Man… have we not kept it going as we thought, am I right? See? Y’know the Klown is serious when he starts off in first-person. But if you’re reading this now rejoice! This first impressions segment has revived kicking off in full swing. The Klown scoured through the social media platforms, the metallums and reread some previously mentioned bands from before and decided to go for the gold.
For this one he decided to talk about a group of kick ass Armenians from LA within our genre. No, the Klown is not talking about System of a Down. As much as he likes System, the Klown was mesmerized and stricken with Highland even more. Ever since the Klown first saw them at the Brick By Brick a little over 2 years ago, he was hooked! The performance was simple but effective and the songs were good, and the Klown was all the more excited to see them once again in 2018!
So with that established, the Klown did the most sensible thing and created a facebook page and sent an intern to work. Via messenger, Ugh Metal got in touch with founding member/guitarist Narek Avetisian to scope the story after all, if the Klown got curious wouldn’t you? So without further ado, here’s the Ugh Metal first impressions a lá Barbara Walters.
Ugh Metal: Why did you choose the name Highland for the band?
Avetisian: The band is named after the Armenian highlands, specifically Mount Ararat. With an elevation of almost 17,000 feet, it is the highest peak of the highlands. Although, Ararat is a monumental Armenian landmark, it was taken from us during the genocide of 1915. The world continues to recognize it as a true symbol of our people.
Although the Klown normally asks a bit more questions regarding the band’s origins, etc., Avetisian beat the Klown to the punch and divulged the collective’s tale of inception.
Avetisian: Gevork (Matevosyan, lead vocalist/guitarist) and I first met in 2003 and about a year later we met Michael (Semerdjian, drummer) after his performance at the Key Club with a local metal act. After witnessing Mike perform, we came to the conclusion that he would be a perfect fit for our style of music. We approached him after the show and asked if he’d be interested in forming a band. He accepted our offer and shortly after, we formed a band called Raze. Raze started as a thrash metal band with neoclassical influences. After writing a handful of songs, we decided to record a demo. During the recording process we had a change of heart and decided to drop the band completely. We wanted to dive deeper into darkness and create heavier and more spiritual music. After some years of being on hiatus, we formed Highland in late 2008.
UM: Was your heritage a big part of the creative process?
Avetisian: Our heritage is a part of us, as individuals and musicians. When creating art, our minds travel back in time and we spiritually connect with our lands and ancestors. Some of our lyrics are based on Armenian history and mythology.
UM: Who and what are your biggest influences?
Avetisian: Our influences vary from nature, history and ancestors to artists, poets and philosophers.
UM: Is there any band or person you would like to collaborate with?
Avetisian: Collaboration never interested the band. The music we create comes from within us and we’ve built a strong musical and spiritual connection over the years.
UM: Do you have a pre-show ritual?
Avetisian: Before our performances, we burn an incense called khunk. It is commonly used in our culture at funerals and we use it to honor the dead.
UM: Any funny or interesting stories that have happened to you on a tour?
Avetisian: When the writing process for ‘Loyal to the Nightsky’ was completed, we decided to travel to Armenia to baptize the songs in our homeland. The songs were performed live for the first time and we were honored that the ceremony took place in Yerevan.
UM: What are other big names have you shared the stage with?
Avetisian: Some names include Marduk, Satyricon, Absu, Vader, Inquisition, Bölzer and more.
UM: What are some, if any, big name bands that you would like to share the stage with?
Avetisian: It would be an absolute pleasure to share the stage with the mighty Emperor.
UM: Assuming you’re all working on a new album, is there a process, ritual, etc for your songwriting preparations &/or recordings?
Avetisian: We don’t have a specific formula for songwriting or recording. Our creativity is without boundaries and we proceed based on our natural instincts and emotions.
There you have it! As the Klown had already said, their performances will mesmerize you and, if you call yourself trve, their music will instantly have you hooked. Highland continues to make waves in the City of Angels in fact LA had a hell of a Saturday on Sept. 21 when the band headlined at the 5 Star Bar along with First Impressions alumni Sicarius and other local black metal bands. If you missed that, keep an eye out for these gents and their next performance. You will enjoy it! Lastly, give them a like on their facebook page but most importantly, support their music and lend them your ears whether it be their Bandcamp, their YouTube channel, etc!