“It always amuses me that people might be trying to get to me by saying you guys sound exactly like one of the biggest fucken heavy metal bands of all time,” shrugged lead guitarist and vocalist for Harlott, Andrew Hudson on the continual comparisons Harlott gets to Slayer. “If it worked for them why I would have to worry? [laughs[ I can’t think of how many bands have tried to emulate Metallica and a lot of thrash bands when they release their first album they think they are reinventing thrash and then with the second one they say you know what, I’m gonna try the “Black” album because that was really successful. They don’t do it. We’ve had the same sound pretty much the whole way through and our next album will be more of the same. If it ain’t broke…”
Delivering their own blend of 1980’s Bay Area thrash inspired metal, Hudson concedes that while Harlott proudly wears their thrash hearts on their sleeve there is a blurred line between influence and imitation that is impossible not to cross in the genre.
“It’s one of those things,” he sighed. “We find that when a single comes out for the album and you put it on YouTube and say to people the album comes out in a month or so, check out the new single you get, say, 100 people comment on the video and 90 write ‘fuck yes this sounds like Slayer’ or ‘I love the Testament influence’ and the other ten people will be like ‘fuck these guys sound exactly like Exodus’. It’s weird. Some people love what we’re doing and love we are playing the music they love and other people think it’s horrible that we play the music they love. It seems like you’re gonna be damned if you do and damned if you don’t so you just think you know what? I’m just gonna do what I wanna do. I can’t do much to change how my voice sounds. I’ve been given one set of vocal chords and that just happens to be the tone that I get when I shout and if that sounds like a certain dude then that’s fortunate for me or unfortunate, depending on how things go.”
Having recently released their third album, “Extinction”, and enjoying a sell – out album launch at the Bendigo Hotel with co – headliners Desecrator, Hudson feels that after years of toil on the Australian circuit things are starting to finally pay dividends.
“It was by all accounts a raging success!” he enthused of the launch. “We managed to sell out the venue which is always good for a metal band. I think it was mostly Desecrator selling the tickets but (laughs).”
Not only did fans rush to purchase the album and be a part of the launch party, Hudson says the response to “Extinction” has been overwhelmingly in favour.
“It’s been quite positive,” he smiled, “which has been good. Every time we do an album we seem to get good feedback but I kind of let that wash over me because I am more of a pessimist so I can’t feel too good about what I’m doing otherwise I will get a big head (laughs).”
As for goals with the album, Hudson is quite pragmatic.
“The same as always,” he offered. “I just wanna write music that I like. I write the music that I enjoy and then record it to the point I hate it (laughs). If you finish recording an album and you can listen back to it and enjoy it then there’s something wrong with you. It’s not how people are supposed to work.”
The album is a classic blend of killer riffs which is obviously influenced by the above-mentioned bands, and listening to it can be at times exhausting and confronting with a massive sound and quality production that harks back eerily to the movement that defined a genre.
“Try listening to sixty minutes of your own faults and shortcomings,” Hudson laughed. “THAT’S exhausting. There’s a whole lot of things that I didn’t manage to achieve on the album as well but it’s always a learning process and nothing is ever gonna be perfect – though we do try.”
While having two previous quality albums in “Origin” and “Proliferation”, it is seemingly only now with their third release that people, particularly the media, are starting to take notice.
“We’re an Australian band playing thrash metal,” Hudson said defensively. “I have never been interested in the marketing side of things myself which may have contributed to it. I’m just not interested in doing that stuff. You know all of those things that you need to do if you want your band to be a success? I don’t do it. I’m very pig headed and figure I should just be able to write the music and if people like it, we’ll get somewhere and if I don’t write good music and people don’t like it then I’ll get what I deserve.”
“I’ve also get a record label now that are trying to make lots of money off me,” he laughed. “It’s milking my artistic creativity dry to make sure they can profit as much as they can while giving us our little cut at the end of the day – which is more money that we’ve ever made from music before – but it’s not exactly paying the mortgage yet. Maybe by album ten we’ll all break even (laughs).”
When Harlott first started in 2006, Hudson says his me against them attitude typified the early struggles the band faced.
“You know when you’re a teenager and you’re an idiot?” he asked. “And you think that you’re onto something and you think this is gonna be great, we’re gonna get noticed and probably become a bit of a big deal and I always had dreams of being considered as one of the heavyweights of thrash metal. Then you get to 22 or 23 and the world is the worst place you can live in and you give up on everything and think well this is never gonna happen for us and I think that mentality is very important to me and our success because I’ve always approached things… not doing it for the sake of trying to achieve something commercially just for the sake of maybe enjoying it and it’s starting to pick up a bit now. It’s a bit worrying but it’s also kind of cool. We get to play bigger shows and it’s gonna cost us less money. The more that people enjoy what I’m doing the more validated I can feel about my existence.”
The true judgement of a thrash metal outfit comes not on the recorded album, but in the playing of those tracks live, and Harlott’s reputation in the live arena is matched only by the quality of their material.
“We put very little into our stage show actually,” he laughed. “A couple of rehearsals maybe, if it’s a big show we will do a weekly rehearsal. We’ve all got our own lives outside of the band; we’ve all got jobs and things that we need to do so we can afford this ridiculous pipe dream that we all have. We’ve been at it for long enough that we can get a bit loose on stage. We just have a bit of fun with it all. I like to tell a couple of jokes too, apparently, that’s a good thing.”
Out now at all good record stores and online:
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