Interview: Josh Gurner and Richard Hawking of Hacktivist

The last time I spoke with Hacktivist on behalf of the Moshville Times was back in May when they were supporting Issues on their UK tour and were also just away to start a 3 day run of appearances at the Slam Dunk festival (Leeds reviewed by me). This amazingly talented band has been billed as the future of British metal so I thought it fitting to have a future focused interview.

Although speaking with Josh and Richard this time, not Timfy and J, what this interview had in common with the last one is that we were all in an amazingly cramped room again. Only difference is this time we were in Audio not the Garage and nobody has any seats this time!

Although this interview is future focused I want to talk very briefly about the past, so what’s been happening with Hacktivist since I last saw you?

Josh – We last saw you when we played with Crossfaith at the Edinburgh Metal Party, that was a good laugh. What’ve we done since? This tour I suppose. Tonight is one of the last few nights of the winter tour. We did the European leg with Heck and Bad Sign, which was really, really good visiting the usual places like Germany, Italy and Switzerland. The UK legs been really cool, Zoax and Heck are two bands I’ve wanted to tour with for a very long time. Bad Sign are fairly new guys to us but they’re really, really wicked. A real pleasure to tour with. We’ve also been to Australia with Enter Shikari haven’t we?

Richard – Yeah, that was good. We’ve just released some music as well, a track called “Over Throne” which we put on a little, mini EP with two remixes and a cover. We’ve also got a few bits and bobs that we’re announced for like Graspop.

J – That was announced today I believe. The line up looks pretty meaty.

Looking forward then, what artists should we be on the lookout for? Can you guys give our readers the heads up on any cool bands?

R – Who is it we were listening to in the car today? They’re called like false people or something.

J – Oh, Phony PPL.

R – That was sick.

J – They’re like an American hip-hop band,  a definite nod to the Neptunes and N.E.R.D.

R – It sounded like The Roots were playing stuff produced by The Neptunes.

J – That’s good on a global level. Sticking with the UK, cause you’ve got to support your local scene, then definitely Bad Sign. Those guys are ones to watch, massive sound from the three of them.

R – Our mates in Coded just got themselves up and running, they’re like a techy metal band.

PT – Kind of like The Algorithm?

R – Hard to describe really. They’re not as in depth or electronically influenced as The Algorithm, it’s just kind of groovy. It’s not ridiculously heavy but the riffs are good.

When I spoke to Timfy and J on the Issues tour, Timfy felt that as cool as the British metal scene was it had become somewhat saturated and people just don’t get as excited anymore. He felt that people in other countries that you’ve played, such as Russia and India get more excited than the UK in general so what do you think the future holds for the British metal scene? How’s it going to evolve?

J – That’s a real big question.

R – In terms of where the scene is going there’s definitely still room for some form of experiment going down. People seem close to exhausting all the possible different combinations of genres to move into but I’m sure there will be some form of new creation to come out.

J – I think it’s not really gonna grow unless something is done about it or at least that’s the way things seem to be moving at the moment sadly. Maybe it’s something to do with the internet, a kind of throwaway culture, like why pay ten pounds for a ticket to a gig when you can just watch videos on YouTube or Facebook live? If we’re staring down the barrel of Brexit and it’s gonna become almost financially impossible for bands to tour Europe then we really need to get our shit together back in the UK to make sure there’s plenty of support for up and coming bands.

We love playing to the UK but Europe knows how to treat a band well, how to put on a good show and promote it properly. They get a lot more local funding in Europe and a lot of gigs over there are in government buildings where the gigs are free and everyone that works there is a volunteer and everyone just wants to be part of it because they have such good facilities. I think it’s France that has an average of seventy five percent subsidies on gigs whereas the UK has zero. Your average promoter in the UK runs at a hundred and twenty percent on his costs putting on a gig here so he incurs a twenty percent loss.

Unless something is done bands might lose access to European fanbases and then there might not be any places that up and coming UK bands are able to play which could lead to there not being a new generation of UK bands. People need to keep going to gigs and hassle MPs to get music properly funded.

In the future, do you think the way you play your music will change? For instance, Rich will be playing electronic drums, Timfy and J will be playing like laser guitars maybe?

R – Maybe, what might happen is that’s where the cutting edge stuff goes and using more acoustic things is seen as more vintage. I think that’s quite particular in regards to drums as the concept behind them hasn’t really changed much. They’re definitely being made more efficently and to a higher quality but they’re still just a hollow tube with some skin on it. There might be a full on leap to fully electronic everything in future meaning that people will be even more surprised to see you using something like an acoustic drum kit.

Josh, you touched on people not going to gigs because of being able to watch videos on YouTube, so do you think they and other musical platforms such as Spotify and iTunes will play an even bigger part in future?

J – It’s definitely looking likely as the future of music as it is now. Nowadays it’s a lot less likely that you get a record deal, you release an album and everyone queues up at Virgin megastores to buy it. People are now so used to expecting that within a couple of days of an album being released someone will upload all the tracks to YouTube for free, sometimes even before the official release date of an album. It would be great if we as a community of fans could start pressuring YouTube to pay people fairly for their copyrights. Spotify are doing that to an extent but there’s definitely more that could be done.

I’m gonna probe your imaginations now. If you knew that the future was going to be exactly like a movie that’s set in the future, which movie would you pick and why?

R – What idyllic future movies are there? Everythings usually pretty dystopian.

J – There aren’t that many positive future films are there?

R – We’ll probably end up going back to some form of Stone Age anyway so let’s say Fern Gully or something along those lines.

Space tourism is being discussed currently so if Hacktivist could legitimately do a gig on another planet then which planet would you choose?

R – Easy one to say would be Uranus, then I could say “I Just Rocked Uranus”.

J – Yeah, we’ll take the low road on that one! Haha!

If time travel became a possibility in the future, what would Hacktivist do with that ability if they got their hands on it?

The cheekiest cymbal grab in history. Picture the scene, Rich is happily drumming away and then suddenly someone from the future appears and just… [J mimmicks someone grabbing a cymbal mid-performance]. Such trivial use of time travel I know.

R – You could maybe kill Adolf Hitler!

J – Have to be careful with that, there might be a ripple effect.

Something I know is in your future is your upcoming DJ set at Dundee University Student Union. I promised them I would ask about what they can expect from you guys?

R – Some tasty beats.

J – Yeah, it’s a pretty diverse mix. I think some people turn up and just expect heavy metal music the whole way through and are then quite shocked when there’s a fair bit of drum’n’ bass, jungle and house music. I think our DJ sets cover everything from Slipknot to Flat Beat.

Technology advances faster and faster all the time. Is there anything you guys would love to see invented?

R – Clean, renewable energy. I heard recently that it might be possible to harness power from the world’s oceans by tapping into them on a molecular level which if achieved would power the whole planet infinitely and indefinitely.

J – I would love for someone to invent a high gain stomp pedal that doesn’t create lots of buzzing noise when I’m playing.

If a company came to you and told you they wanted to create a virtual reality Hacktivist gig whereby people could put on a pair of goggles and see you guys “live” would you be game for that or would you rather people just kept coming to see you in real life?

R – If they sell loads of tickets then yeah, we’ll take a percentage of that! Haha!

J – As good as virtual reality will get, unless they’ve got someone there squirting other peoples sweat in your face then it’ll never be the full gig experience.

Regarding the gig on another planet, if you came across another civilization while you were there, what three foods would you want them to try?

J – Buckfast!

R – I would say chocolate, but that’s a little bit gay.

J – Mushrooms?

R – Yeah and Iowaska too!

J – Yeah, we’re gonna get next dimensional.

Would you guys ever be down with an alien or an android becoming the sixth member of Hacktivist?

R – Yeah, if they’ve got good vocals.

J – Imagine if they could sing chords, that would be crazy.

R – Or, if they had two sets of vocal chords and could sing two verses simultaneously then we could replace Ben and J.

J – Yeah, Sorry Ben and J!

Cool guys, it’s been a laugh. I’ll end by asking you the same last question that I asked Timfy and J. What does the future hold for Hacktivist?

J – There’s definitely gonna be more touring and more festivals.

R – We’re also going to be announced to do a special hometown show in Milton Keynes for Independent Venue Week. We are of course gonna keep the juices flowing and keep on writing too.

PT – Awesome guys. Thank you very much for your time.

Hacktivist: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube | spotify

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