Interview with Hang The Bastard

Emma Younger headed to The Barfly at Camden Rocks Festival to catch up with Hang The Bastard before their set supporting Orange Goblin. With a new album on the horizon, the band have been pretty quiet this year, so we found out what this metal quartet have really been up to. Find out what happened here.

You seem to have been pretty quiet this year! Where have you been and what have you been up to?

Yeah, we’ve been quiet for a reason really! We’ve been recording an album which we did in November, so we’re just waiting for it to come out now, so its the inevitable process of it being dragged out and stuff. We’re only playing a handful of shows this summer, all in London actually. We’re just all anticipating the release of the album and then after we’ll do a lot of touring.

You’ve said that your show at the 100 Club supporting Valient Thorr will be your last until the album is released. How true is this?

As far as we’re aware yes, unless a really good show comes up! We didn’t want everyone to get bored of us touring loads before an album comes out because then when the album comes out we’ll tour loads as well. It would just be a bit much! The free shows we have decided to do are pretty good shows, so its all worth it!

One of those shows you’re playing this summer is supporting Black Sabbath at Hyde Park. How does it feel to be playing a show like that?

Its going to be amazing. I just can’t wait to get off stage though and watch Soundgarden! I know we’re not sharing the same stage as Black Sabbath, but just being on the same bill as Black Sabbath is amazing. Its rumoured to be their last ever gig, so being able to tell the grand kids one day this legendary band, Black Sabbath; we played at their last ever show.

E: So you kind of secretly hope they break up afterwards!? (laughs)

I want them to completely fall out! I mean ‘surely Ozzy this is it for you...’ (laughs).

But we’re also looking forward to seeing Soulfly though! Simon is a huge Soulfly fan, which is erm, bizarre. He’s got a Soulfly tattoo!

You guys are pretty high up on today’s festival bill. What’s that like for you?

I love the Barfly, I think its the best venue. Obviously The Underworld is great too. But the Barfly’s just been really good to us. Its got a great sound. But to also be direct support to Orange Goblin says a lot for us. We’re really excited to watch Orange Goblin!

Today’s event is a celebration of Camden and all that it represents. Why do you think Camden is so special?

Its just had a long history since the 60’s. Everyone’s just always said you’ve got to go to Camden. Camden is the place to go to buy a cool band t-shirt or to see a good show. Camden is world famous for having a big, alternative lifestyle. We’ve just always associated it with going to gigs. Three quarters of us are from Greater London, so Camden is a place we’ve always flocked to since we were young.

What is the most memorable gig you’ve experienced in Camden as a band?

The last time we played the Barfly was really good! Just playing The Underworld too was a tick in the box. I’ve been so many gigs there when I was younger, and finally getting to play there for the first time was an absolute dream. I think we supported H20 the first time we played at The Underworld. It was brilliant, and went fantastic. So I’d say that!

What do you think about the UK’s current rock/metal scene?

I think its okay. I think its been better. In the early 2000’s it was really strong. Now I think its just alright. There’s some good bands. Its generally healthy, but not as good as it was. There was a spark in the early 2000’s with experimental bands. You can still get them, but it just seems not as much now. There’s still time for that to come back though.

I think it depends on what you spend more of your time listening to. Its decent at the moment. I can’t think of a London or British band that massively jumps out at you though. There’s all the old favourites, but no breath of fresh air.

Orange Goblin seem to be doing well and are very active at the moment and keeping it alive. They’ve been going since the late 90’s, so that’s a good sign of real endurance. They’ve seen when the scene’s been good and bad.

The internet’s been a great help for bands. In the early 2000’s you need a tape or a demo. We were lucky that our first demo was on MySpace and people really got into it. It was a great aid to help us get bigger.

The two best things to happen to music in the last 15 years is the internet and Sat Nav’s! (laughs).

In regards to your upcoming album, can you give us you top three facts about it?

Its different to anything we’ve ever done before. Its the first time for Hang The Bastard that we’ve got clean singing. Its the first time for Hang The Bastard that we’ve got our new singer, Tom. Its the first time that the album has been written with four members. We’ve also got a tambourine in the album! That was more than three! (laughs).

When looking at footage from your past shows, they can sometimes get pretty crazy! Would say for a metal that a crazy show is a successful show?

Well it certainly helps! Sometimes you get bad shows and you get good shows. I don’t think our shows are always mad, but they’re consistent. Because we’ve changed our sound a bit, you can see people head banging and still appreciating it. Just having people watch us makes us feel good. Its just not so frantic. We get the lights as dark as possible and just have banter! Tom’s a big striking figure. We’re playing a lot of new songs now so for most people this is the first time they’ve heard it. Tonight’s a whole new set. But it is important if the crowd are enjoying it as you bounce off them and feeds the ambiance. We’ve played to like five people in Kettering and they give you nothing, so we give nothing back! But everyone’s going crazy you really get into it.

You recently signed a new management deal. What changes will this bring to the band?

We’ve been with Chris for quite a while. We were managed by SGR, and then will left but stayed with Chris. In thanks I guess for all our loyalty, he’s now working for 360, and has taken us with him. So its now a much bigger world, one in which we’re tiny fish in a huge pond. We’re the only the metal band on the whole thing! On the wall at the headquarters there’s Shakira, and then there’s us. It cracks me up. There’s all these massive people, then there’s Hang The Bastard. Eventually we want to tour with Shakira (laughs).

Now that the festival season has officially arrived, what would your top five festival survival tips be?

Copious amounts of alcohol. Copious amounts of something else. Try and pitch your tent quite near a toilet, otherwise its like a 30 minute walk. Or maybe get a hotel. Also get somebody else to drive. Don’t go at the bottom of a downhill slope. Don’t throw an empty bottle of lemonade at someone. Just behave yourself. Camp in the family section where there’s no hassle.

Bands such as Metallica and Slipknot have made their own festivals. If Hang The Bastard had their own festival, what would it be called and what would the dream line-up be?

Grubfest!? (laughs). Or maybe Bastardstock. Something along those lines. The line-up would be a collective one. Coral, Soulfly, 70’s bands, thrash metal bands and Barry Manilow. Grubfest would be a festival for everyone!

Finally, apart from your upcoming album, what are your plans for the rest of the year if any?

Just planning really for next year as that’s when its all going to take off. Its just about anticipating 2015. To be honest, we’re all quite unfit so this shows might knock us out for the rest of the year anyway (laughs).

Scribbled by:

Music Journalist to be, gig-goer and mosh-pit enthusiast, who will head bang to any heavy riff you throw my way. Basically, if I'm not listening to music, then I'm doing it wrong.

Follow me on Twitter at @emyoungerr