On March 5th, 2017 our very own Morgan McCormick rolled down to the St Petersburg State Theatre for a face to face with Reece Scruggs, lead guitarist of Havok. They were opening for Suicidal Tendencies on the “World Gone Mad” US tour and she was able to ask him a few questions about songwriting, his gear, and even political stances.
Morgan McCormick: Conformicide sounds a lot more varied in its songwriting and a little more technical, what made you want to steer towards writing that way?
Reece Scruggs: That’s always been something that we’ve wanted to do. From release to release there’s a difference between say, Unnatural Selection and this one. The reason for that is because Unnatural was forced. Very strict, we were on a time constraint. We had a lot of things going on with a small amount of material to do something with in a short amount of time. Conformicide’s completely not that way. We had a stockpile of really cool riffs we were sitting on that we were always like “We’ll use them for a better record.” We always want to put our best foot forward with everything even if it’s our last record with a label. But we didn’t necessarily want to give Conformicide to end our deal with our last record label.
M: Do you think the addition of Nick also helped?
R: In the grand scheme of things and with the finished product yes. He’s this new glue that puts everything together. But we’ve always had really good bass players. A majority of the material was already written also. So a lot of it was already done before he started writing anything. But what he did write and what he and David came up with, it just set it up and made it even more special.
M: Did the gap between Unnatural Selection and Conformicide have to with that last label thing that was mentioned?
R: No it had to do with a lot of things. Mainly for that chunk of time it had to do with the fact that we took Unnatural Sections and toured with it to 38 countries. We toured for like ten months straight for 2013-2014. That was a big thing. After that we all got together, there was a whole lot happening for all of us at the time, and we were like “Let’s take six months off and separate.” I went home to Virginia and got reconnected with everyone there. Pete went back to Massachusetts, the other guys are from Colorado land but our bass player at the time was from here (Tampa). Some stuff was going on, we spent a lot of time with each other, it happens with bands. Also at the time David broke his wrist. Shattered it. There was already going to be this six months of downtime we were going to give to each other because we had just been slamming it for the past five years. Maybe a month off break every once in a while but we were just constantly touring. But yeah he broke his wrist and had to get surgery so that tacked on about another four months. So we ended up taking about a year off which was very therapeutic but during that time we got to write all that material and get that stuff sorted out. Everyone worked on their own individual performance. I worked really hard to make my weaknesses strengths for guitar. I wanted this album to be the best I’ve ever done as far as writing. I wanted to do more with the material.
M: What’s your current setup looking like as far as gear?
R: I’m using a Peavy XXX II head, distortion channel, lead channel, it’s pretty bare bones. I run very little things, I’m not a fan of thinking you need to run a million things because you don’t. If you’re a lead player you need a boost and that’s pretty much it. If you want an effect, cool. But I come from the mindset where if you can’t plug straight into something and sound good then you’re just not a good player. You shouldn’t have to have al this extra stuff to make you sound a certain way you should be able to just produce. But I do run a couple pedals. I have an overdrive that’s always on, not a distortion. Just to fill in the holes and create a really tight awesome tone. I have a compressor for the lead stuff and a Carbon Copy Delay. Oh also an ISP Decimator II, those are the best on the market. A Peterson Strobe tuner too because they’re super accurate. That’s it, that’s literally all I use. Meat and potatoes are my thing. I’m running wireless now too, which I never thought that I would like it but now I can run all over the place and it’s great. Not being connected to a cable is really cool.
M: So it’s worth the extra bit of money?
R: Yeah, I mean everyone’s on wireless now. Oh and I’ve also been getting custom guitars through Roehr’s guitars out in San Diego California. I’ve got two very custom guitars, all designed by me and Preston Roehr’s, the creator of Roehr’s guitars. It’s a very small operation out there but the product is just top quality. They’re like my signature guitars. If you asked for my guitar that’d be it. It’s pretty cool.
M: How many models are there?
R: He’s made me four now. The most recent two are like, the holy grail’s. They’re perfect guitars. They’re not in production though, you can’t just order one and have it next week you’ve gotta give it some time because they’re all handmade. Even the entry level guitars are all handmade, that’s his business model.
M: Do you share a lot of the same views as far as the super politically fueled lyrics featured in the songs?
R: I pretty much think along with Dave on everything. I’m not one who’s politically charged though. I love his attitude, he’s a glass half full person, but I am a glass half empty person it’s just how I am. I’m more of a pessimist. He’s definitely an optimist and I love that attitude and I think you have to have that balance for sure. I just don’t think I’m someone who’s too entirely vocal about it. I have my opinions and I try to stay as educated as possible but at the end of the day my life as an individual I’ve got to go to fuckin’ Batman, Wolverine, wrestling, Game of Thrones, guitar playing, metal, bluegrass, stuff like that to get me through the day. If I go too far down down the rabbit hole then I just think that everything’s awful and then I’m not going to want to do anything because fuck it anyways. I’m a positive person but when I look at that stuff I’m like “Fuck it, we’re fucked. It’s fucked, I don’t give a fuck.” And he’s like “No we can change it!” and I love it, it’s cool and it’s where all the lyrics come from. I do share those beliefs I’m just not too vocal about it. It bothers me sometimes because we’re a little.. too vocal about it? I’m kinda like hey man I don’t wanna get my wig split. But at the same time who the fuck else is going to say it? I always say hey man I’m just here to play guitar.
M: Do you have any last words for us?
R: Go buy our album Conformicide coming out March 10th. If you don’t get it the 10th get it the 11th, if you don’t get it the 11th get it the 12th. See us on tour, we’ll be on tour for the next billion years. We’ve got a week left on this tour and then the week after we’re supporting Warbringer and Exmortus on the west coast. Then we go to Europe for the whole month of April where we’re taking out Warbringer, Exmortus, and Gorod so that’ll be really cool.
“World Gone Mad” US Tour Supporting Suicidal Tendencies & Crowbar
March 8th – Lawrence, KS @ The Granada
March 9th – Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge (No S.T.)
March 10th – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall (Record Release Show)
March 11th – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
West Coast Dates w/Warbringer & Exmortus
March 13th – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
March 14th – Vancouver, BC @ The Venue
March 15th – Portland, OR @ Analog Cafe
March 16th – San Francisco, CA @ DNA Lounge
March 17th – Sacramento, CA @ Cafe Colonial
March 19th – West Hollywood, CA @ Whisky A Go Go
European Headlining Tour w/Warbringer, Gorod, Exmortus
April 1st, 2017 – Edingburgh, UK @ Heavy Scotland Festival (Havok Only)
April 2nd, 2017 – Manchester, UK @ Rebellion
April 3rd, 2017 – Birmingham, UK @ Mama Roux’s
April 4th, 2017 – London, UK @ Underworld
April 5th, 2017 – Hasselt, BEL @ Muziekodroom
April 6th, 2017 – Tilburg, NL @ 013
April 7th, 2017 – Hamburg, DE @ Logo
April 8th, 2017 – Aarhus, DNK @ Royal Metal Festival
April 9th, 2017 – Gothenburg, SWE @ Sticky Fingers
April 11th, 2017 – Helsinki, FIN @ Tavastia
April 13th, 2017 – Stockholm, SWE @ Fryshuset Klubben
April 14th, 2017 – Copenhagen, DNK @ Pumpehuset
April 15th, 2017 – Berlin, DE @ Cassiopeia
April 16th, 2017 – Markneukirchen, DE @ Framus & Warwick Concert Hall
April 17th, 2017 – München, DE @ Feierwerk
April 19th, 2017 – Vienna, AUT @ Arena
April 20th, 2017 – Ljubljana, SVN @ Orto Bar
April 21st, 2017 – Brescia, ITA @ Circolo Colony
April 22nd, 2017 – Pratteln, CHE @ Z7
April 23rd, 2017 – Saarbrücken, DE @ Garage
April 24th, 2017 – Nantes, FRA @ Ferrailleur
April 26th, 2017 – Madrid, ESP @ Caracol
April 27th, 2017 – Barcelona, ESP @ Salamandra 1
April 28th, 2017 – Puget, FRA @ Le Rats
April 29th, 2017 – Paris, FRA @ Petit Bain
April 30th, 2017 – Essen, DE @ Turock