Yoga and metal don't immediately jump out as bedfellows. But when he's not absolutely annihilating audiences as the drummer with sludge nasties Armed For Apocalypse, Nick Harris is all about the mindfulness yoga promotes, not only as a practioner but an instructor.
"I didn't fall in love with yoga until I moved to Portland," Nick says. "I get so much from it - mentally, physically, emotionally, energetically... All of it. Of course it feels great physically, but the physical is only one element. Meditation - Dhyana in Sanskrit - has absolutely changed my life. Practicing all of the elements of yoga has absolutely influenced my music, my life passions, my focus, and my purpose in life."
Ahead of the release of Armed For Apocalypse’s new album Ritual Violence (out October 7), Nick has taken his love of metal and yoga one step further, by combining the two. Yes, he’s only gone and recreate 10 killer songs by metal bands as yoga poses – and made a video for any metal-loving yogi who want to give it a try. On your marks, get set, omm…
Crowbar - Bleeding From Every Hole
The pose: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Nick: "Oftentimes we start a sequence from Downward Facing Dog. Crowbar was the starting point for me into heavy music. Before I was in Armed For Apocalypse, the heaviest music I listened to was probably; Slipknot, Deftones, Rage Against The Machine, System Of A Down and I knew the classic Pantera songs etc.
When we started AFA, Cayle [Hunter, guitars] gave me Crowbar's Odd Fellows Rest to listen to. I'd never heard anything like it and Crowbar started my passion for playing and listening to heavy music. Bleeding From Every Hole is Downward Facing Dog. It's relentless!"
Sepultura - Agony Of Defeat
The pose: Twisted Lizard Lunge (Parivrtta Utthan Pristhasana)
Nick: “Twisted Lizard Lunge is a pose where the front knee (right) is reaching forward while the right hand is reaching back towards the opposite foot. The body is stretching forward, while at the same time stretching back. Your body covers a lot of space on the mat.
Sepultura are a legendary band that has covered several generations of heaviness! Trends have come and gone, but Sepultura still stands strong! That's why I picked a song from their most recent records; your body stretches forward and back at the same time on the mat space in Twisted Lizard Lunge and Sepultura have covered years of legendary heaviness! The two are a perfect match!”
The Dirty Nil - Done With Drugs
The pose: Crescent Lunge (Ashta Chandrasana)
Nick: “This band are so rad! Fuck Art is outstanding from font to back, but Done With Drugs is the one. This is my favorite song on the record and Crescent Lunge is one of my favorite poses. It is a transition point. You can go anywhere from Crescent and the pose is powerful by nature. You sink deep into the pose into the legs, but stretch long through the arms. It's the perfect mix of power and finesse. Just like The Dirty Nil!’
Every Time I Die - Revival Mode
The pose: Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Nick: “Pyramid Pose gets into the hamstrings and there is an emphasis on hip alignment. The hip alignment helps for the hamstrings to feel the sensation in the pose. Hamstrings are on the backside of the body, so they can be overlooked, because, well, we don't see them etc.
Every Time I Die's Revival Mode shows a side to them that could be overlooked. Although this song is aggressive and heavy, there's also a big hook! The vocals are outstanding and it's not the side you often see of ETID. ETID is my favorite band of all time.”
Pantera - 5 Minutes Alone
The pose: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Nick: “Warrior II is probably the most recognizable pose in the practice of yoga. Even if you have never practiced yoga before, you see someone in Warrior II and you can probably call it by name. Just like, if you aren't a heavy music fan, you can probably recognize 5 Minutes Alone by Pantera.
From the classic drum intro, to the classic main guitar riff and of course the unforgettable lyrics. Anywhere in the world that you take a yoga class, I bet Warrior II will be in the sequence. They are both classics!”
Deftones – Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)
The pose: Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)
Nick: “Dancer Pose is a challenging balancing pose that requires a great deal of focus and strength. The kick into the back hand is what really helps the balancing within the pose. Dancer Pose is the perfect mixture of strength, focus and balance.
Deftones' Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) is the perfect mixture of heaviness, rad instrumental tones, groovy yet heavy drums and Chino absolutley murders the vocals. Beautiful melodies, singing, but yet also one of the most legendary screams in all of heavy music. Be Quiet and Drive (far Away) and Dancer Pose are both the perfect mix of all of the things that I love!”
Revocation – Re-Crucified
The pose: Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Nick: “Handstands are challenging and they take a lot of work to become efficient in. Attention to detail, core strength and body alignment are key. Handstands are one of the most challenging poses for me, like Revocation's music! Super challenging, detail oriented, but heavy. Those dudes have put in so much work behind their instruments to play at the high level that they do.
When I think of handstands, I think of one of my favorite teachers, Patrick Beach. He is the handstand master, he makes it look easy, just like Dave Davidson's guitar playing! He is literally shredding on his guitar and he makes it look like he's playing Kumbaya. Brett [Bamberger, bass] and Ash [Pearson, drums] are playing such hard ass shit, but make it look effortless! As I aspire to master handstands like Patrick Beach, I also aspire to play my drums like Ash Pearson and the Revocation dudes!”
Hatebreed – Facing What Consumes You
The pose: Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)
Boat pose is a straight core strength builder, which at the core is one of the most important aspects of yoga. Core strength helps us in all elements of the yoga practice. Boat pose is hard! Especially when going between low boat and high boat, also known as sit-ups.
When I get to boat pose in a yoga practice, I usually need a bit of motivation to get through them and what's more motivating than Hatebreed? 'Doubt me! Hate me! You are the inspiration I need' Those lyrics get me hyped! They speak to the little voice inside my head that tells me to keep going even when I want to quit.
Converge - You Fail Me
The pose: Half Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana)
Nick: Oftentimes, Half Pigeon comes towards the end of a yoga practice. Sort of a restorative pose. Not always, it can come at any time in a yoga practice/class. Pigeon gets into the hips - it can feel super good, but can also hurt! Getting into a Half Pigeon Pose takes control and a lot of focus.
It's a slow set up. Just like the closed hi-hat in You Fail Me by Converge. This song kiss me! It is so heavy and the vocals are so pissed, but yet... The drums for like 90% of the song have a closed hi-hat. It honestly makes me laugh! So much heaviness, but yet so much control and discipline to keep it deep in the pocket and not over play the parts. No other song could encompass the vibe of Half Pigeon Pose than You Fail Me.
Conjurer - Rot
The pose: Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Straight up, Wheel Pose is by far the most challenging pose in the yoga practice for me. There's a ton going on in the pose from the set up to the deepest expression of the pose. It requires a tonne of shoulder mobility, which at this time, I do not have a tonne of, so being in the pose really takes a lot of me.
It's a pose that I dread; Conjurer's Rot is pissed, heavy, grimmy, filthy and makes you wanna spit phlegm from the deepest depths of your lungs... After you listen to this song, you are spent. This is how I feel after Wheel Pose: fully spent. Wheel Pose and Rot are a match made in fucking hell...”
Armed For Apocalypse’s Ritual Violence album is out on October 7