Friday, 14 August 2015

What's In A Name - An Interview with Dustin Hill from Black Pussy

Today's guest is front-man of one of the years most talked about and controversial hard rock bands. Not because of the music that they create but because of their name. I'm been a huge fan and admirer of this band for a few years now.

They've released an acclaimed album this year with Magic Mustache – with it's great style of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock anthems. It's one of my top 10 records of 2015. Though it hasn't all been plain sailing for the band in 2015. They've been caught up in a major controversy about their choice of name. They've may pissed off a few people along the way but they've also won a fair share of admirers for their determination to let people have a good time with their music.

I'm talking about Black Pussy. Black Pussy are about to release a new EP – Where The Eagle Files. A collection of rarities being released on Vinyl/DD from August 19th 2015. Plus they have another US Tour coming up which will no doubt be another entertaining ride for the guys to survive from.

I've been given the chance to interview Black Pussy's front-man – Dustin Hill. So lets get started....

Hi Dustin. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Awesome! Tightening all the screws and getting ready to head out on another US Tour.

Well it's been an interesting year for you guys so far. Acclaimed album. Massive Tour and a ton of controversy as well. Are you sick and tired defending yourselves to people who have only looked at your name and not even listened to the music.

It's a complex answer. The easy answer is “Yes”. But the reality of the situation is that all of this backlash exists online and never crosses that barrier to the real world. Shows continue to get better and people keep enjoy themselves in the towns we play. Continuing to grow and learn is what we want and we work hard to maintain this freedom. The worst part of it is when people are blindly following the opinions of some contrived, bitter “journalist” with a voice and a platform. The work we put into our art and touring is unseen by the majority of people and it becomes asinine when someone attacks our characters as humans based on the moniker of our art. So, yes, we are tired of defending ourselves to people who have already formed a negative opinion about us. It's the same as it ever was: those who get it will keep on doing so.

Most other bands would of struggled under the constant pressure. How did you keep your spirits up when venues were cancelling your shows and people were trying to make out you were one of the most controversial bands of recent years. Even though that's the furthest thing from the truth.

Firstly, only two shows have ever been cancelled and both of those tour dates were filled within hours by other venues and promoters reaching out. Like I just said, this pressure exists online and that is where it ends. We keep our spirits up with commitment and devotion to doing what we all love to do, which is performing our music. I've had someone come up to me at every show this year saying how they had never heard of us or our music until they read some hate piece about us, and they wanted to come and form their own opinion. Unanimously, they are always impressed and leave the venue with positive things to say about us as people and our art.

Did you ever think about quitting Black Pussy and focus on other things. Or did it make you want to succeed even more to prove people wrong.

No, we'll never quit. As long as there are fans to support us and venues to play at, we will be there.

During that time you've played a lot of great shows and made a lot new friends along the way. Would you change anything about the last 8 months or so.

Every day we learn something new about this business. From day one we have been a DIY band and running everything between the core of this group, including our label Made In China Records. Modern music is a very harsh climate to succeed in and you need to measure success in very specific ways. It isn't all about landing the big deal anymore, especially in the rock scene. To accomplish any level of success, you need to be willing to work harder at it than anything else you have worked toward, and that includes rigorous touring and a hands-on approach to spread your message. I would say the only thing we'd change in the last 8 months is to play more shows and sty on the road as much as possible.

Which shows have you enjoyed playing the most.

One of the biggest highlights of this year was opening for Sleep in Portland at the Crystal Ballroom. The show sold out and the crowd response was amazing. Last time we were in LA, we shared the bill with Jesse Hughes (from Eagles of Death Metal) which fucking ruled. On this upcoming tour with Ape Machine, we'll get share the stage with some other great bands, including Black Tusk, Slow Season and Mac Sabbath.

Your latest album - Magic Mustache - has been acclaimed as one of the best Stoner Rock albums of the year. Has the response surprised you in anyway.

Really? This is the first time we are hearing that. Yes, we're surprised.

Now we have to talk about your new EP. Where The Eagle Flies. Another fantastic release. Congrats on that one. What can people expect from the EP.

Thank you! This EP is a collection of rarities and one-offs and is a good example of the kinds of arrangements and songs we like to explore. Side A has heavier songs and includes a cover of “Don't Fear the Reaper”, while Side B has more of a melancholy vibe. This is not a follow up album to Magic Mustache but is still painted with the same brushes.

Why did you call the EP - Where The Eagle Flies. Any specific meaning.

The name comes from the song “The Eagle Never Hunts the Fly” by The Music Machine. They are a very influential band for me and it's a way to pay homage to Sean Bonniwell.

You've recorded a cover of Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear The Reaper. Why did you choose that specific song. Great cover as well.

Thanks. This song means a lot to us. It's one of the all-time classics, which created a unique challenge to do it justice and keep it timeless.

Obviously you're releasing this EP on your own label again - Made In China Records. How hard is it operating a record label in today's age. Would you ever consider signing any other acts to MICR.

We started the label to have freedom to create whatever art we wanted to without a filter. As it grows, we are continually thankful to have MICR as a platform to release records and get these songs out into the world. It takes a lot of hard work and there are no days off. We do all of our own publicity, management, merch printing, marketing, and we rehearse and write new songs every day on top of everything else. It's hard to stay DIY without outside help and we are now finding that we are outgrowing our ability to manage it by ourselves. We are currently seeking outside assistance to help us keep growing. The question isn't “would we consider signing any other acts,” but rather, “Would any larger label consider signing us?”

You're going on another tour soon. What can people expect on this tour. More riffs, More controversy. I hope not. As you guys have been through it all recently.

Ha ha. Yes, there will probably be an online stink from people trying their damnedest to shut us down, but that only helps to spread the word, so to them I say, “Thank you.” As for the stage, we have a few new songs we are playing on this tour as well as subtle changes to our backline and new tones to play with. You'll see more velvet bell bottoms, longer hair, Dean's going to smile a lot, Aaron's beard is still growing, Keith's still humpin' away and Ryan's chops are as fast as ever.

Are there any plans for you guys to come to Europe. As you have a lot of fans who would love to see you guys live.

There is a revolving discussion of plans to cross the ocean. The European market has enticed us for years and we are anxiously looking forward to booking a tour over there. We have been approached by a few promoters, but we are still looking for the right fit. We have some amazing fans outside of the States and we look forward to playing for them. Honestly, we are in need of the right person with ambition to approach us and help make it happen. We love to work hard and tour and want to eventually perform all over the world.

Well guys, thanks for doing this interview. All the best for the new tour and the new EP. Keep on creating new music.

Rock on, brother.

Words by Steve Howe and Dustin Hill

Thanks to Dustin for taking the time out to talk to me. Always a pleasure talking to Dustin. Thanks to Dan at Made In China Records.


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