Heart of Steel: Interviews

HATESPHERE Guitarist Peter Lyse Hansen

Interview by Lord of the Wasteland
Pictures courtesy of www.hatesphere.com

After a bit of a surprise (vocalist Jacob Bredahl was scheduled to call), I was given the chance to speak with Peter Lyse Hansen, founding member and lead guitarist of Danish thrashers, Hatesphere. Their excellent new CD, BALLET OF THE BRUTE, was sent to me by our good friends at Century Media Records and when asked if I wanted to speak with the band, I thought it would be cool as they had yet to chat with Metal Rules. Peter and I discuss the Danish metal scene, Canadian border troubles and working at day cares.

Peter, I have to say that the new CD is kicking my ass! This is the first CD I have heard from Hatesphere and it rocks, man.


It’s out in North America on the 27th of July, but I guess it’s already out in Europe and Japan?

Yeah, I think it was out the 22nd of July in Japan.


Since the Europeans have had a chance to hear it already, how have the initial reviews been?

They’ve been excellent, actually. We have gotten good reviews for our first three albums, but this one is even better. Of course there are some that don’t like it, but by now, I think they expect something from us and if they don’t get what direction we go, they get a bit disappointed. But mostly people are really liking it.



Well, Hatesphere started out as a death metal band but over the course of the three albums, you have moved more towards a thrash sound. Why is that?

It just felt natural. When we started out, we were just a cover band and then we started making our own music and at the time, most of us listened to death metal so we played old school death metal. Not fast death metal, but death metal anyhow. I think we just evolved into playing faster and moved away from the death metal thing, but we still have some death metal things in our music.

Absolutely. “Deathtrip” and “Vermin” just rip your head off!

Yeah, they’re excellent.



There are two covers tacked on the end of BALLET OF THE BRUTE. I got the Anthrax cover right away (“Caught in a Mosh”), but “Bark at the Moon” drove me nuts! It sounded SO familiar but I just couldn’t figure out what it was because you guys had changed it so much! I was actually pumping gas into my car when it hit me what the song was (laughs).

(Laughs) That was actually the whole idea about doing that. It would be boring to make cover songs that sound exactly like the originals, so we had the opportunity to remake it “Hatesphere style,” if you like.



I found out afterwards that both of these songs were recorded on an EP the band released late last year in Europe called SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING BORROWED AND SOMETHING BLACK. Are there any plans to release this in North America?

I don’t think it will be released by a company. It’s available through mail-order right now. We’ve been with Century Media over there for this album and BLOODRED HATRED and I don’t think they wanted to release the EP because they wanted to use the two cover songs for bonus tracks for this album.



The cover songs were actually a surprise for me because there is no mention of them on the cover of the promo or in the press sheet.

Strange. Well it’s a nice surprise, but they should have written that they were on there.



BALLET OF THE BRUTE is kind of a unique title. Who gets credit for naming it?

It’s actually a lyric on the album, but I can’t remember for which song (laughs). We thought “Ballet of the Brute” wasn’t fitting for the song name but when we stumbled across it again, I thought it would be great to use for the album title and the other guys said, “yeah why not.” Some people think it’s kind of crappy but…

I think it suits the music well.


There is a sample at the beginning of “500 Dead People” that sounds like it was taken from a movie. Where is it from?

That’s from a documentary about a serial killer called Richard Kuklinski. He was better known as “The Iceman.” He was a family man who was a contract killer for the mob in the evenings. Kind of a double life. We saw that program just before we went into the studio and we managed to get some samples from there. We just thought it was a cool sample and we wrote a lyric for it.



You also have a special guest on the song, “Warhead”—Jacob Hansen from Invocator.

We’ve known him since he produced our debut album. We wanted to use him as a guest vocalist on BLOODRED HATRED but he couldn’t make it at that time, so this time we just directed him at the studio and made him sing (laughs)! We’re all Invocator fans, so it was cool to have him sing on one of our records.



The new CD was recorded at Jailhouse Studio once again. Why does the band have such a fondness for this studio?

Yes. We recorded BLOODRED HATRED there, too. The sound was good and the whole atmosphere of the recordings was great. Tommy Hansen is not just a great producer, but a great person and musician, too. For me, who has got to be there for most of the recordings, it’s cool to have a place where you think you are safe and the surroundings are nice and relaxed.

And close to home.

Yeah, exactly. That was one of the reasons, but because we like the sound that he does—he doesn’t make us sound like all the other bands in Denmark. He’s got a different background.



He’s a power metal guy—Helloween, Gamma Ray…

Yes, exactly. He’s a power metal guy and the others are more death metal, thrash backgrounds. That’s okay, but that power metal angle could be used for something good in the music. Different ideas and so on.



The guitars sound very clear and powerful on this record and I suppose his power metal background is the cause.

(Laughs) Actually, no. When we recorded BLOODRED HATRED, it had a very clear sound…a very clean sound. He felt that we wanted that on this one and he was surprised when we told him that we wanted this one to be more dirty, more brutal. At first he had another mix that we didn’t like that much because it was too clean for this album. Our music has evolved into something more aggressive.



There are some interesting things that I thought the band did on this record. For example, the scratchy, sampled drum sound at the opening of the album. This isn’t something typical of a band that plays the kind of music you do. Was that Tommy’s influence or was the band trying to experiment with different things?

I think it’s a bit of each. Whoever comes in with the right idea at the right time. Sometimes we like the idea and sometimes we don’t, but as I said before, Tommy comes in with some cool ideas that we would not have thought of before because he has a different background. The thing with the drums…a tiny little microphone was put up in the room where we recorded it and it gets all the noise. Every time we would record the drums, it was there and there was a track on the mix that had that sound and it sounded kind of trashy. We thought, “Hey, let’s use it and then come in with the real sound and smash everything!” (laughs)

There are also two new band members making their debut on BALLET OF THE BRUTE—second guitarist Henrik Jacobsen and drummer Anders Gyldenohr. How did you end up getting these guys in the band? Were they old friends or in other bands that you knew?

Yeah. Just after we recorded the BLOODRED HATRED album, Ziggy, our old guitarist, left and we got Henrik instead. Jacob [Bredahl. vocals] had been producing the debut album of Henrik’s other band, Koldborn, and it’s through there that they know each other. Jacob suggested we try him out, so that’s his story. And Anders, he’s also from our town, Aarhus, where we live. He’s played in another band called Grope, who played thrash way back. When Morten [Toft Hansen], our last drummer, got out of the band, Anders said he wanted to be with us. We tried him out and he sounded excellent, which was cool. We knew him a bit before so it wasn’t that difficult to get him in the band.



Morten is now in the band Raunchy, whose latest CD, CONFUSION BAY, I actually reviewed a couple months back. How did he go from the aggressive sound of Hatesphere to the more modern sound of Raunchy (laughs)?

(Laughs) Well, he’s played in Raunchy for awhile. What did you think of the CD?

I liked it actually! It wasn’t anything what I expected and it’s really catchy. I gave it a 4 out 5, I think? It’s heavy but it’s catchy.

Yeah, exactly. I like it, too.


Why did Ziggy decide to leave the band?

He wasn’t much into playing live. He’s more of a guy who wants to be in the studio—he’s a sound engineer. He wasn’t much about driving around in small buses and getting drunk and living like punks for a month. I just think he wanted something different with the music a bit, as well, so it was good for us to get another guitar player.



Speaking of playing live, Hatesphere has some festival stops planned for August, but what is happening the rest of July?

Right now, we’re taking a summer break and relaxing at home. We’ve just been on a month-long tour in Europe, first with Exodus and then with Crowbar afterwards. I think on the 13th of August, we’re going on an eight or nine gig run through Germany including the Party San and Fun and Crust Festivals. Then we’ve got ten gigs in Denmark afterwards and then we have some other tour plans that are just not confirmed for the rest of the year. Hopefully, next year, we want to come over to North America.

And Canada, right (laughs)?

(Laughs) Exactly. Actually, I’ve heard it’s a bit difficult to get into Canada through the border? Is that true?

Well, we’ve made the news a bit lately, yes (laughs). In Flames and Deicide had some problems last year and there were a few this year as well. Kataklysm, Hatebreed, Drowning Pool…I can’t remember which other ones. Usually, it isn’t the fault of the border, though. It’s someone in the road crew or the band that has some history and it comes back to haunt them. Most people get through without any problems but it’s only when a band doesn’t get through is when you really hear about it because then it becomes “newsworthy.” You only hear about the bad things…not the good (laughs).

I see, okay. We really hope to go to Canada and the U.S.A. We’ve got a lot of people over there who want us to come and it’s a new market for us—we’ve only toured in Europe. We NEED to go and we WANT to go!



How was the tour with Exodus anyway?

It was cool! It was fun to play with a “classic” band that has been there since the beginning. It was great. They were nice guys. Their bus burnt down, though.


I read about that! Any other interesting stories from that tour?

Nothing that you would find funny unless you were there (laughs).

(Laughs) Their new CD is killer, too! Great old school thrash. Glad to have them back.

Yeah it’s really good!


Along with Exodus and Crowbar, Hatesphere have previously toured with bands like Vader, Entombed and The Haunted. Which bands have been the coolest to you or taught you the most about performing live or survival on the road?

After we did the month-long tour with The Haunted, I think that was the coolest one. The people were nice and the gigs were nice, too. It was our first big tour and they helped us out a lot that way. The crowds on that tour were really surprised that the opening band was kicking that much ass. It was the first time that the European audience heard about us, so it was excellent. It opened a lot of doors.



What do you think when you hear people saying that bands like The Haunted, Carnal Forge and yourselves are helping to shape a new wave of thrash?

It has been on a comeback for about five years. There have been a lot of thrash bands but some of them are hard to differ between. It’s sort of a cross between melodic death and death metal and now this metalcore thing that’s going on. I hate it but what the fuck (laughs)?

It’s huge over here…

And here, too!

Is it starting to get big in Europe now, too?

Yeah! Very big!

It seems like every new band that comes out in North America now is metalcore.

We’ve been at a couple festivals where it’s all metalcore kids. They love it!


Is thrash a rare thing in Denmark? Is death metal the “big thing,” or what type of metal is the dominant one?

It’s kind of difficult to say because Denmark isn’t that big of a metal country.


That’s true. There aren’t a lot of metal bands that seem to come from that country. King Diamond is the only one that comes to mind (laughs).

(Laughs) Yeah, King Diamond, Pretty Maids…

Oh yeah! I forgot about Pretty Maids!

They’re old guys (laughs). Thrash isn’t that big in Denmark but we are pretty popular here because we tour a lot and kick ass wherever we play. We’ve only got maybe one or two other bands that are playing thrash. Death metal isn’t even that big in Denmark anymore. We’ve got more modern bands like Raunchy and Mnemic who just got their breakthrough, but all in all, Denmark is quite a small country in metal but it’s getting better, much better, in the last couple of years.


Well, every country that surrounds Denmark—Germany, Poland, Scandinavia—are all such big powerhouses in metal. It seems inevitable that bands would start to pop up in Denmark, too!

(Laughs) We have a lot of influences.



Are there any side projects that the band is involved in or do you all focus your energy on Hatesphere?

I concentrate on Hatesphere. I don’t have time for more but we still rehearse and play with other people that are fun projects you could call “bands.” Jacob is playing in a hardcore band called Barcode. Henrik has been in Koldborn, a death metal band in Denmark. Our drummer, Anders, has played in a band called Grope but I don’t think they play anymore. All in all, Hatesphere is the main band for all of us.


Do you still work jobs to pay the bills or is Hatesphere enough to get by?

(Laughs) No!

(Laughs) Not there yet, huh?

(Laughs) No, not there yet. I study right now so I’m not working.

Oh you’re in school?

Yeah. I have actually done the most non-metal thing, though. I’ve worked with small children in a daycare. Henrik, the other guitarist, is doing that right now. A couple of the others haven’t got jobs right now, but it is most certain we cannot live off our music right now.


Ahh, it will happen eventually (laughs)…

Yeah, hopefully (laughs).



Before Hatesphere was known as Hatesphere, you were called Necrosis and released a couple of demos. Do you ever pull those out and listen to them?

I usually laugh at them. It’s funny. It’s cool to hear how you sounded once and even better to hear how you have evolved into something much better.



Before you were known as Necrosis, you called the band Cauterized. Why did you decide to make all the name changes?

First of all, because we didn’t like the old name. We thought Necrosis sounded too death metal…like an old Carcass song or something (laughs). Old Carcass is okay but just not for our music. When we got the record deal for the first album, we thought it was time to make a new start and changed our name. We thought of the name Hatesphere and thought, hey, what the fuck, let’s use it!



Who are your main influences that made you want to play guitar?

I listened to a lot of old hard rock things…Def Leppard, Motley Crue. They are some of my influences. I’ve always listened to stuff like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. I’ve always listened to Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and more death metal like Obituary, Death, Morbid Angel. Now in my older days (laughs), I listen to all kinds of music but mostly metal.



You’re on Scarlet Records in Europe but Century Media in North America. How are things going with Century Media so far?

They’re going good. Century Media is bigger than Scarlet so that is a big difference. On the other hand, Scarlet is closer to us. They are really nice guys and we know them. They have done what they can with Hatesphere and that’s okay. It’s cool to be on Century Media in the States because I’ve heard that they are one of the best labels for metal over there. We’ve fulfilled our contract with Scarlet so the next album is going to be on another label.



Well that is all I have for you today, Peter. Thank you very much for the call and good luck with the CD!

Thank you!

I hope to see you guys over here in North America soon!

We hope to see you, too! Take care.

Thanks to Heather at Century Media (www.centurymedia.com) for setting up the interview and for the promo CD.

Hatesphere official site: www.hatesphere.com

Read my review of Hatesphere’s BALLET OF THE BRUTE