“I have 40 incomplete songs on the go”: We met the busiest solo artist in American metal, and he’s a one-man NWOBHM revival

Trevor Church of Haunt holding his guitar
(Image credit: Andy Lei)

Look up the discography of California heavy metal project Haunt, because it’s absolutely fucking mental. Since being started by main man Trevor Church in 2017, the solo venture has released a ridiculous nine studio albums of classic metal-inspired anthems. This year alone it’s putting out its latest record Golden Arm, two EPs and a greatest-hits compilation – oh, and it’s toured the US with New Wave Of British Heavy Metal veterans Satan in between.

Trevor could well be the most productive man in all of metal, so we knew we had to sit down with him and figure out how the hell he does it. Turns out, he’s fuelled by his family, a deep-rooted love of the NWOBHM and, surprisingly, a past life as a hairstylist:

Metal Hammer line break

Why did you start Haunt? How does it differ from your previous projects?

“I started Haunt to have total freedom of expression. My previous band, Beastmaker, focused entirely on doom metal and I just ended up feeling pigeon-holed. Haunt exists because I wanted to be able to express myself and explore certain emotions that are hard to express through doom metal. I also realised I was capable of doing everything on my own: I have a touring band, but I’m the main songwriter and I’m also entirely independent. I haven’t worked with an actual label in almost four years now.”

You talk of feeling pigeon-holed – how has Haunt allowed you to expand your musical palette? There’s definitely a strong flavour of NWOBHM in your releases…

“It’s hard not to love the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal: it has so much character. If I’m doing anything at all to keep that spirit alive, I’m stoked. But I find it easier to create when I don’t exactly categorise myself or my sound. As an artist, I want to carve out my own sound. I focus more on capturing what I’m feeling, and hopefully that resonates.”

How do you manage to be so prolific and consistent with your output? 

“When we bought our home, it became a lot easier to write music: my home has a little house in the back, perfect for a little studio. Now that I have a private space to be creative, it really drives me. I also think, when my son Rex was born, it pushed me even harder. He has literally watched me create since he was born: he’s been right by my side for so many riffs I’ve written since 2019.

“I often attribute a lot of my success to previously being a self-employed hairstylist. I got into it because my mum was also a stylist, and I was my own boss for 20 years. I’ve done business classes, learnt how to promote myself: it gave me tools to be self-sufficient.”

The band Haunt standing in front of a stage

Trevor Church (centre-left) with his live band (Image credit: Andy Lei)

Do you ever feel like you’re burning the candle from both ends?

“I’m always working, but I love it. I’m on tour, I come back, and I can make an EP if I feel like it. I can write for nine months of the year, and I can release it when I want. I have about 40 incomplete songs on the go, and I’m still coming up with riffs all the time.

“I do an album a year, and even released two in a year during the pandemic. I get involved with side-projects every year too. Currently, I have one complete album set for 2024, and I’ve nearly completed another album for 2025. This year, I’m also doing a compilation release [Chariot, Vol. 1], with songs selected by my fans. It’s just to help new listeners find their feet, as I’ve got a pretty intimidating back-catalogue to pick from.”

Any upcoming tracks you’re particularly proud of?

“I love making music that makes me feel uncomfortable. My record next year has a track on it called Serenade. It's very morbid: it focuses on life and love and loss, but looking at it in a slight spiritual sense. It’s capturing that feeling of standing at someone’s grave, and talking to the person and feeling their presence.

“The next record is sounding great – we’re leaving the underground lo-fi metal sound, as I’ve got some new technology in the studio. I’m moving into more complex, modern sounds.”

What are you aiming to achieve with Haunt? 

“Well, things are going quite well right now. We keep doing headlining tours, and Haunt has only been going for five years. It takes some bands five years just to get the ball rolling. In terms of bigger venues… stadiums? I don’t know. I’m happy just playing anywhere with a great stage.

“The big goal is to release 20 full-length Haunt records. I think after that I’ll have said enough with this project. After that, I’ll begin another musical journey. “

How long do you think you can keep it up? 

“This is my life calling. I don’t think it’ll ever truly fade until I’m buried in the ground.”