Following up our premiere week, we move on to Arizona where we found one of the most unique and creative artists we have stumbled upon in a while, Andres Parada aka Human Behavior, whose teaming up with the magazine for the exclusive premiere of his new music video for the single “We Heard His Things Were Filled With Pain”. His new album’s central theme being the death of Andres’ grandfather who is assisted into death via morphine and the overdose death of a friend via heroin. Both theirs and Andres’ own are tales reworked through historical folk and Christian song structures.
We also had the chance to talk with Andres about the single, new record and more.
Hi Andres, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’ve been doing well. We’ve been off the road for a while, and it feels relieving and scary at the same time. Just moved to Los Angeles which also feels relieving and scary at the same time. My medication ran out and they can’t refill it because of a stupid CA law on the class of medication I use, so I feel muddy-brained and overemotional – not relieving, but yes scary.
If I start with an answer like this, you might be able to gauge early on if the rest of this is worth reading.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “We Heard His Things and Were Filled With Pain”?
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song? What made you want to explore the themes of death and addiction?
The song was inspired by my stay at Sonora Behavioral Health Hospital after a week of half-ass suicide attempts. Back then, most of my friends were addicted to heroin. A lot of them are dead now, and I sing about those who died a lot on this album. At the time they were struggling, I wanted to die too. I still do sometimes, but back then it was way more consistent. This was before I had started treatment for my manic episodes, and it was after my friend Taylor entered a coma via mixing pills and alcohol. They pulled the plug on Taylor right after his mother committed suicide while waiting for him to wake up. It was a horrible time of my life, and I remember having sex with my partner at the time in a church parking lot. This would happen when we weren’t at the hospital waiting for Taylor to wake up. We dropped out of school. I even stopped going to the hospital because it was so miserable being there. The hospice was even worse.
Taylor’s nurse kept talking about angels and how God was watching him. The treatment facility I eventually went to also incorporated God into detox/treatment. It was disgusting and totally unhelpful. If anything, it made me certain that I would commit suicide before going to a place like that again. Since then, I’ve witnessed and experienced addiction and depression in varying degrees, and it’s almost always connected to conversations on death, and the value of life. For the same reasons I keep revisiting religion, religion keeps revisiting me through the imagery of christianity and hospitalization. Religion has become the form of my depression, and my music has become its function. This song is a part of my life that I’m forcing to peacefully rest inside me, instead of cast aside through the blindness of worship. It’s hospitalization for the mind in a real way – give a place and time for your mind to explore the things that make you want to die. Hopefully, this category will give me (and others, fingers crossed) a space to share the load of childhood suffering. Also, I just love drama. Makes me feel alive.
Who came up with the dark and weird concept for the video?
Robbie Williams (director) and I conceptualized the video around a set he had access to – an enormous attic space in downtown Tucson that could’ve been used for torture porn or worship meetings. Robbie also had an editing technique he was excited to use in a new way. So, we planned out imagery based on the set and editing technique. I gave Becky (actor, and our violinist/singer) prompts for free-dance performances to the song we were shooting for. Those prompts were emotions I knew she might not want to share. This project has often been sharing moods and emotions you can’t share other places. Because we needed paint for the editing trick, I decided I wanted to sexualize consumption through black paint, and immaculate expression through white paint – as an homage to horror films through the lens of home video. I wanted to show nothing in particular through the aesthetic of torture, in hopes that true discomfort comes from perception, not content. There is nothing dark in the video. It just seems dark because of how we treated it. It is a video interpretation of my bipolar manic episodes; Their clarity and severity are separate from reality or triggers. When I get “there,” it’s all there is. Reality and content are then shaped to fit my perspective. I wanted the video to offer that.
How was the film experience?
The ropes were ouch. We had to have a ladder pulled out from under me for the shots where I’m hanging from the rafters — rope burns and sore wrists. As for drinking paint, I found out that “non-toxic” and “potable” are different. I kept vomiting the paint back up, but was certain the TV static would be most believable as an editing technique if the acting was also believable. So, I didn’t want to act. I wanted to drink paint.
Don’t drink paint. It’s artsy-fartsy or whatever, but it’s also fucking horrible. I know you don’t need me to tell you to not drink paint, but still.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote the beginning of this song on the first EP I released under the Human Behavior moniker in 2009. I left it alone for a few years, and then reinterpreted it with beats and new instrumentation. I wanted the sonic treatment of black metal, but done through acoustic arrangements, and digital beats. So, the writing was pretty straight forward, and the recording was easy up until mixing. That’s when we put in the beats, which is backwards in terms of normal process. Beats should go in first for the sake of timing, but I wanted to produce them around what we performed so it would feel more organic, or live, like an old black metal recording – messy, gritty.
So, mixing took forever to get the rhythm section sounding heavy-yet-digital, while keeping the melody (really just two notes) as folksy-yet-dark-in-arrangement. The first beats we produced were all blast-beats and it didn’t work. Ron (our banjo player) had the idea of trying a less busy version of the beat, and it ended up catching a lot of the sonic elements of metal/hardcore that I wanted, without sounding oversaturated. Basically, the most important stages of our writing and recording always comes in the mixing step. It barely worked for this song.
How’s your new album coming along?
Great. We finished recording it almost two years ago, and released it 4 months ago. There have been a bunch of delays. The mixing/mastering stage was delayed by 6 months while I lived in MN during my father’s death to cancer. I used all of my inheritance money to give this album the release I thought it deserved.
The album has received basically no press. Supposedly, people not listening to music is part of the music listening industry. In reality, maybe emotional backstory has little impact on whether or not you’ll listen and like my music. Most likely, you’ll watch the video, hear the song, and think not much more than “This is dark/weird.” But, I’m honestly trying to offer as much as I can.
I want you to think about sticking your head into an oven, in hopes that it will prevent you from ever truly sticking your head into an oven. Then again, honesty doesn’t necessarily mean marketability, so the album is coming along great in terms of honesty, yet not-so-great in terms of people knowing we even made a new album.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Yup. We’re planning on releasing this album on September of last year. We’re thinking about having called it “Kedumim.” Both of those things already happened, because the album is called Kedumim, and was released in September of 2016 through Folktale (vinyl) and Related (CD).
What led you to write and create a trilogy?
Things are powerful in the number three, at least in the folklore of my father’s religion and culture. This includes the stories and theology of the Holy Bible. Specifically — the trinity and the structure of acts within stories. Because these albums all connect my evasion of symptoms of depression to biblical name-places (Golgotha, Bethphage, Kedumim), it made sense to present it as a linear collection. I didn’t want to give myself room to get stuck on this concept, nor did I want to surrender the concept too soon. Making a trilogy gave my art a convenient form for 3 years, and a function with an end in mind – “by the time you’re done hating yourself in these songs, maybe you’ll learn to hate yourself ONLY when you’re in song.” I think it worked, because I’m happier than I’ve ever been – just like how the Rush Hour trilogy worked out for Jackie and Chris. The idea became more clear as I went into it. In the beginning, I just knew my first idea wasn’t done, my second idea was the same as the first, and the third one had to wrap things up.
Would each installment deal with the same themes?
They all deal with some of the same themes, just because of my habits as an artist. But, the thing that ties them together in my mind is the idea of using violence and self hatred as tools for practicing self love – all through the framework of reinterpreting biblical parables and place-names. The first album in the trilogy was made immediately after entering a mental hospital, and this third album (Kedumim, third in the trilogy) was made immediately before my father died. So, although the content is changing, every album in this trilogy has been an effort to categorize my depression, and give it a form and function that was fruitful, although painful. The three albums all sound totally different – so it’s really only a conceptual trilogy. Sonically, they’re pretty separate, and represent different periods of learning to love myself.
Any plans to hit the road?
Because we just relocated to Los Angeles, we’re taking a breather, and writing new stuff with our new 8 piece arrangement. We’ll have some short tours in the spring, and plenty of Los Angeles shows in the mean time. We’ll get back to being road dogs later in the year. We all definitely miss it.
What else is happening next in Human Behavior’s world?
We’re currently composing some soundtracks – one for a small budget horror film, one for an adult cartoon through a Disney subsidiary, and one for a children’s cartoon through Nickelodeon. I don’t know if these are the right places for us to be, but I love to think about how our exploration of mental illness could be presented to a mainstream audience. It makes me feel like maybe we’re doing something right.
We also have an EP of 3 piece old-timey songs coming out through Keeled Scales Records in February, and an EP of orchestral arrangements coming out through Sweatband Records shortly after that. We’ll be hitting the studio for our next full length record this summer.