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On our radar: Once Human

Once Human
(Image credit: Once Human)

Logan Mader needs no introduction to Machine Head fans; the guitarist was a key part of the band's first two records Burn My Eyes and The More Things Change, as well as the launch of Soulfly with Max Cavalera

Logan reunited with Robb Flynn and drummer Chris Kontos to celebrate the Machine Head's seminal 1994 debut for a world tour in 2019. While celebrating the past, the guitarist and producer has been busy forging ahead with his old band Once Human. Now releasing their third album Scar Weaver, their versatile blend of metal is reaching new creative heights around Lauren Hart's incredible vocal range.

How would you describe your sound to a new listener?

"Okay, so... brutal, heavy, dynamic, sometimes so heavy and brutal that it's almost disgusting, haha, and some other times it's really beautiful, melodic, epic, but it always keeps that groove.  We've always got that groove. "

Which of your songs best represents you and why?

I would say Eye Of Chaos is our most well known song, it's track two from our second album, Evolution and it has almost 10 million video views on YouTube,  It's a banger, it's heavy, dark, melodic, epic, brutal, dynamic, it has a bit of everything that Once Human is.  

"And then from our new album, Scar Weaver, I'd like to say Erasure, the most recent single we just put out.  It displays Lauren's newly discovered vocal characteristic, she can do this sort of aggressive/melodic, half clean/half dirty voice that she didn't really do anytime before.  So it's a new thing, it's really powerful and I love it.  It also has some straight up clean vocals, which is another area of Lauren's vocal range which has expanded and improved over the years and then the heavy growls are just as brutal as ever."

What inspired the creative process for the album?

"It's ongoing.  We're creative people, that's what we do, there's no way around it!  If we're not creating this album, we'd be creating another song or thing, that's just how it is.  My inspiration comes from thin air, I've no idea where it comes from, it's just in my DNA, its in my blood, it's in the air all around me...inspiration is everywhere.  For me, being human is to be creative." 


What is your favourite memory with this band so far?

"I would have to say the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise. We did that in January 2020 and it was just like a party that lasted 72 hours!  We survived!  Barely, but we had an amazing time. 

"The whole vibe on that boat was something else, I've never experienced anything like it. Just a really cool vibe, isolated in the middle of the ocean, a bunch of metalheads and tons of alcohol and a bunch of metal bands. It was really unique. I definitely recommend that experience to anyone as either a musician or as a fan to go just experience it.  Definitely unique and such a worthwhile experience."

"The music that you get into when you're in your teenage years, the music that hit me at that time had the most impact on me


Is there a particular album that had a big impact on you growing up?

"I grew up in the Bay Area, California and thrash metal was really thriving in the late '80s and early '90s. So bands like Exodus, obviously Metallica, Testament, Death Angel, Vio-lence, probably. I want to say Ride The Lightning by Metallica.  That's when I decided I wanted to start playing guitar, after hearing that record - and also Bonded By Blood by Exodus.  

"The music that you get into when you're in your teenage years, the music that hit me at that time had the most impact on me. Forever, even to this day, you know, it's so nostalgic, it hits me a certain way.  And it's weird, that's the golden zone of absorbing music.  I think a lot of people share this opinion. Yeah, it's interesting. It's like that's the time we're absorbing and soaking up music in a way that's still sort of youthful, but also you're becoming an adult. But yeah, those Bay Area thrash metal records from the late '80s and early '90s, those are the ones that hit me the hardest."

I've worked with Five Finger Death Punch, Gojira, worked with Asking Alexandria, Fear Factory, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, DevilDriver, Butcher Babies, Periphery... I've worked on a lot of amazing records and as a producer, I always tried to do something new every project

If you could steal the production off one album/track, which would you take and why?

"Well, you're talking to a producer too.  I feel strange about the word 'stealing,' when it comes to production.  My productions are the best, hahaha!  Yeah, I'm the producer for Once Human, I've been producer or mixer for a lot of records throughout my career. 

"I've worked with Five Finger Death Punch, Gojira, worked with Asking Alexandria, Fear Factory, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, DevilDriver, Butcher Babies, Periphery...  I've worked on a lot of amazing records and yeah, I just think as a producer, I always tried to do something new every project. I don't try to just lean on my defaults, because then I feel like I won't stagnate and if I want to keep progressing and keep learning.  I always like to try something new and take a fresh approach to every project."

It's important to record it at a quality that's going to be good enough for the album – just in case it ends up on the album, you never know!

Do you have any go-to gear for songwriting and demoing ideas and why is it important to you?

"First of all, I don't do demos.  No no, when I'm writing I'm often looking to get master quality recorded tracks, whether they end up on the album or not, that remains to be seen as it has to go through the whole process to get there, but I approach any type of recording with a level of quality that is album quality, because that's what I do, I make records and you never know; an idea could come out, a riff or a part or a solo...anything could come out in a moment and you don't want to change it.  

"So it's important to record it at a quality that's going to be good enough for the album – just in case it ends up on the album, you never know!  But the gear I use, I'm using Fractal Axe FX-III for guitars and I've tons of tones in there and I have a Kemper, I've got tons of tones in there for guitars. I'll use MIDI drums when I'm writing, so I'll go to Toontrack Superior Drummer 3, Superior Drummer 2 even and yeah, Ibanez guitars.  I have tons of amazing custom Ibanez guitars and I even have a nice Ibanez bass that I use when I want to record bass. "

Once Human

Once Human: Logan Mader second from right  (Image credit: Once Human)

What instrument or piece of gear would you like to get next and why?

"Well, this is a weird one. I'm actually getting a three string instrument that's like a guitar, but it's actually made out of a cigar box.  It's an acoustic and electric played mostly with slide, so it's basically like swampy dark ass blues, Southern blues, a weird down-tuned cigar box thing!!  Someone's custom making it for me right now. It's almost almost done, so I'm excited about that.  It's not really something you could use for metal, but it's definitely a unique piece to add to my collection."  


Where would you like to take your sound next?

"I wanna take it to the moon, haha!  Seriously though, who knows where we can take it.  It's a constantly evolving journey of creativity being a musician.  

"I don't like to put boundaries on what we're allowed or not allowed to do as long as it makes people feel something.  If it delivers emotional content that makes you feel something, then I think we've achieved our goals." 

Scar Weaver is released on 11 February via E.A.R Music. More info at Once Human (opens in new tab). 

Rob Laing
Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.