10 things that inspired HEALTH’s album ‘DEATH MAGIC’

16.09.15 Words by: Natalie /

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LA noise group HEALTH don't rush into things. Over half a decade since their last studio album 'Get Colour' in 2009, the boys returned last month with 'DEATH MAGIC' on Fiction Records / Loma Vista. Featuring the talents of Haxan Cloak, longtime Kanye West engineer Andrew Dawson and Mars Volta engineer Lars Stalfors; the album is a genre-hopping masterpiece which warrants its shouty ALL CAPS EVERYTHING status. Vocalist Jake Duzsik floats over various musical concoctions that slip from the stadium-ready pop of Life through to scintillating white noise and heavy industrial knocks. You can even imagine your BFF applying her long lash mascara to L.A. Looks as Duzsik near whispers about his physical desires (remember though, its 'not love'). 

A wide-reaching release that dives deep into all corners, the movie soundtracks and Depeche Mode influences described by Duzsik below are apparent and make the album at points, an ethereal experience. The elements that led the making of the album go further than just music though; from the cock-block potentials of The Shining to the prevalence of 'poop' on everything that we look, walk and talk at; check out the 10 pressing inspirations of 'DEATH MAGIC' from band members Jake, John, Benjamin and Jupiter below. 

Jake Duzsik

The New Romantics
Jake Duzsik: "Our new record is a lot more melodically driven. This new direction meant I had more responsibility as a singer. I'm not virtuosic. I'm untrained and don't have a charismatic rock voice, which put me in a difficult position.  Almost unknowingly I found myself listening to a lot of darkly melodic eighties music; early Tears For Fears, Flock Of Seagulls and Depeche Mode. It's not that these bands don't have vocalists with incredibly striking qualities; it's the fact that there is often a clear focus on simple, melodies and lyrics that are based on straight forward ideas instead of symbolism. Almost in the same way that punk kids, only one musical movement before, thought "fuck it I don't have to shred to play guitar in a band.", this era saw singers having a reactionary response to punk and thinking, "fuck it, I can't sing like David Bowie, but I could still try to write some heart on the sleeve melodies." Listening to this sort of music put me at ease trying to write vocals for this record."

The Shining
Jake Duzsik: "I don't know if I can define a direct correlation here but I'll try. I've had chronic insomnia my entire life. I've tried just about everything, and even though it's not a long term solution, alcohol seems to work best. However, while trying to stay more lucid during making of the record I got into the habit of watching The Shining each night. The eerily haunting title sequence coupled with the deliberate pacing would often lull me to sleep. It was great at first, but eventually it started causing me a lot of personal problems. Firstly, my girlfriend wouldn't let me sleep in the bed if I was gonna watch The Shining every night. She thought it was creepy, so I had to sleep on the couch. Secondly, my girlfriend didn't really want to have sex with me if I was just going to get up immediately afterwards to go watch The Shinning again on the couch. Also creepy. And finally, as you might expect, listening to the equivalent of a three hour book on tape about murdering your family every night for weeks on end generates a lot of strange dreams and puts you in a weird headspace. Alas, I had to give it up."

Kazu Nori
Jake Duzsik: "This is a delightful new hand roll sushi spot in downtown LA close to where we finished producing the record. I don't normally care for hand rolls, but these are balanced with the perfect combination of warm rice, toasted nori and fresh fish. Each one is made to order. The process is quick and efficient and everyone gets a separate check, so you don't have to deal with your fucking cheap ass bandmates trying to screw you out of an extra six bucks or pretending they don't have cash on them. It was a refreshing reprieve from the studio and without it I would have undoubtedly taken someone with me before I killed myself."

Light Mexican beer
Jake Duzsik: "I simply don't know how you can record an album in Los Angeles without Mexican beer, salt and lime. It's the holy trinity. I specified light beer because 30 beers in a day can make you fat, so it's good to try to stay in shape."

John Famiglietti

Enter The Void
John Famiglietti: "I usually always call bullshit on musicians that cull non musical inspirations for their work but honestly I have to recognize the influence of this film on 'DEATH MAGIC'. Not in sound necessarily and our album isn't nearly as bleak but in the look, feel, intensity, and most importantly new-ness of this movie.  It's the most modern incredible HD whatever you wanna call it things I can think of in film and a total influence of what we aspired to with our new music to be intense and informed and informed by classics we worship, but unabashedly using new tech and ideas to do something different.  At times, I feel its a brilliant love letter to drugs and its able to depict the extreme illogical "drug logic" of substances perfectly. Its influence has really been felt in recent novel movie experiences like Gravity and BirdmanEnter The Void is at times genuinely mindblowing (yes I know its too long), using awesome computer controlled camera and video game inspired effects to make new incredibly profound and moving sequences. It's truly special."

iPhone, MacBook and speakers
John Famiglietti: "The weakness of today's most common listening sources frustrates musicians, but in the years since they've became ubiquitous we noticed more and more music produced has adapted accordingly and sounds great in these flawed formats AND on huge systems, or headphones, nearly everywhere.  We were determined to have our music produced in this way for the album. We felt it a crime not to."

Benjamin Miller

Drummers
Benjamin Miller: "My biggest drumming influences are still Bonham and Grohl, with Danny Carrey and Mike Bordin right behind."

Jupiter Keyes

Anxiety 
Jupiter Keyes: "'DEATH MAGIC', like every one of HEALTH's records is an exercise in restlessness. That's probably clear to most of our listeners and also something we have in common with them. If we were at ease we would make a very different type of music, just as they would probably listen to a very different type of music. Our anxieties are by far mostly a curse; but sometimes anxiety keeps us out of trouble, sometimes it keeps us on task, and sometimes it forces us to create something, like this record, which was deeply inspired by that nagging and horrible feeling."

Movie soundtracks
Jupiter Keyes: "Movies and movie soundtracks have had a very important influence on HEALTH. The sonic landscape of a movie and how it can be used to wrestle emotion out of the viewer is endlessly inspiring. The atmospheric score to Michael Mann's Heat, Hans Zimmers work in The Dark Knight and John Carpenter films like Halloween and Escape from New York are just a few examples of highly influential scores for us. 'DEATH MAGIC' would be a different record if it wasn't for the power of cinematic music."

Feces
Jupiter Keyes: "If human beings – over the course of our history, had never had the need to take a shit – all our art, our buildings, our social systems, everything would be somehow different. The process of dealing with our own excrement every day of our lives, sometimes several times a day, has had a pervading psychological effect on us that many of us don't take into consideration very often. I would say that all art is very deeply tied to the process of shitting. Excrement itself may have been the earliest form of art. Maybe one of our ancestors looked down to see something profound and beautiful in what they created. That said, the influence of poop on our record hopefully can't be heard but believe me, shit has influenced everything from the Sistine Chapel to the most recent episode of The Kardashians. 'DEATH MAGIC' is no exception."

'DEATH MAGIC' is out now on Fiction Records / Loma Vista (buy / stream).