Exhumed’s Matt Harvey talks new trad metal project Pounder

Sure, it may come as a surprise to some diehard death metal and gore-grind fanatics that Matt Harvey of Exhumed and Gruesome has a new project out, and it’s 100 percent old-school/traditional/New Wave of British Heavy Metal-worshipping melodic metal. But anyone who knows Harvey realizes this makes perfect sense, the man loving his classic metal in a big way, Pounder serving as a way for him to show off that love. And, according to Harvey, it’s not really all that different from his other projects.

“My whole thing is about finding commonalities in song structure and the songwriting end of it,” he says. “The songs aren’t tremendously different, structurally, than Exhumed songs.”

But the end result is, the four songs on new demo Heavy Metal Disaster (mental note: buy Harvey a beer for ruling) raging melodic and traditional like Angel Witch, which makes sense as guitarist Tom Draper has served time with those NWOBHM legends. And if that sounds interesting, the origins of Pounder are even more interesting, and incredibly hilarious.

“It started as an in-joke with Exhumed,” says Harvey. “We’d always be on tour, and be in the middle of no place; we’d stop to get a drink at the gas station, and people would be like, ‘Ya’ll in a band?’ So we started making up ridiculous band names, and Pounder sort of stuck. People would say, ‘Ya’ll on MySpace, man? I’ll check you out.’ So we made a fake Facebook page with the members of Exhumed with different names and different instruments. We said it’d be a regular metal band, like Accept style or whatever. As far as the heavier stuff, that’s what I listen to anyway, traditional metal.”

And so it was born, Harvey trying to get an actual lineup together only to struggle when it came time to find someone to throw behind the mic. Once the band got booked for the Frost and Fire fest, Harvey figured they’d better record some tracks. So they did, and he shrugged his shoulders and sung the songs himself, doing a surprisingly capable job considering we’ve been hearing him doing the death metal gore-‘n’-gurgle for years and years; he also has taken the opportunity to spread his wings a bit lyrically.

“Bruce Dickinson clearly has nothing to worry about,” he says with a chuckle, about his singing. “It’s nice to take a break from writing about stuff that’s so horrific and just write a song about chicks and stuff. A lot of our songs are about chicks. Chicks are an important part of life. We have some songs that are like a ‘danger in the dark’ sort of motif, but the other songs are mostly about chicks [laughs].”

Right down to the choice of font on the cover and the quote marks around the album title, this is absolutely genuine early-to-mid-’80s metal, bringing to mind second-tier US trad bands on Metal Blade. I mention this to Harvey, quickly realizing it might sound like an insult, but Harvey knows what’s up. It’s no insult.

“I think that’s right where we’re at, second-tier Metal Blade singer, like ’84, like Tyrant or Savage Grace, which are all great records,” he says.

Harvey says the band has their sights set on releasing Heavy Metal Danger as a cassette and then looking toward a debut full-length and becoming an “actual band.” He’s also got his eyes on another ’80s metal trope, which is the biggest shock about this whole thing yet.

“We’re working on a ballad,” he admits. “That should be interesting [laughs]. We’ll see what happens.”

Head to the band’s bandcamp page to stream, and purchase, Heavy Metal Disaster.