HANG THE BASTARD – Jeder, der die letzten Jahre nicht verschlafen hat, ist schon mal über diesen Namen gestolpert. Verbunden werden die Jungs aus London mit rotzigem, metallischem Hardcore, der durch jede Menge 70’s- & Sludge/Stoner-Charme das gewisse Etwas an Eigenständigkeit mit sich brachte, um die Band von den meisten Moshkapellen abzuheben.
Trotzdem sieht man die Jungs schon seit gut 2-3 Jahren nicht mehr auf den üblichen Hardcore Line-Ups. Im Jahr 2012 trennte die Band sich von Sänger Chris und nahm mit ex-Basser Tomas am Mikrofon eine nicht unerhebliche musikalische Kurskorrektur vor, die den ein oder anderen Fan der ersten Stunde gehörig vor den Kopf stieß. Es folgten ein Deal mit Century Media & Siege Of Amida Records, eine neue Platte und jede Menge Auftritte auf großen Bühnen. Grund genug mit Drummer Simon über alte und neue Zeiten, den musikalischen Wandel und seine besondere Beziehung zu den kanadischen Radio-Rockern von Nickelback zu quatschen. Ein Review zur aktuellen Platte gibt es übrigens hier.
Hey Simon, how are you? Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! So you are a founding member of Hang The Bastard. You guys came to my attention in 2009, when you were the opening act of Germany’s infamous Pressure Fest. Since when have you been active as a band and how did you guys get together?
Hey, I’m very good thanks. Haha I remember Pressure Fest ‘09 – a massive warehouse and we got there late – ended up only playing 3 songs! Wouldn’t say it was the best time of our lives but obviously a great experience for us to play it, only two years into being a band. It was one of our first tours as well and the first time in Europe. We started in summer 2007, so we’re coming up to 8 years old now, which is pretty long these days for a band that’s not in the mainstream. Sam and our original singer Chris were friends who started the idea of Hang The Bastard, I joined shortly. We’ve had quite a few line-up changes but myself and Sam have been there since 2007. We’ve actually had 15 bass players in our time!
So I guess we all should keep our fingers crossed for your current bass guy?
Haha yeah maybe! No, Joe (current bassist) has been with us for 2 years now and I can’t see us getting another one anytime soon, he fits in well. He also does some vocals live and on record which sound wicked!
Speaking of Pressure Fest: Like you said, it was a very very short set, haha. But you nevertheless caught my attention. I bought the “Raw Sorcery” EP right after the show. I have to admit that this still is one of my favorite Hang The Bastard releases. What do you think of this record today? Are you still playing songs of it live?
Well I’m glad those 3 songs got your attention! They were all songs from Raw Sorcery which was released a few months before that show. I personally love that record. I think it was recorded really well, sounds great and has the raw energy of us at that time. It was our first proper recording so I have a strong feeling for it. We don’t play those songs live now as we’ve moved into the next chapter of Hang The Bastard. Now we have Tomas Hubbard on vocals (who was our bassist for a few years before) and we’ve tweaked our sound a little. We’re going down the more riffy/sludge/stoner rock route now. We’re writing and enjoying the new sounding songs so much now that we leave the “Raw Sorcery” era to one side.
Yeah, I guess everyone who kept an eye on you guys knows that some things have drastically changed since then. You’ve always thrown a lot of this NOLA- & Sabbath-like riffing in the mix but most of the older songs were fast & angry and they had a strong Hardcore/Punk attitude. When I first heard “Sweet Mother” (the first song you released with Tomas on the mic) I was kind of surprised. To be honest, at the first moment I couldn’t tell if I should be happy or disappointed about it. To move into the next chapter is a difficult step to take for a band that already built up a strong fan-base. Why did you choose to adjust your sound so much?
After Chris left vocals in 2012 we tried one other vocalist and it didn’t work out. We then sat back and really thought about the direction we wanted to go musically and around the same time Tomas tried out for vocals. We all loved what Tomas did and decided to go down this new route and at the same time adapt the music to fit his voice. We’ve always, like you said been fans of big riffs (Black Sabbath/Down) and Sam’s always put them in our music so for us it wasn’t that much of a change. The older stuff was faster and more punky but at the same time we weren’t 100% happy with how the first album came out – it felt to us like a bunch of songs just thrown together. We really tried to concentrate on this new album to put together an album that flowed well. I guess for the fans it is a big step and very different from how we started, but we’ve always said since day one that we’d do what we wanted to do and always try things. I don’t think it should be strict on a band to stay producing one sound, we all change and grow as musicians by playing with each other and it’s good to try things out. I do hope however that some of the people that liked us back then and our first few records like us now, but I can understand if they’re not into it!
Doing what you love seems like the right way to go. I also noticed that with your latest album “Sex In The Seventh Circle” you guys gained a lot more attention from the Metal scene than before. In the past you mostly appeared on shows with Hardcore lineups. I’m not a fan of this stereotyped thinking, but at least here in Germany the Hardcore & Metal community are pretty much separated from each other. Did you ever consider yourself a “Hardcore” band?
I don’t like it being segregated too much either. At the end of the day it’s “heavy music” and I always liked the idea that rock/metal/grunge/hardcore or whatever it’s called was an outlet for people and something which wasn’t in the mainstream for people to enjoy and really get behind. I guess when we started we were labeled a Hardcore band because like you say, the bills we were on, bands like H20, Ringworm, Trapped Under Ice, BWP…. All Hardcore bands. We’d play the Hardcore fests over here too, Outbreak, Rucktion etc, but we never labeled ourselves Hardcore. We always liked the fact that we had something a bit different going on – the riffs, the Sabbathy type riffs that Sam does so well. That was an important part of our music and something we tried to concentrate on. Continuing the point about fans of the older stuff maybe not liking us now, the flip side is that as you say other fans into metal are getting behind us a bit more and that’s great. We just like that people enjoy our music, that’s the main thing.
“Sex In The Seventh Circle” was released in September 2014. This was your debut album on Century Media / Siege Of Amida Records and it really is a banger for everyone into Sludge- & Stoner-Metal along the lines of Iron Monkey or Eyehategod. Please tell us something about the album! Which opportunities came along with the deal?
Yep, the record came out in September on Century Media and we’re really proud of it. It’s the record we wanted to write and are so pleased with how it turned out. We recorded it with Steve Sears at Titan Studios in London, he’s previously recorded Gallows, TRC and others and he was great. It was the first record with Tom singing so it was a new experience for us as a band. Like I said before though we never want to stop trying things out, this is another example of that. This was also the first time we’ve written a record with just one guitarist. Even so, I think that made Sam and Joe work even harder together to come up with the songs and I think it shows. Signing with a label like Century is great because they back you and it opens up some doors. The vinyls of the new record turned out great and we’re really happy with them. The artwork as well is a particular highlight, we always try and get something special for the art.
I booked you guys for two shows in the past and you were pretty much like “just offer us a place to crash, some drinks & some gas money and we’re happy”. Good times! Today you’re part of a booking agency that also manages concerts for acts like ZZ Top, Christina Aguilera or Korn. I’m really happy for you guys. You toured your asses off and to and to be on a bill with bands like Soulfly or Sleep must be what you dreamt of back then when you started the band. On the other hand it’s often hard for independent & local bookers to work with those agencies. They mainly cooperate with established bookers, large venues and festivals. I can’t blame them, but DIY shows & bookers have always been an important part of the Hardcore, Metal & Punk community. What are your thoughts and experiences?
Haha, yeah I remember that, seems ages ago! Back then we were only starting out and wanted to play as many shows as possible, no matter what. I think the first two years, maybe three – we played so many shows, sometimes two a week. We all had (and still have) full time jobs so we used to get so tired, but loved it. I think it’ll be a long time before we share the stage with Korn or even Christina Aguilera, but the booking agents we’ve had have been good to us. In the last year or so we’ve played with Black Sabbath/Soulfly/Faith No More (a festival in Hyde Park, London – British Summer Time), Crowbar and a tour with COC, which is unbelievable! At the same time as we’re playing these bigger tours and shows it has coincided with us changing our sound and heading the more metal/sludge direction – so there hasn’t really been many offers from smaller/independent bookers. That’s not to say we’ve completely disregarded the Hardcore scene at all, it’s just we probably wouldn’t fit with those bands too well now. Although we did play Ieper Fest Winter this past February with Hardcore bands and Crowbar – was a mixed bill but a great show.
Are there any plans to come back to Germany for some shows?
We’re coming back to Germany at the end of May – playing the “Rockavaria” and “Rock im Revier” festivals which we can’t wait for! It’s probably the biggest show we’ve done in Europe as well so should be great!
Sounds good, I hope there will be a full tour including some club shows in the near future as well! So today you’re kind of getting used to sharing the stage with your idols – but do you still remember the first show you’ve been to as a kid? Who got you into heavy music and what exactly is it that still keeps you passionate about it?
Yeah it’s been pretty mental recently, playing with bands we’ve always liked and looked up to. A recent example was the tour we did in March with Corrosion of Conformity – looking at them for 6 nights, playing, sound checking, doing what they do; I think we learned a lot from it and hopefully that can improve us in the future. My first ever show (don’t laugh) was Nickelback, and then Linkin Park. My friends at the time weren’t really into the ‘cool’ music that I’m into today and I got into the music quite late. But my taste for Metal grew and I gradually listened to heavier music and more intricate stuff. I personally love rock/metal and all the sub genres in-between. I love the feeling when a good riff kicks in – there’s nothing better!
I like the idea that somehow Nickelback are the reason Hang The Bastard exist in the current line-up – maybe the Metal community should stop hating on them!
Haha, oh definitely not! That’s just me!
Ok, now that our thoughts are with Chad Kroeger, let’s end this interview. Thanks for your time, Simon, good luck with the upcoming shows and cheers to the other guys! The last word is yours!
Thanks very much and no problem any time. Hopefully we’re coming over to main land Europe soon for a proper tour in some clubs etc. But until then, we’re really excited to be coming back over for the festivals at the end of May. Cheers and beers!
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