Latest release: EP+ (UNFD/Warner)
Band site: www.hacktivist.uk.com
Hacktivist are a five-piece band from Buckinghamshire, UK, which formed at the end of 2011. In January 2012, they released the track ‘Cold Shoulders’ on YouTube. Within one week of posting it had gained more than 100,000 views. Fusing elements of djent, nu-metal, grime and hip-hop, the band have divided audiences throughout their homeland in equal measure. In preparation for their appearance at this year’s Soundwave Festival, they recently released their new mini-album EP+ in Australia. EP+ collects and remasters their debut EP (long sold out of its original CD format, and deleted in digital form), along with a selection of bonus tracks. Drummer Richard Hawking told Loud about their forthcoming debut full-length, the festival, cynics and more.
Q: What’s the latest on the writing of your debut album?
A: Well, we’ve got a fair bit of material coming together, but we just need to kind of compile it all and turn a few bits into more like, solid tracks and stuff. But yeah, the juices are flowing; everything’s kind of coming along.
Q: Given your music contains a unique meshing of styles, what’s the writing process like? How do you incorporate the hip-hop elements into that process, for instance?
A: It kind of follows a few different patterns. I mean, obviously initial ideas kind of spark off the process, whether it’s more based on a certain riff, or a certain pattern in a track, which then leads to vocals and stuff. Or whether it’s like more of a vocal concept that’s been created, and then everything sort of follows that train. It’s a fairly mixed process for us. (The hip-hop elements) are all throughout really. I mean, that’s quite the majority of the way in which the lyrics are delivered in the more recent things we’ve been coming together with, it’s been delivered mainly through the kind of hip-hop style delivery. So it’s all throughout the process.
Q: Your initial EP created a sizeable buzz. How does the new material compare to those songs?
A: It certainly follows on nicely from what we were looking at on the EP. I mean, it’s certainly (got some) similar ideas and stuff that we were, same ideas that we were going to be drawing on for the EP obviously, we will still have similar feelings and stuff, for the stuff we’re still creating. So there’s similarities, (but) we’re following a few new kind of directions in terms of some of the tunings, and to do with the overall tone and stuff like that of the tracks. It should be going in a little bit of a… Some more interesting thoughts, but it’s still more of the same stuff.
Q: Can we expect the road-testing of said material during the Australian tour?
A: We’re hoping to have some new stuff to be able to road-test, definitely. I think we’re just making sure that everything is all tied together before we can know whether it’ll be ready to actually play or not.
Q: This will be the band’s inaugural visit Down Under too.
A: We’re so excited, this is obviously our first trip over to somewhere as far away as Australia as a band. I understand it’s meant to be a really hot time of year as well, so I’m sure the atmosphere will be like a really good summer vibe. So I’m sure everyone will be really up for having a good time and getting down with us. Can’t wait for it; really excited. The weather has been pretty miserable around here recently, so it’ll be nice to get some sun. I’ve actually got some family that live out there, so I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to go and visit them. They live over in Brisbane way, so that’s gonna be cool, ‘cause that’s the first stop on the tour.
Q: You’re somewhat of an unknown quantity to the majority of Soundwave punters. How do you approach that from a performance perspective when you’re trying to catch people’s attention?
A: (Laughs) Well, I suppose either way we’ve just got to go out and do what we do, really. We’re going to be really excited about this opportunity anyway, so I think our energy level’s gonna be really high, we’re gonna be psyched up to play. So really we just go out there and try and get the crowd involved. If people have seen us, they’ll kind of be ready to get involved with the tracks they know. And so we’re hoping that will spread throughout the rest of the crowd. We’re ready to get involved; we just want to go smash it hopefully.
Q: Do you typically find yourselves to be the odd one out when you play festivals, or do you think Hacktivist presents enough of a feel-good vibe to pique people’s interest?
A: Yeah, a bit of both actually. We’ve played the odd billing where we felt ever so slightly out of place. But in fact, there was one particular festival we played, which was over here in England. We turned up on the stage we were on, and most of the rest of the artists on that stage were kind of based on like tech-y music, but more jazz and funk-based. And then there was more like a load of ska and stuff like that, ska and reggae. So we were thinking we’d probably bomb, people wouldn’t be interested in us. But I think it certainly caught people’s attention, so I suppose that goes in our favour. If we get people’s attention, then we can win them over with just the rest of the music, then that’s all good.
Q: You must be somewhat accustomed to polarising people by now, though. Some magazines have actively championed the band, while certain high-profile blogs have lambasted your music.
A: (Laughs) Yeah, we’re kind of used to it. I mean, as long as people are talking about you, right? (laughs) But it’s all good. Yeah, people who have heard us, they hold their opinion quite strongly. So yeah, I think our fans and the people that actually follow us, it’s a really solid basis. We’re really glad for that.
Q: When you were creating and devising your sound, once you’d established the type of band you wanted to be, were you mindful that such a mixture of styles was going to infuriate some metal fans and critics?
A: (Laughs) Yeah, I suppose it’s always a given that there’s going to be people, particularly in some areas of the music community, but also the metal community, there’s some people who are quite set in their beliefs about how certain genres should sound. So I suppose it was always going to be a bit of a mixed bag of responses. Overall, the press here in the UK have responded really, really well. We were fortunate enough to have some great exposure in some of our rock and metal publications, and actually we ended up featuring in an article in the arts section for one of the more prominent newspapers as well. So we were quite pleased to have such wide coverage, but also, overall, mainly positive. It’s really great to have that behind us.
Q: Do you tend to read many of reviews of your work anyway? Or does it not faze you at all?
A: A little bit of both really. I suppose we’re always interested to know what people have made of, whether it’s our performances or whether it’s the things that we’re putting out for the public. Yeah, to a certain extent; it’s only someone else’s opinion really. I mean, well, if it’s giving us a good, solid review about something that we’ve done then it’s always considered for general feedback. But then, if it’s something that’s completely slating us we don’t really take it to heart.
Q: Indeed. Any famous last words?
A: Just can’t wait to get out to Australia, it’s going to be a great experience. We’re psyched up for it.
You can catch Hacktivist at Soundwave:
22/2: RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
23/2: Olympic Park, Sydney NSW
28/2: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
1/3: Boynthon Park, Adelaide SA
3/3: Claremont Showground, Perth WA