Last month, Australian metalcore heavyweights In Hearts Wake destroyed Ysselsteyn’s Jera on Air Festival with a set which leaned heavily on new studio album Skydancer. We spoke to guitarist Ben Nairne on the subject of the album, its message and its influences.

You released your third studio album, Skydancer, earlier this year. What were the ideas and concept behind the record?
We recorded a double album back in 2013, the first half, Earthwalker, was released last year and Skydancer was the second half to the project. The idea behind it was Mother Earth and Father Sky, one cannot exist without the other and we cannot exist without either. Skydancer, being based on Father Sky, was the more masculine side to the project and the lyrical content was darker and accompanied by over-all heavier tracks in comparison to Earthwalker.

How did the recording process pan out?
We went into the studio with the majority of tracks already written, and we spent 2 months in there producing and recording all 22 tracks. It’s by far the most challenging and ambitious thing this band has ever done, but it panned out really well and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

What were the instrumental and lyrical influences behind Skydancer?
Instrumentally we wanted a much more epic sound to anything we had done before, and we achieved that by having a few instrumental tracks in there, amongst other things. Everyone in the band lives around the Byron Shire area and it’s such a beautiful part of the world; we are always going on adventures to waterfalls and swimming spots. The main lyrical influence comes from that, and also from us wanting to preserve beautiful places like this for future generations to enjoy.

I just want to focus on 2 songs in particular – Skydancer and Insomnia. What were the main ideas behind these songs?
Skydancer is based on the Native Americans that would work on these massive skyscrapers in New York City. The work was often very dangerous and many would fall to their deaths, but they had to take the risk to feed their families. Insomnia was written about Jake’s (Taylor, vocals) lack of sleep during our time in the studio. It took him almost a month to get over the jet lag and he would wake up at 3am most days. He couldn’t get back to sleep, and it was sending him insane.

Skydancer features a heavy ecological emphasis embedded within its lyrical
content. Tell us a bit more about the message you’re trying to put out on Skydancer.
Playing music is such a great way to spread a message, so why not make it a positive one? We don’t want to force our beliefs onto other people, but we want to make everyone aware of the terrible things that are going on in the world right now and give them the chance to make a difference. We’ve been travelling a lot of the past few years and it’s really solidified just how fragile our Earth is and what will happen if we don’t look after it.

You recorded the album in Michigan with Josh Schroeder. How did this
collaboration come about and how was it working with him?
We recorded our first full length, Divination, with Josh and we worked so well with him that we wanted to go back to that. It was great working with him for a second time, because we knew exactly what to expect and we were on the same wavelength from the moment we stepped back in the studio

How do you think the record sits in and amongst your previous records?
It’s definitely our most mature and diverse sounding record so far. We didn’t give ourselves any boundaries and really worked on the songs down to the tiniest detail to ensure they were as good as they could possibly be.

You’re part of a growing group of fantastic/unique Australian bands emerging right now (amongst them Storm The Sky, Northlane and Hellions). Why do you think Australia has become such a great place for new metal?
Australia is such a big country and the cities are so far apart that, if you want to tour, you really have to love what you do. I think this weeds out the dedicated bands in Australia and makes them stand out for the rest, because it shows just how hard they have to work to get a name for themselves. Australia also has a really good community within the heavy music scene and really dedicated fans which is very encouraging.

Are there any new bands who you’ve really been enjoying lately?
I’ve really been enjoying a band by the name of Young Lions. They put out a new record not long ago and it’s incredible.

What have been your favourite cities to tour in?
A few years ago, Melbourne was our hardest city to play in and we struggled to get 100 people to shows. Now, though, it’s probably my favourite city to play in because of the fact that we kept on going back and people were dedicated to come see us again.

And finally, what can we expect from the future?
Touring, lots and lots of touring!

Skydancer is out now via UNFD Records. Listen to the title track below, featuring Jonathan Vigil of The Ghost Inside.