HEALTH’s John Famiglietti says their new LP was their quickest to make
In 2021, collaboration was the lifeblood for HEALTH. Last year alone, the band linked up with Poppy (“DEAD FLOWERS”), Nine Inch Nails (“ISN’T EVERYONE”), Perturbator (“Excess”) and Deftones’ Chino Moreno and Tyler Bates (“ANTI-LIFE”). Each of those singles sounds unique, taking on distinct characteristics of their collaborators.
“There’s less pressure [with collabs],” John Famiglietti explains. “You’re only going to get one recording from them often, or you might not be able to meet with them again, so you just got to get it done. That’s been really amazing. With our own stuff, we don’t have that buffer, so we might obsess a lot more.” With a shortlist of dream associates for next year (Bring Me The Horizon, Nothing and Salem, to name a few) and more confidence in what they’re making, HEALTH are concentrating on what they do best. That is, creating songs that blister and stun.
I wanted to start by talking about all the people you collaborated with last year, from Nine Inch Nails to Poppy and Chino Moreno. What makes you want to work with another artist?
It happened accidentally. Because of the pandemic, we just kicked into overdrive because we’re like, “Hey, everyone’s home right now. I bet people would answer emails.” So then it just snowballed from there. Then we didn’t want to go on tour until we had a new record. We definitely didn’t want to put out a new record if everything’s locked down. So it’s like, “I’ll just keep doing all these collabs. Everyone loves it.” So it was an organic thing, and it’s all people we admire. It’s the thing [where] it’s like, “Well, it’s the future. Let’s start acting like it.”
Something I’m curious about is that DEATH MAGIC took six years to come out, and now you're releasing albums much quicker. What changed?
Well, DEATH MAGIC is kind of the “long weekend” of HEALTH, and it was disastrous, and we failed making that record, and it was a whole thing, like changing our sound. We got pretty dysfunctional and almost broke up a few times or just didn’t work for long stretches of time. Since then, we’ve gotten much, much better, more effective, at making this music and [are] a lot faster. So this next record that we’re doing now — we’re starting on [it] right now, which will come out in 2022 — is going to be by far the fastest record we’ve ever made. We’re also putting out the second collab record any month now. Probably January. So it’s like Human Genome Project. It’s really slow, and then it gets faster.
What would you attribute that to? Are you feeling more confident about what you’re making?
Yeah, I guess more confident. So much stuff we did was so conceptual. It’s always this idea, like, “We need to do this, "and it’s so fucking abstract. The collabs are also huge. There’s less pressure. You’re working with someone else. You’re only going to get one recording from them often, or you might not be able to meet with them again, so you just got to get it done. That’s been really amazing. With our own stuff, we don’t have that buffer, so we might obsess a lot more. But just getting things done, being more confident or just concentrating on what we’re good at. It’s easier to execute. We’ve gotten more mature with it.
The band are built on experimentation and pushing yourselves out of those comfort zones. What do you want to try next?
We’re just refining. [For our next album], we’re going to mix DEATH MAGIC and VOL. 4 in a sort of new, refined, midtempo sound. We haven’t even written the songs yet, so this is all totally just conjecture. This is what I assume is going to happen. Usually what we’ll do is experiment, and we’ll write one song that will term the template that we keep going with for the record. We’re going to figure out what they are, and then that will set the course of the next several months of making this record ASAP. What we’re doing is using these electronic tones to make modern heavy music or whatever — neo-industrial, some stupid name — but we’re going to continue on this path with some new sonic gimmicks and ideas.
Going into 2022, what do you want to get better at?
Making music. Everyone wants to work on themselves. I’m not really discovering anything at this point in my life. Not really taking [on] any new hobbies, either. Well, actually, getting things done — being more effective with your time. Not being on my phone so much. That’s pretty impossible, though. They fucking wire this thing to addict you. Maybe I’ll start meditating. I’ll do something positive.
I really want to get this record done in time and am really excited to go on tour again. We delayed and canceled everything like anyone else. It’s been really weird. These past two years feel like it’s fast forward. We can’t really go back to normal, but I wouldn’t mind a new leaf, a different vibe.
How has that been, by the way? Just getting to tour again.
Oh, it’s pretty sweet. We’ve only done two shows, Psycho [Las Vegas] and Riot [Fest], which are awesome. We’re doing another festival in L.A. [Substance], and that’s it. We were offered some tours to go on, but we had other tours being postponed that ended up getting canceled, and I wish we had taken the other tour. It’s been a serious pain in the ass booking tours. We’re having a similar situation booking for ’22 right now, but we’ll definitely have a lot of tours in [the new year].
The funny thing is, when we haven’t toured in a long time, I just forget it exists. Then I go on tour, [and] I’m like, “Oh, I remember why I did this. This is amazing. This is why I’m in this lifestyle.” You forget about it in this weird way. One thing we love about tour is it really slows down time. Thirty days on tour could take a really long time because your life’s going by so fast.
This interview appeared in issue 401 (the AP Yearbook), available here.