Interview: Allegaeon Guitarist Insists He’s Not Jumping Ship Despite Forming New Band, Harboured

What to do if you’re a musician with a treasure chest of song ideas that are incompatible with your current band? Well, start another band, of course—and use it as an outlet for whatever farts might be percolating in your brain.

That’s what Denver-based Allegaeon guitarist Michael Stancel did after noticing he had cobbled together a slew of experimental song sketches to which Allegaeon would be allergic. After joining that band back in ’13, Stancel recently found his pockets overflowing with musical ideas like open tuning, synths and even acoustic guitar.

Stancel got reassured that he was on to something when he impressed guitarist Nick Hennig and drummer Cierra White with his fresh ideas. They jumped onboard, as did bassist Brandon Michael, and their new enterprise Harboured set sail.

When New Noise recently caught up with Stancel for one of his first—if not the first—interview he had given about Harboured, he was giddy. Well, giddy for a death-metal guitarist, that is. He gushed about his eagerness to try executing some musical experiments he’s toyed around with for years.

“I was listening to all these folk guitar players who play with open tunings, and you can strum and have these drum notes with the open strings and then move your voice around through the neck and have it be a much richer, fuller sound,” Stancel remarks.

Curious what he’s is talking about? Grab Harboured’s self-titled debut, a six-song slab of haunting, terrifying—and yet melodic—music for proof. New label Lost Future Records issued the debut in mid-March.

Astute Allegaeon fans will observe that Lost Future is not Metal Blade, the label that issues material by the former band. Don’t read into it. Stancel adamantly stated that he’s committed to his tech-death band and doesn’t consider his new progressive black-metal crew a “side project” as much as a “second project.”

“The bands are definitely going to be operating side by side,” Stancel promises. “Everyone in (Harboured) is already in another band. We’re trying not to have it be side project-ey, but we’ll still probably play less (often than Allegaeon). It won’t be super-touring three to six months out of the year, but we are going to do as much as we can that’s right for the band.”

Stancel spilled more about his plans to balance the two bands. In fact, it might be easier than one would expect—Harboured still haven’t played a single concert yet. Sure, they performed from remote locations for the live-streamed Death in My Metal, Not in My Streets Fest in August 2020, but even then, the four band members still hadn’t shared a room together.

“We started in the pandemic, and we were waiting to see if we should play (some shows) before we had a record out,” Stancel recalls. “A lot of people were like, ‘No, you should wait till you have something.’ Bands burn themselves out quickly in local scenes. You can only ask your friends to come to so many shows before they’re, like, ‘I’m good.’ ”

Stancel quickly qualifies: “We want to play shows—but only when it makes sense. Like, now that the record’s coming out, we actually have something we can have at the merch table to promote. We’re planning in the next couple of months to play our first couple of shows.”

Even if Stancel did want Harboured to hit the road a ton as they grow their sea legs, the timing—once again, just like when he formed his “second band”—just doesn’t feel right, he said. For example, music festivals—particularly ones in Europe—are almost impossible to participate in currently because of the backlogs of bands previously booked to play during the COVID-ravaged years.

In the end, though, Stancel brushes off what would resemble a looming tower of trouble for a young band just starting out. He credits the rise of Harboured to learning from past mistakes, keeping his new project loose, and learning to roll with life—as we’ve all had to do a bit more in the wake of the pandemic.

“I’ve learned some lessons in Allegaeon and other bands, things to do and things to avoid, and that will hopefully aid Harboured through our duration,” Stancel concludes.

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