Thursday 27 October 2016

An Interview with HORNSS

San Franciscan power trio Hornss have been in business for about six years. They released their demo-record “The Red Death” in 2012, then it took two more years to finish the debut full-length “No Blood No Sympathy” and now they've prepared sophomore album “Telepath” which will released on 18th of November by Ripple Music / STB Records.

Some could ask – why should I pay attention for this band? Probably because they professionally perform a powerful blend of doom, stoner and punk! Yes, something like Saint Vitus did in their earlier days but with slightly better production (and another lineup). Mike Moracha (Vocals/Guitar) and Nick Nava (Vocals/Bass) are here to tell few stories about how they forge this infectious doom’n’roll.

Hello Hornss! How are you? How effectively do you spread “Telepath” vibe?

Nick: we recorded Telepath in the Sierra Nevada foothills at Louder Studios with Tim Green. We stayed in a cabin away from everything and only came out to work in the studio. It took us 5 days I believe. We stocked up on beer, Mike's homemade Cider, Tequila and weed and just relaxed and concentrated on the work of getting those songs onto tape. We had been working on Telepath for about three years before we went into the studio but a lot of what ended up on the record was written during or right before it was recorded. I wrote some of my lyrics just hours before recording them.

It sounds like you had pretty nice romantic vacations there! Did you face any difficulties during this session? Did you come at the studio with all ideas already in your heads?

Mike: We started drinking at 8 a.m. and the recording sessions didn't start till around 1 p.m. That was the hard part...

Nick: It wasn't all drinking though, there was also some swimming and BBQn'! But seriously, I spent most mornings working out lyrics and experimenting with synth sounds and playing acoustic guitar.

When I was looking for information about Hornss’ lineup I only found out that Hornss is power-trio with – Nick Nava, Mike Moracha and Bill Bowman. Are you together since the release of “No Blood No Sympathy” debut?

Nick: Yes same lineup, you can't replace any of us without changing the vibe and sound of HORNSS. It's like a really good BBQ sauce that grandma learned from her grandma. Original recipe!

I was surprised with that well-balanced combination of doom and punk rock. So what’s the story of your relationships with punk scene? What did you take from it?

Mike: I started listening to hard rock like KISS, Queen, and AC/DC in the 70s as a kid. My older cousin gave me some Dickies, Adam and the Ants, and Cramps records in the early 80s, but I was still a hard rock/metal kid till the end of 9th grade when I started skating and buying as much punk as I could find. I don't remember a time I didn't like the Ramones though, they are above genre labels.

Okay, Mike, now we know about your punk rock background, you speak damned confidently about it. But then I have to ask from where you guys draw all your doom influences?

Mike: Well, I liked Sabbath from a pretty young age...who didn't like Sabbath in the 1970s?? St. Vitus in High School...when the Melvins released Ozma I really got back into listening to heavy music again. I don't know if we really play doom or not...we always just say "heavy music for fellow dirtbags"!

Nick: Heavy music has always been a part of my life. As a kid the album MY WAR by Black Flag put a lot of those false distinctions between punk and heavy slower music to bed. The band FLIPPER and the Butthole Surfers and of course early Melvins we mixing things up in original ways back then.

Telepath” has nice artwork. I just can’t avoid the question about its origin, so who’s its author? How did you explain that you wanted from him?

Nick: Dennis Dread did the art and lettering, I first heard of him through his work on Darkthrone and Dead Moon records. The actual Ouija board plancette was made by Mike and we had the artist Hannah Wednesday draw the eye design on it.

Mike: We all throw ideas around and once we agree on something, I'll usually do a mock up. First LP, we sent a rough sketch to Cory at Dirty Needle and let him go to down and recreate it how he saw fit. Last LP we came up with the concept for the cover, I carved the Ouija planchette, Bill's friend took the photo, I did the comping and color work. Nick wanted Dennis Dread to do the back cover, so we told him what vibe we wanted, and let him do his thing. We're really happy with the way it turned out, especially the special editions. So basically, we concept it, but trust the artists to do what they do best.

Do you have an album of any artist which artwork is something ideal for you? A perfect example of rock or metal artwork!

Mike: I'm a fan of Drew Struzan and Mike Diana.

Nick: Obviously Dennis Dread. Also Dirty Donny and Skinner do great things with album art.

Do you have a vision of ideal sound for Hornss? How did you achieve it during the work over “Telepath”?

Mike: I'd like it if no one could place who or what we sound like. If we sound like a few different things, that's great...but I don't want us to fall into any one sound like a "Kyuss band" or a "Sabbath band". The stuff I write, I just try to make up a song I'd like if it wasn't our band.

Nick: I wouldn't say it's a vision or concept really. Our songs do tend to work out naturally but there is a lot of work and cooperation and trust that goes into writing a HORNSS song.

Men, there are a bunch of interesting titles in album’s track-list – “St Genevieve”, “Mazanita”, “Sargasso Heart” and etc. Seems like you have a rich imagination! What is it all about?

Mike: Nick wrote the lyrics on those! Mine are all over the place, but range from books I've read to little stories I make up. "In fields of Lyme" is about aliens sending bugs to Earth that cause all the humans to die, then once the Earth has healed itself, they blow the ticks away and inhabit our planet...meanwhile "Old Ghosts" is about growing up skateboarding.

Nick: All of the songs have a deeper meaning, more than one meaning and sometimes no meaning.

Metal-archives point that Hornss lyrics are about “Science Fiction, Drugs and Conspiracies”. How do these things connected in your songs?

Mike: Hopefully very well!

So can you say that Hornss is about conspiracy of scientists influenced by drugs? Or how would you resume Hornss’s message?

Nick: It's about whatever you want it to be about.

Mike: I want our music to be the soundtrack of a flesh rotting krokodil high.

With new album you switched from Riding Easy to Ripple Music who release new album in collaboration with STB Records, do you feel a difference in a work of these labels?

Mike: STB is more punk rock.

Nick: Riding Easy was a great place to start and we are happy with that first record, it gave us a lot of opportunities, We are excited to be working with STB and Ripple now and really looking forward to the next album!

Hornss is signed now on the label with serious reputation. How you are serious consider pushing the band further? Or is the status of weekend warriors enough for you?

Mike: We're working on new songs for a 3rd album, and so far I think it will be my favorite. Hard to predict what life vomits on you, but we are looking to do another European tour before too long.

Nick: We have a new album to work on and a Euro tour in the early planning stages, other than that we are taking it one day at a time and just trying to pay rent and keep beer and food on the table! the life of an artist is not very glamorous.

I see that you already know how the next album will sound, what kind of ideas do you put into it?

Mike: Mine are varied, but death and the 6th mass extinction are up there...Nick and Bil always have great ideas, so pretty excited to start working on it all -- our records are pretty collaborative.

Nick: I'm leaning towards more straight ahead hard rocking with some ZZ Top grooves provided by drummer extraordinaire Billy "Ten Toes" Bowman.

Your music is perfect for live shows, how often do you play gigs? And what are highlights of your live experience?

Mike: Nick and I have played together for like 25 years, and a few favorite shows have been opening for Radio Birdman in Germany, opening for the Melvins and Acid King in 1994, and opening for Turbonegro with Plainfield in the late 90s. As for HORNSS, we play once a month or so...some great shows have been with YOB, Fu Manchu, Fatso Jetson, Bang, Elder, UFOMAMMUT, Big Business...lots of great local bands too. Too many to mention. Playing the same festival with Alice Cooper, Arthur Brown, and Blue Oyster Cult wasn’t too shabby either!

Speaking about mix of doom and punk it’s easy to come to definition with Saint Vitus or Satan’s Satyrs. This blend is original, though it isn’t unique. Did you cross with these bands on your road?

Mike: I've been a fan of St. Vitus since High School...I don't think of them as a punk band though, even though they toured with Black Flag and were on a mostly punk label. Satan's Satyrs sounded really good when I saw them. I think people should just play what they feel, and not worry too much about anything else. If it's good, I'll listen to it. When we started we did want to have a bit of the early SST vibe though…heavy music for punks, stoners, and dirtbags.

Man, you’re from San Francisco, how does the city influence on you? How much of its culture in your songs?

Mike: That's a tough one cause it's not the same city we moved to in the mid ‘90s. In the beginning it had a pretty big influence with its thriving music and art culture and fantastic crystal meth. There's still a lot to love here, but along with it is anger and frustration. Maybe that seeps into the music, or maybe the music is one of the few things we have left here.

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and HORNSS