Formed in 1999, Melbourne metal band Contrive consists of bassist Tim Stahlmn and twins Paul Haug (guitar, vocals) and Andrew Haug (drums). Andrew, perhaps better known as the former host of radio station Triple J’s The Racket, a position he held for over ten years, is a man who has loved his metal since he was a child. Having also DJ’d clubs such as Satan’s Place and Back In The Day in Melbourne – club nights that specialise in all things metal and hard rock – he is truly a man who knows the genre and all its many forms inside out.
Contrive specialise in a hard and brutal old school type of metal that is reminiscent of bands such as Sepultura. In between outside interests and careers, the band has released two albums. 2005’s The Meaning Unseen and the more recent The Internal Dialogue from 201o also scoring some prime support slots for overseas touring acts including the aforementioned Sepultura, Mayhem, Opeth and Testament. Having toured one of the lesser known markets for metal last year, Vietnam, the boys obviously love what they do: spreading the word of heavier music.
“My first memories of metal was seeing the cover of the Kiss album Dynasty in my nanna’s record collection,” says Haug. “That’s where it all began for me. Once Paul and I heard the album, it pretty much went from there for us. Many people think it’s a fad that you grow out of, but the real fans know that it’s about more than just the music. Music deals with a lot of emotional themes and content you don’t hear in mainstream music. It’s a highly emotive form of music, and maybe that’s why we’re drawn to it. Metal really appeals to those who feel that they’re on the ‘outside.’”
“Making a working career out of metal is something that sprung from being a fan,” Haug continues. “I just fell into it. This is an industry where jobs aren’t advertised in the paper. It comes back to having good communication skills and meeting people and having respect. I never thought of this as a career growing up, it just kind of happen.”
“When Paul and I saw Sepultura live in 1992, that’s what really inspired us to form Contrive. I had never even picked up a pair of sticks before then, I was just a good air drummer but hopeless behind an actual kit. What’s influenced us musically has changed somewhat over the years, but Sepultura has always been a cornerstone of sound. The whole ‘brother’ thing of early Sepultura really attracted us, with Max and Igor Cavalera being the focus initially. Paul and I have become good friends with them over the years and are absolutely stoked to be playing side shows with them while they are here for the Big Day Out,” says Haug.
“We’ve been accused of being a Sepultura clone, especially in our early days. Contrive tried to take cues from them and different bands. We try to make what has been done into our own. Last thing we want to do is emulate what has gone before.”
Most famous as host of the Triple J, this association ended in 2011. “It was Triple J’s decision. Many people thought that I was retiring from the show. Why would I retire from something I absolutely love?” asks Haug. “Triple J felt it was time for them to do what they had to do. They made their decision. We’ve both made our peace with it and I’ve moved on. You don’t want to burn your bridges because you’ll probably end up working with them again in some form. I wish them all the best with what they choose to do with the show and the station. It was a phenomenal ride, but there’s no point staying in the past and stagnating. I’ve seen it happen to others and it’s not pretty and definitely not for me.”
Even though he has moved on from the program that made him a household name, at least among Triple J listeners, Andrew’s still going to be on the airwaves – in a fashion. “I still want to concentrate on radio. I’m doing the Soundwave Pirate Radio for the entirety of the festival. This is me basically chatting with all the bands touring as part of the festival. I’ve worked in radio for eighteen years all up and still love the medium. I still try to juggle the radio career and running the Century Media record label with that of the band. Paul works in nursing care and Tim works in JB Hi-Fi.”
“I want to keep supporting this kind of music any way I can. I love being involved in this scene. Triple J was the biggest platform for the show, but it hasn’t changed me that much. I still go to gigs and meet people. I tell people to keep in touch on Facebook. It definitely doesn’t stop here for me.” What words of advice would Haug offer to those wanting to work in the industry? “Stay passionate and keep your integrity. If you’re stating to get jaded, disgruntled and bitter, get out. This is a fun job and industry.”
“I just try to live day by day,” concludes Haug. “With Contrive, it’s crucial to continue to enjoy making music together. We still really enjoy making music together and like each other’s company. We’re working on a new record and also hope to tour Vietnam again next year. For myself, I just want to keep active in the media and keep spreading the word of heavy music any way I can.
Today marks the first day of Cavalera Conspiracy’s first sideshows as part of the Big Day Out tour. Full dates – including those supported by Contrive are below.
CAVALERA CONSPIRACY AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2012
Tuesday 24th January Panthers, Newcastle
Friday 27th January ANU BAR, Canberra *
Saturday 28th January Metro Theatre, Sydney *
Wednesday 1st February Billboard, Melbourne *
Monday 6th February The Hi Fi, Brisbane
* Contrive play only these dates: on stage at 8.20pm