BRUTAL TRUTH: RICHARD HOAK ON SUMMER TOURING, HELLFEST AND NOT-FOR-PROFIT LABELS
Brutal Truth are due to start a punishing set of back-to-back European dates kicking off on the 15th of June in Copenhagen, followed by a date at Hellfest two days later. ZT dropped in for a chat with the band’s sticksman Richard Hoak, (one of the main reasons drum skin manufacturers are still in business) to discuss his summer schedule and his other projects Total Fucking Destruction and Peacemaker among others.
ZT: Firstly you guys are on a fairly hectic tour schedule in Europe over summer, any particular places you’re going to for the first time? Any places you’re particularly excited about?
RH: I’m totally psyched to get back to Copenhagen; I used to party there a lot when I was a punk rocker back in the 80s. I’ve got some old friends there and it’s been a long time since we’ve been to Copenhagen so I’m looking forward to that one! That’s the Copenhell Fest, Slayer’s playing, Anthrax is playing, three out of the four members of S.O.D are gonna be in the same room, crazy stuff is going to be going on there! Other than that we’ve got Graspop and Hellfest which are both great fests, we’re doing Protzen Open Air in Germany and then filling in a few gigs, so I think we’ve got ten shows in ten days; which for Brutal Truth, the way we roll now, that is a pretty extensive tour for us actually! [laughs]
ZT: You mentioned Hellfest, what can someone who’s never experienced you guys live before expect from a Brutal Truth show?
RH: Brutal Truth at Hellfest is very loud and very fast, there’s a giant moshpit filled with crazy grind-freaks going wild! That’s one of the great things about Hellfest is that even though it’s I guess you could say a ‘commercial’, sort of mainstream festival, they still have room for a lot of ‘smaller bands’ like Brutal Truth. Even TFD (Total Fucking Destruction) has had great shows at Hellfest. We’re playing on one of the smaller stages but there ends up to be four-five thousand people there! In Brutal we play shows as needed, we did a Cleveland show on the Nasum tour a couple of weeks ago, it was a packed house, but the house only held a hundred and twenty people and there were a hundred and fifty people in it! So for us as long as it’s a full house we don’t really care how big or how small the house actually is. I guess that’s a different way to how you’d see Brutal Truth at Hellfest, just in that it’s rare that we play to such a large crowd that’s so enthusiastic. That’s one reason I totally dig Hellfest, in addition to all the other crazy bands that are playing.
ZT: As a music fan, who would you say you’re most looking forward to seeing/ sharing a stage with over summer?
RH: I’m not a music fan, I hate music and musicians, that’s why I play crazy grind noise! [laughs] Most interesting for me is gonna be something like Molly Hatchet. Essentially the members of Molly Hatchet sold the name and the rights to all the songs, so even though Molly Hatchet is playing it’s just hired musicians, hired by the Molly Hatchet corporation. I find that stuff incredibly ironic and that’s something I’ll make a point of to check out. Also there’s a special connection with Molly Hatchet and Brutal Truth because if you listen to ‘Sounds of The Animal Kingdom’ very closely, you will find a small Molly Hatchet sample inserted into one of the songs there. I won’t tell you where though! [laughs]
ZT: Your latest record ‘End Time’ was released towards the end of last year, with all that’s going on in the world today; do you truly believe we are living in end times?
RH: I do believe we’re living in the ‘end time’ but my perspective on the length of the ‘end time’ and what the ‘end time’ is, has matured as I myself have matured. When I was a young punk rocker in 1984 we just assumed the world would end in a blinding flash of light, all of a sudden! Now I realise that the apocalypse we live in is a slow motion apocalypse and the ‘end times’ might last for ten, fifty, one hundred to a thousand years, but it’s definitely a losing battle against entropy.
ZT: A lot of what Brutal Truth does has a politically charged message behind it. The video for ‘Malice/Fuck Cancer’ had some pretty big statements in there, not least the image of the students at UC Davis getting pepper sprayed. What were your thoughts on the video?
RH: That video was made by our buddy Tyson Montrucchio, Ty’s a good friend of ours, he’s a video artist as apposed to a more technical sort of guy, he’s hung out and travelled with us and we stay at his house when we go to San Diego, he stays at our houses when he comes to Philly or Rochester where we live. He’s a huge fan of Brutal Truth’s music as well, so a lot of the images in there are Tyson’s video interpretation of Brutal Truth’s commentary on global, socio-political events. Tyson as a video artist is very much in tune with Brutal Truth and what we do and his interpretations on video, we thought, came out totally killer!
ZT: You have a few projects of your own out at the moment via Jay Randall’s label Grindcore Karaoke, what’s your stance on non-profit labels?
RH: Non-profit labels are great, I’m not the kind of guy who has strong opinions on record labels, they can live or die on their own and I’m not really concerned about that. In my experience with TFD copyright free music and giving music away has done really great things! When I first started the band, after Brutal Truth broke up, my idea was to get back out on the road, playing live shows, bringing crazy grind noise to the kids, that’s what I enjoy doing, that’s my art.
As well, at that same time I had never gotten large royalty cheques from record or CD sales, so it made sense to me to give this music away so that I could get back out on the road with TFD; and this is in 1999, so the internet was just getting started and it wasn’t quite as fast as it is now, you couldn’t just post your album up and have somebody download it. Our first three demos were copyright free, anybody that wanted to make copies of them and sell them, or give them away, they were more than welcome to do that and a lot of people took us up on that offer. A guy in England would put out a hundred copies of the demo, a guy in the Ukraine put out a hundred copies, a couple of guys in Japan put out fifty to a hundred copy editions. The basic gist of it was in the first year TFD was around we got out thousands of copies of our demos and were able to go on a lengthy European tour within a year of starting the band, because we gave that music away.
It’s come full circle because TFD are playing a gig with Extreme Noise Terror out in California and it’s a Scion gig bought and paid for by corporate interests, but the reason why they paid for our plane tickets and set us up on this gig is because TFD’s demos are still available on the Moshpit Tragedy record label for free download, and that record label was contacted by Scion who were doing a record label showcase, and if we hadn’t have given that music away, we wouldn’t have had this opportunity.
Skipping over to Grindcore Karaoke, it looks like, I haven’t actually spoken with Jay Randall about this yet, but I’m going to ask him if he will help us release the brand new, two song TFD free EP. We have two new songs that are totally killer, record labels are dying, so we’re just gonna put these songs out there on the internet so hopefully Grindcore Karaoke will assist us in that. Working with GK as far as the Peacemaker and Caveman stuff has been totally killer, Jay Randall’s model has allowed me to get that music to far more people than I would’ve been able to, even considering that I give it away free, he’s got the infrastructure set up, he’s got the catalogue there and since it is all free, that’s a business model you can slip right into. I use the links for GK songs as my sig file and people can just go there and download with full high quality cover art and full high quality music files, for free, whenever they want. More power to Jay Randall and Grindcore Karaoke!
ZT: What is the plan for the rest of 2012 for Brutal Truth? Is there anything in the pipeline you can share with us?
RH: All the pipelines for Brutal Truth, TFD and Peacemaker move pretty darn slow! [laughs] For the rest of this year Brutal Truth has the June tour that takes us to the festivals, I think we’re playing the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Texas, which is like the Hellfest of Texas I guess. We might be doing some shows in South America later this year and we are currently getting together a few songs that are going to be a split release with Bastard Noise.
In TFD’s pipeline there’s a flexi disc coming out on To Live A Lie some time in the next month or two and then after that we have those two new songs, which I think are our most killer song yet! One’s called ‘Monsters’ and the other’s called ‘Is Your Love a Rainbow’ which are going to be a free worldwide download release, and then if we can get some one to put it out on vinyl later or something like that, we will. Looks like the ‘Hater’ album is coming out on cassette and a couple of new TFD shirt designs coming out as well. There’s always Gorilla/ Peacemaker shows coming up, I might do some Gorilla shows during this June Tour coming up and it looks like there’s going to be another Actuary/ Peacemaker/ HFATMXXX split as well coming up. That takes me into 2013, I don’t know what’s gonna happen in that year!
Brutal Truth’s latest record ‘End Time’ is streaming now via Bandcamp.