Bands splitting up is never a pleasant time, especially when that band never truly got the admiration that their music certainly deserved. London’s HANG THE BASTARD have fallen under tough times and as such decided to call it a day. We at Distorted Sound took the opportunity to sit-down with vocalist Tomas Hubbard, bassist Joe Nally and guitarist Angus Neyra on their final UK tour (read our review of the performance in Stoke here) and talk about their seminal work Sex In The Seventh Circle, everything that went into the making of it as well as reflecting upon their career and discussing what could’ve been.
First question, lets address the elephant in the room…why the break?
Angus (Guitar): People are moving forward. Two of our members got married in the same year and now one also has a child.
Tomas (Vocals): Simon our drummer, his wife gave birth this year and our guitarist Sam’s wife is expecting this year, and that’s the general basis of it.
That was certainly less dramatic than expected. So obviously having this break unexpectedly dropped on you, what was always the end goal for HANG THE BASTARD?
Angus: Everyone starts a band to get somewhere with it. Some will say that they’re just in it for the fun but eventually there’s gotta a goal with it. So I think just seeing where it went and where we could take it was the original goal, and I dunno, make a living off it.
Joe (Bass): It’s hard to say because the two guys who originally started [the band] aren’t here at the moment. I think the initial thing was to just get out there and play shows, and enjoy it, but once the band starts stepping up and getting more popular there was a thought within the band to want to do more, like to play in Hyde Park with BLACK SABBATH for instance. We had little goals like that, but to be able to say that we signed to a decent label, had great manager etc. I think the general goal though was to have people like the band and I think we certainly achieved that.
Tomas: We’ve done some good stuff, played some good festivals and like Joe said Hyde Park, Sonisphere, Download, Bloodstock, Hammerfest…we’ve had a good innings.
How has being in a band changed you personally?
Angus: I’ve changed for the better I think…my mind has certainly broadened.
Tomas: I don’t know, I wouldn’t say the band has changed me that much. I guess I had never done vocals before, so that’s a pretty straightforward one. I don’t think it’s changed my personality or anything on a deeper level, haven’t found myself or anything interesting like that, but I’d never done vocals before…
Joe: I think the one time when you do feel a bit different is at the end of the day, when you finish a tour or a festival and you go back home and no one gives a shit. It is a thing though, me and Tomas spoke about it, when you play download or we’d go out on tour with CORROSION OF CONFORMITY or CROWBAR and the next day you’d come in and in your own mind you’re like ‘these people don’t even know what I’ve done’ and they don’t even give a shit. You just walk around with a spring in your step and then after a couple of days you realise you are just nothing.
Angus: They think of it just as a holiday…asking ‘how was your trip?’
Tomas: When we did Download I was working at The Body Shop, and obviously when we did Download that was something like my tenth time ever doing vocals. We were so fortunate that it was so well received, and it’s funny because as a vocalist I like to think of myself as addressing the audience and we were fortunate because there was a good couple thousand people there. So I go from this back to work and having some 16-year-old girl shouting at me about shampoo.
Where is everyone going to go after this? Any creative avenues for you guys or are you going to jump into the big pond of normal life?
Joe: No, not us three because we’re not ready to accept reality, where as Sam and Simon are wanting to live that family life. Brilliant, that is for some people but for us three, we still love doing it, so Angus and I have been writing some stuff and Tomas runs a number of labels, so he’s always got his finger in a lot of pies.
Tomas: I’ve got a new black metal band called CRIMSON THRONE that will see the light of day at some point.
Any possibility of HANG THE BASTARD coming back?
Tomas: Only time will tell…
Joe: I don’t think it’ll ever come back as a full time thing, but we might have a nostalgia trip and bring it back…
Tomas: I would like to…
Joe: Yeah definitely, but right now everyone isn’t in it and I can’t see it happening
What were the best moments of being HANG THE BASTARD?
Tomas: Mine was that I threw up after our set at Download. I went off the stage, and I went into the crowd. I remember then not being able to get back to the stage so I just walked off and left everyone on stage and I remember thinking that was really, really funny. But what I actually did was just projectile vomit everywhere outside. It was sick. Literally.
Joe: Download was a big one. Coming from a band who never really played festivals, I mean there have been festivals but nothing like the size [of Download]. It was packed as well; we didn’t expect that, had a really good slot on a really good stage and it was a great time. Bloodstock was great as well.
Angus: Yeah, playing Hyde Park was great, cause I live just down the road from it so it was like a weird local gig.
Tomas: Yeah that was sick actually. My dad has never given a shit about me being in a band and that was the only time of the years and years of me being in a band, apart from when I was 15 and I play In Victoria Park in Newbury at the band stand, that my dad came to see me. My Dad lives in Spain and that was nice, he flew all the way out.
Joe: Yeah, my family came out to that as well which was pretty cool.
Are you happy with all the music you’ve put out?
Joe: Yeah, I mean obviously we haven’t all been on all the music, but I think our main thing was doing Sex In The Seventh Circle and I’m really happy with how that went down. It’s one of them that even over time it still gets people listening to it. It’s a shame it’s ending because I do think the best was still to come but I’m not gonna be too salty about it. I’m personally happy with the body of work.
Are you proud of Sex In The Seventh Circle?
Tomas: Yeah very much so. I think it was very strange as a thing. We didn’t know where we were gonna go with it, we just sort of did our thing and it kinda happened. It was a massive fuck off to everyone who liked us before. We just kind of did what we wanted, what we thought would be cool and it seemed to have gone down really well and that was nice.
Joe: writing it, we had to have a line up change, which got us kind of buzzing. Instead of writing it as a five piece we wrote it as a four piece and we went it for a few weeks, wrote a few songs then took some time off to recharge our batteries. People didn’t know what we were going to come out with, and we just thought ‘it’s all about having big riffs’ and so we made it quite energetic. I find it quite an easy record to get in to. It was quite an exciting time writing it and people not really knowing what it was gonna be.
What actually went into making Sex… because before that album you certainly sounded different?
Joe: Sam and I wrote the riffs and the music and it was probably the first time Sam had someone to help write a full song. I would bring in a full song and my style of writing is very different to Sam’s, he kind of jams and makes it up on the spot, whereas I go home and think about a riff. I just remember it being two practises or two jams a week, getting home at like half eleven and needing to just go again. It was just a lot of hours and it needed to be perfect because we were changing vocals and the sound was sort of taking a little bit of different direction. It was quite a fun easy album to write, there was once point I mentioned earlier that we needed a bit of a break because we were hitting it so hard. Sam has this ability to just come up with massive riffs on the spot, and he’s got this tone in his hands. There’s a really soft song on the album and I remember when he wrote that I was surprised, I mean it is completely different to HANG THE BASTARD, but there’s a lot of people saying that Mists of Albion is their favourite track because its so different. It’s a shame we never played it but I think in a way its kind of cool that we will never play it.
Tomas: We wouldn’t have pulled it off…
Joe: Yeah we’d have to go off and get a choir!
How about you Tomas, this being your first full album as a vocalist, how was the process?
Tomas: Yeah I was really lazy and really slack actually. They smashed out the music and all that and I was very much like ‘trust me on it…’, I remember I was quite absent. I went on a little romantic getaway to Paris and basically didn’t get too involved. Mists of Albion is a good example of that. I had lyrics for the whole thing but I had no idea when we went into the studio how to sing on it. There was a lot of ‘trust me’. The problem with my voice being like it is means its quite quiet, so at rehearsals and even now, a lot of the time you can’t tell what I’m even doing. When it comes to song writing, you can’t really tell what I’m actually doing. In the studio it just came together.
Joe: We had a lot of the skeleton down, but then it was the sort of thing where you add layers as you go along. There are layers in there that people don’t even know because they’re so hidden, but for us, it’ll be a little bit of percussion, a little bit of speaking, some verse words…
Tomas: Funny melodies and stuff which we did all ourselves. The intro by the way is actually us singing, so you can have a bit of trivia. It was very funny to harmonise Gregorian chants.
Did you have an idea of where you were going to go after Sex…?
Joe: Do you know what? No. I was writing but it really seemed to be such a weird place, and looking back on it, I could probably put my nut down and go write what I would consider the perfect follow up, but we thought we’d break up instead [Laughs]. I was writing bits and looking back on them now and its certainly good but nowhere near what it should be as a follow up, I mean its stuff I’m gonna use but Sex… needed the perfect follow up and it needed to step up but, y’know, there was no vibe.
Tomas: To do that would take a lot of work, and as we discussed with us breaking up, time was not on our side. As Joe said, Sex… was, not that hard didn’t go into it because it did, but it was kind of natural. I think actually because of how well it was received, we would’ve had to be a bit more conscious with a follow up.
Anything you wish you guys could’ve done with the band?
Joe: I wish we did the states. There were tours that we turned down, big tours, in Europe. Family and time were the major factors as well. We’re all in our twenties…
Tomas: Speak for yourself mate…
Joe: Yeah Tom’s had it! [Laughs] I think people think we can just go on tour. I mean for instance, we got offered a really nice month package, but we can’t just leave our jobs, and we all earn fairly solid money. We can’t come back and be like ‘where am I now?’, because we don’t earn anything from this. We got a cheque in the other day and it’s just embarrassing. It’s hard, because in the end we were being offered these amazing tours and we had to be like ‘can we do two weeks?’ and some people would allow it because it makes the package more interesting. I feel bad, I wish it was six, seven years ago when we all would’ve just gone ‘yeah go on then’ and just go. Looking back on it, I feel like we let our manager down, because he was really, really trying and we just couldn’t commit to it. We’re never gonna be a big, and we’ve got mates in bigger bands and they’ve got the same issue! I do wish we could’ve done America though, go and do a run with, I dunno, SKELETONWITCH or BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, that would’ve been cool, and I always feel like we would’ve gone down well out there, cause they don’t know what’s going on!
Tomas: I think Joe nailed it there. We could’ve done more; I think you could say that about everything though really. There is a lot of stuff we could’ve and should’ve done
Do you think the current state of the industry makes it harder to earn a living?
Joe: I’ve got a mate whose song has been played on spotify over 100,000times and he got cheque for $2 and that sums it up for me.
Tomas: I think in some countries it’s good, specifically Holland, Belgium, Scandinavia, where their governments actually contribute money towards music like they’ve got practise space and they contribute money to small venues and they give their artists money to go on tour. In the UK we don’t have stuff like that, it’s always been shit. Venues are dropping out and yeah, this country is hard and it’s hard to tour in, which is a disgrace because its small and its got such a rich heritage in the alternative media, it’s something we need to address.
HANG THE BASTARD will end their career after this current tour. For dates and information visit their Facebook page.
RIP HANG THE BASTARD 2007-2016