Interview: Mitchell Soloway, HAAZE

Mitchell Soloway

Mitchell Soloway is a singer and guitarist for Red Deer, Alberta sludge/doom metal trio HAAZE who are dropping their new album “Swamp Mama” next January. We talked with Mitchell about his beginnings in music, learning to play guitar, gear, the upcoming HAAZE album, and more.

How would you describe your initial exposure to music?

Lots and lots of old school hip hop and gangster rap, my older brother took care of me and my younger brothers a lot so we listened to his music quite a bit. I’m talking like Wu-Tang, Onyx, N.W.A and of course Eminem, come to think of it I used to play with my toys as a kid pounding Eminem and DMX hahahaha, explains a lot now.

Were you in the music programs in school while you were growing up?

No, when I started playing music I lived in a hamlet about 45 mins from any music teachers and my Dad was a shift worker so it was really difficult for him to make that happen for me. I got lucky and met a lot of musicians throughout my years, I guess early on I sought them out to start learning from them.

How did you get into playing guitar?

I started with bass actually, my friend’s family had a bass guitar laying around that they never played so they would let me play on that for awhile. We actually would record ourselves playing on tape and I would bring it back and play it for my Dad just to convince him to buy me a bass. The rest is history, I played bass in several bands growing up and learning guitar and drums along the way.

Did you start to listen to music differently once you discovered guitar?

Ya for sure, I had horrible taste in music for awhile though. I would tell other kids shit like “fuck Pink Floyd” and then go jam out to some Nu-Metal. Probably by high school I started to understand the importance of song writing and thank God I had friends who were rad musicians in their own right, they would some me stuff like Led Zeppelin and Tool.

Mitchell Soloway live with HAAZE

Mitchell Soloway live with HAAZE

Who were some of your early guitar influences?

Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains for sure, I was so amazed by how heavy he could play but yet it almost had a creepy quality to it.

Tell me about your guitar technique.

Well if you listen to any of our music I am certainly not a technical player, I write more for the sake of the song then to show case my own abilities. The way I approach writing is to almost mutate the riffs slowly throughout the course of the song, I would say I am heavily influenced by the band Gojira in that regard, they’re insane musicians but if you listen really carefully when they write a song they will milk a riff for everything it is worth and keep playing the same type of notes and adding crazy variations to it throughout the course of the song, I absolutely love that, I have never been a huge fan of repetitive songs.

What guitars are in your collection? What is your a guitar that you trust the most?

Honestly I didn’t have a guitar collection until HAAZE started about 2 years ago, I mostly just had my 5 String Spector bass and this old acoustic laying around. Currently I am playing on a Epiphone Les Paul type and I found this vintage SG rip off called a Lyle that was made sometime in the 1960′s. I will say though that I am planning on getting a Dunable, not just because they are big in the stoner rock scene but because I feel like there is a trust with that dude who makes them, you can tell that he really loves to make a guitar and that shit inspires me like crazy, also his old band Intronaut is rad as fuck.

With the advancement of the technology and amp/effect simulation, do you still use pedals?

Oh heck ya I do, the way my rig is setup is I run my signal through dual amps using an ABY Switch. My bass amp has a distortion pedal on it from a local guy ( I wish I remembered what it is called ) and then on the guitar side I just use the classic Marshall amp distortion. Ahead of the ABY switch I run obviously a tuner and my delay pedal, which is actually set pretty low.

In your opinion, what are the three skills that every guitarist must bring to perfection?

Check your ego, work hard and pack your own god damn gear.

How did you work on perfecting your rhythm and solo parts?

Relentless practice and listening back to each riff. When I am working on something I will record it with my phone and listen back a thousand times like a total psycho, even though in this record I don’t shred a solo I want to be sure that the song I am putting forward is the best version I can give present.

HAAZE - Swamp Mama

Back to music… You are set to release a new album with HAAZE. Lead me through the creative process of “Swamp Mama.”

There wasn’t really a creative process for this album to be frank, we had just released our EP ” Riffs” and we got approached by Ranjit ( the producer for Swamp Mama ) with an offer for some free studio time. We had nothing wrote and the date was like 5 or 6 weeks away so Alex and I wrote 3 songs to bring to the table. Once we finished we realized that these songs turned out really good and we wanted to do more with Ranjit, we came back 3 or 4 months later and finished off the album with the addition of our bassist Jack.

What evolution do you feel this album represents for you as a composer and guitarist?

Swamp Mama is just the coming out party, we wanted to release something heavy that rips and I think we accomplished that. The album has actually been done for months now so we have had a chance to sit and reflect on it for awhile, for me personally it represents growth, but for the band I wanna say that it represents hard work and honesty.

How do you go about channeling inspiration into writing?

I don’t force anything, if the riff is there I let it come, I’ll document it and continue to work it out until it is ready to present to the band. Lyrically I write literally on my current thoughts and feelings in the moment for each song, I have a way easier time channeling that then trying to force some obscure topic into the mix.

Back to tech talk, tell me about your guitar rig you use for recording?

Like I said before I have a dual amp set up so my signal runs through an ABY Switch into my JVM Marshall and my Ampeg bass rig. Gives it a really full nasty sound.

What comes next for you and HAAZE?

We have one show left this year and then we will break for a couple months until we release in January, then we have a quick little release rip tour and we will start working out two Canadian tours and hopefully one USA for later in the year.

“Swamp Mama” by HAAZE is out on January 7th, 2019. Pre-order here. Follow the band on Instagram.