Monday 1 January 2018

Reaching The Summit - An Interview With HAWKMOTH

Aussie Cinematic/Post-Metal band – HAWKMOTH – have just released their superb new album – Godless Summit. The first part of a two part album that's already starting to win rave reviews within the Doom/Post-Metal scene.

Taking influences from familiar bands such as Russian Circles, Pelican and ISIS (The Band), HAWKMOTH have still managed to create a highly emotional and cinematic release that leaves you in an highly emotional state.

I interviewed Aaron (Bass) and Andy (Guitars) from the band where we discuss the making of the album and what influenced the band when recording it.

Hi Hawkmoth. How are things with you today.

(Andy) We’re all very well thanks. It’s a good time for the band.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

(Andy) Heath and I had a band that was struggling with an identity crisis. This spawned the realization that I just wanted to play heavy, sludgy and droning riffs without the need of a singer. So around 2011, we started over, began writing and looked for other members. First up we got Aaron in on bass which worked great for both his creative input and also we had an instant connection of shared music and artistic taste. It took a few years and a few different drummers to find ‘our guy’ but It was worth the wait to get Brendan as I think his drumming really suits and compliments our style. This core lineup has gigged, written and recorded for a few years now which leads us to today with release of our new album - Godless Summit.

How would you describe your overall sound.

(Andy) Dark, moody and cinematic. I wouldn't say we are a fun listen. I guess in genre talk, we’d fit into the realms of post sludge metal and doom.

We are here to talk about your new album Godless Summit. Awesome album by the way. What can people expect from the album.

(Andy) Thanks! It’s part 1 of a double album. I think overall it has a strong and continuous ominous feel whether the songs parts are slow, fast, heavy, light, loud or quiet. The downtuned, fuzzed out riff dirges are there, the pummeling drums are there, as are the noise freakouts, effects sample loops, minimal and spacious atmospheric passages and the super dense and layered crescendos. So quite a lot is going on in just 4 long songs.

What influenced you all when recording the album.

(Aaron) We're all influenced by our individual favourite bands and I think that comes out in our playing but generally for me I think the major influence on why this album sounds the way it does is because we were constantly trying to push songs a little further to avoid a carbon copy of our last album. The addition of Brendan also influenced the album as he's such a great drummer.

Godless Summit has a more cinematic and doomed out sound compared to your debut album. Is that a fair assumption to make and did you want to move away from the sound that you created on your debut album.

(Andy) I agree. Overall we were going for an album of more extremes and range. We wanted the songs to command a greater sense imagery, mystery and primal emotion from both the listener and us while playing. With this in mind, I think some of our more stoner sounding tendencies weren’t prioritized.

(Aaron) Agree with both of you. The addition of the synth tracks and more loops definitely helped us create a different landscape.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group participation or down to one individual.

(Aaron) Andy brings in a lot of the content. Most of his stuff is on the way to being finished when he brings it in where as I bring in riffs/ideas that we contribute to. Most of the time when the songs are finished I put synths and loops over the top but there are a few tracks that started out of ideas on synth. Brendan contributed some parts to this too, some of it on drums and some were bass parts that really worked well in songs. No one has an ego in the band so we are constantly giving each other feedback or ideas for each others parts too. All 4 of us are involved in final song structure and tweaking.

What influences you when writing music.

(Andy) Can be absolutely anything. If I start getting a strong emotive response while unintentionally stumbling upon a new riff or song idea, that feeling becomes the inspiration and driving force for the song.

(Aaron) Most of the time I'll just hear something and try and replicate it on an instrument. Then I'll assess whether it's applicable to Hawkmoth or I should put it towards something else.

What have been your high points and low points with the band.

(Aaron) High points me for would be supporting Boris live who Andy and I are massive fans of and recently the great reviews we are receiving of Godless Summit. It was a long hard process and it feels great to be rewarded for that hard work.

Low point for me is definitely the drummer limbo period we had before finding Brendan.

Would you change anything about your time with HAWKMOTH.

(Aaron) Definitely not. We've made mistakes but that's part of the process.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is this your main band.

(Andy) Brendan also pounds away in a heavy stoner / psych band called Way of the Wolf, Aaron’s always experimenting with synth and effects compositions and I play in a darkly themed surf / western band.

(Aaron) I'm currently working on something that I'll be playing guitar on.

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basis setup.

(Aaron) Andy and I are gear nerds, we're constantly changing pedals to vary textures throughout songs. My setup is getting a little complex for this album live. I run what is constantly called an oversized pedal board for bass players (which I disagree with) and trigger samples off from a loop pedal. For this album I've just added a 12 step by Keith McMillen to be able to play the synth lines with my feet.

How hard is it for HAWKMOTH stand-out from the crowd. Or do you not worry about things like that.

(Aaron) I think we just try and push each other constantly to pursue different avenues and that organically makes us a little different from our peers. In saying this, we aren't trying to just be different, we're really writing the music we want to hear.

Do you perform many local gigs or do you have to travel further afield.

(Aaron) We’re based in Sydney where a lot of the venues exist. This makes us a local band but every now and then we venue up and down the east coast. Shows in Melbourne have been very rewarding. We are planning on expanding in the future.

With 2017 drawing to a close. What have been your favourite albums you've listened to this year.

(Andy) Squalus - self titled. No guitars, just dual fuzzed out bass guitars grinding away for epic sludge. And it’s a concept album about sharks. Fuck yeah.

(Aaron) I'm obsessed with the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack at the moment. Also a big fan of Tera Melos Trash Generator.

Do you have any other exciting plans happening 2018.

(Aaron) First up in January we’ve got our album launch show. Then a run of more gigs to support the album. We plan to release part 2 of this album series mid 2018.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

(Aaron) Thanks for being interested in what we do.

(Andy) And tell your mates! And check our Facebook page for 2018 gig info.

Thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album.

(Andy) Glad to do it! Thanks for having us on board.

Words by Steve Howe, Aaron Steed and Andy Griggs

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for arranging the interview. Thanks to Aaron and Andy for doing this interview. Godless Summit is now available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl.


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