In Hearts Wake: Your Guide To The World Of Kaliyuga
Other bands talk the talk. Some bands walk the walk. In Hearts Wake? They’re busy running. And rightly so, because if current climate change projections are correct, time is not on our side.
The Aussie heavyweights have never been shy of making as much noise about their activism as they do with their music, but on album five, they’re really putting the work in and proving the courage of their convictions. Kaliyuga sees the five-piece go one step further than ever before, however, having measured the carbon footprint of the recording process and vowing to offset that as best they can. Even the packaging and materials used on physical copies adhere to eco-friendly standards.
“I’ve not seen any band do this before, which made it so difficult,” admits vocalist Jake Taylor. “It was a really cool adventure that we set ourselves on. We calculated every mile, what food we consumed, what kind of lights we used, we measured the studio power via an outlet reader, tracked our flights to America, and even accounted for the packaging of the guitar strings and drumsticks.
“Once we had all that data, we were able to take it to a carbon consultant – we call her our Earth accountant – and discovered that we generated a carbon footprint of 26.37 tonnes. So we’ve offset all of that in a reforestation project here in Australia. It helps the animals and it helps the First Nations people restore their land as well.”
As pioneering as the spirit and intention behind the process is, the message, as always, is just as integral. Over to Jake to explain why now is the time to take stock of a world on fire and why it’s imperative that we all do what we can to help douse the flames…
The Title: Kaliyuga
“I was living in LA when the Californian wildfires were happening, and then the Australian fires started towards the end of the record. It left a really vivid imprint on me. Seeing everything ablaze, ash falling through people’s homes and actually living in that smog really showed me that fire as an element, symbolically and physically, was something that needs to be respected. Through facing the fire in all the things that we do – be it the climate crisis, the material world that we live in, political oppression, and also in Black Lives Matter and the amazing movements that are rising to the surface now, this time in history really feels like what the Ancients called Kaliyuga. Then COVID broke out! But it’s a cycle, like a wheel, a clock or the seasons. Right now I feel like it’s winter and that can be a dark age, but spring will come. It goes back around and a new thing is born. However, it’s not all cyclical in terms of it falling within correct time periods. It’s really up to humanity to decide whether we’ll be around to see that spring or not.”
“I was at the climate strike in New York City when Greta Thunberg made her ‘Our house is on fire’ speech, just prior to us going into the studio. I held my phone up and recorded her, because it was really a powerful moment. She is a symptom of where the world is at, that these old men in Parliament have to listen to a teenage girl to tell them that they’ve done wrong. This really sets the tone for the record.”
“This was written in a day, capturing that feeling of urgency and frustration. It’s a possible future that I and we do not want to see come to fruition. We’ve got to really ask ourselves: do we treat the world how we treat ourselves? We have such a small window of time in which to act.”
Hellbringer (Featuring Jamie Hails)
“Too often a book is judged by its cover. Some people think the metal community is about sacrificing goats in dungeons, when it’s the exact opposite. We’ve got people smiling because they’ve got a sense of release, a place where they feel heard in a community that is supportive. This was a cheeky stab at extreme factions that think this is The Devil’s music. We’re out planting trees and doing pretty much the exact opposite of Satan worshiping! We’ve had extremist groups at our shows in America with signs saying ‘God Hates Fags’ or ‘You’re Going To Hell’, just wanting to provoke.”
“It’s about letting go of what no longer serves us. It feels to us like the light at the end of the tunnel. We wanted this to feel like the dawn. It’s one of the few moments of joy on the record, like a sort of shedding or a letting go, and it’s a bit of a throwback melodically. There is hope, it’s just about us being able to persevere and face ourselves in the darkness to get there. Otherwise, why else do a carbon offset record? Why bother saying anything if there isn’t any hope?”
“For a lot of the people that come to our shows, it’s an outlet to release and to feel something. Timebomb gives them full permission to do that. The lyric ‘Everything’s the same if you’re trapped inside a cage / Release the rage’ is saying, ‘Don’t keep it in – let it out and express how you feel.’ Everyone now knows from lockdown that feeling of being trapped inside, and no-one likes to feel like a caged animal. This song is all about that feeling. Being in a crowd, being a part of a group, it’s primal, it’s tribal and it’s part of the human experience. This is all very inhuman what we’re having to experience right now.”
Son Of A Witch
“This one was inspired by the California wildfires. Seeing Mother Earth burn like that was powerful. It’s looking at that metaphorically, and then taking the stories of the witch burnings and really elaborating on this point that these are truly twisted times. The oppression and the way that women in general have been really held under the knife, as the song says, is frightening. My mom happens to be a tarot reader, but she was raised in a Roman Catholic family, where she realised it wasn’t right for her so she needed to follow her own path. With Son Of A Witch, there’s a freedom in that – of me being a son and someone who practices a magic of sorts. It’s a liberating song for me.”
Crossroads (Featuring Georgia Flood)
“Georgia is my ex-girlfriend now. We wrote and recorded it in two days, and we actually we stayed in the studio, just her and I, writing lyrics. It was us acknowledging that we were at a crossroads where she needed to stay in America to pursue acting, but I knew that this record was going to take me back to Australia. It wasn’t because we didn’t love each other, it’s just that the love wasn’t enough. We needed to follow the love for ourselves to do what we each needed to do. The song was an expression of that, and sharing that story. It’s like a diary entry, except it’s on a record.”
“Our bass player [Kyle Erich] is the one singing on that track, predominantly, and he came up with some of the lyrics while he was carpet cleaning. He does that for a living, so it was him feeling that sense of monotony; that nine to five sense of, ‘What am I doing with my existence?’ So we took that and really fleshed it out. A lot of society experiences this in the mundane world. A lot of our fans tell us they’ve had traumatic experiences or suicidal thoughts. So it’s really leaning into this feeling of emptiness and that character, acknowledging that it is far easier to be a monster, but it’s far harder, with no armour, to be human. That’s really the punchline of the song. To be human is to just say what it is; to be raw and real.”
“The Nāgá, or the ouroboros, is the symbol of a snake eating itself. It feels primal and tribal, which is why we put the didgeridoo on there. The snake eating itself is also a circle, representing this feeling of eternity, that leads nicely into the next track.”
Force Of Life
“This is about a vision quest that I did where I sat in a circle in the woods for four days with just water and no food or shelter. I did it in the wilderness in Pine Barrens, New Jersey. I didn’t go stark naked, which is how some indigenous cultures have done it in the past. But I wasn’t going to that extreme. All I took was water. No shelter is important, as is no distractions: there’s no phones or pieces of paper. If you take a distraction in you’re just cheating yourself. You just have to you face yourself, and the hunger sets in pretty quick. It was pretty full-on to experience those pains. But after day two, I realised that hunger is mainly in the mind and then it disappears. Then you start to slow down and get into the rhythms of when the sun hits a certain point. It’s just nature on a whole different rhythm than we are attuned to in this modern world.
“It’s tough because when you have no distractions, you start to face all of the things about you that you might dislike. Things come up from childhood or relationships, but it’s not all darkness. It’s a constant unpacking and unravelling. And it’s a healthy thing, so long as you want to be there. You’re a volunteer, you’re not there to be a victim or to suffer. You’re there to empower yourself. I knew I needed to do it for a couple of years. I knew that I needed to face that mountain, and I will do it again during key moments in my life.”
Iron Dice (Featuring Randy Reimann)
“Randy [former Massappeal vocalist] is my stepdad; he was the first person I saw scream. And this track is a state of self-reflection – of feeling like you’re not fitting in with the world. I watched the Joker movie at the cinema and the next day we fleshed out the lyrics and the character that needed to come out in the song. I asked my stepdad to do the end part, to really let it out and let it rip, and he destroyed it.”
“If any song sums up the record it’s this. It speaks to the state of the world and the dystopia that we’re living in with all of the misinformation around, forcing us to question everything. Where are the lies and where does the truth lie? We’re seeing fake news and conspiracy theories left, right and centre. It’s almost like a bombardment of information so that you can’t pick the good from the bad, so we choose to see nothing at all. We really have to ask ourselves, ‘What do we believe? What reality do we want to accept? What feels right?’ We’re capable of so much goodness, if we really put our hearts into it.”
“[The year] 2033 will be the closing of this urgent window that we speak of, that Greta starts the record out on. Climate scientists are saying it’s 2030, but 2033 feels about right to me. But we can still do a lot if we really put our minds to it. So what’s it going to be? Will we sit back and watch the world burn? Is that what we want or are we going to do something about it? Choose your own future – nothing is determined yet. The world is beautiful and I would love to pass that message on and to be able to look back and say that I did my best to keep it that way.”
In Hearts Wake’s new album Kaliyuga is released August 7 via UNFD – pre-order/pre-save your copy now.
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