Hornets Interview: “Expect more d-beats, noisy feedback and darker riffs”

hornets interview
Photograph by Shane J Horan.

Debut Album Witch Hunt  Out Before The End Of The Year.

Belfast hardcore punk rockers Hornets have recently recorded their debut album Witch Hunt, which is due out online and on vinyl by the end of the year. If their previous EP’s, No Faith and Truth,  are anything to go by the album should be classified under “Mandatory Purchasing”.

Our man, and host of Caffeinated Frequencies on Room 101, Eoin O’Shea recently spoke to to the band about their recording process, innovative fund raising and sharing the stage with The Bronx and Torche

Overblown: You guys started out as a three piece and then, shortly after, Rich (Deadly Friendly) joined to take on lead vocals. How has the move from a trio to a quartet changed the dynamic of the band?

We made the transition to a four piece just before the release of our second EP, No Faith, by recruiting Craig on bass.  Not long after our old vocalist made the decision to pursue other interest, so after a small amount of band-bullying we convinced our resident lanky Englishman Rich to take up the mic (sorry for the bullying, we love you really).  In all seriousness, Rich joining was a really natural progression.  We all share a similar sense of humour and work ethic, both of which are pretty vital if you’re going to be standing in a cramped space playing loud music together regularly… 

O: The last time we met was in Bradley’s in Cork and the time before that was at the Cork Community Print Shop, both of which have since closed down. We’ve seen a lot of art centres and venues in Cork close their doors recently – is this something you have noticed elsewhere while touring?

That sucks! Those were some of our favourite shows to date! We’ve heard rumours that Tenterhooks in Dublin could be shutting up shop soon too… Not sure if there’s any truth to the rumours but that would be a real shame.  Those venues and art centres have a real D.I.Y. vibe to them that we love, and anything that brings art together with music can only be a good thing.

O: Last year you supported The Bronx and Torche when they came to Belfast.  What was it like to share the stage with them? Did you get to hang out with them?

That was probably our first big-band support slot, and as fans of both bands it was an absolute pleasure (Our drummer Ricky is even packing a Bronx tattoo).  We didn’t get to chat to either band, probably because they were busy catching up themselves – the show was originally booked as two separate gigs that were later merged, but Matt Caughthran’s stage presence is something else, so it felt like we were hanging out regardless, ha.  We got to play and hang out with Norma Jean last weekend though, which was fucking great! Lovely guys all round.

O: You’ve recently been recording your debut album. How does the new record compare to your previous EPs?

We’ve all stepped our game up in terms of writing and playing ability.  The new record is much more driven, faster and with stranger song structures.  We made the conscious decision to take our collective influences and merge them into its own beast, rather than more closely incorporate sounds or influences from other bands we like, like the tracks on the last EPs.  Expect more d-beats, noisy feedback and darker riffs all tied up with more blackened vocals from all members.

O: How has the recording process of the new record been?

In a word – efficient!  We recorded in Start Together Studios in Belfast with Rocky O’Reilly, who recorded No Faith.  We set ourselves a 3 day limit to record the whole album, so we tracked drums, bass, and a layer of guitar all live in one day, leaving the following two days for guitar over-dubs and vocals. I think because we had put the practice in beforehand we didn’t hit any brick walls and gave us time to experiment a bit with one or two tracks we wanted to jam out as they came to us in the studio.  All in all, were pleased with how it went!

O: What were you listening to during the writing and recording of the new album?

We all have different influences which we draw upon, as mentioned before.  Our guitarist Andy is a straight-up thrash-metal hallion with plenty of Russian Circles / Gojira thrown in.  Ricky, our drummer, was listening to a lot of Nick Yacyshyn of Sumac and some hip-hop like Death Grips for good measure and groove.  Craig, bass, listens to a lot of more noisy, blackened music like Young and In the Way, Torch Runner, Full of Hell, Dragged into Sunlight. Rich, vocals, draws on the more artsy side of hardcore like the early Code Orange Kids EPs, some Pariso, with a lot of Tupac era hip hop for lyric writing inspiration.  One band we all agree on whole-heartedly is Baptists, they’ve influenced our song writing a lot.

O: Raising funds to record an album is always a challenge for an up and coming band, but you came up with a more innovative way of getting funds together. Tell us about the secret gig you held back in March?

We wanted to do something different for the album fundraiser and give something back to anyone who wanted to come, so rather than just charge entry to a gig we held a B.Y.O. art exhibition with local artists Jenna Hayes (tattooer at Hand and Dagger, Belfast), Claire Miskimmin (Girls Names/Cruising), and had Rich and Craig exhibit some work also.  Rich ran a prize raffle and gifted some of his prints and t-shirts.  What really sealed the deal were the other bands, check out Unyielding Love and Apartments if you haven’t already.  Best bands in Belfast, hands down.

O: There’s been a recent announcement that the original line up of the Misfits are getting back together. Are you guys fans of theirs and what do you think of the announcement? What do you make of bands reforming after years of feuding?

I’m not sure any of us are massive Misfits fans… sacrilege, we know, but all growing up with post-hardcore bands like At the Drive-In and Refused then seeing them reform and tour we were all excited at first, then our inner sceptics started to question why.  As long as their tours don’t have a stupid ticket price, were all for it.

O: Pineapple on a pizza – yes or no?

Yes.  Gotta get those 5 a day.

O: I recently heard an awful joke: “Who is a hornets favorite singer? Sting!”. What are your influences outside the hardcore and punk genre?

Fleetwood fucking Mac.

O: What does the future hold for Hornets?

New video, album launch gig, Irish and U.K. tours and a Hornets baby for Ricky followed up with a full line of baby merch including baby-grows and milk-bottles.

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