Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Monday, October 24, 2016
interview: Hessian Wolf Children
Here is the interview Hessian Wolf Children, a traditional, vintage-style grind band from California, U.S. that has a new self-titled EP. The band’s mode of operation is to play fast, thrash it up like nobody's business and keep it to the point. The guitar tone is the classic-style crossover thrash sharp sound, the drumming is blasting and chaotic and it sounds like a person (not a computer). The vocalist: a total lunatic screaming from the top of his lungs along to the blasting speed grind crossover thrash punk. The band is: Steve Bishop on vocals, Lee McNamara on guitar, Matt Henderson on bass, and Jovani G. Rivera on drums. Steve and Lee answered these questions.
Hello! I have listened to your self-titled EP many times now. How is life for a grind band in the state of California or in the city where you live? How has 2016 been treating you?! Has your band been playing shows in the area? I think that you are in the Ventura County, correct? Is that an exciting place, a big place or a small town?
Lee: Thanks for listening to it a bunch! We're stoked on the e.p.! Yeah, me and Steve are from Newbury Park and Matt and Gio are from Simi Valley. They're small suburban towns in the Ventura County which is between Los Angeles and Ventura. Life for a grind band out here? We get booked with stoner and doom bands all the time so it's pretty grim!
Steve: 2016 has been pretty good to us. Despite our original drummer (Rob) having to quit early in the year, we lucked out and got a replacement we had in mind cuz we knew at some point Rob would most likely bail. As far as playing shows in the area, most have been in Ventura with a few others in L.A. and Glendale thanks to the help of promoters we've managed to get in touch with since we started playing out.
What is the history of your band and who are the members of the band; who is answering this interview? The band formed and broke up in 2007? What happened then? Then, in 2012 you got the itch to play again? Is it the same people from before? What was different in 2012 as compared to 2007?!
Lee: Me and Steve are answering the interview. We started at a party house in Simi Valley just for fun. The members of the first line-up were: Matt Henderson - vocals, Lee McNamara - guitar, Steve Bishop - bass, and Chris Pitzel - drums. We did a 7-song recording that is still unfinished (only 4 songs have vocals) and we did 2 shows but split up after 9 months. In 2012 Matt and Steve asked if I wanted to play again and switch things up. I was into it but wanted to shorten the songs and play faster. We started writing new material, fixing the old stuff and did a rehearsal tape.
Steve: When we decided to give it another go in 2012 it went down the same way things started originally. Matt and I were having a few beers and talking about how we want to play in a heavy band and not be the two old f**** playing with a group of teenagers. I said I was down but wanna give doing just vocals a shot since we both play bass and do vocals. After that I called Lee and Rob (who I've played with in bands before and we've all been long time friends) to see if they would wanna start something new. A few practices later we felt pretty good about the way things were starting to sound.
You play grind, but you don’t sound like a lot grind in 2016, with all the postrock, sludge, drone, chugging, grooves or experimental and indie rock things that have filtered into grind. Your band sounds very different, even though it is the sound of the original grind from the 80s. Why is this? Don’t you want to “jazz it up”?!
Lee: To be honest, I haven't heard any new grind bands! I like early Napalm Death. Especially their 'From Enslavement to Obliteration album. I also like Cryptic Slaughter's 'Stream of Consciousness' album. I think what makes us sound a little different is that we throw in occasional metal riffs that sound like they're from the early 80s. Stuff like Judas Priest or Metallica's 'Kill 'em All'. I don't know of any other Grind bands that do that.
Steve: Truth be told, I don't listen to much grind. Always leaned more towards heavy stuff, guess that's where the screaming comes from. Dropdead and ACXDC would be a couple favorites of mine that are probably the closests to grind, even though they're more power violence.
What does Hessian mean, in the sense that your band uses the term?
Lee: Hessian just means metal and punk kids to me. Wildchilds I guess you could say. I read a story called The Wolfboy of Hesse. It's about a child in Germany who was raised by wolves and he died when the people captured him and tried to make him civilized. I came up with the name after reading that story. The name makes me think of me and my friends when we were kids. Just a bunch of wildchilds riding around on skateboards listening to Metallica and Slayer. Good memories!
Are the lyrics to the EP new or old from back in the day? Does 2016 have more reasons and motivations to write lyrics in the style of grind bands? They say that people mellow out with age, so when can we expect your lyrics to preach love and peace, ha ha?!
Steve: The lyrics on the EP and other songs we have are all new. When we got back together we wanted to start fresh, also we never knew what the fuck Matt was saying when he was singing. I don't write lyrics to fit any sort of style. It's usually something I wanna say and I have about a minute to do so. I don't know about "mellowing out with age" I've always been kind of an angry person and don't see that changing anytime soon. So there probably won't be any hippie inspired lyrics in the future.
In 2016 some people say to vote for corporate candidate A and others say to vote for corporate candidate B. Usually, grind bands are not shy about expressing their views and they don’t care if people get offended. What is your opinion about corporate candidates A and B?
Steve: We're f***** either way.
Terrorism, Islam, racism, nationalism, national security, immigration, borders are constant topics in the news. I wonder if your band feels like it has plenty of material for writing raging grind and lyrics in this day and age. What do you think?
Steve: We'll always have plenty of raging material to write and scream about aside from the topics in current media you mentioned. To me, lyrics don't always have to be about major world concerns. We're just four friends having fun playing loud, fast music.
Lee: I wrote the lyrics to our song 'Rise and Grind' and it pretty much describes the artwork on the front cover of our 7". Steve and I were having a few beers in my garage discussing lyrics and I told him about this idea of a Mad Max / The Road Warrior world with teenagers running wild and an occult atmosphere. 'Hessian Aggression' is the closest we've come to that but I'm looking forward to what we do in the future. We wanna take it somewhere else besides politics.
What are you favorite guitars and its accompanying equipment? How do you get your guitar sound to be a certain way?
Lee: I play a 1961 Gibson SG and a Peavey Ultra 120 Halfstack. I've had the amp since I was a teenager and it's really easy to dial in a good sound. Our bassist uses distortion so I back off the bass eq on the guitar so it cuts through all the noise and sits on top of the low end of the bass guitar if that makes sense. My favorite guitar is definitely the Gibson SG. I love B.C. Rich Warlocks, too. They sound great and are very comfortable to play sitting down, but not so much when you're standing up hahaha.
Is what we hear on the album the real drums that your drummer played? What is your opinion about the drum sound that works for your band?
Lee: It's real drums. No triggers or anything like that. We recorded with Armand who has his own studio in Ventura and also plays guitar in Night Demon. We told him we were looking for a raw garage sound and I think we got it. The drum sound is one of the most important things to me when it comes to recording. I always want a big raw drum sound.
What other news do you have?
Lee: We have 3 new songs but wanna write a few more. I think we have 22 songs at the moment. Then we wanna head back down to Ventura, record everything and use the best songs for another 7". We wanna do a few 7 inches before doing a full length. Other than that we've just been playing shows, jamming with the new drummer and doing some interviews with fanzines. The oldschool paper ones of course!!!