Nathan Ells may listen to a lot of electronic and hip-hop music, but when asked what kind of dessert he’d like to be, The Human Abstract’s lead singer remained true to his band’s heavy roots. “How about devil’s food cake with dark chocolate shredded on the top – now that’s metal!” he laughed.
The Human Abstract, based in Los Angeles, has been causing waves of the tidal type after the release of their debut album, Nocturne, on Hopeless Records in August 2006. While they may be labelled as metal or metalcore (blend of metal and hardcore), the band members draw their inspirations from many different places, going as far as classical music, acoustic and even folk, making their sound visibly distinct from your average metal-head act.
“I do like some metal bands but it’s not something I listen to exclusively,” Ells explained. “I stray from listening to metal vocalists. As a vocalist, it’s really easy to be influenced, so I like to listen to people who are not metal. I try listening to as much a wide variety of things as I can. I draw in a lot of different influences. I really like punk, like The Cramps. I do love The Refused, they have their shit together.”
Something that definitely can be said about The Human Abstract as well. When a band borrows its name from one of William Blake’s “most allegorical and impenetrable poems” and looks to classical music for inspiration, you can bet its members are on to something.
Ells, who isn’t one of the founding members and only joined recently, says the band’s sound is really descriptive of what all the members (which includes AJ Minette on lead guitar and piano, Dean Herrera on rhythm guitar and Brett Powell on drums) wanted it to sound like. Budget restrains may have stopped The Human Abstract from bringing in more real classical instruments onto the album, but the music-writing process did something else for this quintet: it brought all of its members together.
“It’s funny, the actual writing and recording process was actually my getting to know the rest of the band process,” said Ells, who tried out for The Human Abstract after getting a call from a friend in L.A.
“It was a pretty intense time period. I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or get into any fights or anything because I had just met everybody. But, at the same time, we were trying to write an album. Oh man, it was something else. But we were all really pleased with it in the end and we’ve all become amazing friends. I feel great about the band I’m in.”
After paying us a visit last December as part of a Protest The Hero headliner, the band is about to embark on yet another Canadian tour, this time opening the stage for All That Remains. And regardless of a little incident that took place in Toronto last month, this time around The Human Abstract have their minds set on setting foot onto Canadian soil.
“Oh, the Canadian border!” Ells exclaimed. “Every band talks about it, and it’s pretty interesting because no matter who you are, it seems everyone has trouble getting in.” He attributes our fellow border officials’ decision to deny him entrance due to a D.U.I. he got back in California and which was eventually stripped off his record – a plot twist the border guys seemed to be unaware of.
“I told them their records were out of date and so I tried to get a fax sent up to them, but they wouldn’t let me use their fax machine. It was just really frustrating,” Ells recalled.
“But oh, I love Canada,” he added. “Canada is amazing. Some of our favourite shows have been in Canada. Everyone there is just so much more attentive. Everyone is just really great, like, ‘hey dude, how’s it going, eh!'” In fact, The Human Abstract and Protest The Hero ended up becoming really tight friends – and, in true Myspace fashion, the bands have added each other to their “top 8” friends.
“Touring in general is really crazy, like taking off across America or wherever you may be touring and you’re like these nomads,” Ells mused.
“When you meet up with your fellow crew who is going to travel with you, there is this camaraderie that you can’t deny. There’s always a brotherhood that comes about a tour.”
The Human Abstract plays
Club Soda with All That
Remains and Misery Signals Monday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.