Toxic Masculinity And The Decline Of The Planet: An In Hearts Wake Interview

JAKE TAYLOR of IN HEARTS WAKE: Toxic Masculinity And The Decline Of The Planet
An interview by Sarah Kidd.

Founded in 2006, In Hearts Wake have moved from strength to strength over the last ten years, solidifying their place in the metalcore realm. Their last album Skydancer released in 2015 peaked at No. 2 on the official ARIA Charts with good reason; as a follow up to the ethereal Earthwalker album which was centered on Mother Earth and the concepts of fragility in the realms of love, Skydancer was far more aggressive and focused on Father Sky. The two albums part of a conceptual double album project that not only brilliantly worked but was simultaneously musically stunning.

2017 sees In Hearts Wake return bigger than ever with their latest offering Ark, which addresses humanity’s connection to water; a theme close to the band’s heart and one that they have turned into a physical project through their ‘We Are Waterborne’ intiative which saw the band (along with their fans) embark on beach clean-ups across Australia. Speaking with lead vocalist Jake Taylor it is certainly a topic of much importance to the band itself

Your initiative of ‘We Are Waterborne’ is fantastic – why have you as a band chosen that particular angle of environmentalism?

This record is called Ark and it looks at our planet as an ark; that being a ship and the flood is essentially I guess something we bring upon ourselves in a way. The ocean that we are looking at here is actually the space around us that goes so far we never know the end of it; we are such a fragile, such a small piece of the much larger puzzle.

This planet is a water planet, we are essentially water; we are made up of water and without water we cease to exist. So we want to draw attention and put the spotlight on water and our oceans which make up most of the earth and the things that are really affecting our oceans [such as] this tremendous amount of marine debris. It’s horrific how much of that is out there and how much waste we are creating; how much plastic is in our oceans. Our marine life is suffering and it’s suffocating us; we really need to acknowledge that. With ‘We Are Waterborne’ we are calling upon our fans to join us in various places of Australia – and hopefully soon America and Europe – to clean up what we can within the time that we are given. Also we need to look at where it came from, do a data count which is equally as important. I’ve learnt so much, and our fans and friends have learnt so much in the process.

The data count illustrating where the majority of the waste is coming from obviously?

You can target which businesses and companies around an area are having a huge impact – without naming anyone, there was one particular café; we found like 12 cups and they were all from the same place. They were coffee cups and they were all lined with plastic, you couldn’t recycle them with the local council. People don’t realise that coffee cups are [often] inlaid with plastic so they are not just cardboard; and that was a huge, a huge thing that we discovered so yeah it’s important to know where it came from to stop the problem at its source.

Environmentalism is a theme that runs strong through all of your albums. Do you find it hard sometimes to stay true to what you believe in?

The only part that feels difficult is not so much saying what’s true to us; the difficult part is being able to live the way that we want to live and strive to live. That’s because you are on the road so much and it makes it very difficult, because if I had it my way, if this band wasn’t a thing – not that I would be completely off the grid but I would definitely be investing all my time and energy into training and assisting with a set up that was self-sufficient and independent.

That’s a dream of mine and many of the guys in the band to create something like that. But when you’re in a band and catching planes, trains and automobiles … you do your best to stay away from plastic if you can and take stainless steel water bottles and thermoses and keep cups, shopping wherever you can, when you can that’s fresh and local. We just do the best that we can, but to me that is the most difficult part of what we do. It’s taking that step of the lifestyle and really building that home and hub; that nest, that nurturing space where all your time and energy really is in band world.

Speaking of the band and your latest album, I would like to discuss your music video for the latest single ‘Nomad’ which features an all-female mosh pit; what prompted you to make that decision?

As you are probably aware heavy music is a heavily male dominated genre; at our shows women are always the minority in the mosh pit. It’s such an amazing thing to see when both – I don’t want to say both genders but – when everyone is having a good time and they’re a tribe, together, there is no separation.

I know there are a number of women out there that just don’t feel comfortable going into the mosh pit or have been in the mosh pit and been touched inappropriately or I guess made fun of. There are all kinds of things going on, so we wanted to create a safe space, a female friendly space for women to just let loose and move freely and also show that movement. There are moments in that clip where we see all sorts of new moves that you wouldn’t normally see the males bring, and I think that is just a fantastic and incredible thing to create! So I would love to see more women coming into the mosh pit and feeling safe.

There is indeed a real grace and beauty that you see to some of the moves in the video…

One hundred percent! Yeah there is definitely a grace and beauty; women in general are more in touch with their bodies, maybe it’s because there is more water within their bodies or they’re just more grounded and expressive. A lot of males that we see in mosh pits are so rigid and hard you know, they have been working out and they have just got something to prove.

As a male in an all-male band that creates music within the metal genre, what do you believe is behind the toxic masculinity that is often displayed at metal shows and especially music festivals?

I’m looking for the root cause here, unfortunately it’s really ingrained in our society, there’s still a misogynistic … I mean you look in politics, you look in all kinds of things, there’s something in some males that makes them think that they are above and it’s so wrong. We are nowhere without women and I don’t know if it’s some male thing to have some sort of a right, I don’t know but there’s a lot of things that are wrong with the music scene; there’s a lot of things that are wrong with males in general!

This toxicity that you speak of, I know it exists, we have been hearing all kinds of stories come out, especially with this clip; all kinds of things from people that felt that they have not had a place to share what’s happened to them, so it’s been a wonderful thing this video. But aside from that we have been lucky enough not to witness as much toxicity as we have heard about in front of us, thankfully we have so many women in the front row holding it down and they’re actually – I’ve noticed – a lot tougher than a lot of the males who bitch and moan to be honest. It is amazing that they are holding it down and I would encourage any female that is out there listening to this, who wants to speak out; because the way we’re creating safe space is by acknowledging what is wrong and also by taking preventative measures. Not just pointing the finger but creating a set of house rules and creating a set of things where people know that it’s not acceptable and if people think they can get away with it because they are in a crowd it’s really ridiculous and it’s just not on.

As a female in the metal scene I completely commend you and your fellow band members for addressing this issue. Looking at some of the more musical aspects of the album, Ark sees Kyle expand his vocal range a bit more?

So Kyle is the clean vocalist and we have expanded his range and his number of voices as well as mine. We are dabbling in both ends of the spectrum a bit more and working together where we can. It’s just part of an artist’s expansion I feel, it’s conscious, it’s not a ‘Hey guys we need to do this’. It’s more of a what haven’t we done (laughs) like you know let’s explore other areas and other facets of the voice and even instrumentally too.

In Heart’s Wake will soon be touring here in New Zealand in support of Northlane – anything in particular that fans can expect from the show?

Well we are going to be playing one headline show in Christchurch the night before the Wellington show, so yeah it’s gonna go Christchurch, then Wellington with Northlane, then Auckland with Northlane. Those guys are some of our best friends in the music industry so it’s gonna be a night, it’s gonna be one hell of a night! The show is not gonna be nearly as production big as we are used to putting on here in Australia, but we are still gonna give you guys the best possible show!

In Hearts Wake have three shows in New Zealand from 24th – 27th August, and we have a double pass to each of the shows to give away! To enter, go to our Facebook page and answer the skill question to be in the draw. Competition ends Friday 18th August 2017, for terms and conditions go here.

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