HARANT
Unleashed
(Harant Music)

 

A rising musician who combines melodic instrumental rock guitar with a shred metal rock approach is Canadian guitarist Harant. Simply going by the name Harant, the guitarist strikes instrumental rock gold with his 2014 CD Unleashed. Key to the album sound is Harant playing together with keyboard virtuoso Derek Sherinian. The album is quite well rounded and, filled with a number of fretboard moves, there’s something for every guitar fan here. The best tracks are the more melodic cuts, “Hope” and the CD closer “From The Heart” but the harder rocking numbers are done so quite tastefully. Speaking about working with Derek Sherinian on Unleashed, Harant tells mwe3.com "Me and Derek connected on MySpace actually, he had an interest in what I was doing, so he ended up playing on my project. Derek is sharp, pro and fast with miles of experience and to the point. It was pretty overwhelming at first to handle that kind of an encounter especially as I was new at this. Come on! The guy plays with all top names, but he kinda coached me through it." Harant’s homeland is the country of Armenia and the track here called “Armenia” is a heartfelt tribute to the guitarist’s homeland. Being all instrumental with no language barriers, the CD is bound to be of interest to guitar fans around the planet. Harant's Unleashed is a vital and bold guitar statement. www.HarantMusic.com / www.CDbaby.com


mwe3.com presents
an interview with
HARANT



mwe3
: Tell us something about your background and how you were exposed to music and how did you become interested in playing guitar?

Harant: The inspiration started at home with my father on violin and oud when I was really little. I was also deeply moved when I heard a record from Spain of Werner Muller/Gypsy tango then, some Astor Piazzolla, then started being drawn to the classical music of Dvorak, Bach, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky which started to stir up the creation of music in my head. However I wasn’t playing any instruments at the time.

Around ten years old. I started playing around with keyboards and bass as I started to be influenced by New Age music and the likes of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis. It’s just that music is so beautiful. But a little later in my teen years, the sounds of hard rock and heavy metal captured me on a different level.

While still being a huge fan of all other types of pop, folk and classical music, I couldn’t escape the gravity and the soulfulness the electric guitar when I listened to rock and metal songs. I didn’t really have any guitar idols up to then, I just wanted drop all else and learn how to play it. I didn’t have any guitars then so I went with my friend to the store and picked up a low budget Strat with a tiny amp that sounded so horrible even to my vigin ears. But I was determined and I spent years and countless hours practicing and playing to get to a level that met my standard that's in my head and expand further from there.

mwe3: Tell us about the making of Unleashed and who plays with you on the album. What’s the chemistry like between the players and how did you meet up with keyboard legend Derek Sherinian? Who else was involved in the making of the CD, engineers, mastering / studio sound?

Harant: I have Colin Kingsmore from Toronto on drums, a superb guy and a drummer and a professional... very well versed, he knows his stuff and he delivers! He plays with lots of big local bands. Steve Bilz on bass, he has a great sense of melody and he is passionate about my work. It took me a long time to find the right bassist. And of course the the great Derek Sherinian playing keyboards. He needs no introduction. Me and Derek connected on MySpace actually, he had an interest in what I was doing so he ended up playing on my project. Derek is sharp, pro and fast with miles of experience and to the point. It was pretty overwhelming at first to handle that kind of an encounter especially that I was new at this. Come on! The guy plays with all top names, but he kinda coached me through it.. Even about the structure and sound of some the tracks. That even more so forced me to push my playing harder cause his parts are pretty rich and powerful. So yeah, it got challenging on many levels at times but we pulled through .

As far as studio guitar recordings I use Line 6 products. They honestly make the best modules and they sound great and very real! Even for live work. Their floor models kick major butt also they’re light weight, durable and a consistent great sound. Everything was done with Line 6 interface. These guys have done it right! Everything got mixed at MetalWorks Studios and mastered at Lacquer Channel studios. These amazing guys were very patient with my demands but I have no regrets as the record sounds huge! It’s clear, defined and it has the low end rumble and kick that you would typically only hear on an R&B record and it just pumps in the car!

mwe3: You got a great guitar sound on the album and there’s a cool looking white Strat on the cover too! Tell us about the guitars on the CD and what’s new in guitar land for you lately?

Harant: I used the Fender Stratocaster that’s on the cover of Unleashed, because it’s what I used on this record. It sounds really great, and that guitar is the best fit for Unleashed cause it has more of that classic crunch. It’s a 2006 Fender 60th anniversary “Highway One” model, a Dimarzio Air Classic model and HS3’s for pickups. They balance perfectly when I switch back and forth. It was a challenge to find a tonally matching pair.

I also have many Ibanez guitars loaded with Duncans and Dimarzios that I use, also including a 7 stringed one and acoustics.

I don’t really use much effects, I just use amp distortion for live and even if Im using a an a simulator being live or not, it’s straight distortion with some reverb or delay, but there is usually a certain type of crunch that must be achieved that I would have to approve on.

mwe3: Tell us about your favorite guitar heroes. You can hear a lot of variety on the Unleashed CD.

Harant: I would have to say Joe Satriani, Yngwie, Eddie Van Halen, Gary Moore, Vinnie Moore and many more, but these guys I mentioned really hit the spot for me. I like Satriani for how innovative and soulful he is and how he crafts his work carefully. I first heard “The Crush Of Love” on the radio and was thrilled! I love how Yngwie simply takes me to another world level. When I listen to him play with his wicked tone and skill, he is a freak of nature. I really admire Gary Moore for his beautiful distinct Les Paul sound and outstanding sense of blues. And Eddie Van Halen, well, what guitarist doesn’t like Eddie? He is the man. I also really liked Criss Oliva from old metal band Savatage. I honestly have yet to see a guitarist that has his phrasing and tone, the man died at a very young age in a car wreck and hence remains underrated.

mwe3: how about new players?

Harant: There are many out there now with available tools to musician and social media that it’s become a double edged sword, so you would need to somehow stand out to be heard. I have been listening to Paul Wardingham a lot, I really like his work and approach.

mwe3: What’s your songwriting process like? Do you prefer hard rock jams like the title track “Unleashed” or the more atmospheric soundtrack sounds? Why do you call the album Unleashed? Is recording a form of musical exorcism? Sounds like you had a lot of stuff to get down on disc!

Harant: I called it Unleashed beause it's my first kick of the can that these tracks are finally coming to life and being released and heard. I have so much material as many do too. I already know what I’m doing for the next 4 albums however, that being said, they really are all different. It’s hard to say... tracks like “Unleashed”, “Good Times”, “Universal Groove” and “Pride And Joy” are very hard rock driven. They sound wicked and I’m so happy with them but it had its time and mood, but atmospheric sounds with more progression is something I'm more drawn to however they are much harder to put together because its like telling a story or drawing a painting.

mwe3: Tell us something about the tracks “Hope” (track 4), “Armenia” (track 6) and the CD closer “From The Heart”. They sound very atmospheric. How do you balance the harder rocking sounds with the more melodic approach? Is it possible to have a whole album of melodic and eclectic instrumentals? Do you find that you have to cater to a lot of different audiences?

Harant: My objective has never been to cater to all. Someone out there will hate your music no matter what you do or you don’t. But I do make the compositions as pleasant as possible to the average listener without sacrificing technique or intensity and still manage to make my point. So I do keep an ear out not to over do, prolong or annoy the audience... yes. Especially with instrumental tracks, because I know I do when I hear senseless soloing or a 10 minute track, as has been noticed and noted by many reviewers of this approach of mine. As far as compositions of how I put them together, honestly each project will be different. For stuff like what’s on Unleashed it all starts with a riff or a melody in my head or if I stumble on nice lick when I’m playing then build from there. So then I base the rhythmic structure for it and build the rest of guitar parts. The ambient overlays comes after that’s kind of like how I did “Armenia” and “From The Heart” and that’s how I build a record like Unleashed.

I never sit and say ”I’m gonna make a new song”. I actually want to put out R&B/lounge/trance instrumental type record which it evolves very differently. With that I get influenced by a melody/loop that I hear from somewhere and I start playing along with it and reshaping it into a song. Sounds so damn pretty and forces me to play differently because I didn’t start the groove. However, the guitar sound will be very different on these with lots of wah, legato based shreddy playing and acoustic guitars. I still won’t call it hard rock at all. Another one I want to do with classical instruments along with my playing, again a very different approach. I’ve just gotta find the time to do all this, but at least I have all the blue prints!

mwe3: “Universal Groove” and “Armenia” are great tracks featuring you and Derek Sherinian. Tell us something about them. Speaking of Derek what are your favorite recordings by him, solo and in other bands?

Harant: “Armenia” is actually a very liked track. It’s a tribute to the dark times of Armenia of the April 24th 1915 genocide. It sounds like a national anthem almost painting a picture of the peacefully beautiful land, the mountain and blue skies but towards last third of the track a drop into a dramatic change in mood occurs as it weeps of anger and sadness marking that event so does Derek’s heartfelt countering solo. We’re both Armenian so it hit the spot.

“Universal Groove” is another popular one from the bunch, although it’s not very difficult to play. But the riff, the drum toms, the tone do all the work. To be honest it’s my favorite too.

“Pride And Joy” is actually one of my first compositions but came a long away. It’s fairly harder to play, especially the dueling battle part with Derek...very powerful!

I really love some of Derek’s stuff. I was never too crazy about the Planet X stuff but his collaboration solo records are more to my liking... just amazing. I really like tracks “Frozen By Fire”, “Prelude To Battle’, “The Monsoon” and a few more.

mwe3: What are you looking forward to in 2015 as far as new music, recording and performances? What kind of album would you like to make next and are there other artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Harant: As far as performances I’m gonna step that up more this year. But between work, making records, social life... time flies by you. I want to make some videos too. However my goal is start my second record, but can’t promise that I will finish it by 2015 but I will do my best. Sure wont take as long as Unleashed did or what it went through Just debating on which collection of tracks. As far as collaboration, believe it or not I really like like hip hop and R&B too. I jam killer stuff with Eminem, Sean Paul, K-OS, tracks. I know, it’s a very different world from what I do but I sometimes love to play on such songs. So I’d love to play with R&B artists. It's a different scope and approach of course I have no one in mind yet but I wouldn’t turn down a cool project. As far as my forte music goes, maybe Tony Franklin or Billy Sheehan for bass if I ever get the chance to connect. I really like drummer Barrett Yeretsian from the band Armenian Space Station as well.




 

 
   
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