This week we’re shining the Meet The Band spotlight on the international trio healthyliving. They just released their full-length debut album Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief. Guitarist/bassist Scott McLean and drummer Stefan Pötzsch introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of healthyliving.
Scott McLean: We’ve all played and worked on other projects together before. The idea for the three of us to have our own band initially came about when Amaya (Lopez Carromero, vocals) was asked by Stefan to do guest vocals on a track for the band Lasse Reinstroem, which Stefan and myself were playing in at the time. We first jammed together as healthyliving in September 2019 and then managed to get together again in mid 2020 and recorded our first single “until/below” which we released in 2021. We got together again in June 2022 for a week of rehearsals and then recorded Songs of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief in September of that year.
Describe the songwriting process for Songs Of Abundance, Psalms Of Grief.
Scott: Most of the songs were initially jammed out by myself and Stefan while I was still living in Dresden. This was done in the form of free writing, with no specific goal or style that we would aim for. Our only goal was to make sure each song had a strong idea/feeling and then never deviate from it by going back to rewrite/restructure any song. We would then send everything we had recorded to Amaya and she would be free to work on any of the tracks that inspired her.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Scott: Definitely Amaya’s vocal performance on “To The Fields.”
Stefan Pötzsch: The super nice chill vibe we had amongst each other and with Graeme without any pressure.
What was the most challenging part of making the record?
Scott: Arranging the song “Obey” was the most challenging part. It took a long time to arrive at something that made a statement but still kept the feeling of the initial idea. Overall though the album wasn’t challenging to make, we knew what we wanted to do and we’ve all made a lot of albums previously so there wasn’t anything particularly unexpected we encountered when making the album that required more work or effort than we were planning for.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Scott: Direct, spacious, to the point, intimate, aggressive, mellow, introspective, patient, confident.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Scott: Amaya writes the lyrics for the songs and there are no specific topics that are covered. It’s not a concept album. The music is used as a vehicle to process and explore emotions, personal experiences and in particular the relationship of an individual with society.
How did you come to work with La Rubia Producciones?
Scott: Amaya had worked with Nuria at La Rubia Producciones while releasing the most recent Maud the Moth album Orphne. Then Amaya and myself also worked with Nuria on the past couple of Spanish Maud the Moth tours so it was natural for us to collaborate with her to release the healthyliving album.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Scott: I just focus on making the album and ensuring that I get everything out of it that I need during its creation. I’ve found it’s pretty unhealthy to have goals and expectations for albums, as you’re just letting other people control how you feel or determine what is a ‘successful’ project. Some of what I would consider my most successful albums haven’t even been released. I do hope though that we are able to perform live quite a lot once the album has been released.
What has the response been to the songs you’ve released so far?
Scott: It’s been really great, but we are really looking forward to people being able to listen to the whole album as there isn’t one song that defines our sound.
Your debut show is at Roadburn Festival. Do you have any other show/tour plans?
Scott: We have a couple of shows lined up in Scotland in the summer but they haven’t been announced yet. We’re currently planning a few shows in Spain later in the year as well and hopefully a few in Germany too!
How did you get started in music?
Scott: Music was really present in my childhood. My dad would always be listening to music, I’d often wake up at the weekends to him blasting out everything from prog rock, metal, ’90s rave, classic rock, stoner rock, pop. He bought a keyboard when I was about 10 and put it in the living room for me and my sister to play. I just started pressing the keys and became fascinated with making sound and I’ve pretty much done that ever since.
Stefan: For me, I actually started playing the drums out of necessity. A good twenty years ago a friend of mine who is a guitarist wanted to start a band and asked me if I’d be up for picking up the drums. And I just stuck with it because it’s become one of my favourite things to do.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Scott: Early influences and inspirations are of course interesting but music is such a long journey with so many paths that they only form a tiny part of what inspires me musically. I’m more interested in searching for things that make me uncomfortable and challenge me, not through technicalities but by making me feel something I don’t understand rather than sitting in what is comfortable and nostalgic.
However some early influences and inspirations that I remember having a particularly strong impact on me back when I was younger would be: Watching live videos of Keith Emerson performing and making keyboard based instruments sound so aggressive. The intro of the live performance of “Citizen Erased” by Muse on the live album Hullabaloo, gave me a huge sense of explosive anticipation that I hadn’t experienced before with music. Seeing Deep Purple live for the first time and going down to the front of the stage when I was 12 and physically feeling the sound of a rock band for the first time.
Stefan: I guess since I wasn’t that much into actually listening to music when I was younger – and I’m still not nearly as avid a listener as Amaya and Scott are – my biggest early influence was probably my drum teacher who’d give me songs to play along to and just put me into various ensembles and school bands in order for me to get comfortable being a gigging drummer – which was the aim of me getting lessons in the first place.
What was the first rock/metal concert you attended?
Scott: I was really fortunate when growing up and my Dad loved music and going to concerts. My first concert was Yes, when I was 9 years old, followed by Iron Maiden and then Deep Purple.
Stefan: It must’ve been Knorkator, a cool and wacky German band, at a really out there moped festival in the East German countryside.
Are you able to make a living as a musician, or do you have a day job?
Scott: It still blows my mind but I’ve been making a living from music for about 6 years or so now. It’s through a whole combination of different things but between producing, mixing, recording, performing and writing songs I can make it work.
Stefan: I’m not making a living off of music at the moment, although I have a lot of admiration for Scott for making it work. It does take a lot of heart and commitment to take this step, though and I’m not yet in the right spot to do so I think. I’d love to do more session work, to be honest. But we’ll see; eventually it’s going to get there. Or maybe not. But as is, I have a day job as a helper in surgery at a hospital in Dresden.
What are some of your non musical interests and hobbies?
Scott: Travelling, hiking, coffee, films, playing tennis, running but honestly I don’t spend much time on any of them, my life is pretty full with music and all my friends are deep in the music world too so it always ends up at the centre of what we’re doing even when just hanging out.
Stefan: I really enjoy watching some competitive Starcraft 2 quite regularly.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Scott: I’m listening to a lot of Xiu Xiu, Toby Driver/Kayo Dot and Eartheater at the moment.
Stefan: See, there we are. For me it’s nothing specific, really. At the moment I have a bit of a knack for some ’80s stuff every once in a while ranging from corny to cool. I’ve also listened to Kaizers Orchestra a bit lately, just reaffirming that they are indeed still my desert island band. And the other day I listened through Florence + The Machine’s Ceremonials for the first time in over ten years, really realizing just what an impactful album it was for me. Turns out: More specific than I’d thought. (laughs)
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Scott: Amaya has a new Maud the Moth album coming out in May, it’s a collaborative album with the Spanish dark ambient duo trajedesalvia. It’s a really magical album that’s based around the paintings of Remedios Varo. I mixed it and did some sound design for it too.
Stefan: Self plug: I’ve been doing these weekly little one minute mini jams on my instagram for the last couple of months as kind of a recording and creativity exercise thing. I’d say those are fun to check out.
(interview published April 8, 2023)
Watch healthyliving – “Dream Hive” Video