MmmmmmMetal… so often is the genre of the gods overlooked in critical appreciation circles, Terrorizer excepted, obviously. After getting all hot under the collar with Todd’s furious punk racket, DiS switches pace somewhat, offering Krautrocking sludge barons Hey Colossus as our next Set Fire To ’05 interviewee.
The quintet haven’t been together all that long, forming from the ashes of bands including Stanton and I’m Being Good two-ish years ago. After a brilliantly received debut ‘album’ (a five-track 12” release entitled Hey Colossus Hates You, which is apparently sold out) and a brace of split 7” singles, they’re about to unleash album number two, appropriately entitled II, on March 14. My god man, it’s alive…
Bob: vocals, guitar
Ian: vocals, guitar, keyboards
James: vocals, guitar
A word from the recently wised-up: at some point of your journey from A – A being work – to B – B being tonight’s gig – do yourself a favour and stop off at Boots. Their earplugs are both cheap and comfortable, and will ensure your safe journey from B to C – C being your place called home – without fear of losing your balance and stumbling in front of any approaching Northern Line trains.
Y’see kids, Hey Colossus are BIG. Big like so many other big bands from across the sea – you know, the ones from the Hydra Head and Neurot stables, to name but two – yet with a Can-like Krautrock element unheard in, um, any other metal band right now. Which makes them as unique as BIG bands can be. I guess.
But the name, that’s something of a stumbling block, isn’t it? When I first heard it I laughed, and it takes a lot for me to see the funny side of anything. One-fifth of HC, guitarist-come-keyboard whiz Ian Scanlon, answers DiS’s really probing questions*.
Come on… that name’s a bit of a piss take, right? It’s rather grown into something with multiple meanings: each band member seems to have a different take on it. I think James is of the opinion that the name is representative of the band’s BIG sound, but that Joe favours a different angle: that it’s a dis’ towards someone who’s a little big for their boots…
What is a good name? I honestly think that after Black Sabbath, all other heavy metal bands have had bad names. Except maybe Cathedral. The same applies for hardcore and post-hardcore bands – after The Minutemen, the best name, was taken, you just have to make up something that sounds alright.
I like Joe’s explanation, about it representing the little guy taking on THE MAN. I think it’s kind of post rationalism, though – we didn’t think of those things and then choose a name that fitted those ideas. I wanted to call the band Blind Joe Death, after the John Fahey album.
Does the name present any obstacles, though? Do you fear you may be overlooked, or not be taken as seriously as you should?
I don’t think we’ve been overlooked. If we were called Neurotic Goat Autopsy, or similar, then we might be overlooked by the less metal-inclined punter, but our name is kind of neutral. It does lend itself to BIG sounds, but Low’s new album is called The Great Destroyer, and that’s hardly indicative of what Low sound like.
The Residents… their name could mean anything. They could have been a garage band, a new-wave band, a pop group, but they made the name mean crazy-ass stuff and big eyeball-headed people. What’s in a name!?
…Hates You is sold out, right? Can it really be considered a debut album?
I think some distros still have copies, and there’s definitely one or two in the States, but most places have sold out and we’ve none left.
I guess …Hates You (released January 2004) was a mini album. It didn’t really feel like we did enough hard work for it to be something as grand as an album. This new one, II, was much more ‘constructed’, and just generally took longer to make. I can’t wait ‘til I feel it in my hands and know that it’s done! (DiS has held it. It’s very black and very heavy. Nice.) There were points where it felt like it was never going to happen, so to have it will be a moment of considerable relief. There were so many changes of plan and pitfalls and so much time spent worrying… this definitely feels like an album.
I listened to …Hates You for the first time in ages recently and it sounds surprisingly decent. I’m usually quite hard on things I’ve done, but listening to it again there’s not much on it that I’d do differently now.
II does sound like a ‘proper’ metal title, but the new album’s not that metal, is it? Sure, the riffs are titanic, and the Krautrock aspect comes through, but there are melodies in there, right?
We did try to bring in elements of the things we like, and we did try to include some slightly more melodic repeating figures on the guitar this time, although there’s not much in the way of pretty tunes. Rhythm is definitely very important in parts of it, especially on the longer tracks.
I think that technically we could never be a metal band, because we tend to be a bit too fast and loose with things like ‘chugs’ and breakdowns. There’s more of a noisy, Amphetamine Reptile style to our loudness, and we’re definitely not anywhere near as tech-y as someone like The Dillinger Escape Plan. Someone said we were ‘math’ the other day, which I don’t get at all. There’s nothing remotely complicated about us, but we are trying to get a bit deeper into the groove now, and some of the II recordings are attempts at that. ‘Take It’ in a way is the centrepiece of that, for me, in that we improvised it completely on Tim’s drum pattern. There was only one take, and it’s on the record.
We have a long way to go before we achieve the perfect Sabbath/Kraut groove, but I think we’re getting there. I think if you look at a track like ‘Red Nails’ on …Hates You, and then look at ‘Take It’, you can see where we’re going.
Comparisons are varied, albeit within a particularly heavy field. Isis, Neurosis, Can… does such a mixed bag of reference points pull the punters in? Does James ever play in a t-shirt that doesn’t have Isis written on it?
Actually, yes he does: he has a Neurosis t-shirt and a Grateful Dead one, too. People of all stripes seem to like watching us. We’ve played with a lot of different bands, and there’s always someone who digs it. I’m equally sure that there are plenty of metal kids who’d say we were too indie, or drone-y, and some indie kids who hate the riffs. I’m pleased that we’re getting harder to pin down, and I hope that we continue to get weirder, to be honest. I don’t want to have to lose three stone or grow a joke beard or dye my hair black… I like playing music to lots of different people, who can come together and say, ‘Yes, I like this because it’s like Sabbath’ or ‘because there’s a groove to it’ or ‘because it’s abstract’. I don’t ever want to be in a genre band. I don’t want to be a metal band, or a noise band, etc… (Looks at opening sentence… ooops.)
All band members have served time in other bands, yourself in Econoline. Any HC members playing around with other projects?
James has an alleged band with a load of semi-famous people that sounds like Helmet, but since they’ve not done anything in about a year I don’t know what the status of that is. I’m doing some quiet stuff with Piers from Econoline. Bob’s getting into a serious collaboration with his girlfriend, which involves them getting married, and Tim has a cat. He may occasionally sing to it. He’s threatened to start writing songs for HC, too, which would be nice.
Since these interviews are designed to highlight great-but-unsung UK-based bands, any other outfits tickling your fancy?
Really and truly, the only things I’ve seen and heard lately that I’ve liked have been:
Phil Collins 3. I know we did a split 7” with them, but they are entertaining in all the right ways. PHIL COLLINS 3
Semi-Finalists. We played with them at Infinity. They’re kind of wacked-out, like Beat Happening – girl and boy vocals, basic guitar and drums stuff – but without the baritone. Some really nice harmony stuff. (No website to be found.)
Lords, from Nottingham. This band absolutely rules, and we did a split with them, too. They’re mates of mine, but honestly, this band just jizz rock from every pore. Their only problem is that they’re a bit slack, and haven’t recorded their album yet. Which is a shame. LORDS
MJ Hibbett. I always thought this guy was gonna be shit – comedy songs, HOO HOO – but actually he is awesome. Some of the lines in his songs are dead on, and when he plays with his band they sound like The Wedding Present. Also, I think the drummer was in Prolapse. Note to younger readers: buy The Italian Flag by Prolapse. It rules. MJ HIBBETT
Reigns. Obviously they’re on Joe’s label, but this music is genuinely beautiful. I only heard it because Joe played it to me, but in the end I paid him for the record. I invested quids in it, and you should too! REIGNS
Soeza have an album coming out on Gringo. They’re great – funky, soulful music that’s got a brilliant edge like the best DC-type hardcore. It sounds totally joyous. SOEZA
Slowgun is Piers and Valentina from Econoline doing Breeders-type stuff with a girl called Toni Das. They have a 7” coming out on Noisestar, hopefully.
Unit Ama are from Newcastle and are the best post-hardcore/post-rock band I’ve seen. So many shit post-rock bands litter the UK circuit. They should all be ground into some sort of plastic vinyl mush and have this music imprinted on them in an excellent new recycling initiative. UNIT AMA
Blood Red Shoes are from Brighton and feature Steve from Cat On Form and the girl singer from Lady Muck. Guitar and drums and punk rock – lots of harmonies and passion. BLOOD RED SHOES
Uter are from Glasgow and are Marceline Diskant’s band. Great lo-fi electro pop. They covered The Jesus And Mary Chain. UTER
Among The Missing are from London. They’re SERIOUS metal, all tuned down to C. They have a split out with Red Stars Parade that I will be hunting down. (Sorry, I can’t find a website.)
Woe/Libertez are from Southend. Woe had become so different from the way they used to sound that they changed their name. We recorded a massive nine-man jam with them the other weekend…. IT WAS SERIOUS. This band should be playing with Wolf Eyes or Lightning Bolt… it’s powerful stuff. They told us that last time they played they got glasses thrown at them and one guy got on stage and made wanker gestures at them all individually. Still, nice to get some kind of response. (Again, no website to be easily found… answers on a postcard.)
Hey Colossus tour in March - see the news story on the right for details. A split release with Japanese sludge metallers dot [.] is due for a release sometime in the year, and the aforementioned nine-man jam should someday see the light of day. …Hates You might just get a CD reissue, too.
Check out Hey Colossus at their website.
*We say ‘probing’. We** mean ‘lousy’.
**We say ‘we’. I mean ‘I’.
Photo by Richard Willis.