The California-based progressive post-hardcore outfit, Hail The Sun, recently released their highly-anticipated new full-length, Mental Knife via Equal Vision Records. Mental Knife is the closest the band has come to realizing the sound they’ve sought since forming in 2009. The band lived largely in the same creative space for this record as they did on its predecessors – Culture Scars (2016) and the Secret Wars EP (2017). However, all four members of the band have elevated their already impressive style of play on Mental Knife; pushing the limit of what is capable when walking the delicate line between intricate song arrangements and massive riffs and thundering rhythms. To realize their vision for Mental Knife, the band worked with Beau Burchell, best known for his role as a member of Saosin and producing that project’s iconic Translating The Name full length which was a major influence on the members of Hail The Sun. You can stream Mental Knife now on YouTube or Spotify.
Donovan Melero adds this regarding Mental Knife: “The four of us have never known each other, and our individual styles of writing, so well. This reflects in how quickly Mental Knife came together while still full encompassing everything we love to play as a unit.”
Since finding sobriety nine years ago, Donovan Melero, the vocalist and drummer for Hail The Sun, has found himself constantly consumed with the idea of making the most of every day. Melero – along with band-mates Aric Garcia (guitar), John Stirrat (bass) and Shane Gann (guitar) – manage both the creative and business sides of Hail The Sun as they continue to grow into one of the most revered acts in their genre. Melero has also developed into one of the most respected booking agents in rock due to his incomparable work ethic. Somehow he even manages to find time to advance his side project, the progressive rock supergroup Sianvar, which has developed a sizeable cult following of its own. On Mental Knife, Melero tackles that constant need for self improvement and his obsession with making up for lost time in a way that is both unabashedly honest and artistically innovative. The title of the record stems from the idea of cutting out those aspects of your life that don’t contribute to a more fulfilling existence. The subject matter largely centers on trying to develop a genuine confidence that allows you to acknowledge your own imperfections and provides the strength necessary to work towards correcting them. You can read more about how overcoming his past struggles shaped Mental Knife in a letter Donovan wrote to his previous self on the first day sobriety that was published today on Talkhouse.
Hail The Sun have joined Polyphia on a full North American tour this Fall to support Mental Knife. All dates are listed below and tickets can be purchased from hailthesun.com.
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Learn more about Hail The Sun in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
I will be working from a production office or Cafe, all the way up until soundcheck. I’ll soundcheck, then go eat and work some more. Then I’ll play my set, and mingle at the end of the night. Before we go to sleep at hotel, I will take a look at the tasks at hand for the next day.
Since we are now at the back-end of 2018, how has this year treated this band? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year? How close are you to reaching it?
This year has been unreal for Hail the Sun. Lots of wonderful touring. One goal we had was to release a new record, and we did that. And in the process, we got to tour with one of our favorite bands, Circa Survive. As well as do the last Vans Warped Tour cross country trek.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
It was 9 years ago. And the name was in place before Aric and I met Shane and John.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
More than our hometowns, I think just California Post Hardcore has had an influence on us.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
Definitely. We all grew up on different types of music, and we apply that to our ever day writing. Shane uses theory a lot to write.
What was the inspiration for your newest single “The Stranger in Our Pictures”? How would you say that it compares with everything else on your “Mental Knife” album?
The Stranger in Our pictures is a reflection lyrically of my loved ones fighting for me when I didn’t want to fight for myself.
How do you think that “Mental Knife” shows your musical growth? How have the band dynamics changed since your previous albums in 2016 and 2017?
I really couldn’t answer that without sounding self-absorbed. But if I was to try, I would say it just continues our shaping of our genre.
How creatively involved were you all with the making of the music video for “The Strangers in Our Pictures”? What was it like making it with your director Michael Rex Carbonell?
Rex took the reins 100% on that amazing video. The dude is a visionary. I’m proud to call him my friend.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Its different for all of us, I think. I’m happiest on stage and in a hotel. haha
How is your current tour been going? Where are you looking forward to playing at next? How do you keep up the energy night after night on this kind of a schedule?
Tour has been amazing! Our bodies just adjust. We have been doing this quite a while now.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? OR do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
Our whole team helps us with social media. It just depends on the weekly schedule and who is available. Instagram is the most fun.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
I like using my platform to encourage others to think for themselves. I don’t care if they don’t agree with me, as long as we are all thinking critically. I don’t think it’s a musician’s “duty” to use their platform, but I lean more on the side of wanting to be a part of a positive change, so I will. One of the most annoying things I read is “keep politics out of music” or “just stick to music, we don’t want to hear your political opinion.” Its fucking stupid. Start thinking of the current events as human issues, not political issues. Does this help me escape from it? Yea in some ways, but I don’t want to escape from the issues we have as a country. I want to be a part of the change and what I feel is the right side of history.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
I would LOVE to work with Omar Rodriguez Lopez one day. For me, Volta has been a never-ending flood of inspiration.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
To use their brains and question everything!
Would you like to share anything else about your music or the history of this band to our readers?
Thank you for keeping our passion for our career by supporting us for the last 8 years!