Artist Interview: Julian Gage and Erhan Altman of Heriot

Posted: by The Editor

UK metallic hardcore upstarts Heriot are poised to be the biggest name in heavy music. Since their 2020 reformation and the addition of singer/guitarist Debbie Gough, the band–rounded out by guitarist Erhan Alman, vocalist/bassist Jake Packer, and drummer Julian Gage–been making waves with their brand of ambient, industrial metalcore. Contemporaries like Code Orange and Vein similarly pull influences from industrial and nu metal to craft some of the most punishing music around, but Heriot’s upcoming Profound Morality has a unique vibe to it, an unsettling and sinister mix that sets the band apart from others in the genre. The Alternative caught up with Alman and Gage to discuss Profound Morality, the band’s recent tour supporting Rolo Tomassi and Pupil Slicer, and what to expect from the four-piece for the rest of 2022.

So have you guys been doing lately? I know you’ve been getting some big press lately. How’ve things been going?

Gage: It’s been good. Like you said, it’s been a lot. In a way we haven’t had time to think about it, but it’s been cool. It’s really cool. We’re getting press from the places we’ve grown up reading.

I know the band went through some changes around 2020 when you brought Debbie in. How did the reinvention of Heriot come to be?

Altman: Yeah, I think it’s more coincidence that we got Debbie and changed. Before it was just me and Julian and Jake for a number of years. We always toyed with having another guitarist. We met Debbie through gigging and her band was wicked–she’s wicked. It just worked out. We decided this time around–we didn’t have a chat–but we gave it a go and everyone’s digging it.

The string of singles you dropped when she first joined were done way before this EP, right?

Altman: Yup.

So how did those come about? Was it just testing the waters to see how you four’d work together?

Altman: Not only just how we’d work together but how we’d write together, that chemistry. Because we played together for a long time, then Debbie joined, then the pandemic happened, we kinda just wanted–we didn’t wanna put out a record right away because people didn’t know who we were. We wanted to get our name out there first, get people’s eyes in our direction. After the first couple it’s snowballed from there.

Gage: It’s just building foundations really, the fanbase. We’re very cautious. It’s a stepping stone, and it’s gone the way we’ve wanted it to. It’s been good.

Something I appreciate about the EP is that it goes in all these different elements–the sludgy stuff, the industrial stuff, the ambient stuff–and I like how all the different singles lead up to that. Was Profound Morality all meant to be one cohesive group of songs together then?

Gage: Yeah. Yeah, we wrote them all at the same time. We wrote it in five days. We recorded it over a few months and because of that we hoped it’d be cohesive. The singles, I think we were still finding what works and as they went on I think we found our sound, found our feet.

How did the introduction of the more electronic and spacey elements come to be? Those all bring something unique to the table–especially when it all comes together on the title track. 

Gage: I think by accident. We started messing around when we did “Cleansed Existence.” Jake was messing with extra noises and it was cool. We added a bit more and a bit more and then when we were talking about stitching the record together we thought about these extra tracks to help it flow. It’s mostly Jake behind all that stuff. He’s got all these noisy pedals and synths and stuff.

I really love the song “Profound Morality,” and it’s got almost a sorta sludge feel. I think that’s my favorite–or “Mutagen”–and I’m curious how it came to be. It feels pretty unique.

Altman: We always come to any writing session with a bunch of different elements. That was one of the first things Jake wrote and as soon as we heard it we knew it’d be the big one. It wasn’t a conscious effort to have these things mapped out–none of it’s written out for us. We just go and experiment and this EP let us explore these different avenues. It’s not the be-all-end-all of us–it’s just the beginning of what we can do. It’s just a door opening.

If that was the first one done, was that the one that shaped the direction of the record?

Altman: Definitely. I think it’s just got bits and elements of what the EP is and we thought it sounded like an epic to finish the EP. It has all these pieces to tell the story of the EP.

Gage: It was the closing track before we even had other tracks, I think. We worked backward towards it.

I know you just got off a tour with Pupil Slicer and Rolo Tomassi. How’d that go?

Altman: It was good fun! I’ve been a fan of Rolo for ages–ages. We’ve loved them forever so it was amazing playing with our heroes. Pupil Slicer, they’re wicked. Mirrors is sick. We’d done our first tour in November and we saw some people come back, and it was wicked. We all just wanna get back out there. It’s cool meeting people who dig our music.

I know you’ve got that record release show coming up. Do you have any other tour plans coming up?

Gage: We’ve got stuff planned towards the end of the year, but we can’t say what or where.

How’s the new material been received? What from this EP have you been playing?

Gage: Each single’s been embedding itself, so “Near Vision,” then each one since. It’s been more growth and more people into it and more exciting. It’s been weird and it’s exceeded my expectations.

Obviously there’s a lot of bands in the metallic hardcore sphere doing industrial stuff–Vein, Code Orange, and Erhan you’re wearing a Slipknot shirt! But this has a different energy from breakbeat samples on a Vein record–what are you hoping people get out of Profound Morality?

Altman: Just something fresh, new, different than they’ve heard. Fortunately we’ve always been a band who can’t put our finger on who we sound like, and I think that’s our appeal. I hope people get a new idea about what modern metal can be.

The older I’ve gotten I feel like I’ve gotten out of heavier music a bit, but I think this especially has some crossover appeal.

Altman: Yeah. Thank you.

If you can’t tell me who you’re touring with, then how about this: if you could tour with anyone, who would it be?

Gage: Slipknot, easy peasy. I’d do crazy things to play with those guys.

Altman: Limp Bizkit is my all-time favorite, but Code Orange is currently my favorite, so maybe. A boy can dream!

Limp Bizkit just announced some left-field openers for their newest tour so I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Altman: Yeah, Scowl, wicked. They deserve it.

How long have you been sitting on Profound Morality?

Gage: We wrote it in April of last year.

Altman: And we handed it in in October. We know a few bands who sit on material but we always aim to try and be quite consistent and as fans of music we like seeing bands just churn out tunes. I don’t think any music fans get bored of new music!

Gage: Putting out singles and then doing the EP similarly, just dripping them out, was intentional. Though it felt like we were sitting on it, we were dropping it gradually. And it’s kept people’s interest.

Any chance of new Heriot in the near future?

Altman: Possibly. Us personally, we haven’t got a record just yet. We’ve got such a busy that we have to concentrate on live shows being killer, but we’ll be working on stuff. We wanna remain consistent.

Gage: There’s gonna be something before the end of the year.

Altman: That’s the idea. We’re not stopping. We’ve gotten traction like we couldn’t have dreamed.

You’ve been playing the singles from this. What songs are your favorites to play?

Gage: “Near Vision” is my favorite, but “Enter the Flesh” is up there. It’s harder to play, and it’s newer–we’ve only been playing the last two months–but it’s good fun.

Altman: I agree. And I think because it was a double single, the first one’s got lots of plays, but “Enter the Flesh” hasn’t caught up! It deserves to. That’s the most fun to play live.


Profound Morality is out tomorrow on Church Road Records.


Zac Djamoos / @gr8whitebison

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.