An Interview with Trevor Church of Haunt

Haunt Interview: Trevor William Church on 'If Icarus Could Fly' - Rolling  Stone

It’s the week before Halloween and things are starting to get pretty spooky out there. So, what better way to ring in this dark and sinister time of year than with some Heavy Metal! This week, I am proud to present to you my “sit down” with the incredibly talented and versatile Trevor Church. Metalheads will know full well the prolific talents of Trevor Church. His bands Beastmaker and Haunt have been making serious waves across the indie Metal scene for several years now. If you’re a fan of of Doom, then you will be right at home with Beastmaker. If your sensibilities tend to lie more toward the traditional Metal scene, then not to worry, Trevor has you covered with Haunt! If you are interested in checking out some of Trevor’s music, you can head here to dig into Beasmaker and here to sample of Haunt’s tasty licks. A great deal of Haunt and Beastmaker’s albums are on sweet and tasty vinyl, so you want to get those while you can! This year, Trevor released both Flashback and Triumph with Haunt and 8 EPs with Beastmaker! So, that gives you a lot of fantastic music to chew on. In the meantime, please settle in and enjoy learning about one of the most prolific and talented artists in Rock and Heavy Metal music today. I truly hope you enjoy getting to know Trevor as much as I did.

Andrew:
Trevor, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! Tell us about your back story. How did you start playing music? What was your musical gateway so to speak? 

Trevor:
I have had instruments around me as long as I can remember. My first instrument was drums but I didn’t really take it super serious and I wanted a guitar. My parents got me a guitar when I was around 6 years old and I messed around with it for a long time but didn’t take it seriously until I was about 10 years old. Even then I was into sports. Specifically baseball and skateboarding. Eventually I did start taking it seriously and my cousin Michael started showing me how to play songs by Metallica. I started my first band in 8th grade but I didn’t start playing actual real shows until I was 18. I lived in a small town and it seemed far fetched. But eventually I moved away to pursue school and music. 

Andrew:
My understanding is your dad is Bill Church, the bass player for Van Morrison, Montrose and most famously, Sammy Hagar (who you’ve known your whole life as well). What was it like growing up with them? How did they influence you musically?

Trevor:
My Dad is definitely a huge influence because he’s my father. He would take me to the record store all the time and really let me pick my own music. As far as Sammy goes, I wasn’t fond of his music until I was much older because I hadn’t connected with it in my formative years. I was much more into bands like the Misfits, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Ozzy, and stuff like that. As I got older and my musical taste started evolving, I dove into my parent’s record collection and really fell in love with BÖC and Thin Lizzy which eventually led me to start listening to Hagar who now is one of my biggest influences because he treats his fans so well. My mom’s cousin is Denny Carmassi so I always listened to Heart a lot. My grandma on my mom’s side loved them and she watched me growing up. I was and always have been enamored by Denny. He’s a great drummer. Also, my uncle Paul had some success in his band Cry Wolf, a sunset strip metal band that toured Japan frequently. He’s a bad ass drummer to this day. 

Andrew:
You are the singer and lead guitarist for the Heavy Metal band, Haunt. Tell us how that got started?

Trevor:
I would say I’m much more than just that. I write all of the material and write all the instrumentation minus the solos done by guitarist John Tucker. I also self produce and engineer the records as well as managing basically everything. I also ship all the online orders and have started my own label Church Recordings. Beastmaker wasn’t really scratching my lead guitar itch. I wanted to pursue a more melodic approach and so when I brought the ideas to our drummer, Andy. He wasn’t super thrilled with my songs and said that’s for another band and I decided to call the project Haunt and slowly started to get the EP done. It actually took me a year to get the nerve to release because I had no time for two bands. 

From Hagar to Haunt: The Making of Trad-Metal Champion Trevor Church |  Revolver

Andrew:
I’ve been following Haunt since Luminous Eyes and Burst into Flame, and I’ve noticed over the last year or so the band is finally starting to get some more recognition. How satisfying is that?

Trevor:
I would do this either way, but it’s nice because it’s allowed me to focus more on the creative side and not have to work a day job which I did for many years; that really narrowed my ability to fully see my dreams come to fruition. I always wanted to have that punk rock DIY ethos like Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi.  I just want to write music and create stuff with other bands as well. That’s the dream. 

Andrew:
The way I found your music was through Bandcamp, and I am sure many readers will share that same experience. How instrumental has Bandcamp been in helping you spread your music? How important do you think Bandcamp is to indie artists in general?

Trevor:
It allows me to connect with my fans directly which I think in this commercial corporate digital music era is important. The disconnect I feel is too far gone from the days of old when we would go into a record store and buy an album blindly without hearing it. With everything at your finger tips in the streaming world, I think it’s so important to have artist to fan interaction which creates a new era of finding bands. Knowing you can literally connect with the band directly is pretty rad and I would’ve loved to send a band a message when I was young, even if they didn’t respond. 

Andrew:
Haunt was initially a sort of solo project, right? With your first EP, Luminous Eyes, basically being recorded by only yourself and drummer, Daniel Wilson. What was that experience like? How did it differ from your most recent album which was recorded with the full band? 

Trevor:
The most recent album is 100% recorded by myself alone minus a few solos. There have only been a few releases where I didn’t do mostly everything. The songs are always completed before I even show the live band. I consider myself a singer/songwriter and it was more or less my previous relationship with Shadow Kingdom that thought presenting Haunt as a band was a better idea. I’ve since then not felt that way because usually a band is collaborative and that’s just not the case. The guys are great musicians and I don’t mean to take away any roll they have, but as far as the creative side of things, it’s one sided and who knows where the road will lead. I’d like to guest other musicians on my music. Just recently I used my friend Francis Roberts to help with synth on my reimagined Triumph which is Luminous Eyes and Mosaic Vision rerecorded onto one album with new elements.

Beastmaker's Trevor Church on the Band's Eight (!) Blistering New EPs |  Bandcamp Daily

Andrew:
You have a reputation for being extremely hard working, with you having been quoted as saying, “You don’t stop working everyday just because something is done. There’s always more to do.” I would say your hard work is paying off! Why is that type of work ethic important to you
?

Trevor:
I don’t like feeling useless. Everyday should be spent doing something productive and fun. I wouldn’t even call it hard work when you are enjoying yourself. I definitely burn the midnight oil a lot as far as my ambition goes. 

Andrew:
You also have another project called Beastmaker, which saw you release forty songs in six months! Can you tell us more about Beastmaker and the motivation to release so much music in such a short period of time?

Trevor;
The project as a live band was coming to an end and Haunt’s momentum was really shaping up and I knew I needed to get my unreleased music out before I moved to far from it and it never seeing the light of day. I recorded and did all of the instruments for the 12 EPs released after the Rise Above Records era came to an end which was John Tucker and Andy Saldate. It was truly the last time when I had a traditional band in the sense of it all. The only reason I didn’t include them was the complication of time of learning the massive amount of material and have it recorded in a matter of time that would work with what visions I had for Haunt musically. 

Andrew:
You grew up in the era of “Satanic Panic.” What are your thoughts on that fascinating and odd period for Heavy Metal music? Do you think it shaped the way the genre evolved to present day at all?

Trevor:
The only thing the satanic panic did was make me want to listen to those bands. So good work Tipper Gore and all those evangelist types. I’m not sure the social impact of this for the genre. I would just say it probably did something but I wouldn’t be able to really notice. 

Haunt hold down the heavy metal fort with “Defender” | lab.fm

Andrew:
To my ears, Haunt tends to lean toward more “traditional” Metal. I hear Maiden, Ozzy, and Sabbath there. While Beastmaker is more Doom centered, and I can’t help but get Saint Vitus and Pentagram vibes. Was the split in styles intentional? Do you ever consider blurring the lines and merging the two?

Trevor:
I’m only working on Haunt and I’ve done a few songs that I actually wrote as possible Beastmaker songs. ‘Mind Freeze’ was a song I wrote as a possible Beastmaker song and also ‘Electrified’ off of Flashback. So maybe it shows a little bit but I prefer to stray from Doom for now. It’s a limiting genre with road blocks. With Haunt, I can just be whatever I’m feeling with no specific genre attachment. 

Andrew:
In my opinion, you are one of the more talented guitarists coming out of today’s Metal scene. Who are some of your influences that helped shape your style?

Trevor;
James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, Chris Poland, George Lynch, Sammy Hagar, Eddie Van Halen, Kirk Hammett, John Christ, Randy Rhoads, Jake E. Lee, Neil Schon. To name a few. There are many, many more but these guys are definitely what pushed my progression. And also, thank you for that nice comment on my talent. 

Andrew:
A lot of people try to define what it means to be “Metal.” What are your feelings on that? What are your thoughts on the idea of genres in general?

Trevor:
Genre titles are limiting and make me uncomfortable. I think Rock and Metal are one. I understand the need for genre separation so people can find what they want to hear. But artistically I like to just do what is coming from the heart. Sometimes I feel like my music is kind of Poppy but my love for guitar solos is definitely a bit more on the heavy metal side. I do love the words “Heavy Metal” because it has such a nice ring to it. But what truly makes a band Heavy Metal? Is it the clothes and the look? The attitude? 

Haunt Stream New Song 'Defender' | Decibel Magazine

Andrew:
You are the primary songwriter, and lyricist of both Beastmaker and Haunt. Do you find that difficult? How do you find inspiration?

Trevor:
Beastmaker was driven lyrically off of horror much like the Misfits and Danzig, who were hugely influential to me. I loved the story telling side. I always thought it’d be cool to write movie scripts and direct, but I’m not that guy, so I did it in song form. I can’t really write that way anymore; it’s gotten more personal with Haunt which was how I envisioned since day one I wanted people to feel what I was feeling. So, with 39 years on this planet, I’ve dealt with tragedy, love, happiness, sadness and everything in between at this point, so I feel like I have enough life knowledge to put them into words that mean more than just coming up with stories. 

Andrew:
Do you collect vinyl? Tapes? CD’s? Or are you all digital now? If so, what are some albums that mean the most to you? Where do you like to shop for music?

Trevor:
I collect all three but not like a collector. Usually at shows I buy vinyl. If not there, now I use Bandcamp, but I also like CDs for the ease of listening in the car. Tapes are my nostalgia. I like making my own tapes but only collect a few favorite bands on cassette. I actually collect vintage effects pedals and also I have a vast collection of musical instruments which is my main collecting passion. 

Andrew:
This past July, Haunt released a new album called Flashback and it’s awesome! What can you tell us about it?

Trevor:
It’s the same general thing I’ve done since day one. Write a batch of songs and decide if I want to put it on an album. The big difference was this was recorded during COVID-19, where usually I’d have interactions with the live band and my friend and mixing colleague Andy Saldate. My friend Marco Calderas was my companion in mixing it and we did that all online. I do like an outside opinion and someone to show my progress to as I record. John Tucker came by and his solos are featured on 3 tracks. Max Tremblay did the art which is the same artist I’ve been working with since Burst Into Flame. It was nice to really focus and I looked deeper inside lyrically to what felt relevant with my personal life. The song ‘Flashback’ is about my time spent with my skateboard. It’s something I can’t really do like I once did, so those are the days of glory which I’m speaking of. 

Andrew:
Last question. Has today’s musical landscape changed for better or worse? Are there any bands out there that you think are carrying the torch? What advice do you have for young musicians trying to get their start?

Trevor:
Sadly, I’d say with commercial digital distribution it’s worse because the art of music isn’t respected in the same way. It’s much, much harder to survive and focus primarily on music. Which, believe me, as a songwriter it’s hard to work a job that isn’t music and literally think of music all day. Loads of great bands, too many to even name. The torch will always burn on in my opinion. My advice to younger bands is follow your dreams and never give up. Sometimes these things can take a long time and the dream can fade. Don’t let it fade away ever. It will “Haunt” you if you do. 

Fresno heavy metal band is looking to make it big | The Fresno Bee

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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