Guitarist/band leader Pepe – Hatesphere
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing the promo pictures.
Denmark’s deadliest thrash metal weapon Hatesphere released their 8th album last year called MURDERLUST. I had the amazing opportunity to talk to the only remaining original member guitarist/band leader Pepe and together we handled subjects like the new album, the co-operation with legendary producer Tue Madsen and the line-ups that have come and gone amongst other things. Enjoy!
Hi Pepe, how are you today? Are you ready to kick off the interview?
Hi there, sure man – ready as I can be…
MURDERLUST is the name of the brand new Hatesphere album. How long did it take to write and record the album?
The song writing took us about 6 months and the recordings around two weeks, give or take.
Who in the band writes the lyrics and what are the lyrics about this time?
Our vocalist, Esse, does the main part of the lyrics, and this time the main theme has been murder from different perspectives. Not only the act itself but also the story behind, why does this person kill, why is this the only way out for him? We also deal with murder in more metaphorical ways. Ideological murder etc.
Hatesphere tour quite heavily, where do you find the time to write new material?
When not touring, hehe… Actually when we decide that it’s time to record a new album, we start very focused on the song writing. Every time we have a break, we rehearse and make new music.
Do you think that the band has maintained the same musical course as on earlier albums or do you think the band have developed anything musicwise on MURDERLUST?
We have evolved a lot from our first album and forward, and we continue to do so between our current albums. If we didn’t, our music would end up being indifferent to both us but also our fans. Evolving for us doesn’t mean big steps but for us the difference lays in the details in the songs. We always focus on vary our songs, so they are interesting for us – we want it to be songs that you can listen to a lot of times without loosing interest, and we want it to be songs that stays in your head. Every album describes certain periods of our lives, and you can hear that our inspirations have been different from album to album. On this new one we have gone both back to our roots but also focused on the rock element of our music. The sound is more raw and real, the music is more straight to your face. We haven’t used that much time editing our recordings, we have focused more on getting a live feeling in it. All in all the album sounds really brutal.
The song “Fear Me” was featured online at youtube what did the fans think of the song?
Both that song and the title track was made available on Youtube before the album was released. Most of the fans really liked it. As always you cant make everyone satisfied but mainly fans really liked it – and they liked the different steps we took on “Fear Me”. The slow, evil atmosphere that covers that song hasnt been heard from us before, so that was a new step for us.
HATESPHERE Fear Me [Modern Thrash Metal Pre-Listening]
Have you felt any pressure from the fans to deliver something extra ordinary this time?
Nope… we always feel the biggest pressure from ourselves. Nobody wants the album to be better than we do, and when you have done as many albums, as we have, you also don’t think that much about the reactions from fans anymore. If we are satisfied the fans should be as well.
Do you think that your older fans are going to like the new album?
Some of them yes – actually most of them, hehe. And obviously, some wont like it… that’s how it always is. The main part of the fans seem to like it though, and I would say as well that if you like the older HateSphere sound, you would definitely like this new stuff as well.
The band also put out a video diary on youtube and facebook from the recording sessions. Were there many fans that followed it?
We have pretty much traffic on our Facebook page, so yes, I think lots of people have seen it. More people wanna see music videos though but the “behind the scenes”-footage is pretty popular as well.
Where does the title MURDERLUST come from? Does the title mean anything special to the band?
The album title refers to the different aspects of murder. The act itself but also the story behind it. Why do people kill, why do they choose the victims they do, etc.?
What do you think of the cover art work? Do you think it reflects the music well?
It is one of my favorite HateSphere covers. I think this time we actually succeeded in getting the title and the cover – and the atmosphere of the songs – to fit together really well.
Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the songs?
Yes, we have plans of that sort. We just need to find out the details and a new video will be shot within long.
You threw a release party for the album how was the party? Did you perform live?
When the album was released we were actually on tour through Europe with Hypocrisy, so we didn’t hold a release party in that sense. Instead we played a release show in Denmark, where we played a lot of new songs mixed with the old classics.
What can you tell us about the two bonus songs that are featured on the limited version of the album? What are the songs called? Besides the songs are there any more bonus stuff available on the limited version?
The bonus stuff on the limited edition is these two songs, no more, no less. The first songs is a pre-production version of the titletrack, “Murderlust”, and the second one is a live version of the old classic, “500 Dead People”. Both songs are special in that sense that I find it exciting to see how the pre-production songs very from the final version on the album plus I like the live version as well, as it captures a lot of the HateSphere values in one song. We are a live band, we love to play live, and on this version you can easily hear that. On top of that the song was recorded at a very special show, we did, in a parking garage in Denmark. If you have checked out the video for “Resurrect with a vengeance”, you will know, how it looked… as it was recorded there as well.
Are there any plans on releasing the album on vinyl?
Yes, the album has already been released on vinyl via Supreme Chaos Records – use this link to buy it:
You are now signed to Massacre Records. How come you chose to join forces with them?
We were searching for a new label, and from Day 1 Massacre Records really showed a lot of interest in the band. They love our music and they are 100% behind us, so it was quite natural to choose them. In this point of our career, we focus on getting a label that are ready to back us up, and Massacre really wanna do that. If the label are happy, we are happy, so in that sense we are really pleased with the decision to sign with them.
Why did you leave Napalm Records?
Well, I guess Napalm wasn’t that interested in releasing us anymore, and we really want a label that wanna support us… there you have it…
What are the biggest differences between working with MR and NR?
Napalm is a big company run by a lot of people – with a bigger budget than Massacre. They are a rising company that got an increasing number of bigger bands that sell quite well and earn in some well-deserved money for the label. Massacre is smaller but very, very dedicated. They release music they like themselves, and in that sense you already have the difference. They don’t release music just to earn money – even though they naturally have that in mind as well – but they release the music, because they love it.
Have you read any review of MURDERLUST yet? What have the media to say about your work? And do you and the band care about what media and critics have to say about the band?
Naturally I care if everybody hates our album but luckily that’s not the case. I know that not everybody likes our music – if they did, we would be multimillionaires, and we would be doing this interview on a a fancy hotel somewhere – but I look on the general tendency. If the main part of the reviews are great, we have succeeded. The reviews have been really great so far, and the fans seem to like it as well, so we really cant complain!
Personally I think that MURDERLUST is a brilliant album. Are you happy with the outcome of the album?
Absolutely. I love it!!!
How does it feel to be called Denmark’s deadliest thrash metal weapon?
Quite good, hehe!!!
Studio and production
How come you chose to record the album in Antfarm Studios?
We have worked with Tue numerous times before – actually we have worked with him one way or the other on the last five albums plus a mini-album we did ten years ago… plus our second demo tape back in 1997, hehe. We know him well, he knows us and our music, and the recordings always run really smoothly, and the atmosphere is super relaxed but naturally also very professional. I guess we are a great match.
Tue Madsen produced the disc and how is it to work with Madsen? Which is his strongest feature as producer?
See my answer above his strongest feature is that he is a great musician himself, and as he knows our music very well, he always come up with a lot of great ideas on how to improve it. On top of that he lives right in my neighborhood, so that really helps as well, hehe
Who mixed and mastered the disc? Were any of the members in the band part of that?
Tue Madsen did that as well…We always come with our inputs though.
All of the members left the band back in 2007, what happened and was the departures expected?
There was actually no big drama but when people grow older, they get different priorities in their lives. Same thing here. We had two members with children and they were tired of being that long time away from their families. At the same time some wanted to prioritize their regular jobs instead of playing in the band. Quite understandable as not many can make a living from playing metal – not many does at least Anyway, at the time we couldn’t imagine ourselves playing less, so we decided to part ways and get new members, who wanted to do this as much as we did. Nowadays, three of us got two children each and other stuff (as full time jobs, studies etc.) play a big role as well, so we have naturally stepped a bit down compared to what we did 10 years ago. But we still wanna do this as much as possible.
Who own the band name?
The people of Indonesia.
And once again in 2010 the same thing happened, what was your thoughts when that happened?
It’s never funny to change members, so it was hard work both mentally but also quite literally. But we managed to find the exact right guys for the band – and nowadays we fell better than ever.
Was it hard to find members and form a new line-up?
It happened during a long time, so we didn’t have to find three new members at a time, so that helped a lot. Who could have thought that we had the hardest time finding a new bass player??
How has the fans responded to all the turmoil?
Different, I would say. Some have been supportive, others not, haha. But that’s a long time ago. Since then we have released two killer albums, and I think as soon as the fans realize that the music is as strong as ever, they will like what we do. Inevitable some fans will never forgive what happened but we cant concentrate on them. Changing members is a natural part of being in band, and I don’t understand why people have focused that much on in it in this band. If the music kicks ass, nothing else matters.
It’s always tricky to replace a singer in a band, were the fans positive towards new singer Esben “Esse” Hansen?
Some yes, and some no Nowadays they hopefully have realized that he kicks ass, so why complaint? Not many talks about “new line-up” anymore, and it’s quite nice to be able to focus on the music and nothing more.
Do you have any contact with the old members today?
Yes, I have. Some I have a lot of contact with, and others I talk to, when I bump into them. There are no hard feelings whatsoever.
When all of this was going a few years back did you ever thinking of putting the band to rest?
Absolutely yes, but only for a short time. We quickly decided that we didnt wanna end the band, and therefore the focus were only on continuing making music and finding the right members.
You are the only remaining original member today. How do you feel the band have changed with all the new people in the band?
I don’t think about it anymore – so you can say, that I feel quite great.
Past present and future
You were out supporting the Swedish act Hypocrisy in Europe during september/october last year. How was that?
A great, great tour. Hypocrisy is one of my all-time fave-bands, so that itself was great. But the shows and the crew were super great as well.
Did you play any new songs during the tour? If so what did the fans think of them?
We played the title track, yes. It seemed so that the fans liked it
Were the Hypocrisy fans nice to you?
Absolutely yes. We had a great time, great shows and great after parties. The crew were super helpful and professional, so that makes everything easier.
The also did a few shows together with Cripper in December, how was that?
They were great as well. We had fun, and we got to play a lot of new songs at these shows.
The band was booked at 70 000 tons of metal cruise which took place in January. How was it to play at a cruise in the Caribbean?
Not bad at all, haha We had an amazing time. We got to spend a day at South Beach in Miami, then five days on a Caribbean cruise, including half a day at paradise in Mexico – so we can’t complain. The cruise and the shows were great. We got to see loads of great bands, played two great shows, and got all the food we could eat, haha!
You’re heading out on a Danish tour during March/April, for how long are you going out on the road and why do you only play in Denmark this time?
We just finished this tour, and when we play Denmark, we only play weekends, so the tour were for 6 weeks (weekends). Why we only play Denmark? Yeah, well because at that time focused on Denmark, other times we focus on other territories, hehe.
Are there any interest for the band over in USA/Canada and Asia?
Yes, there is. We have played both North America and Asia before but there are lots of things that need to be sorted out before you can go there. Visas, economy etc..
Do you have any festival shows for the summer booked so far?
Yes, we have a couple of German festivals during the summer, and then we have three festivals during our European tour in the fall as well. Compared to last year we relax a bit more during the summer, as we focus on the tour we have later this year.
How’s the metal/hard rock scene doing in Denmark at the moment if you compare with the status 10 years ago?
Hard to say, I think. There are lots of bands actually, and lots of bands doing albums. 10 years ago I think we had kind of a golden age with bands like HateSphere, Mercenary, Mnemic and Illdisposed inking deals with big companies and touring a lot. The bands nowadays haven’t reached quite that level but there are lots of talent though.
Are there many clubs/places in Denmark for heavier bands to perform at?
Yeah, there are plenty… and we have plenty of shows
Why doesn’t the band perform in the rest of Scandinavia but only in Denmark?
We actually had three shows planned supporting The Haunted here in May in Sweden, but the shows have been moved to September/October, because The Haunted need more time to finish their new album. Unfortunately these shows now collide with our European tour, so we have to wait a bit more to come to Sweden.
How does it feel to know that Hatesphere today is a legendary metal act? Was that something you could believe could happen when you first formed the band?
Well, I hoped that I would one day be able to release albums and tour the world, but I don’t think that I ever thought that it would happen. But I guess with hard work and a bit of talent it was possible. So I can only be happy for the things I and the band have achieved. I at least am grateful for it.
Are you happy with what Hatesphere have achieved so far?
Happy and proud, yes!
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered Hatesphere yet?
Shame on you, haha. No, what else than “You don’t know what you have been missing…”.
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy MURDERLUST?
It’s good, great and amazing, haha!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers?
Well, apart from “See you on the road” and “Check out the new album”, then no….
Thanks a lot for making this interview possible. I wish you and the band all the best in the future!!
Thanks, it was a pleasure!