Havok’s Michael Joseph Leon talks about touring and their new album


Let’s say we have 10 bands being spawned each minute and as per the current fad cycle,  out of these a good 3-4 will be/are throwbacks. Said bands seek to time travel and ride on the novelty value of bands of yesteryear. Some do it with much finesse and put their own spin to it, while some make a mockery of themselves by belting out insipid rehashes. Havok is a band that belongs to the former set. Adding enough doses of technicality, Havok play thrash as it was in its heyday. Today our very own Raj Sharma catches up with the newest bassist to the Havok lineup, Michael Joseph Leon. Micheal is also the bassist for the melodic death metal band The Absence.

Havok is all set to release Unnatural Selection on June 25th, via Candlelight Records.

1. Greetings from Metalspree, how are you doing Michael??

Good dude! Just recovering from the Depise the World European Tour with Suffocation, Cephalic Carnage, and Fallujah! It was an insanely fun trip to say the least!

2. Tell us about your new album, how nasty is it?? In your words, how is it different from all previous Havok releases??

It’s pretty nasty in my opinion! It’s a bit more dynamic than the previous records, in that a few songs are a bit slower than your average Havok fan would be used to! The songs are great though, and each one rocks hard! Also, it is the first record that i’ve recorded with the band, so expect a change in the bass playing, there’s alot of sweet slapping riffs im sure you’ll enjoy!

3. Havok has been often mentioned as a retro-thrash metal outfit by the critics, how much do you agree with that and why so ??

In someways, I do agree with that “title” because let’s face it, the first few releases are really…well, thrashy haha! But I do believe the music does have a certain vibe to it that transcends the “retro-thrash” ideas. When people who are unfamiliar with the band ask me what kind of music we play, I just say “heavy metal”!!

4. Tell us how did the guys get you on the bass duties after jesse’s departure ??

I have known the dudes way back in 2010 when my band The Absence was on tour with Havok, Full Blown Chaos, Beyond Terror Beyond Grace and Malevolent Creation. We grew to be great friends immediately, and since then, we have stayed in very close contact. Pete actually played drums in the Absence for one tour in 2011 with Evergrey, Sabaton, Blackguard and Powerglove! This past winter, I was doing sound and merch for Havok on the Skeletonwitch tour, and the Barge to Hell Cruise, so when I got the call a few weeks later that Jesse wasn’t going to be in the band anymore, we all knew at that point that I was the dude that would replace him. Best wishes to that dude, he’s a very important part of the bands history and i’m lucky to have the same opportunity he did for so long!

5. How’s the tour life  going on with Havok?? As the newest member, tell us your favorite Havok song to play live? Just one though. 😉

Touring with Havok is just as fun as ever! Like I said before, i’ve toured with the dudes quite a few times before, the only difference now is that i’m playing on stage and posing in the pictures haha! Honestly, its a blast to play the songs, but my personal favorite to play live is probably “Fatal Intervention”! It’s a very aggresive song with some fun stuff going on in the bass department!!

6. You guys have been constantly touring right after the release of PONR’, how fun was it supporting Suffocation? Have you heard their latest release yet?

The Suffocation tour was insane! Every person on the tour was cool as fuck, including all the dudes in Cephalic Carnage and Fallujah! We did some things on this tour that would make the dudes in Jackass proud thats for sure haha! I watched a bit of Suffo’s set everynight, all their shit is so brutal! I did enjoy the new songs they played in their set everynight!

7. You guys went out and recorded drums for the new album in a theater for the first time? How was the experience? And was it Pete’s idea of recording it in a theater?

The whole band agreed that recording in the Gothic Theater would be the best option for the new album, and it was pretty damn fun! Well, im not sure how much fun Pete had playing drums from sunrise to midnight 2 days in a row haha! It was a great learning experience, and the drum tracks turned out just as rad as we hoped they would!

Album art for the new ‘Unnatural Selection’


8.Your song “From The Cradle To The Grave” is about America’s first serial killer H.H Holmes, does the new album have any particular storyline/concept to it?

Unnatural Selection has a few different directions lyrically. There are a few songs with strong political views, a few about human civilization at its worst and finest, and a couple about the stressful process that is touring, writing, recording, and producing a new album! Overall, there are a lot of positive messages for self-realization, and education in worldly events, you’ll see what I mean when you hear the songs!!

9. On a personal note, I think your covers took more of the attention from the crowd than your original songs in the early release of PONR. This time you are just doing a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Children of the grave”? Was it a mutual decision by the band on covering this particular Sabbath song or does the cover somehow fit your new album??

The decision to cover that song in particular was made before I joined the band, but I’m still really stoked about it! It ended up sounding really awesome, and who doesn’t love the shit out of Black Sabbath!! I’d say that the lyrical theme of the song is what ties it into the record the most!

10. Any new bands that you’ve been digging lately, or might have crashed into on tour and also want to give a shout out to??

There are a few rad bands that I’ve met on tour in the past that im totally stoked on right now! Fallujah impressed the shit out of me on the Despise the World tour, and i’m very excited about their new full length release! Those dudes have a bright future ahead, love those guys! Revocation is another one of my favorite bands these days, their new record is sure to be a sick one as well! My brothers and sister in Blackguard have a new release in the works that im very stoked on! So many good bands these days!!

11. Thanks a lot for the interview; we are definitely having beers once you get Havok to India, any last words to the fans??

My pleasure dude, any time!! We would more than love to come play for you in India, let’s make it happen! Thank you for supporting and promoting the band, you are what keeps us alive and kickin’ ass! Make sure you pick up a copy of the new album “Unnatural Selection” and play that shit as loud as you can for all your friends! Let’s bring Havok to India!!!!!  \m/ Rock on! \m/

Watch their brand new video!!

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