Q&A Interview // 02.21.16 // by Tom LaSala
The Acid Awakening recently chatted with guitarist/noise terrorist
SPENCER HAZARD of Full Of Hell
about Swans, Max Cavalera, Custom guitars and their collaboration with The Body
due out March 25th on Neurot Recordings.
AA: In the past few years, the world of sludge/doom/blackened hardcore has become one of the most in trends. While rising within that wave, Full Of Hell has set itself apart from it’s peers and carved its own place away from all that. Was this a conscious decision? At what stage did you realize the band had hit a new realm within the place of heavy music?
SH: Honestly, I think it was just a natural progression for us. As the years went on, the music we listened to changed… as well as where we were taking our influences from. We still like sludgy bands, but a lot of it has gotten stale.
AA: I was first introduced to the group through the FOH Noise series, which reminded me a lot of Tribes Of Neurot, Coil and Zoviet France. What inspired those records? While some of the recent collaborations touch on elements of noise and electronics, we haven’t seen a new release in the series since Vol. 4 in 2013, any plans to continue them in the future?
SH: Since the early stages of the band, we were always influenced by extreme bands that had used noise elements in their music like Endless Blockade, Insect Warfare, Gasp, etc. For me though, I think really getting more into Bastard Noise/Man is the Bastard really opened up our eyes on what we could do with the band. Those earlier FOH tapes had been largely influenced by Throbbing Gristle sonically. The last full fledged noise release we did was with Psywarfare in 2014; personally I wanted to take a step away from the noise element for a little bit and just focus on more standard musical compositions. The Body collab will have a stong noise element and with our next LP, I would like to craft the noise more as an actual flowing instrument than just another element added to the mix. I’m sure we will do more all noise related releases in the future, but I need to be inspired to do it and that inspiration isn’t with me at the moment.
AA: One of the more anticipated albums of 2016 is your upcoming collaboration with The Body which will be released on Neurot recordings. You did an extensive tour together last Spring in the states, and from what I read you decided to work together based off the chemistry from that experience. At what point did the idea come about? Dylan has stated you went in with no prepared ideas before the sessions. What was the overall process like once you were in the studio? How many days did you spend writing and recording?
SH: The idea came up as we were planning the tour. At the end of the tour, The Body were going right into the studio to record their new lp and suggested we come up for a week and work on a collaboration. We were very honored to be given the chance because we’re all huge fans of The Body’s work. The first day of the recording process was kind of stressful, everyone was coming out with all these ideas to get the ball rolling and a lot of them were being shot down. As the days went on, it was smooth and everything seemed to fall into place naturally. The whole process took maybe 5 or 6 days with all of us in the studio and then additional days with members working on ideas from their homes.
AA: While Full Of Hell has been known for split EP’s throughout the bands career, the collaboration with Merzbow was the first studio album to do so. While we await the upcoming release with The Body, do you see this as something the band will continue to do? Much like Merzbow himself has done for almost the past 30 years.
SH: I have alot of fun with doing these collaborations but it can be stressful trying to represent each artist naturally without stuff either souding forced or one-sided. I would love to do more collaborations in the future, but it would have to be with the right artist and the right time period. Right now, I’d rather focus on FOH writing and perfecting new material.
AA: When I saw you post that new custom guitar on Facebook, immediately I thought it was the work of Brent Monson. Was it made by him? It looks like one of his designs. From my experience with Brent, he is very knowledgeable, personable and probably the best luthier building instruments for metal. The work he has done for Wolves In The Throne Room, Neurosis, Y.O.B., and Indian have been incredible.
SH: My new guitar isn’t Monson, its actually made by MSM guitars which is Mike Mason from the band Cult Leader. I’ve know Mike for a few years because FOH went on tour with his old band, Gaza. Initially I wanted a guitar from the company Moser, but for how long it takes to get a custom instrument it was not worth the price. I was actually looking into Monson as well before I contacted Mike, but it was just out of my price range. Mike cut me a very good deal to get a full custom guitar and it only took about 8 months. I would like to try out a Monson eventually, some of the shapes he does are absolutley incredible looking and he has a pretty impressive resume of artists that back him.
AA: You are not shy about your admiration and love for the Swans, particularly their early releases. When did you get into them? What lasting effects has Gira and crew had on you?
SH: I had known about Swans for years but I would say around 2012 is when I became completely obsessed. I had heard albums like ‘Filth’ and ‘Cop’ but those albums didn’t really click with me until my friend told me to check out their live album ‘Public Castration is a Good Idea’. For some reason that album completely drew me in and finally all of their material made sense to me and I absolutely loved it. I think the way Gira writes and is able to control the way the band sounds is totally genius and inspiring. He has a way of building tension in their music that I feel no other band has even been able to emulate. Its really influenced us by helping improvise in live setting’s on certain songs as well as bring in other instruments that are not typical in our style of music. That all comes from being influenced by Swans.
AA: The Melvins cover you did was intense, can you see yourself doing a cover of Swans in the future?
SH: We have talked about maybe doing something off ‘Cop’ or ‘Filth’ because those are the only albums I feel like you can even come close to replicating in a live setting or representing properly in the studio. At the same time Swans is so sacred to us and to so many other people it just doesn’t even feel right to even attempt it.
AA: As a fan, it was a trip for me seeing photos of Max Cavalera rocking FOH merch proudly in major photo shoots, TV shows and festivals. What was that like for you as a big fan of Sepultura? I know he recently came out to your gig in his place of residence of Phoenix, AZ. What was the experience like to meet and hang out with him? If he reached out, would Full Of Hell take him up on a tour offer? You have stated in the past that you would like to cross over into more territories as a band in regards to touring.
SH: Its honestly surreal that someone of that influence even knows who our band is. He has not only been influential to us musically, but he is so important and influential to extreme music as a whole. Max is a super down to earth, nice and humble guy… it’s also inspiring that someone of that level actually is up to date and knowledgeable about current underground heavy music. It would be a total honor to one day share a tour with him, with either Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy. As far as crossing over to new territories with touring, I think its important for every band to do so; its important for growth not only as far as getting new fans but also pushing the boundaries and comfort zones as a musician. However, you can’t loose sight and have to realize your roots and never go to far from the initial fan base. Even if we start doing more straight metal or experimental tours we will always know our place is with hardcore and punk and will always walk the line of each genre.
AA: One last question… in the realm of experimental, groundbreaking music, psychedelic drugs have often been monumental in helping artists get there. From the Grateful Dead and Hendrix to Neurosis and Mastodon, these bands were not shy of their use of LSD, Mushrooms, DMT and other mind-expanding apparatuses. Has Full Of Hell used any entheogens before or during the course of the band, in either recreational or creative capacity? If so, what were your experiences like? How did they personally change music for you?
SH: Dylan and I are actually straight edge/sober so we have never used or experienced that sort of mind altering state. Our drummer and bass player love doing that kind of stuff but more as recreational, not so much on a creative level. So anytime we write music it comes from another place, not from substances altering our minds.