Thursday 15 May 2014

Interview with HORNSS

The Red Death (Demo) cover art

Today's guests – Hornss – are about to release one of the years eagerly awaited debut albums with No Blood, No Sympathy on Riding Easy Records.

It's style of Stoner, Thrash, Punk and Doom has enough power to bite your balls off. It's a stunning album that becomes better with each and every listen.

I described the album as: “Hornss have created something special with this album here. Their music is still very hard to describe even for me and I am well into double figures listening to this album. Let’s just say that Hornss are one of the very best Hard Rock/Stoner Metal bands starting to make a name for themselves and with No Blood, No Sympathy they have created something special indeed.

The best way I can describe this album is the following. – Imagine if Alice Cooper was ever given the chance to front Kyuss then this would be the dark and delicious twisted result. If that doesn’t get you interested then nothing will. Believe the hype folks as this album has it all. End Of.”

I wanted to find more our about this great band. And they have kindly agreed to talk to us here at Sludgelord HQ. So lets stop fucking around and get down to business with the mighty HORNSS.

Q1 – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you all today.

Mike: Awesome! I'm down in Palm Springs for the film noir festival, then Pentagram and Vitus show in Santa Ana Sunday!

Bil: Luckyyyyyy!

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history on how the band started and where it is today.

Bil: We all kinda knew each other from our other bands. I think I met Mike when I was in Zodiac Killers. Mike and Nick were in Jack Saints… I used to go see them play a lot. Mike wanted to start a new band, mentioned something about Blue Oyster Cult and maybe Hawkwind in an ad on Craigslist, I replied and we started doing it.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound as you pack a lot of different noises into the mix.

Mike: Originally we wanted to sound like an old SST band - whatever that means. We did actually cover "Hell's Getting Hotter" by Overkill (the SST one) when we first started. We sound like a mix of stuff we listen to minus anything too out there, so hopefully it's cohesive, but not the same song after song of the same thing.

Q4 – How did you all get involved with music as all of you have a very rich history and background in music.

Mike: My friend John brought over a Kiss record, I got a Cheap Trick and Queen record, I asked for a guitar for Christmas and that was that!

Bil: My uncle John was a guitarist in a garage band from Maryland called “Cold Brew”. They used to play Iron Butterfly and Cream tunes… heavy rock stuff. My childhood was a little strange, and music was always an escape for me. He’s a cool dude and was a big influence on me wanting to play music,

Q5 – Lets talk about No Blood, No Sympathy . It's a brilliant record. It's received loads of praise. Have you been surprised with the reviews you have received for it.

Mike: Really surprised actually. We're always into what we're doing, but it doesn't really sound like what a lot of popular doom/stoner bands are doing. Not saying it's better, but the fact that people are apreciating that we're doing something different is rad. I'm sure some terrible reviews will come, but ya can't please everyone!

Q6 – Was it a hard or easy album to write and record for?

Bil: We just write stuff… it’s pretty organic, not really difficult. The recording part definitely took us out of our element, but we learned a lot from it and had a good time recording it.

Mike: I have a multitrack computer set-up at our practice space for demos, so it’s nice to be able to do that and work out singing stuff and leads. Doing demos is definitely less stressful than being in a studio.

Q7 – What is the album about? Is there a concept behind it or do you want people to discover this for themselves.

Mike: Arzach is a tribute to Moebius; Vine Priest and Below the Root are about a favorite children's book; the Red Death is part Poe, part anarchist rant; the Maker of Moons is inspired by the stories of Robert Chambers; Debreeding is about Bobby Liebling; the Ejaculation of Serpents, a Wicker Man thing. War Gods of the Deep is about conjuring up the old ones from the ocean to defeat the axis powers in WWII. Bil named the album.

Bill: Yeah, when I was around 14 or 15, just getting into skateboarding on half pipes, I tried dropping in on this huge vert ramp and basically hit the flat. One of the older guys looked at me laying there and said, “No blood, no sympathy” and just started skating around me while I was still lying there, trying to catch my breath. I wonder if there was any internal bleeding?

Q8 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album that stand out.

Mike: My guitar playing is 100% inspired by Leslie West, Paul Leary, Woody Weatherman, J Mascis, and Iommi. Vocals, I just do what I can with what I got, but I love Roky Erickson, Maddy Prior, Jeff Clayton, David Surkamp, Amelia Fletcher, and Yamantaka Eye. Ozzy and Dio as well obviously... Artists, authors, and movie directors influence a lot of what I do too. Troma films inspire me.

Bil: As far as influences i’m kinda all over the place too, but for HORNSS it’s Ian Paice, John Bonham, Bill Ward and Keith Moon… the obvious ones, right?

Q9 – How did you guys hook up with RidingEasy Records. Great label. Though shame it had to change it's name recently. Doing some awesome within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal Scene.

Bil: Nick really dug what EasyRider was doing and he hit them up. They (Daniel) liked the record and agreed to put it out.

Q10 – Obviously Hornss members are from the legendary Palm Desert Rock scene. Has that been a help or hindrance in getting you gigs and even your music played on radio.

Mike: Not sure it's done either, but I guess maybe a few people might check us out who wouldn't otherwise. Once they hear we don't sound like Kyuss they'll prolly move on though.

Q11 – You have shared the bill with some killer bands in your time. Which ones have been your favourite and why.

Mike: Fatso Jetson is probably my favorite. They're amazing and old friends. No one sounds like them and they boggle my little mind each time I see 'em. Other than that, the Well, Yob, Windhand...a many great local bands too. My favorite show is still me n nick's old band opening for Plainfield and Turbonegro when they were on their Ass Cobra tour. Tiny ass club packed as hell.

Q12 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it down to one individual or is it a group collective.

Mike: It's usually a Nick song or Mike song, with extra ideas and arranging by the whole band. We very rarely make suggestions to Bil about his drumming cause he always nails it. There are some songs like Debreeding and Below the Root where Nick wrote the bulk of it, but I came up with my vocals and verse chords, or Troubled Rose where I had the main riff but Nick wrote the rest including all the vocal stuff.... So we all contibute, some stuff I can't even remember who wrote what, as it should be in a band.

Q13 – Your debut album is being released on Vinyl. Did you have much input into the design of the Vinyl itself.

Mike: Yeah, I must have sketched out 40 ideas... We all had ideas including Daniel at Riding Easy. Eventually we settled on a few sketches and sent them to Dirty Needle and he took our basic idea and made his own awesome embroidered art for us. We did the rest of the layout ourselves, emailing roughs around for feedback. We try to be as DIY as possible, but we have no shortage of talented friends to contribute art for shirts, records, lunchpails, etc..

Q14 – How big of a help has BandCamp and the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community been in promoting your music. As you released a brilliant EP back in 2012.

Mike: I personally don't buy digital music, I'll hear half a song of a band on bandcamp and if I like it I'll just order a record or cd. It's cool to be able to have music up with free hosting where people can hear it. There must be some kind of evil behind it I'm not aware of though....

Q15 – What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

Mike: Vintage Acoustic heads, 12" speakers and 15" speakers and a Creepy Fingers Creepyface pedal...some other stuff but that's the main thing.

Bil: Nick was playing through two bass stacks… and old Sunn and an Ampeg rig, He recently switched over to a Orange amp/ cabinet and it sounds sick… total Grand Funk action. I play on early 70’s Ludwigs… 3-ply maple/ poplar shells with coated heads. Amazing sound.

Q16 – We are massive Vinyl Heads here at Sludgelord. Are you vinyl fans yourselves.

Mike: Yeah we all are, moving is not fun....I was going to record swaps during the whole sub pop thing , and I'm personally over being a "collector" of limited pressings and things, but they're still cool. When your cat starts clawing up the spines of your collection you have to accept that these things are about the music thats on them first and foremost...I live walking distance to 8 record stores, it's dangerous.

Q17 – What is your verdict on the whole crowd-funding scene. Where bands ask fans to fund their next album. Are you a fan of that platform. Would Hornss ever go down that route.

Mike: I think it's cheesy, but fault the people who are actually funding these fully capable bands. Fund a friend's kid who needs braces or medical care instead. I guess if the crowd fund is basically a preorder kind of thing, that's cool...but who wants to potentially wait a year for a record? I still have no idea how Beck got so big, but he never needed a crowd-fund. You probably don't either.

Q18 – Do you play gigs on a regular basis in your home town. What is the scene like up there or do you have to travel further afield to perform regularly.

Bil: We play pretty regularly around here but we’ve trying to put some space in between shows… the album and getting ready for our European tour this summer has been keeping us pretty busy too. The music scene here is awesome, with some really cool people and lots of amazing bands.

Q19 – Why did you choose the name HORNSS. Any particular reason for this.

Mike: Blasting Concept was taken....we had so many names that were taken. There was another horns, so we added the second “s” for better or worse.

Q20 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Mike: Watch Buzz Osebourne interviews on youtube and know that Skip Spence died broke in a San Jose trailer.

Bil: Play with your heart and soul, keep your ears big, your mind open and fuck what everyone else thinks!

Q21 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Mike: Fans is a weird term, so I'll just say thanks to all our supporters and friends. Keep supporting underground music, film, and art! And especially us!

Well guys, Thanks to talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. All the best with the album release. It's a fantastic album.

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging this interview and for HORNSS for taking the time out to talk to us here at Sludgelord HQ.

Check The Band from links below

Written by Steve Howe