008)

With an excellent debut, "Storming the Walls", just out, up-and-coming Danes The Burning owe us a few answers if you ask's Thomas. The Burning's front shouter Johnny Haven offered the wanted info. 

Hello Johnny, and congrats on the release of your debut! Storm the Walls is a cool album. I reckon there's a lot of self-confidence in the band right now? 

Johnny: Hey Thomas, yeah sure, we are extremely happy with the way people are welcoming the new record!  It's not that we were nervous, but just a little anxious to see how people would react to our sound and the way we play our metal.
There are quite a few things that we do differently: We only have one guitar, we play with the bass very high in the mix, we play a little slower and heavier than others, our songs are shorter and more to the point, and we don't do the clean vocal choruses with keyboards or any of that stuff.  And we didn't know if we were the only people in the world that wanted metal like that?  But judging from the feedback and reviews, I guess people were ready for some slow groovy death metal mixed with brutal modern thrash so that's cool, ha ha!! :) 

Tell the readers a bit about yourself; how long have you been around and what makes you tick? 

Johnny: Rasmus and I formed the band in the summer of 2005. He had been playing in Panzerchrist (Danish death metal band). But wanted to go in another direction with his music.

Me and him recorded some demo tracks on my old computer. It sounded pretty rough, but you could hear what we wanted to do and what kind of style we were aiming at. We knew right away that we only wanted one guitar player: Rasmus likes doing all the guitar stuff himself. We wanted it to be as cut to the bone as possible, no guitar hero harmonics in this band. There are so many bands out there doing a fine job at that all ready.

Thue (bass) is an old friend of mine, and one of the best bass players I have ever seen. He really is so unbelievably talented! Well, we asked Thue if he wanted to play in the "band" being only me and Rasmus there really wasn't much of a band, ha ha! But it turned out that he loved what we were doing so he jumped on board right away. Then we just needed a kick ass drummer. Rasmus wrote on a Danish musicians forum that we were looking for a drummer. And after a few days of mailing back and forth with Toby we met at my place so he could listen to the songs we had recorded. He doesn't come from an "all metal" background. He is really more of a rock n roll drummer. But that was just what we were looking for, someone with a lot of groove. Not a blastbeat 100 miles an hour drummer. That's pretty much how it got started a little over two years ago. 

Where did the name The Burning come from? Who was on fire? 

Johnny: He he, yeah, it is a stupid name we know, but everybody liked it better than the original one: "Fat-Danish-Dudes-Super-Heavy-Doom/Death-Band-With-An-Evil-Name" HA HAA!! :) 

Who・d you say has been your main sources of inspiration when you started playing music? You do you hear in what you do today? 

Johnny: We are old dudes, man, so naturally we are inspired by the bands that were big when we were kids; Sepultura, Obituary, Megadeth, Carcass, Pantera, Gorefest and all those nasty bands from the Nineties. I think it's natural for a band to let its influences shine through in its music, and I think you can hear a little bit from each of those bands in our music.  

Are there any plans for a big tour now? 

Johnny: Yeah, we are going to tour a lot in Denmark, there is about 15-20 big places in Denmark where you can play, and we are visiting all of them through January, February and March, and then in the beginning of May we are going to do Europe with Urkraft and Illdisposed as support for them on the Danish Dynamite 2 Tour! That is going to be awesome, we can't wait to play everywhere and see how people react to our music! 

Speaking of tour: Who・d be on the bill on the tour of your dreams? 

Johnny: Pantera, back when "Vulgar Display of Power" had just come out, and Danzig around the "How the Gods Kill" days, I love that record. And perhaps Judas Priest and Slayer?

Who・s the main song writer in The Burning? What・s the creative process like in your band? 

Johnny: Rasmus and I do the music 50/50. He is constantly writing riffs and melodies, and I am always writing vocal melodies, structuring for songs, and rhythm ideas. Then we put those things together, and when we think it sounds good enough and we have a basic structure, we bring it into the practice room, and then the whole band works on it until it works and sounds like a The Burning song. 

As you mentioned before, you have just one guitarist in the band unlike most others in the genre. Doesn・t it worry you that you might come across less heavy on stage? 

Johnny: No, we were never really scared about not sounding heavy enough, 'cause Thue plays with so much distortion on his bass, that it almost sounds like a second guitar, and Rasmus plays a tuned down 7 string guitar, and that is way enough to give us the super heavy sound we want... Just wait 'till you hear it live, you will know what I talking about, he he... 

Who would you say are the prime movers in the Danish metal scene right now? 

Johnny: Dawn of Demise have an excellent album called "Hate Takes its Form" coming out, and the new Arcane Order record is sounding very nice, a lot different than the last one. Those are my two favourite Danish metal bands right now. But I must say that I am also pretty curious to see what Illdisposed have come up with for their new record. 

You・re allowed five albums on your iPod before you're sent off to a deserted island. Which five would make it on there? 

Slayer - Seasons in the Abyss
Pantera - Cowboys from Hell 
Sepultura - Arise
Judas Priest - Painkiller
Johnny Cash - American Recordings 5 

Thank you for answering my questions - any last rants for our readers? 

Johnny: Thank you for showing interest in our band, we hope to see everyone soon on tour for blood, sweat and beers!


The Burning - Storming the Walls

Album available through Target Distribution.

For more info on bandet - click on the album cover.