By: Rachael Mattice
Bad weather is rarely something we have to deal with in sun-laden OC. But after getting stuck in the middle of a severe downpour on a drive to San Diego, Huntington Beach native David Heida knew "Haster"–meaning a violent rainstorm–would be a perfect name for his budding alternative rock Orange County band.
"The storm came out of nowhere, and I immediately knew it was the band name," Heida said. "It seemed like fate."
Adding the letter "H" in front of the "Dexter" television show character name "Aster," lead guitarist Heida and drummer Brian Tew couldn't let their favoritism for the name go when they decided to form a band in early 2010. After jamming with different musicians for six months while completing nine songs, Tew and Heida met vocalist Jarrett Stockmar and quickly went into the studio to record Haster's first EP Searching. The final lineup was set in stone, however, in 2013 adding guitarist Patrick Nolan and Bob McCool on bass.
With a relentless show schedule, on top of working day jobs to stay afloat and out of debt, the band's mission to make a their presence known in the fray of OC hard rock acts can be a tough racket at times.
"If you are playing a show with five other bands and are playing to the same fan base, you need to pull the audience more into your music to hopefully get them to buy your album," Heida says. "It's still a bit of a rivalry with the other bands even though we're friends."
Four years after their formation with numerous performances, a win for "Best Metal Band" in the 2012 Artists in Music Awards, the release of their official video for their single "Medicine" with Lingoberry Films and a nomination for "Best Metal Band" at the 2014 Orange County Music Awards, Haster released their full-length debut album "Let It Go" on Tuesday, March 25th.
The 14-track full-length dabbles in the band's '90s influences in instrumental riffage akin to Deftones, Chevelle and Tool. Stockmar's vocals also swiftly flip from acoustic-accompanying clean singing to hard rock growls in every song, including singles "Crutch" and "Medicine." Although Haster is inspired by '90s nostalgia, they're heavy definition is a fresh second movement to compensate for SoCal indie-rock and EDM-flooded venues, playlists and airwaves.
Other standout songs on "Let It Go" also include "The Words" and album closer "Amphetamine." Once Stockmar returned from a month-long trip to Africa, "The Words" was his personal favorite out of his 40-song mission, according to Heida. The use of three different vocalists is the epicenter of emotion and hook for this track.
A powerful finale with drug-focused content, Heida feels "Amphetamine" is one of the best songs Haster has ever written instrumentally and lyrically. While meth is typically the amphetamine that comes to mind associated with the word, the lyrics reflect Stockmar's small Adderall addiction and hardships within his family, says Heida.
Aside from keeping a vigilant connection with fans on social media, Haster also launched a podcast called "Mind Control Radio" that also gives backstage access for fans and insight into what interests the band in current events. On the day of the album release, Heida says the band planned to publish a podcast promoting "Let It Go," with a free concert at the House of Blues in Anaheim on April 1 as well.
Haster also has plans to meet and melt audiences in Arizona in May, northern California in June and Seattle in July.
"Social media has allowed us to have a fan base in North Carolina right now too and we haven't even been there yet. We are hoping we'll have more of a fan base then that will come to our shows and bring people. Being a musician it's also about word of mouth."
Quitting their day jobs at Trader Joes, Dominos and PF Chang's while finishing school is still out of the question financially for Haster without ruining bank accounts or relationships. But Heida says he just wants the band's music to spread to as many rock and heavy metal fans as possible worldwide and hopefully it will someday turn into a full-time gig.
Recently, the band had their first big gig at the world famous Troubadour, a sign for them that sunny days for their careers might be just up ahead. "It's one of the many things to check off our bucket list, and I'm proud of what we have accomplished in these short years," Heida says.
Haster plays tomorrow at House of Blues Anaheim. For more details, click here.