Tuesday 2 February 2016

An Interview With Hundred Year Old Man

This interview was originally used as part of a small feature I had written, that was (hopefully) being published on a US website that I was looking to contribute to. As of yet, the feature hasn't appeared so I've taken the decision to post it up because I didn't want to waste it and because I wanted to let everyone know about Hundred Year Old Man. They're ace and you should check them out!

(Photo Credit: Paul Priest)

The heavy music is scene is funny nowadays and so are those who follow it. People are constantly looking for the next “exotic” band while ignoring what’s on their own doorstep. We’re all guilty of this, even me. Thankfully I live near Leeds (United Kingdom) and the scene that inhabits that city is vibrant, exciting and growing all the time.

I first discovered Hundred Year Old Man when I attended a gig in a bar called Santiago’s in the city. I’ve been plenty of gigs there in that past and it’s always been really loud and atmospheric due to it’s small upstairs room. On this occasion the bill contained a mixture of slow and fast bands, with Hundred Year Old Man being the opener. Their post-metal blew me away and I wanted to find out more about the band and it’s beginnings. I spoke to Tom (guitar) via an e-mail interview.

TNIO: Can you provide an introduction to Hundred Year Old Man? When did you form and what influenced you to play post metal?

Tom: Owen and I have been friends since around 2005, when I replaced the guitarist in his old band. We were both listening to bands like Isis, Pelican and Cult of Luna, but were playing more fast, tech stuff at the time. We started to add more post metal into our sound, but when the band ended a few years later Owen had an idea to make a collaborative album with all the musicians we'd met over the years from touring. 

In 2012, Owen, Dan and I (Tom) spent a day playing, improvising and recording the result which ended up being the first two tracks on the EP. After that we decided to get a 'core' band together and focus on playing live, which is currently where we're at. Currently we are: Aaron - bass, Dan - keys/samples/vocals, Owen - guitar/vocals, Paul - vocals, Steve - drums, Tom - guitar.

TNIO: You’ve recently gone from a 5 to a 6-piece? What was the reason for that and what will it add to the band musically?

Tom: We always knew this was going to have to be a large band, just to be able to get the layers and overall sound that we wanted. We hadn't really settled on a format at that point, we just hadn't found the right person to add until we met Aaron. That has meant that Dan can concentrate on samples, keyboards and add a more electronic aspect to the songs. 

TNIO: When I saw your set at Santiago’s, one of your guitarists was playing with a Violin bow (I think), which sounded really good. Is musical experimentation a big part of HYOM?

Tom: That would have been Owen, who also plays in an atmospheric drone band called A-Sun Amissa and uses the bow a lot in that band too. We've always been interested in experimenting with different sounds that can be made from a guitar - effects pedals are a pretty integral part of the band. Sometimes even 'accidental' things, such as turning off a noisy pedal that's going into delay/reverb, can end up becoming a feature of a song that we replicate live. 

We're just interested in anything that makes a good sound really and are very much interested in textures and dynamics as much as we are tone. We've done a lot of playing around in the past with strange pedal chains just for a particular section in a song, keyboards through pedals and amps, or recording a sample on a mobile phone and playing it back through a guitars pickup. 

A lot of other ideas have come from recording things when we were younger and didn't have the gear to do it justice. We just had to work with whatever we could find, but the result can end up sounding even better when what we have to work with is quite limiting. I think Owen used a pair of headphones as drum overheads once, I'm not sure if that was a success or a failure though… 

(Photo Credit: Paul Priest)

TNIO: You released your Self-titled EP earlier this year and are now beginning to record your next release; can you tell us a bit about the new release? How will it differ from your first EP?

Tom: The first EP was largely improvised and recorded live, then the vocals written and recorded at a later date by an old friend of ours who lives in Switzerland. The band has grown and changed format quite a bit since then, so the music we have been making recently is more structured and actually written as a band. But we are still very interested in the collaborative elements and are always excited when someone outside of the band asks to contribute in some way. 

We're currently just working on a song or two that are more representative of the current style of the band, but the next proper release will likely be a full album that we hope to start working on early next year. We're lucky that between us, we have all the equipment we need to record everything ourselves, so we're free to record as and when we want. 

TNIO: The DIY heavy music scene in Leeds seems to be growing and becoming more vibrant. The gig at Santiago’s illustrated that perfectly with yourselves, Mausoleion, Gloomweaver,   and Lugubrious Children (all from Leeds) on the bill. How does it influence you as a band and how positive is it to have such a big network of active musicians and supporters?

Tom: Leeds has always had a good heavy music scene and community - We used to travel over from York for gigs at the Fenton, Basement, Packhorse and RPC and have seen some awesome shows over the years. The fact that it's growing just makes it even better and easier to be a band - there's always new bands to see, book shows with and more importantly be inspired by. We're lucky to have a lot of people who like to actively help the scene such as Adam from Mausoleion who booked that show, and Paul from Gloomweaver, who has been putting on shows seemingly forever. 

Hundred Year Old Man are due to release new single Black Fire in March. Here's a trailer:-

Their self-titled EP is available to stream and download (name-your-price) via their bandcamp page - https://hundredyearoldman.bandcamp.com/releases.

Hundred Year Old Man Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hundredyearoldman/

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