Kristian Havard


When there wasn't a need of change anywhere in the world? Our world is constantly changing, whether for the better, or for the worse. However, one things remain, while the tides are shifting so does the need for something new, a phenomenon that is not always healthy so to speak. After being ripped of the possibility to promote their previous record properly due to the pandemic, the British Thrash Metal zealots, Xentrix, return with a tougher message, a new record, "Seven Words". Steinmetal had the pleasure once again to have a chat with guitarist Kristian Havard about the happenings surrounding the album, the experience and more…
October 19, 2022
Xentrix's Kristian Havard: "We still have the same jealousies
Hi Kristian, it is great to have you again for a conversation with Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things going on your end sir?

Things are great, the first single from our new album was just released and people are liking it so that's a big relief. And we're really looking forward to the upcoming Headbangers ball tour in Europe next month.

Last time that we talked, it was prior to all the mess that occurred starting in the early stages of 2020, but it was surrounding the happy days of "Bury The Pain". Quite challenging years we had in the last period of time. From your perspective, how do you sum up the pandemic era, so to speak?

The Pandemic and lockdown meant that we couldn't really play many dates to promote 'Bury The Pain' so it felt liked that album was robbed of any momentum we had. But when lockdown came we just took it as a great opportunity to just write music, there was nothing else to do as a band. I really wanted Jay to be more involved with the writing on this album so when he said that he wanted to write lyrics I was overjoyed. I think it's better if the person that has sings the words has written them, it feels more genuine. I started putting ideas together and sending them to Jay and we put together demos and then as soon as we we're allowed to rehearse we shaped the tunes with the whole band.

"Bury The Pain", your previous, and I can safely call it your comeback album, was released prior to the pandemic, in 2019. Did you have the chance to extensively support it? Would you say that you are satisfied with how it was delivered to your fans and listeners?

No, Bury the Pain didn't get the coverage it deserved but that was down to Covid and of course Brexit which at first caused us problems playing in Europe. I hope that this record will have the knock on effect of people finding that record and hopefully liking it as well.

Right before finishing 2022, you are set to deliver your seventh offering, which was also neatly titled, "Seven Words". Other than being your number seven, as mentioned, what do you mean by the term seven words? Does it have any relation to seven sins or something of a sort?

The number Seven has great meaning in Religion, mythology and superstition so it's a very powerful number. In our song it refers to the two sets of seven words in the lines of the chorus; "The end of this has just begun" and "No love lost, bring me the chaos". The song is about the need for change and revolution and wanting things to change no matter what the cost.

One of the highest traits of Xentrix is to provide the truth in such a manner that it would make you think while hurting the situation the surroundings is in. I see "Seven Words" as a continuation of your legacy, but with more punishing messages and reflections of the real thing behind people. What is your take on that? What is the main focus that is being dealt with on "Seven Words"?

Seven Words deals with different topics that we felt we're worthy of some Xentrix lyrics such as revolution, greed, war and control. The main message is questioning if humanity is really any more civilized than 50, 100, 200, 1000 years ago. We still have the same jealousies, hatred and distrust. Has technology brought us together or has it driven us apart?

After the last two and a half years of pandemic, how did that worldwide catastrophe, that gubled up nearly everything that is social in its path, made it into "Seven Words"? If not, were there any thoughts upon giving it a little space in order to identify?

The pandemic stopped a lot of things, but it didn't stop us from writing music and eventually recording it. We embraced some of the solitude and used it to our advantage and eventually we came out of it with a new record. Technology did help us this time, we were able to collaborate by sending ideas over the internet. If you told original Xentrix that we would be able to share ideas over the phone lines without leaving our houses and make a record we wouldn't have believed it, it's like Science Fiction.

Dan Goldsworthy continued the service for Xentrix by preparing the artwork for "Seven Words". After I was highly impressed with his Ed Repka style, this piece for the album is simply astonishing. From what I can see this is the sign of revolt, maybe what might eventually happen to our world, or perhaps after our generation is gone. How do your fears are channeled through this artwork? What was the vision behind this art?

Jay wrote the lyrics to the track 'Severn Words' and told me the meaning and I thought about those old French Revolution paintings with the piles of bodies and someone holding a flag. I sent the lyrics and some mood board ideas to Dan and suggested we try and keep the 'For Whose Advantage?' guy in there and he came back with this artwork which, once again, blew us all away. He's a great artist and exactly the right guy to do Xentrix album covers.

Maintaining the roots of the British form of Thrash Metal, which have been carved on your skins, "Seven Words" is no different. Nonetheless, the music shares different scents here and there under the clout of the Thrash regime. From where I am sitting, this is still old school stuff yet with several additions in order to freshen things up. How do you relate to that?

I'm happy that you feel that way, we would hope that people feel the same way. That being said… we don't really plan out how we want the music to sound, it just happens. We must subconsciously steer the songs that way but we never have discussions about it. We make the music we make and if people like it then that's a bonus.

Digging deeper into the experiments that are said that you made while writing the music for "Seven Words". How do these experimentation cycles come to light on the written material? What form of influences were in play while you were trying out new things?

We always try something different on every record we make but we don't want to totally stray from our metal roots. We experimented with some funny time signatures like the middle part of 'My War' and the intro to 'Anything but the Truth' has the orchestral parts that just give it a different flavour than just a straight forward thrash tune.

Which aspects of the album's songwriting were provided with more attention than others? How did the process match your expectations and vision for how you wanted "Seven Words" to sound like?

I don't think any one part of the song writing is more important than another. They always start with a guitar idea that gets put together with different drum patterns and then vocal patterns are fitted on top. We very rarely start with a vocal or lyric idea, it's always a guitar riff that leads the way.

Throughout the pandemic, it wasn't easy for anyone to do things, in particular being outside while lockdowns were in effect. With these restrictions, how were you able to process the songwriting sessions of "Seven Words"? Also, this question applies for the rehearsing of the songs

The internet was our friend during lockdown. We rehearsed as soon as we we're allowed to but mainly the time was spent writing and demoing songs for this album. I have a small home studio set up that allows me to use things like Superior drummer and EZBass which are fantastic tools to make great sounding demos. I can then email them to the guys so they can hear more of a solid idea for the song than just a guitar riff on its own.

Massive as the previous album, the sound of "Seven Words" is exceptional, really devouring the Thrash Metal sense, maintaining the aggressive manner. I gather that the similar crew produced and engineered the record, in particular Andy Sneap. So, in a way, "Seven Words" is pretty much the same plethora of sound as "Bury The Pain"? How do you view the sound of the record?

When it comes to Xentrix, I'm quite controlling and should we say 'particular' about what happens with the band, Andy Sneap is the only exception… I trust him completely. He's great, his knowledge of metal is second to none and he's always good fun to do anything musically with. Andy is a great believer of embracing change and embracing technology, he's always got the latest guitar gizmos and recording stuff. There were some differences in the gear we used compared to the last album but essentially the recording process was the same. We go to Andy's studio to record the drums and then we take the sessions away and record everything else remotely and then give it back to Andy to mix.

A song that struck me at first as a little different, yet not the real black sheep, is "Everybody Loves You When You're Dead". Sad but true this phrase happened to plenty of people, those that are remembered fondly even though some were bastards. The musical happening on the song is varied, amid tempo heaviness, showing tightness and great lyrics. How do you find this song yourself?

I love this track. To begin with I wasn't sure about it, I didn't know if it felt like it should be on this record, but after we demoed it and added the lyrics and Jay's vocal performance I knew it was going to be a stand out song. It was one of the first mixes that Andy sent to us and he really brought the growl of the bass sound and the power of the drums to the forefront.

"Kill And Protect" is where the old Xentrix comes to visit, and perhaps not just a visit but deeply rooted. Being a little more energetic, and no less heavy, there is a lot here for any Thrash Metal fan to take hold and cling to. The main riff, even if simply, it slays and pierces. What can you tell about writing this song? In your view, does it have an impact on the rest of the album?

'Kill And Protect" was the last song we wrote. It's about the Satan 2 missile, a weapon that can carry 16 nuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 750 Kilotons and has a range of over 11,000 miles. Before he wrote the lyrics Jay told me he had this song title and idea and I knew I needed to come up with riffs that went with this whole theme. After Den added the double bass beats we knew this was the way to go with this track. I think it's quite a straightforward no frills song but that was what we we're going for.

Covering Alice Cooper was quite the surprise for me as I started listening to "Billion Dollar Babies". Giving that song the Xentrix edge is all that I needed. What was your motivation to cover this specific song? How did it fit what "Seven Words" represent?

We always like to do a cover and we started throwing ideas around quite early on in the writing process. I'd always loved the song from when I first saw Alice in 1986 (I think) when he did the 'Nightmare Returns Tour' and he brought back his old stage props with the Guillotine and the Frankenstein. I think it's important that if you do cover version of a classic tune that you put your own stamp on it without murdering it and I think we've achieved that. I'd like to think that if Alice heard it he'd dig it.

I noticed that you have a couple of somewhat busy months in November and December, finishing the year with bang properly. Are there plans to continue supporting "Seven Words" in 2023?

Yes, we are really looking forward to playing on the Headbangers Ball tour with Vio-Lence, Whiplash and Artillery, it's going to be awesome. After we we're offered the tour Jay had the news that he was going to be a father once more and the due date would clash with the dates so it would mean that he couldn't do the dates. He suggested contacting Chris Astley (Original Singer) who said he would step in and do the gigs. So people on that tour will have a chance to see ¾ of the original line up for one last time. We have some plans to start 2023 promoting the new record and we'll let people know when they're definite.

Kristian, once again, the pleasure is all mine sir to have you for another conversation. I wish you guys all the best, and thank you for a great album. Cheers

No Problem. Cheers. Kristian

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