Sunday 11 March 2012

Kill Hannah // Interview & Review

Kill Hannah haven’t graced UK shores in a fair while, but are back on a pit stop tour. They have just returned from playing a festival in Australia and hit Manchester’s colder climate to talk to Est.1987 about new material, their dedicated fans, oh and “Wooter’s greatest hits”. 

Hey guys, you’ve just come over here from playing the Soundwave Festival in Australia- how was it?
GREG [CORNER, Bass]- The festival itself was really a metal summer camp; every single metal band you could imagine was on this thing! And we’re not necessarily metal at all, but all the fans are really receptive and we had a ton of Kill Hannah fans out there and it was just great to play. The camaraderie with all the bands is really cool; you’re literally sharing shuttle buses, planes, hotel rooms entirely made up of bands. I’ve never experienced anything like that really, US festivals don’t really do it like that.
MAT [DEVINE, Vocals]- The whole of the backstage catering area was like Elias’ bedroom walls come to life, it was really scary. We were the only ones without like two foot long braided goatees and like forehead tattoos [laughing]. There were lots of bands that we’re really good friends with, like Cobra Starship and Circa Survive, and it was a pretty broad roster and it was really fun.

Front-man Mat on stage
Tonight is the first of four dates in the UK – are you looking forward to it? And what can we expect from the live show?
MAT- I walked through the venue on the way to this interview and suddenly I got all these vivid flashbacks of last time we played that room; it was so sweaty and so packed. Our guitar tech, “Wooter”, half way through the show just stopped caring about guitars and basically became a full time hockey player; just getting girls off the stage. We called it “Wooter’s greatest hits” because the entire show he was picking these girls up two at a time, one on each shoulder, and running them off stage and this was in the same room, so I’m excited for tonight’s show.
GREG- That was the first show we had played after our bus burned down and it was Halloween and we all dressed up as fireman which was really awesome. So, yeah, we love Manchester, it’s definitely one of our favourite cities in the UK.
ELIAS [MALLIN, Drums]- Curry mile!

In terms of set list- how do you guys choose which songs to play? And what can we expect on this tour?
GREG- Lots of fighting! But we try to represent our whole catalogue, which is a challenge when you have like five albums, and to try to do that in an hour and fifteen minutes is sometimes a big challenge, plus playing new songs.
MAT- We probably over think it more than any other band I know. We’ve all been in the audience of shows and even your favourite bands can bore you, so I think it’s just out of respect for the people that pay money that we want to be as engaging throughout as possible. Enough on that, because we’ll start fighting right now! [laughing]

You ran a competition with Kerrang! magazine to find the support band for your UK tour- how did that come about and why did you decide to do that?
MAT- I have a list on the desktop of my laptop of bands that we’ve always had in mind whenever we need someone to tour with, whenever we have big hometown shows. But, it’s always such a logistical issue and it always gets political and for once we wanted to pick a band that we’d like to hear. We were  an unsigned band in Chicago for six years and it was so hard for anyone outside of Chicago to learn about us. So this was a win, win, win contest because we get to discover new local talent; they get a chance to break out of their neighbourhoods and our fans don’t get their ears blown out by some band that we were pressured to tour with.

Greg filming Mat and crowd in Manchester
You selected the band “In Elegance”- why did they have the edge on all the other bands?
MAT- That was just as hard as our setlist decision! That was about three thousand emails between all of us. Ultimately, Greg stood up the loudest for them. Nothing against the scenes that are out there or anything, but we would like something a little more refreshing than your typical rock bands. There were a ton of great submissions, and we learned a lot of about the local scene in England, which is great. But ultimately this band had a little more sense of identity.

You have a really dedicated fanbase, I have seen lots of Kill Hannah tattoos. How much of a role do they play in the band?
GREG- We need them as much as they need us I guess. We wouldn’t be playing if it wasn’t for them, and definitely the dedication. I haven’t really seen it among many other bands. A lot of the bands that we toured with at Soundwave I don’t think even have that strong a fanbase. We lost count with how many people have tattoos; it’s just thousands and it’s almost gotten to the point now where we just look at them and it doesn’t shock us anymore because we’ve seen so many. But, when you think about it, it’s crazy that there are that many tattoos out there and they have that much faith and belief in the band.
ELIAS- I would say that a lot of fans of Kill Hannah are artists themselves, so we like to inspire them and they inspire us. They’ll come to us with drawings and poems, so I guess we work with them and hope to inspire them, and they inspire us.

Mat Devine on stage in Manchester
I’ve read in the past that you’ve said you find it hard to define your sound. Is that a conscious thing and does it allow you to change your style?
DAN [WIESE, Guitar]- I think that’s just who we are. Like Mat said earlier, we micro-manage a lot of decisions, so music is the most important thing..
MAT- [laughing]…after t-shirts!
DAN- Exactly! Every time we have something that we’re working on we crowbar a million ideas into the same thing. So it makes it pretty hard to define, because we’re all coming from totally different places.
GREG- It would be much easier to pick a side of the fence, like if we’re going to be a heavy band, be a heavy band or if we’re going to be an indie band, be an indie band. But we are influenced by so many different things that we just make music with what we love. We don’t really think about what genre it is going to fit in.

What inspired you guys to first start making music and what are you inspired by now?
MAT- I started writing, I guess, to impress girls; that is the earliest memory I have. And I guess that hasn’t changed [all laugh]. But, I don’t know, I think it’s just that feeling when something clicks in your heart and your mind, when you first do something. That rush hasn’t gone away; where you wake up and run to the computer to listen to what you worked on the night before. That hasn’t changed, but the type of topics that inform my lyrics, I think that’s changing slowly as I grow because certain things just seem ‘wanky’ now for a middle aged dude to sing about.
GREG- Wow, you’re really growing up, that’s the first time I heard him admit that!
MAT- [Laughing] Cut to the first thing on this new album and it’ll be about clubbing or something!
GREG- I also think that sometimes you make music because you can’t find anything to listen to that you like.

What does 2012 hold for Kill Hannah? New releases? Touring? Festivals?
Kill Hannah's most recent album
MAT- Writing and recording a new record…
DAN- Hip replacement surgery.
MAT- Yeah, physical therapy…
DAN- Literally!
GREG- Elias is going for the record of most electronic cigarettes smoked in a year
MAT- Elias is having a head transplant, we’ve already donated his body to science.
DAN- But yeah, it’s tough to say. This is the first thing we’ve done in almost two years, so it’s kind of like reinvention. There’s no specific agenda right now, but everyone is kind of excited to get back to work on some new stuff.
MAT- First thing is to make an agenda! But we’re going in to the studio when we get back home.
ELIAS- It’s also exciting working with Tom Schleiter. He’s been a long time friend of the band and actually played on the “Wake Up The Sleepers” album and we toured with him in 2008 over here. It’s interesting working with Tom and seeing his influence on the songs he’s been writing with Mat, so it’s exciting.

And here's what happened when Kill Hannah took to the stage...

Mat & Greg on stage
Having hung out with the Kill Hannah guys pre show we were expecting big things from their first UK show; a journey through their impressive back catalogue, a new song and a lot of sweat. We weren’t left disappointed. As Greg’s bass introduces their arrival on stage and the intro builds and builds, front man Mat dives into “Boys and Girls”: the night has begun and it is non stop from here on in. As the first notes of each song play, the deep pit of loyal fans scream back in excitement; they know which song is coming before it is even announced.

Mat Devine on stage in Manchester
The fans, decked out in similar attire as lead singer Mat, follow his lead and belt out every word back at the stage as Kill Hannah blaze powerfully through “Nerve Gas”. This is one of their oldest songs and Mat admits. As 2003 single “Kennedy” kicks in the lights dim and a green single beam of light shoots from Greg’s bass. Kill Hannah are a band that go beyond the music and turn their live performance into a real aesthetic stage show; they appreciate their loyal fans and give everything to the performance.

Kill Hannah not only appreciate their fans but appreciate everything that comes with being in the band; they are humble and as Mat admits on stage here tonight, “Manchester is like a temple to all our favourite bands. It is a dream to play here.” But, they are also a band that knows how to have fun and extract the most out of every performance. Mat then goes on to pull out a small toy panda in a dress that a fan gave him pre-show.

Kill Hanna classics such as “Love You To Death” are played alongside newer songs, including brand new unreleased song “Kids In The Fog”.  The new song is building, anthemic with a plethora of melodies and perhaps could be a hint towards the band’s new material to be written and recorded this year.

Greg & Tom on stage

“Lips Like Morphine” ends the set here tonight at the Club Academy and although this evening hasn’t been as much of a riot as Mat told us their last performance here was, it was nevertheless spontaneous, loud and stirring; everything that it should be!