A Conversation: A New Band, a New Life, a Fresh Start: A Conversation with James Hart of Burn Halo

A New Band, a New Life, a Fresh Start: A Conversation with James Hart of Burn Halo

The breakup of Eighteen Visions left a lot of fans in the lurch so to speak. 18 Visions had a taste of the mainstream life when they signed onto Epic Records to release what would be their last record, which was self titled. Even though two of the bands better songs overall, ‘Victim’ and ‘Tonightless,’ were on the record, it went widely overlooked and severely underappreciated by Epic, eventually leading to the bands breakup.

But, when it comes to James Hart, life, and the show, goes on. So, enter Burn Halo. BH is Hart’s full time gig, and if you are one of the 18V fans who happened to hear their final album, you have a good idea of what BH is all about musically. The bands self titled debut features tracks that could impact all over radio, including lead single ‘Dirty Little Girl,’ as well as hard rocking favorites ‘Save Me’ and ‘Our House.’ If you want 18V all over again, you are looking in the wrong place, because BH isn’t 18V. It’s a different animal entirely.

I had the chance to talk to Hart while he and his band were out hitting the pavement, gearing up for this years’ version of the Sno-Core tour alongside Static-X and Saliva to find out what it’s like on the road, why he thinks BH is different from 18V and what inspired him to write his new rock album with Burn Halo.

Get eXposed: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me what happened at the end of 18V and how BH came to be a band?
James Hart: The end of 18 to me started when we started making the last record. I felt like it was on the downward spiral. We had a lot of promise with that last record and we had high hopes for it but everybody went into making the record with the mindset if it didn’t really hit we were going to put it to rest and move on. That was the attitude so anytime anything negative came up it affected us more than usual. Things just didn’t pan out the way we expected them to. We did get great label support from the outset and about six to eight months in that label backed away from us and we became less and less a priority. Financially we were a burden of them and they decided they didn’t want to move forward with us. When that came to be we were demoing some new material and the direction wasn’t something I was necessarily into. I just think everyone felt like it wasn’t right and that we were trying to force the issue with something that wasn’t going to happen. We weren’t all on the same page with what we wanted to do. With that in mind, the March split up in March 2007, and about a week later my manager put together a writing session out in Oklahoma with Zak Malloy. That was the first week of May and we were writing some songs for this record.

GE: Do you think that the old 18V fans will be into what you are doing now?
Hart: It’s really tough to say because I would think the newer 18V fans we captured when we made the last record, which was obviously much more rock and commercial than anything we had done in the past I think those people might be able to get what Im doing now but it’s not something I really expect. With the old 18V fans, that’s something that is hard to tell because a lot of them skipped out on us from record to record. It was like half and half. I would hope that the 18V fans wouldn’t expect me to keep making the same old records over and over again.

GE: So then the Burn Halo sound is just a continuation of what the latter day 18V sounded like?
Hart: I guess that is better left to the opinion of the listener. To me, it isn’t at all. It’s something totally different to me. The tunings is way different and the music is way heavier when we were with 18V, and BH is more of straight ahead rock and commercial. I still wouldn’t be able to categorize us with 18V. A band like that fits better with bands like Sevendust whereas BH fits better with Avenged Sevenfold and Buckcherry. I wanted to make a conscious effort to make sure none of the songs could fit on an 18V record, and the only thing that would be the constant would be my vocals and my vocal approach.

GE: Tell me about the recording process of this new BH record.
Hart: Ill start off with the writing process. Right from the get-go I would make week long trips to Oklahoma to write with Zak and we wrote from about May to early October. We came out to Los Angeles and didn’t have a band together at that point. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pursue this record as a solo artist or if I was going to put a band together and market this as a band or whatever. I really wasn’t sure. We went out and hired what we thought were the best session players for the songs we wrote, that being Daniel from Nickelback, Chris Chaney, and then my friend Neil and then Synyster Gates who is a longtime friend as well. We started off with drums and bass and then whatever guitar we did in LA we shipped back out to Oklahoma to finish most of the guitars and vocals. The in December is when most everything turned around for me and took a turn for the worse. My A&R guy was let go and the record was in question, but luckily they let me finish the record. But a few months later they released me from my contract.

GE: What inspired you to write this record on the whole?
Hart: I really wanted to make the record I really wanted to make. With 18V I was the driving force behind a lot of the changes musically. I was always pushing the limits and trying to push the guys into writing some stuff that was more rock and radio friendly and stuff that was simpler to digest. Sometimes they would comply and sometimes it would be their thing. I always wanted to make a pure rock album which is why I was so stoked to make the last 18V record. It was still a metal record but was more rock and more to my liking. With this record, I wanted to tap into all of my influences and what I love most about rock and roll. There a little bit of a danger element and there’s a little bit of nature and life involved and storytelling. I wanted to make a record without compromising any of my thoughts or ideas.

GE: Can you explain to me about you were added to Sno-Core this year?
Hart: It just kind of happened. We were at home getting ready to head out on the road and right before we left my manager called me and told me that a band had dropped off this tour and I was totally for it. Our agent made the phone call and within a day we were added and the deal was finalized. We were pretty lucky to get it and we were in the right place at the right time. Our radio presence is picking up and I guess it made sense to the management and the bands to have us on the tour, so it is good for us.

GE: Have you noticed that ‘Dirty Little Girl’ is being picked up at radio a lot lately?
Hart: Yeah, I get a sent the active rock charts as far as whose songs are getting spun when and how many times, and I see the increase of spins we’re getting. The last two weeks have been really great for us around the country. I hope that it keeps building and it is one of those things that builds up over time and doesn’t happen overnight because it could do one of two things for you, either blow you up or create a lot of excitement and hype that isn’t lived up to. I’d rather take things the slow and easy way.

GE: What can we expect from BH the rest of the year?
Hart: We’re doing some radio promotional dates out West and then head back through the Midwest, and then take some time off before some summer festivals. We’re looking at a lot of different tours this summer. We’re looking at going at it hard this summer.