Latest release: Hyperdialect (UNFD)Website: www.hacktivist.uk.com
British grime metal unit Hacktivist step back into the spotlight with their second full length release Hyperdialect. Coming six years after the previous issue, the appropriately-titled Outside the Box, it is the first recording for the line-up that now includes rapper Jot Maxi, who took over from Ben Marvin in 2017, and James Hewitt, who replaced founding member guitarist Timfy James in 2018. Their potent mix of British grime rap, djent and industrial metal is a style all their own, and we got Jot Maxi and rapper J Hurley on Zoom to discuss everything Hacktivist in 2021.
I have to admit that Hacktivist isn’t necessarily my thing, but I enjoyed the album. It’s a very powerful record. It’s not something that I would listen to a lot, but I got a lot out of it – the lyrics and the passion and the rage behind it really connected on a lot of levels.
J: Thank you so much. That means a lot to me, man.
It must be a big one for you too, because it has been a while.
J: Yeah it’s been way too long man. Obviously with members changing and stuff, we had to kind of reprogram ourselves, man. Redo everything. We already had a bunch of songs going, and then, when we changed the line-up, we had to scrap those songs and start again. That’s one of the reasons why it took so long. Obviously another reason is all this coronavirus shit. We had to hold back. We spoke to the record label and management, and they said that it’s not a good time to release an album mid-pandemic.
A lot of bands tell me that. In the end it was often what the label wanted them to do.
J: We’re a very live band. You have to see us live to really feel it, and because there’s no chance to play live, that’s why us and the label decided to hold back until we could tour, man.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for that, now?
J: It seems that way, yeah. We can only hope. In England there was going to be an announcement on the 21st of June that things were going back to normal, but they’ve just said they’re going to hold it back another four weeks.
What have you been spending your time with during the lock down in Britain?
J: Me, I’ve just been writing songs in my home demo studio, editing music videos. I’ve worked the whole way through the pandemic. I work on building sites, and that hasn’t ever stopped so I’ve had about four weeks off. The rest, I’ve just worked solid, man. Spent time with family, writing and recording.
What is the story behind the album? Is there a story behind the whole album, and where does it come from?
Jot: There’s no story really. I’ve said this quite a lot now, but with the first album, as a listener, it was Hacktivist really making their mark on the scene. The first album scanned the summit and targeted all the subjects, and now this album fires a missile at them all. As well as that, it’s the first album with James Hewitt and myself on it, so it’s the first album with Hactivist as it is now. It’s not a new line-up anymore – it’s the final line-up. It’s the first album for Hacktivist in the final form. No… final line-up, not final form! I think we’ll go through a few more transformations before we reach the final form.
You’ve changed but stayed true to the original style. It’s immediately identifiable as Hacktivist.
Jot: (Long pause) Agreed! We’ve combined grime with metal, or djent – whatever you want to call it – there’s a lot of rap metal that people are doing, but because we’ve got the grime style with metal, people aren’t doing it because people can’t do it. In Australia, do you have a drill scene? Are you aware of that?
Yes, but it’s not something that I’m really across.
Jot: Drill is something… I don’t really rate it very highly. I like the instrumentals, but the rap… drill is a very gangsta kind of rap. Not focusing so much on the level of lyrical ability, but more on violence and attitude. There are a lot of Australian drill rappers. Drill rappers, it doesn’t matter where they’re from for me, it’s not rap. It’s nursery rhymes.
You’re definitely going to get some clapbacks for that.
Jot: Let them come. Let them come.
Hacktivist is very much about seeking the truth and questioning everything, trusting no one and not following the herd. You can go too far with that, obviously. We’ve seen a lot of people go down strange rabbit holes that lead to all kinds of dangerous situations. So when you say seek the truth, are there people who are looking in the wrong direction?
Jot: Yeah definitely! Do your research. Don’t become one of those tin-foil hat wearing… (J laughs). Do your research. Don’t just not believe everything and follow every conspiracy, because that’s the other extreme. That’s just being a sheep in the other direction!
People have put a lot of that down to coronavirus. Is that coming from boredom or insanity from being locked up. Where do you think that’s coming from?
J: People are finding anything hard to believe, man. No one knows what to believe, so some get stuck down this rabbit hole of conspiracy. I’ve even had to unfollow people because they’ve just got so deep into it, man. As a band we like to target things like that, the government and stuff, but we still know how to have a good time. You can’t just go to the Moon yet, and chill out on the Moon. We have to live on planet Earth, so me, personally, I’m aware of everything that’s going on, I don’t believe anything, but I’ll still try and have a good time on this world. I’m not all doom and gloom, man. We have to live in this world. I live in my own kind of bubble, but on this world. As long as people are realising what’s going on, man. We’re destroying planet Earth. It’s harsh, and you’ve got to be aware of it. I don’t think there’s enough media attention on anything that really matters. You’ve been getting it bad in your area, in Australia – forest fires and flood and that shit’s bad man, but people don’t seem to do much about it. There is plenty we can do it about it. There is money, on this planet, to do stuff about it, but not enough’s being done. There’s things I’m not happy about, but, as I said, I still gotta live.
It’s a call to arms, obviously, but there is a lot of fun on this record also.
J: Yeah, man. There’s definitely some fun on there. Especially tracks like Lifeform… that’s more about being yourself and being open to the fashion you follow, whether you follow any or you’re just being yourself. There’s definitely some fun in there and there’s some guitar solos and stuff on there. We thought that would be good to whack them in there.
Jot: It’s funny but the track that’s the least serious for me, somebody who heard a preview release of the album said that the darkest racak is definitely that one. Ultima Dies. And I said, Oh wow, really? It’s actually meant to be a skit. It’s kind of a joke for me. That one was not even meant to be serious, like a dodgy interlude. So there’s definitely fun, but maybe some people just don’t get it.
Perhaps not, but at the same time, you’re putting your art out there and it’s up to the listener to create their own meaning from that. I guess he’s just taken something from it that you didn’t know was there, or saw something that you weren’t able to see.
Jot: That’s the beautiful thing. Everyone can have their own interpretation of ths album. Hopefully everyone sees it like you: angry and hungry, but fun.
So what happens now? The album’s out and you’re still not able to hit the stage, so what’s the immediate plan for the band?
J: More music, I think. We’ve got a couple of tracks floating around. We might work on another EP, or maybe another album. We’ve got a show that’s definitely going ahead, the album launch show. That’s outside and social distanced, so I’m pretty sure that’s going ahead. We’re going to practice for that and get the set tight.
Jot: This album was delayed so much that I think we’re all ready to start making new music again. If we don’t end up jumping on the bus and going somewhere soon, I think we’ll just put all that energy into writing again as soon as we can.
Do you get to work together in the same room much at the moment?
J: Funnily enough, we don’t really. Jot lives in France, and we’re all UK based but a couple of hours apart. But because of this whole social distance, coronavirus thing, being in the same room together hasn’t been very viable. We’ve kind of just been writing at home separately and sending it across to each other and adding bits. We’ve teamed up a few times. Me and Rich linked up, and me, James and Josh have linked up, but we’re all looking forward to being in the same room and having a practise and getting some stuff done. We just haven’t been able to for a while now. It’s been a bit crazy.
Let’s hope we get to have you down here again soon. Maybe by then you’ll have another album and you’ll be able to do both of them for us.
J: Really enjoyed myself last time I was there. We can hope and pray that we get to come over there soon, it’s such a beautiful country.
Jot: I’ve never been. It will be my first time over there when we come out to play there.
When you were here last time, it was a pretty successful little jaunt.
J: Yeah man, we’ve been over there twice. We played the Soundwave festival and we also toured with Enter Shakari. When we played Soundwave festival, we played at 11 in the morning and the tent was packed every single time.