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Gothic Western Rock Duo Hematite: ‘Life Is Constant Movement, You Just Have to Decide What Direction to Go’

On March 31, Portland, Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee-based duo Hematite released their debut EP, Speak of the Devil. The unforgettable, one-of-a-kind collection – best described as gothic western rock – takes listeners across the frontier on a wild journey of discovery and redemption, ultimately arriving at the realization that the past, present, and future are interconnected and evolving.

Join contributing writer Cynthia Gross as she connects with two of the rock scene’s greatest gems, Davey Muise (Vanna, Trove) and Andrew Gaultier (Big 50, To Speak of Wolves, He Is Legend) of Hematite, to discuss the vision behind their new direction, the most important takeaway they want listeners to gain from their EP, and what survival and rebirth look like during challenging seasons.

Hematite - Press Photo - Courtesy of the Artist
Hematite - Press Photo - Courtesy of the Artist

Both Gaultier and Muise knew that they were meant for creative careers ever since childhood. “I started playing with my dad’s country band when I was pretty young, started touring at a young age, and just kept going with it,” said Gaultier, Hematite’s guitarist and vocalist. His earliest memories include “joining my dad on stage at local honky-tonk bars, playing guitar, and hanging at my local metal venue called the Dark Room.”

For Muise, Hematite’s lead vocalist, “the performance came before the music.” He recalls showcasing his talents via mini karaoke concerts for his mom and her friends after church on Sundays, noting that there are countless photos of him with a microphone in hand dancing as a boy.

“My mom always had vinyl playing in the house and took us to concerts as kids, but middle school and high school are where it started clicking for me,” said Muise.

“I remember seeing a senior talent show when I was like 13, and one of the bands were playing a cover of Nirvana, but instead of doing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ like they told the principal they were doing, they ripped into ‘Rape Me,’ which had the whole school in shock, but I saw the smiles on the bands faces after the stunt they pulled and knew that was for me. The punk rock spirit that I just learned existed.”

Both “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Rape Me” follow a similar chord progression – albeit in different keys – so it was likely not until a few seconds in that the principal and other administrators realized what was happening, and by then, it was laughably too late.

Davey Muise and Andrew Gaultier have since cut their teeth in the music scene, supporting a number of metal and rock bands separately, including Vanna, Trove, Big 50, To Speak of Wolves, and He Is Legend, with the clout to prove it. Take one listen to “Run Devil Run,” a lead single from the duo’s debut EP, and you realize that Hematite marks a significant departure from Muise and Gaultier’s recent projects, and the result is nothing short of breathtaking.

“It was a long-time dream of mine to start something that got to combine the western twang of country with the darkness of metal,” Gaultier shared. “Getting to create that with a touch of horror movie spookiness, it gives me a really cool outlet that I’ve never had before. I definitely get to live outside of the box when I write for Hematite, and that is really refreshing. Ideally, I can paint a picture with music that Davey can write a story to.”

“Outside of the box” is indeed the epitome of Hematite’s foreboding, compelling sound that immediately draws you in like an intoxicating spell. “I always describe it as the band sounds like if several bands fucked and made a baby, or all hung out in a room and partied to create the sound of said band,” added Muise. And we quite agree. The love child is sheer perfection.

“So for Hematite, I like to imagine Johnny Cash in his prime taking a road trip in the desert with Trent Reznor in his, and they keep picking up musical hitchhikers like Depeche Mode or Sisters of Mercy because they got good weed,” Muise added. “Maybe they get pulled over by the police, but it’s actually Sting and The Police, and has to spend a night in jail with Tom Waits. The soundtrack to all that, that’s what I think Hematite sounds like.”

“If you see my father / Could you ask him please / How many deals do I get / When I’m on my knees,” Muise sings in “Run Devil Run,” against the backdrop of an immersive soundscape of folk-twinged acoustic guitar, melodic and eerie electric guitar, and a high-spirited rhythm section. The refrain, “So heaven help me / Hells on the run / Run devil run,” is brimming with urgency and longing.

Deep symbolism is embedded within the lyrics, and yet, for Hematite, the musical composition is just as important as the lyrical content. In fact, the vocals – which are at times a growl and at other times a whisper – seem to be balanced equally with the instrumentation. The energy is dark and alluring, leaving listeners with impressions that are intentionally left open to interpretation. Speak of the Devil was mixed by Trevor Hoffort and mastered by Raelynn Janicke.

Like “Run Devil Run,” a theme of motion runs throughout the entirety of Speak of the Devil, as evidenced by track titles, “Adios,” “Go West,” as well as the lyrics, and Muise notes that this is reflective of his personal journey through a difficult season to a place of restoration and expectancy.

“Yeah, that constant forward movement, the chase or the journey, that’s what this record is about,” Muise explained. “Written both at a time in my life when I needed to push through and keep moving, and also at times, mid-movement to keep me on pace. Some of that movement is metaphoric like ‘Run Devil Run,’ and then songs like ‘Go West,’ which is a song about actual physical movement away from a dark place and towards safety. Life is constant movement; you just have to decide what direction to go.”

Davey Muise has been open about his troubled childhood and ensuring mental health challenges, using them to support others who encounter similar barriers, which he admits can sometimes feel like “mantle” since there is an expectation that he will hold this space every time he opens his mouth to speak.

At its core, Speak of the Devil is a story of survival against all odds, and the hard-won triumph embedded within that message is all-at-once affirming. “For me, this record is my rebirth back into the harsh world, but unlike before, instead of living in the past, holding me essentially in place, I’ve been able to push past who or what I’ve been and focus more on who I want to be,” shared Muise. “The future is clearer when you’re facing it head-on instead of constantly checking behind over your shoulder.”

Hematite - Speak of the Devil - Cover Art
Hematite - Speak of the Devil - Cover Art

When asked for the most important takeaway from Hematite’s debut album, Muise offered timely advice, “That life keeps on living so, you better keep it moving, but in ways that suit you and fit the person you are. We all have this wild journey, and it is up to each of us to make it as full as possible before we kick that rusty bucket, which by the way, could be today.”

Both Muise and Gaultier have loyal followings from their past work in the rock and metal scene. To any longtime fans who are hesitant about engaging with Hematite, Muise wants to let them know, “Genre does not need to define what you connect with. That life has all kinds of moods and vibes, and hopefully, this can be a soundtrack to some good ones for you. That my or our journey has kept moving, and that this music has been not only vital to that journey but brought a lot of happiness into our lives. Just like us, you’ve grown too, and maybe your tastes have as well. If you got a 20-minute car ride, give it a shot, and try it out. I all but guarantee your head will be bobbin two songs in.”

Gaultier’s recommendation to longtime fans is even more direct: “Smoke a joint or drink some whiskey and just give it a listen.”

So go and drink it all in. It’s that good.

Follow Hematite on Instagram for the latest on their upcoming shows and happenings.

Cynthia Gross

Cynthia Gross is a freelance writer and award-winning spiritual pop artist based in Maryland. With more than a decade of experience as an executive ghostwriter, she understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.

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