Interview: Jake Duzsik of HEALTH Talks ‘RAT WARS’

In the aftermath of the apocalypse, as the smoke recedes, there’s only one thing left on this planet to devour what remains: the rats. Serving as a soundtrack to the end of days, RAT WARS by HEALTH, out now via Loma Vista Recordings, is the bands heaviest and personal effort to date.

All right, Jake, thanks for your time. So, give me an idea what has been going on between DISCO4: PART II and now? Anything crazy?

No, I mean, not a whole lot of touring. We did a major US and European tour in the second half of 2022. So ’23 has been pretty quiet in terms of travel, it’s just like here and there. We had a quick trip to Australia, had some festivals. Like a short little B-market run in the sort of Rust Belt, like Ohio, Wisconsin kind of area. Just to get to some places we don’t normally go. And we did a trip to Mexico, Guadalajara Mexico City. And aside from that, it was just entirely finishing this new LP.

And even though we’ve been really active, we didn’t realize we were gonna do two collaboration collections. It’s like 24 fucking songs. There’s a lot of material.

Yeah. All dope shit.

Thank you. The idea for it, and half of it was sort of done before… Half of the first record was done, like before COVID. And then it was like, “dude, COVID is not going away. We’re all fucking trapped.” And we knew that we didn’t want to make another full LP. Like, especially because I became a dad. This is my homie right here.

[Jake’s son enters the interview]

Hey buddy.

Say Hello.

(Jake’s Son) Hello.

Hey you. Nice to meet you, bud.

Yeah, we … I had to bubble like pretty hard. He’s born 1/1/2020, so he’s the Antichrist, he kicked off the whole thing. A lot of bands I think were able to just be like, okay, this is album making time. We’re off the road and we were so careful. And we had like a member of my partner’s family has a medical issue, so it was just like a lot of being sort of fastidious about it in the beginning. We knew that we didn’t wanna make another full HEALTH LP without being able to be in the same room as each other.

But there was a lot of collab. And the second half of the collabs, the second half of part two, we were back in the studio. But there was a lot of stuff, like, it was pretty surreal, dude. Like the Nine Inch Nails one. We had four guys like that would do a phone call, it’d be like me and my bandmate John, and then Trent and then Atticus and we’re all in LA in the same city. And we’re all on conference call and no one’s in the same room. They weren’t working together in the same room, and we weren’t working together in the same room. So, it was really weird, it was like a strange time.

But it was very much a great time for that kind of writing. Because everyone is home, people wanted to have an outlet and so as soon as that sort of opened up, we started working really earnestly and diligently on a follow-up LP. Because like I said, we’ve been somewhat prolific in terms of output, but it feels different than doing your own record.

Yeah. It had been a minute since you guys had done like a solo project.

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s like 2019, I think early 2019. So, by the time this one comes out, you’re talking about like five years. It’s not like five years of like, we went inactive, and on hiatus and then came back. There was a lot of activity, but it was time. Let me put it that way.

No, definitely. And I caught you all last year on the HEAVEN + HELL tour at the Belasco stop in L.A. and yeah, man, what a performance and just overall vibe. That was my first ever HEALTH show. And with always being on the road, were you recording RAT WARS at all while you were on the road for that tour at all? Was that in your head?

Dude, it’s so impossible for…I know some people talk about that and maybe, I imagine it’s like when like Crosby, Stills, & Nash. If you’re just like smoking a joint and you got an acoustic guitar, I could see writing a record, but…

(background conversation with son)

(laughter)

That is what parenting is. He’s up in my shit. He’s a total hustler. If he had a business card it would just be hustling.

You weren’t kidding when you said he was the Antichrist. No, I’m just kidding.

Yes, he is. So yeah, it’s really hard for us to get anything done on tour. Like, especially my band mate is like, still…I’ve checked out of that. Like, he’ll be like, “oh, it’s impossible to get anything done on tour.” It’s like, “dude, you’re always hungover. Like you’re hungover the entire time we’re on tour.” So yeah. It’s like extra impossible to get anything done. I mean, it’s also like not…

I don’t know if you’ve ever had musician talk about like, you know, touring is weird because…

If you saw the show at the Belasco, it’s like, okay, we played for fifty-eight minutes or something. You know, the amount of sort of bullshit and downtime that goes into that. You know, there’s a lot of work that goes into like, the service of that in terms of, especially if you’re traveling, like we were on that tour, the lighting package and getting there early as soon as the venue opens and setting up all day and sound checking and blah, blah, blah. But there’s kind of a lot of like repetitive drudgery, like downtime. But it’s like, there’s not enough downtime often to get your head into a creative space.

Yeah ‘cause you’re just so busy moving around trying to make sure the show goes according to plan, kind of thing.

Yeah! It’s like, okay, maybe now I have like two or three hours until the show. But it’s like, okay, I need to eat some food. I need to figure out like, my laundry’s dirty. So it’s, it’s like hard to get… I can do more with like short windows of time like that, like at home where I have my whole setup, it’s like all ready to go. It’s like I’ve got guitars and like a synthesizer and a piano, and my microphone and I turn everything on, it’s like I’m on. But on tour it’s like, you know, you got to put earbuds in and then some fucking asshole comes in and asks you a question and, you know, it’s just really difficult. So, to answer the question, no. Mostly, pretty much all the work was done off tour.

Okay. Okay. Yeah. ‘Cause some artists, they’re able to do that. And I just wonder how. Like, how do you have that mental capacity to want to just sit down and record and get in that creative space?

I wonder sometimes though. I know sometimes that artists are able to do that, but it’s like, does it usually result in good work? I don’t know. I’d be really curious to like- obviously good is subjective, but, like I said, in the in times of like the days of yore, of just rocking where a lot of music was just written by jamming. It’s like between Zeppelin I and Zeppelin III. Well, Zeppelin III, they went to that cabin in Wales and wrote all the…All those acoustic songs. But between Zeppelin I and Zeppelin II, it’s like they’re just on tour and Page is just stacking riffs, you know. And then they go in and make a record. But it’s not like at soundcheck, I’m just like, “let me lay down some fucking riffs.” And then we’re good on the next record. It just doesn’t work like that for us.

Yeah. No, definitely. Next year you’ll be hitting the road on your RAT-BASED WARFARE TOUR with King Yosef and Pixel Grip, which I’ll be in attendance. How did you select those two rippers for the cut?

We really care about how the whole narrative of like a night unfolds and think about like what it would be like to be in the audience. And so, you know, I think it’s like the key for us is finding the right balance of energy and sort of disparate like it’s always best, in my opinion, to have a three-band bill if you can, rather than just bringing one opener. Because, you know, you bring one opener it’s like there’s kind of this cold amount of time between doors and the first person that goes on. What I love about the way we have this bill set up is this is a quite heavy record.

So having someone like King Yosef…

Heavy.

Yes, that is heavy as fuck, sort of speaks to those members of the audience that maybe are gravitated towards that and also to our own proclivities. And then you have something like Pixel Grip, which is like very much like emblematic of like the new goth scene, we touch on that in our music as well. So I think it’s an it’s an eclectic record that we just made and we wanted to put together a bill that was reflective of that.

Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense. Because with, Pixel Grip, I haven’t heard much of them, but with King Yosef, I’m a big fan of him. And so when I saw you announce that, I was like, “man, that’s gonna be quite a show.” It matches the energy of RAT WARS. I’d argue that this record is by far HEALTH’s more aggressive release all around. You hear that emotional vulnerability from start to finish. Was there a moment in your life recently that made you decide to go down that more brutally twisted direction? Or did that just naturally happen?

It was a very organic record to make. So that was one of the things that was so refreshing about it. We are very careful and sort of meticulous when we make music. You know, we’re not just jamming.

But at the same time, to reiterate the word organic, I think writing so much material for the collab records and the way the nature of a collaboration is. Like, you can’t have that much of an agenda when you’re working with artists with disparate aesthetic sensibilities. Like, you kind of just have to follow this path of least resistance that leads you to something that you’re both resonating with.

And getting that head space is, good with breaking out of the cycle of having any sort of preconceptions about what songs you should be writing. Like, “we need to write a banger. We need to write a heavier song.” So, I think it was a record where we really were like in a place where we sort of just wrote a bunch of songs that felt emblematic of where we were at as a band in that moment. And I think for me personally, you know, I obviously joke that my son is the Antichrist and I love him more than anything that I’ve loved ever.

But the combination of becoming a new parent in the middle of you know, a multi-generational, unprecedented global crisis and not being able to leave the house, was extraordinarily, emotionally difficult for me.

And obviously the world felt and still feels, unfortunately…like we’ve kind of been for years sort of making this soundtrack to a dystopian-future-primitive landscape and now it’s just like we’ve been doing it long enough. It’s like, “oh shit now that just is the world” and everything just keeps getting worse and worse. I felt like a natural extension of where I was at personally and also just where a lot of things have unfortunately descended towards.

So, I think we knew early on like you know we got… After DISCO part two it’s like, “hey are you working on a new record?” “Yeah, we’re working on a new record.” “What’s it’s like?” “It’s gonna be fucking dark.” I knew that how I felt, and I knew that that would be sort of how it was going to sound.

And that was a great build up to those two DISCOS to build up to RAT WARS as well.

Yeah. I don’t know if we’ve ever been so prolific in terms of musical output. And I think, for me at least, part of that is I have less time because of parenthood. I have like no fucking hobbies, and I do nothing fun. I just like I just take care of my kid and then I work on music.

Yeah, but that’s good.

It’s very built.

And that goes with almost the title of the LP, RAT WARS. To me it’s fucking brilliant it’s like a statement. In your words, what would you say is the message behind the title RAT WARS?

I think that your reaction to it is exactly what I was searching for was, if I listen to that body of music and sort of what it is symbolic of or, you know, vaguely sort of insinuates in your mind. I just wanted something that communicated that sort of almost primal desperation. Like, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, there’s just something that’s so visceral and unnerving about combining those two words.

Because one is like, it’s synonymous with just no varnishing of civility, just survival, like that’s what rats do. They just fucking survive. It’s dirty and merciless. Then that imagery in conjunction with the word “wars,” at least in me, it immediately invokes a feeling of desperation. I feel like that’s what the record sounds like and that’s how I felt when we made it. That’s what it is sort of evocative of.

And that’s what I got to from listening to it because the writing on the record as well it emanates futuristic, apocalyptic poetry. So, what would you say was like the writing process like for HEALTH, when creating RAT WARS?

It’s a lot of components to it. There’s a lot of things that start like from a demo from me at home or a demo from John or a drumbeat from BJ or whatever. And then it all coalesces and gets filtered through our sort of production machine of like how we how we make it sound like it lives in our world. And then once you get a couple tracks, there’s always like one track or two. But usually there’s one somewhere in the process of making a record, that’s like the blueprint. And you go like, “oh, fuck, that’s what this record sounds like.”

What would you say is the blueprint track this time around?

For this one it might have been one we wrote that we didn’t even put on this record. I think that there was a couple so it’s like, “UNLOVED,” which sounds like this, post-Skynet goth banger, but like incredibly dark, was definitely one. And then on the heavier side something like “CRACK METAL” or “HATEFUL” we sort of figured out what the aesthetic was. And so, there was that element of it.

Lyrically for me, the most distinct way to put it is like, I’d say the last LP we did is a lot more we, and this record is a lot more I. Like in terms of the platitudes or statements I’m making I think this is more personal. So, if you were to juxtapose it with some other lyrics from our records, like in the past maybe I’m making a lot more kind of broad statements just about people in general. And then this one I’m just kind of like, all right, I’m just going to sort of talk about how I feel.

And part of the process of that I think for me was there was a lot less editing and a lot more sort of stream of consciousness writing. Where like, I’d start experimenting over a chord pattern that I wrote on a keyboard or something, and I would just sing. And there was some sort of cathartic process where whatever I sort of said in the demo, which a lot of times gets edited out, you know?

Like a lot of times, I guess you fixate on vowel sounds and things and… But you’re like, “Fuck, that’s nonsensical. I can’t really use that. I got to figure out another thing to say.” There was a lot of that on this record. There was a lot of things where it’s like the first pass of what I ever sang was the lyrics. And I think that part of that is because I just had a lot going on emotionally, so it was like I needed that sort of therapeutically to like be able to get those things out.

So you’re kind of like Jay-Z in a way. Just kind of going in the studio, no real pen and paper, just kind of stream of consciousness. Like that?

I mean, I’m very fastidious usually about like once the final thing is there. But yeah, it was more so that kind of thing of just being like, I’d start working and then I’d just start singing and I’d be like we get further down the line and we’re like, “Fuck, I think those are pretty much the lyrics, like the first ones.”

I always wonder how artists can just go in there and do that. That’s how you know you’ve been doing it forever. You’ve been around since 2005, so that’s a muscle now at this point, just going in there and kind of freestyling it in a way.

I know what you mean, but at the same time, I feel more like I’m more on my game with maybe melody stuff from years of working. But I think that there was something specific in the amount of emotional turmoil that was like… Kind of like… I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through a really traumatic, like death of a loved one kind of thing, but it’s like….

You know, you could hold your shit together and then you go to sleep and when you dream, if you haven’t been like doing the work to sort of acknowledge and process those feelings, they come out. You’re gonna see that person in your dreams. And sometimes, not to be too highfalutin on it, but like working creatively is like a gray area. There’s some right brain, left brain shit that gets a little blurred, and it’s not like you’re not conscious, but it’s also a little bit more connected to the subconscious, than just like going and getting lunch with your buddy or some shit, you know?

So, I feel like there was a similar thing where there was like, I just had baggage that I needed to get out of me. And that’s always been true for writing for me, but in this case, it was so heightened that it was like more sensitive, like I was just more sensitized to sort of whatever cathartic process that I needed to go through, I just had to get it done. And there wasn’t like fuck all else to do like a lot of times. Especially even post-the world opening back up, it’s like, dude, my son is gonna wake up at 5:45 in the morning. So, it’s like I don’t have time to fuck around with binge watching something, and I’m not gonna go out to the bar. I’m like, “maybe I can work for 45 minutes on some music.” You know?

Yeah, why not. Definitely. And it sounds like with on RAT WARS, it’s almost like a therapy session in a way. And it kind of leads me to the cover of RAT WARS, ’cause I love all of your guy’s cover arts. They’re kind of like fine pieces of art and I’m not even just saying that. I’m a big HEALTH fan, anyway, fan boy moment.

[laughter] Great.

What was the direction for the cover of RAT WARS? To me, it looks like little rat tails. But I’m curious, like what made you pick that image?

So, that’s an electron microscope. There’s a lot of little Easter egg things just for us. It’s sort of an homage, layout wise and simplicity to our very first record. And most of our fans now do not know that record, it’s like a fucking full on, no wave noise record. It’s extremely avant-garde, very experimental, emblematic of like a time and place where we were in. But there was sort of like a focus of creativity and like a raison d’etre or whatever, like knowing exactly what you’re doing that felt analogous to this record. So John, who historically has done all the merch, we try to keep everything in house.

And we have a designer now that we work with for layout stuff and he’s another graphic designer that we work with. And the sort of brief was kind of like, they kind of came up with the idea of like, “well, what if we sort of made an homage to that first record? It’s extremely simple.” And at that time, I remember looking through tons of old vinyl’s and like all the output of Impulse Records that did all the Coltrane shit and Pharaoh Sanders. The entire label has a very, very strong visual aesthetic identity. So, almost to the point of like OCD, we like consistency. So, it’s like a HEALTH record has the fucking song titles on the cover. Every HEALTH record will have that.

We always thought the coolest thing in terms of how you visually presented the band would be if there was like a display of all the album artwork, even if you took the text off of them, they all look like it belonged in the same gallery show.

I get you. Yeah, put them all side by side.

They’re a band, I get it. They’re not as concerned with the bit. So it’s like the label or some creative director or whatever management hires like a visual artist and it’s like, “this is the hot shit right now!” That’s why you get these really date poorly emblematic of a time, but it’s like every album cover is like a completely different style ’cause it’s not coming from the band. Ya know?

And we just never wanted anything like that. And so yeah, the album cover is like, I think you hit on it pretty well is we’re looking at the name and we’re looking at the way the music sounds. We’re like, “that looks completely abstract. I don’t know what it is.” I mean, I know what it is, ’cause I know it’s bacteria from an electron microscope which is like, pretty perfect.

Yeah, for the theme.

And just everything that happened in the world. And the kind of thing in that landscape of a rat war dystopia, what survives? It’s fucking rats and bacteria.

But then at the same time, to me, it looks like frayed wiring or rat tails or whatever you kind of want to imagine. I guess it was just like the title itself felt bold. So, we wanted the image to be sort of up to that standard where you just see and you’re like, “I think that title with that image is definitely eye catching.” It’s not like how you how you normally associate album artwork.

No, not at all. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a little bit on the nose as a reference, but like Black Flag Damaged or some shit. It’s just like, whether or not it’s cheesy and its like that font with a fucking fist breaking a mirror. Like, if you’re a kid and you’re in a record store, you’re like, “what the fuck is that?” You know?

Yeah. And I felt the same when I saw the RAT WARS cover. When you guys announced that, I was like, “oh shit, this is about to be the real deal.” Not that anything before that wasn’t, but I was just like, “oh shit.”

Yeah. We’re trying to communicate something sort of powerful. I think it’s sort of stuck. So bolder display of power like you see the title and you see the image and you’re like, oh, if you’re already a fan, it re-engages you. And if you weren’t a fan and you were just hearing about it, it reels you in. We’re just such fans of that artwork on record covers that when you see it, it makes you want to hear the music.

And it emanates the what’s in the record as well.

And is emblematic of the sound. And you want it to be an extension of the music aesthetically. And I find that a lot of times, especially when things get outsourced to someone who like didn’t make the music and maybe they’re just like, they’re getting paid to do it. Or there’s some sort of mandate from a label that it’s like, “people are into this kind of shit now. You know like kids on TikTok, like the Early Aughts. Well, use this kind of font.” It’s just like it’s fucking whack.

Yeah, definitely. And I get what you’re saying there, ’cause it’s just like almost comes back to like, what was your biggest challenge to when creating RAT WARS? Was doing the cover art hard for you at all? Did that just kind of come to you pretty naturally?

That was really fast. You know what, honestly, the resistance on this record was definitely the lowest. It’s been like, pretty smooth production wise, by production, I mean, actually not like record production, but like, just productivity and output. We’ve been on a little bit of a streak in terms of just like the writing from DISCO4 :: Part I through this LP has all sort of felt like the same era. It’s pandemic into post-pandemic era and for some reason, there hasn’t been that much…I’ve been in a place in a band where it’s like, “dude, we can’t seem to figure out how we want this record to sound.

Like we’ve started with a producer or mixer and scrapped six songs. Like after we did Max Payne 3, it was like, “fuck, we have not unlocked what the sound of this record is and we can’t.” It was really dispiriting and agitating. I’ve also been there where we’re like, “what the fuck is the cover in this record?” Where we got like eighteen different options and layout types. I typically find this not dissimilar to songs. It’s like the stuff that comes naturally and quickly is the stuff that definitely tends to communicate itself most clearly. And a lot of that for this record was that way. Which is always just like gratifying artistically because it’s much better than being crazy unsure.

Like, “I’ve retitled that song eight times. I rewrote the verse seventeen times. We’ve tried 40 different arrangements of the like, how many words the verse going, then we’re going to do a bridge.” We didn’t do that with this record. We were just like, fuck it. We’re just going to write a record. And we’re like, do a cover. It’s like we tried that cover. And we’re like, “that’s the cover.” You know?

Coming up with the title, it’s like, “I think we call it RAT WARS.” It’s like, “yeah, that’s the title.

You know, there was a debate for a very brief moment about calling the record CRACK METAL.

Hmm, okay.

Which is hard as fuck.

That is hard as fuck.

But it’s kind of funny.

I get you. I can see that.

And the record would sound playful, you know? It’s like, what does it mean? It’s like, “yeah, it’s a new genre. It’s metal where you smoke crack or whatever I don’t fucking know.

‘Cause we sort of do this like exquisite corpse sort of surreality thing with our titling sometimes. But RAT WARS, it was like, that says everything about the record.

With every creative endeavor, there’s something new to be learned. What was something you learned about yourself as a creative this time around with RAT WARS?

I think I might have already touched on it, but I think that I just learned how to be more of an adult in terms of not really having any space in my life for anything other than work and responsibility. I consider that to be a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility and it is my job. And I had to figure out how to make time for it. And as a new father, even tonight, as soon as this call is done, I got to go help give him a bath and we’ll put him to bed. And then I need to go to rehearsal ’cause I didn’t have time to do that today. And so, I need to do it at night, and I’ll be fucking blown out and sleep for five hours and then get up and take him to school. It’s easy in this profession to sort of perpetually stay in adolescence. And I just don’t have that luxury anymore. So that was a big thing for me.

Yeah. That’s a good thing that you realize that some people don’t and then it’s too late and then, loved ones leave and then you’re all left alone.

Yeah exactly. Or you fuck your kid up. You fuck your kid up anyway, everybody is gonna do it. Figuring out how to try to do both things is like a balancing act to be sure.

Yeah, definitely. And I got to say, Jake, I love your vocals, man. The way your voice like juxtaposes all the sonic chaos going on in the background with your calm, chilling vocal dynamic is so unique. How do you control yourself to not want to rage when the instruments drop on songs like “FUTURE OF HELL,” “CRACK METAL,” “CHILDREN OF SORROW,” “SICKO?”

Super easy. ‘Cause I can’t. Maybe, it might have been different like the scene we came out of was like a lot of music was so aggressive and atonal. There was a lot of chaotic, barking, Devo-esque, screechy vocals. And because that was saturated and I just didn’t feel comfortable doing something like that, it was not something I explored. If you were coming out in the era of punk rock in New York or hardcore in Southern California in the early ’80s, or if it had been like the ’90s, maybe I would have explored the facility of screaming. But I was looking at it as a vocalist more like with an approach like My Bloody Valentine or Wire or like Slow Dive or something like that. I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have been able to scream, but I’m just not a screamer, like vocally. I just don’t think it would have sounded good. That’s how I restrained myself.

There are moments when the music gets really physical and aggressive where I sometimes feel that something is missing. That’s why in a couple of songs it’s like we have some guests like Leo from Street Sects are on the last record. We had Jami from Code Orange where it’s like, it’s like, dude, when this drops, like someone needs to have a fucking aggressive vocal. Or like on “FUTURE OF HELL,” we like distort my vocals. Or it was a fucking Godflesh sample in “SICKO.”

Like rats.” Yeah, that goes hard.

Exactly. So yeah, the short answer is, it’s easy to restrain myself ’cause I can’t scream in a way that sounds good.

Mmm, have you ever tried?

Well, that’s the thing. I’ve never really spent a lot of time on it, but I haven’t developed that facility yet.

You think you’ll ever dabble in it at all? Maybe?

Yeah, I’ve dabbled. I’m curious ’cause I think there’s a lot of things that we can assume that we can’t do because we haven’t worked on them. But there is certain elements of timbre of how someone’s vocal cords sound that it’s like, you might be able to figure out how to have like a decent scream, but it’s usually there or it’s not. You know what I mean?

Like you can get better as a vocalist. But if the quality of your voice sounds kind of shitty, that’s a hard thing to surmount.

Yeah. Definitely. Well, I’m interested to see if you ever get into that. I’ll be listening. I’ll be waiting for it. And I’ll remember this. [laughter]

Yeah, I’ll try. I’ll give it a shot.

Yeah. And based on the four singles that you’ve given us, like I was mentioning, this album was already gearing up to be something like we haven’t heard from HEALTH. What was it about these singles in particular that made the cut to be released first compared to everything else?

You know, we didn’t go into this record by trying to define it as singles versus non-singles. In the current state of how things are and how people ingest music, it’s hard to just drop one track ahead of it and then release a whole record because in a lot of ways, like the story of your record can end the day it comes out, because people listen to music and digest it as songs. Like it’s a song economy, you know?

We still really care about records. So, we wanted a chance to sort of give a diverse sampling of what’s on there. It’s like a song like “CHILDREN OF SORROW” that is just this fucked up kind of metal adjacent track that has Willie from Lamb of God like ripping a thrash riff on it is very contrasted by a song like “ASHAMED,” which is kind of really a modern industrial pop song.

So, we wanted to sort of just showcase that it’s a diverse compilation of our music.

And that it is, and even when I was listening to “CHILDREN OF SORROW,” I knew that riffage sounded familiar. Getting Willie Adler from Lamb of God on guitar was so fitting. How did that come about?

Well, because we had done the collaboration with them. So, we already had that relationship with him, so it was like, I had written the rhythm parts, which are very Sabbath-y and we were kind of like, we need some thrash shit in here that is not my forte. So, we just hit him up and he sent us that and we’re like, oh, perfect.

Yeah, it worked out great. Even the music video for “SICKO,” that was so different. I loved it. Very fitting for when it was released in October. I was just curious myself, like where all the horror imagery came from in the music video. Like were they just B-horror film clips?

Yeah, it’s the same woman who did our recent round of press photos. She’s a really talented photographer as well as a videographer and an editor. And I think she had worked with our label before on some stuff for Korn. Music videos are time and cost prohibitive. And so the idea was like, well we want some sort of visual accompaniment to this song. Like what could we do? And so, the idea was like, she just started compiling all this super B-horror footage and editing it and it was tonally perfect.

So that will be all her and she did a fucking awesome job.

Yeah. She really did. Me and my roommates were watching it like, “whoa.” And I just had to write that question down when I was watching it. I was like, I gotta ask him how did they come up with that? It was so interesting and different.

The best videos are the ones that you don’t have to work on yourself.

Like even the ones for “HATEFUL” and “ASHAMED,” those were so different, but so cool. They really encapsulated the song. Like “HATEFUL,” the music video is just John just sitting there kind of giving you reaction, but, and it has all of those different… You know the modern TikTok trend where it’s kind of got like a video game going on the bottom, but the interview at the top to keep your focus going? I thought that was cool.

We got a lot of fans that are Zoomers man, and they’re like, that’s what they’re all doing. There are minimum three screens open. We think that older generations think we understand the level of how immersed you are in your devices, but it’s like kids are toggling between all these different things. So that was sort of what that was referencing. And then “ASHAMED,” we did the video.

Yeah. I thought that was really smart. Nonetheless. Super different. And last question for you, brother and I’ll let you go be a papa. A phrase I like to live by is, “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” I feel as though this record displays how HEALTH’s long reign in the music industry has brought a lot of discomfort to HEALTH, always having to evolve your styles to keep up with the modern eras of music that come and go. Would you say that with RAT WARS, were you more comfortable or more uncomfortable with its creation?

Definitely more comfortable. Like I said before, I think that for whatever reason, the different components and elements of this record that came together time and place wise, we just felt at ease with what we were trying to accomplish creatively and aesthetically.

So, it was definitely gratifying in that way. There’s a case to be made for virtue in uncertainty. Pressing yourself, not being comfortable or satisfied with what you’re doing. Like that kind of feeling you’re not accomplishing the mandate you’ve given yourself, that can be very creatively driving. But for us in this sense, it was a lot better.

RAT WARS drops on Friday and you can pre-order the album directly from the band here. Follow HEALTH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and VK for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Mynxii White

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