Heart Of A Coward’s new frontman Kaan Tasan may be a relatively obscure name within the international metal community, but he’s been a constant presence in the British scene for over 15 years. Sitting opposite Metal Injection in a Guildford bar located directly underneath the Academy of Contemporary Music’s flagship facilities, Tasan immediately proves himself a fountain of music industry knowledge. Small wonder, given that his day job involves mentoring and advising ACM’s 2,300-strong student population, working tirelessly to connect the school’s tight-knit community of aspiring creatives to the industry at large.
“Networking is incredibly important if you want to work in the music industry. You need to go to shows, support and speak to other bands, and meet promoters and agents," Tasan reveals. "Don’t just send them invites to your page on Facebook. The music industry is a sociable industry. You have to be able to go and speak to people, and build and maintain relationships.”
In a business full of people who fail to practice what they preach, Kaan Tasan is the real deal. He only has to gesture around the room to reinforce his point. “My first band, No Consequence, actually met in this bar, all at separate times, as we were all at ACM at different points over the course of about three years. Then it came together as members came and went, and we all just happened to know each other.”
Although No Consequence took some time to form a stable line-up, they established themselves as notable names within the UK’s tech-metal scene with a series of albums that demonstrate a visceral drive to improve and succeed. 2013’s Io and 2015’s Vimana still stand the test of time, packed as they are with super-tight riffs and neck-twisting grooves – and listening back through No Consequence’s entire catalogue, you can clearly hear the vocalist coming into his own. As part of Heart Of A Coward, Kaan pushes his abilities to even greater heights in order to fill a sizeable pair of shoes.
As Kaan quickly makes clear, the story of how and why Jamie Graham left Heart Of A Coward is that man’s own to tell. At this point, however, Kaan is clearly here to stay – and many fans might be surprised by the story behind his arrival. It started as No Consequence began winding down, its creative process slowed by major life events while Kaan became a professional tour manager.
“I bumped into Jamie at a London show that I was driving for, two weeks before HOAC made the announcement," Tasan says. "I'd known the guys for ages, as we'd gigged and toured together. So we were talking, and Jamie told me that he was leaving Heart Of A Coward. I was devastated – but he’d made his decision, which is fair enough. Then he said that I should audition.”
It would be easy to assume that Kaan had an easy ride from that point on – but in reality, things worked out very differently. Tasan continues, “When I messaged Carl [Ayers, guitar] and said that I’d spoken to Jamie, he was like “No disrespect,” but it was going to be an open audition. They were giving everybody an open field, so there were no sneaky get-aheads just because we knew each other. I felt that was absolutely fair.”
“The audition process was around six months, and pretty intense as far as auditions go. The guys wanted to know they were picking the right person, and I wanted to make sure that I could do justice to the old stuff while also taking the band in a different direction. I did three live one-take videos, and audio, of three tracks they'd chosen. Then I had to write over a two-and-a-half-minute piece of music, which they critiqued, and we did a little writing process together. Then I had to learn a 30-minute set of back catalogue songs, and we jammed it in front of each other. In total, it took about six months for them to decide to go with me.”
Even at the earliest stage of their creative relationship, Kaan and Heart Of A Coward found their sounds remarkably compatible. The two-and-a-half-minute audition track in question would become “Drown in Ruin”, the first song and a key single from Heart Of A Coward’s new album The Disconnect. A scintillating set of metalcore tracks and musical curveballs, The Disconnect marks the next phase of the band’s evolution – and as is usually the case when a band introduces a new vocalist, its lead single, “Collapse”, quickly became controversial.
“The majority of comments were positive, and there was a snippet of negativity. There are fans of Jamie’s who became fans of Heart Of A Coward because of Jamie – and I totally understand that. I have nothing against those people. To be honest, there was some funny stuff; I got a couple of random Instagram DMs like 'You’ve ruined my favourite band, fuck you,' that sort of thing. A lot of people just react immediately without thinking, so you have to take it with a pinch of salt. But on the other hand," Tasan continues, "'Collapse' had over a million streams within six months, we sold out our comeback tour, and people saw that the band was still hitting hard live after we live-streamed the first two shows – so a lot of stuff was retracted, and it’s been fine since then.”
“We all work outside the band, which keeps everything in perspective – and I like it, because you have a second life. I love my job, I love music, and I’m able to do both. My biggest goal has always been to find something that works in unison with a band, and I’m in the middle of it now. I’m very happy at work, and my music is doing well too, so I’m living my dream.”
The bar is packed with ACM students by the time we’re finished, fresh faces sharing lunch and chatting excitedly about their creative career plans. Kaan’s own story started here, two storeys below a maze of teaching rooms, rehearsal spaces, and recording studios – and today he’s an industry veteran conquering yet another mountain while passing his knowledge and insights on to a new generation. If his talents are good enough for Jamie Graham, thousands of students, and Heart Of A Coward fans old and new, they’re good enough for the rest of the world as well.
Heart Of A Coward’s new album The Disconnect will be released on June 7th via Arising Empire Records, and is available to purchase here: https://HEARTOFACOWARD.lnk.to/TheDisconnect