INTERVIEW WITH HORNET
TOLLEF RIKJE-PEARSON (GUITAIRST) AND MAX THOMPSON (BASSIST)
‘Skies Are Falling’, the debut album from London metal band HORNET has garnered some great reviews. The seamless blend of punk, metal and rock makes it the ideal record to blast out of your windows and is well worth checking out as it’s packed with roof raising anthems. Our reviewer Becky Brown gave ‘Skies Are Falling’ 3/5 and said “Hornet have stormed into the metal scene with a whole new style, showing us a mix of punk, metal and rock that works perfectly together.”
Metal-Rules.com recently sat down with Hornet’s guitarist Tollef Rikje-Pearson and bassist Max Thompson to discuss their new single, their debut album, the band’s creative influences and more. Read on for the full interview…
Your debut album ‘Skies Are Falling’ is getting great reviews, but what kind of feedback have you been getting from fans and new listeners?
Tollef: It’s been pretty positive so far, the thing for us is that we are very proud of the record; it’s something we all worked very hard on. The fact is, the fans are enjoying it and that’s the most important thing.
Max: Sure, reviews are great but the fans make the band what it is and they know it’s a solid record, it’s of no concern to us if the critics don’t like us, who gives a fuck? More and more people turn out to the shows, lose their minds and sing the words, so we must be doing something right… right?
You recorded the album earlier this year right and released it in July, tell me a bit about your time in the studio.
Max: Yes. I personally loved being in the studio, especially as I co-produced. When I’m in the studio, I’m in charge, you know? Someone has to be, and the end result was worth it.
Tollef: I agree, as a band we got what we wanted. It was a great experience, what other job is that much fun. To be honest I never saw much of the other guys in the studio, we allowed each other the space to get the job done but we enjoyed the hotel rooms and parties afterwards. Although I never did get that bird’s number…
When you entered the studio, were all the songs finished or did you work on parts in the studio with your producer?
Tollef: If someone had an idea for a song then we tried it and if it felt right we did it. Max had a lot of great ideas for drum beats and fills, as did Phil Kinman our producer. I pretty much decided to rewrite all my lead parts in the studio to push myself. The songs grew naturally, nothing was forced.
Max: I also had major input on the vocal approach, except for on ‘Storm The Gates’. Joe (vocals) came up with the melody. Funny thing is he didn’t use any backing track but worked it out on piano with Phil Kinman. ‘Storm The Gates’ was a last minute addition to the album which a lot of people see as our best song.
Do you guys write as a band? How do you approach songwriting?
Max: We always have a different process. There isn’t a set approach for us. Usually Tollef or myself will have an initial guitar riff and then as a band we grow the song from there. Our focus is to make it as good as possible. Some songs come together right away but some take quite a while. ‘Storm The Gates’ for example took a lot of days going back and forth with ideas, our producer, Phil Kinman would say something like “Maybe the solo should go like this” but then a song like ‘Skies Are Falling’ came together quickly.
Speaking of ‘Storm The Gates’ you’ve recently released this as your second single. Listening to the song, this is a different direction for you guys, much softer and mature. Why the change of style?
Tollef: As Max said, ‘Storm The Gates’ was a last minute addition to the album. I’d written the music a few years ago, influenced by the final episode of LOST (laughs). At first we tried it with heavy vocals and it didn’t feel quite right to us… Joe wanted to take a different approach to the lyrics and vocals so that’s what we did. As a band we are always striving to better ourselves and try new things which I feel we have with ‘Storm The Gates’. There is no set style for us, as long as it feels right, we’ll try it!
So the song wasn’t originally going to be on the album, what made you put it on?
Max: Correct, it wasn’t originally going to be recorded but after a music publisher heard us play it he said “Fuck me, that’s a brilliant song”, so we ran with it. I couldn’t be happier that we did.
You’ve just released a lyric video for the song too, am I right?
Max: That’s right; you can check it out on YouTube or at our website, www.officialhornet.com.
You held the single launch for ‘Storm The Gates’ last month in London. How did that go?
Tollef: It couldn’t have gone better. It was an intimate show for the fans and the venue sold out shortly after doors. Our shows have always been an all-generations sort of thing. We are a band that stylistically crosses a lot of barriers and generational gaps.
Do you draw creative inspiration from anywhere else, not just music?
Max: Absolutely. That’s something we all do, especially Joe in terms of writing lyrics. Both Joe and Alex (drummer) are very much into Anime, comic books, computer games, those kinds of things… superheroes in particular.
Tollef: Personally I draw a lot of inspiration from movies and TV shows. I am a huge fan of ‘Pirates of The Caribbean’ and funnily enough a lot of people say I look like Orlando Bloom. But I also love reading fiction; I love things that have dark or gothic aesthetics.
Max: WWE has had a big influence on the band too, at the end of the day people love to be entertained, that is something Hornet and WWE has in common, we are both entertainment.
As a band you’re all very creative individuals, not just musically but in general. Who are your influences outside of music?
Max: Tollef and myself are heavily influenced by business so guys like Vince McMahon, Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones. Also, Gene Simmons from a business and music perspective… man’s a genius.
Tollef: I am a big fan of screen writers like J. J. Abrams and producers like Jerry Bruckheimer.
Music is big in Movies, TV and Games and is very important for bands. Is there a particular Movie or TV show you’d love to write a song specifically for?
Tollef: Working with WWE would be a dream come true. I know the guys would love to be in various video games as they’re big gamers. To be honest we’d be happy to get exposure in any movie, TV show or game (laughs).
What shows have you guys got coming up? Have you guys got any touring plans for the end of 2013 or early 2014?
Max: We’ve got one final show of the year to celebrate what’s been a very successful 2013 for us. That’s going to be at The Borderline in London on the 12th December. Tickets are selling fast so it’s gonna be a real party. Plans for tours next year will be released in good time so check our website or Facebook for dates and tickets.
Lastly, is there anyone in particular you’re listening to right now?
Max: Right now, Eminem he’s a huge influence on me.
Tollef: Me too. I’ve sessioned Papa Roach’s latest album ‘The Connection’ and of course the new Avenged Sevenfold and Alter Bridge records.
You can check out Hornet at www.officialhornet.com or watch the lyric video for their new single ‘Storm The Gates’ here: