By Blake Garris
Burn Halo may not be as established as the other bands on the SNO CORE tour, but the crew's cred cannot be denied. With members formerly of Jane's Addiction, Nickelback, Avenged Sevenfold and Eighteen Visions, Burn Halo brings the rock! Now hitting the road on the SNO CORE tour with Static-X and The Flood—sponsored by imeem, ARTISTdirect and Marvel Digital Comics—Burn Halo stands poised to break out big time!
We recently spoke with lead singer James Hart in the midst of the SNO CORE tour about all things Burn Halo, how they differ from Eighteen Visions, how he can beat you at Madden and his love for THE DARK TOWER and Captain America. And while we're on the subject, for more information on the SNO CORE tour and a chance to win an ESP/LTD guitar signed by Static-X, Burn Halo and The Flood, plus a subscription to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited visit www.snocore.com/sweepstakes.
Marvel.com: For people who don't know the story, tell me how Burn Halo formed.
James Hart: When Eighteen Visions split up in '07, I knew I still wanted to write and release music as well as tour. I was set up with songwriter Zac Maloy. From May-September '07, we wrote about 20 or so songs that we then recorded in the fall and winter. I had put together a great cast of studio players since I did not have a band in line at the time. When I finally decided to release the album with a full band in line rather than as a solo artist, I was introduced to all of the guys through mutual friends that came highly recommended as players and people.
Marvel.com: Obviously, people are going to blindly compare you to Eighteen Visions. Is that a valid characterization or what would you say to tell people otherwise?
James Hart: I would tell people otherwise. I'm actually glad this thing has taken a couple of years to get going. It has let the whole 18V thing die down. If I would've released this album a year ago, I think I would get a lot more "why doesn't this sound like 18V?" I don't want 18V fans wanting another 18V record from me. The down time has definitely let me reinvent myself as an artist. Musically this a lot different than 18V. I think for a first time listener it would be a lot easier to digest. It's easier and much more simple, which I like. It's a lot brighter sounding as well. It does have its darker moments lyrically, but that's what 18V was, a dark rock/metal band. I wanted to get the furthest away from that as possible and I think I did.
Marvel.com: You recruited an all-star lineup to help with your recently released self-titled debut. Can you drop some names?
James Hart: My good friend Neal Tiemann did most of the guitar work on the album. I met Neal in Tulsa when we were writing. He did all of the demo work for me. He now plays with his good friend David Cook who won American Idol last year. Chris Chaney is the best bassist I have ever seen. He was in Jane's Addiction and did some studio work for my manager on a project a few years ago, so he was an easy nab. I had wanted a great rock drummer that could really get the vibe I wanted. I am a big Nickelback fan and love the drum tones on their albums as well as the playing style, so I had Zac look into Daniel Adair. He was such an awesome guy to work with and we will stay in touch. Synyster Gates from Avenged Sevenfold has been a longtime friend of mine. Those guys are always pulling for me, so when I asked him if he'd like to lend a guitar, he was there in seconds. It's good to have friends that are always pulling for you in this industry.
Marvel.com: Describe the record for me.
James Hart: To me, this is a modern rock album. It fits right in there with Buckcherry or Avenged and could go along well with Shinedown, Hinder or Nickelback fans. I really wanted to make a modern rock album that had the "great" aspects of the mid-late '80s rock bands. I wanted it to be fun and I also wanted guitar solos that could really sing their own song within the song. You get a lot of pointless shredding nowadays and I'm not that into it. I really wanted the leads to be in good taste and memorable. I think it also has the lyrical vibe of those great '90s rock bands as well. They are real and personal.
Marvel.com: Currently you're on the SNO CORE tour with Static-X. How is that going?
James Hart: It's a different type of crowd than what we have been playing to, but it's going great. I love a challenge. This crowd is a little harder to win over, but when you do win them over it just means that much more.
Marvel.com: Tell me about your tour partners: imeem, ARTISTdirect and Marvel Digital Comics.
James Hart: I think it's great having non music partners to sponsor tours and bands. It's a great way to cross promote. I've always been a big fan of cross promotion. A lot of people tend to blow stuff off like that, but they'd be surprised how much it can do for a band or product. It's all about name recognition. You want to get your name, band or product out there for people to see.
Marvel.com: What Marvel comics have you been into lately?
James Hart: I've always been into THE DARK TOWER.
Marvel.com: How are you keeping up with them with your busy touring schedule?
James Hart: We try to hit up a book store on an off day, but sometimes it gets hard so you have a lot of catching up to do when you get home.
Marvel.com: What are your favorite Marvel stories from the past?
James Hart: I like the classics. Captain America and Spider-Man.
Marvel.com: If you had to pick three favorite Marvel heroes, or villains, who would they be and why?
James Hart: Captain America because he fights and destroys Nazis. Gambit was cool, too. I liked the way he looks and how they tied in voodoo to his character and the series. Rogue was his girl too which doesn't hurt. Of course Wolverine is always a fan favorite. He just has that cool "I don't give a $@#&" persona as well. Super stoked that they are finally doing the movie as well.
Marvel.com: Do you think comics and music have anything in common?
James Hart: I think the common ground would be the storytelling side of music. Not every band wants to go out and paint a picture lyrically of a story, but I like to. I think it helps listeners connect with the song mentally and visually. I definitely think comics have a one up on painting the visual aspect of the story though.
Marvel.com: Rumor has it you've been playing "Call of Duty: World at War" with fans on Xbox Live.
James Hart: Yeah, we just finished that up and it was a blast. We've never had the chance to do something like that before. It was cool interacting with the fans and just getting into the game. I'd like to try and do more of it on the road. I've got a game console at home, but haven't been able to get into the live interactive portion yet due to being out on the road, but I've got a few friends that are wanting to get me on there.
Marvel.com: What other games do you play on the road?
James Hart: I'm a huge football fan so I love "Madden." I will probably play that game till the day I die. I was super into the "Star Wars: Battlefront" games as well when those came out a couple of years back. Everyone of course loves "Guitar Hero" as well. That's always a fun one.
Marvel.com: Who is the best gamer in the band?
James Hart: When it comes to "Madden," no one here can touch me. As for the other games, I would say Aaron (Baylor) has a one up on everyone. He's the youngest so he is probably more into video games than anyone else right now.
Marvel.com: And finally, why should people go to the SNO CORE tour or see a live Burn Halo show?
James Hart: We put a lot of energy into our show as an opener. We don't just try and warm the crowd up. We want them to leave the show thinking that we were the steal of the night. That we came from out of nowhere and won them over. We try to get the crowd involved as much as possible. No matter how big the crowd or venue, we always try and make it as intimate as possible and connect with the crowd. They go home with something special that way.
Pick up Burn Halo's self titled debut out on Rawkhead Rekords. Also, make sure to catch them now on the SNO CORE tour with Static-X and The Flood. For a chance to win an ESP/LTD guitar signed by all four bands and a subscription to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, visit www.snocore.com/sweepstakes.
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