Interviews

Published on July 30th, 2015 | by The Beige Baron

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Hotel Wrecking City Traders

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Ben and Toby Wrecker

Melbourne two-piece Hotel Wrecking City Traders unleash a single slab of long-form psychedelic space rock on their latest 12-inch split with London’s Hey Colossus, released officially last Monday.

Titled Droned & Disowned, the song piles layers of riffs and soloing over gauzy, chimey guitar—an effect that recalls the song Nothing by Californian desert band earthlings?, coincidentally or not—and is propelled forward by drummer Ben Matthew’s pile-driving groove.

Mid-way through the song, the band throws it back a gear and lays rubber on tarmac, charging forward in a blaze of stoner riffage before collapsing in looping noise and feedback.

Despite clocking in at 27 minutes, Droned & Disowned has so much going on that it feels more like 10, the listener stepping bleary-eyed into the Sunn O))) sub-bass drone, bubbling birdcall effects, spectral guitar, and eerie vocals of Heaven Blows, Hey Colossus’s contribution and Side B of this record.

These two songs approach from totally different angles but seem to belong together, balancing each other out and forming what feels like a solid and deeply satisfying full-length album.

We asked Ben how this split came to be, and what’s coming up next for Hotel Wrecking City Traders.

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Toby and friend

BNU: How did you meet Hey Colossus and why did you want to make a split with them?

We have been communicating online as friends for 10 years. When I was booking shows in the UK for HWCT’s European Tour last April, they were one of the first bands I contacted as it’d had been something we’d discussed for many years.

The idea came up as both bands have done numerous splits in the past with other bands and after playing together and hanging out it became clear this one had to happen out of mutual respect and we knew it was going to fit together well.

Did you have this track already done, or did you write it specifically for this project? Can you tell me how it came into existence? Is it just one take of a jam? If so, that’s fucking incredible. The song seems to have three movements. How many times did you have to perform in the studio to nail it?

For this session we went back to the improvisation aspect of our band

We recorded over two hours of music at our recording session in September of 2014 in Melbourne, so we chose this piece specifically for this release not having heard the Hey Colossus track at that time.

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Hey Colossus in action

It was a one-take jam, wholly improvised, with a few overdubs of guitar. We had our good mate Raul Sanchez play second guitar with us as we tracked it live. The guitar overdubs were just little flourishes that were knocked out right after we completed the jam. Tobz played them.

Did you try anything differently this time in the studio? I really like the drum sound.

Yeah, after our last album Ikiryo, which we deliberately prepared for and loosely wrote six pieces that were shorter in length, more traditional in their structure and form.

For this session we went back to the improvisation aspect of our band, focussing on longer one-take jams and using Space Echo units, more layers of guitar, bass, and even vocals on one tune.

We always go into the studio and spend one day tracking and one day mixing. Every release we have ever done has been this way. It’s a financial consideration as well as a desire to not overplay or overthink certain aspects of what we are doing.

The session that this song was taken from birthed another full-length album (out on Evil Hoodoo in the UK later this year) as well as an EP’s worth of other tracks that we’ll be releasing as digital online singles.

Yeah touring places like Spain and Japan are always eye-openers.

Loose Alcoholic was the first one, which came out earlier this year. You can get it via our Bandcamp page. That’s the one with vocals.

These songs were all recorded with Adam Calaitzis at Toyland Studios in Melbourne, with Jason PC [Blood Duster] handling mixing and mastering duties at his Goatsound Studio a few weeks later, also done in a single day.

I’m assuming Hey Colossus sent you their track over the Internet when it was done, or did you hear it through each phase? How did you feel when you heard the finished product?

We had our track ready first, they sent us the completed final master of Heaven Blows a few months later, so we had no idea what they had done, but trusted each other enough to know it would sit well as a split LP and just rolled the dice.

I love their track. It’s haunting and dark and a nice follow-up to their last record In Black & Gold, which is my favorite full length of theirs to date.

You’re issuing this on your own label, right? I know you have some strong feelings about how the music industry is today. Why did you feel you had to start a label? Why not issue it through an established label and skip the hassle?

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HWCT in full flight

No, this actually came out on Wild Animals Records, an Aussie indie label. Our friend Dan runs it and he stepped up and offered to put it out for us as he was also friends with Hey Colossus, used to work with Paul and would go see them play in the UK all the time.

Having our own label is great for putting records out exactly as we want them to be. It’s something that has grown and over the past 10 years I’ve been able to work with some great folks like Mario and Gary of Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson/Ten East, Australian bands, UK bands, and also Toby’s solo effort Sounds of Jura a few years back.

I must confess that this HC/HWCT split was a blessing from a financial standpoint (not have to bear that burden personally). I am helping out servicing the record to press in more of a PR role, which is critical in today’s oversaturated, internet-driven world.

HWCT just got back from a massive tour of Europe and you’ve played Japan many times, you supported Sleep. I’m wondering if you found any bands that really excited you lately, and what are your thoughts on the differences between scenes in the countries you’ve played in? Do you think alternative music is supported more strongly in some places than others?

I love their track. It’s haunting and dark

Yeah touring places like Spain and Japan are always eye-openers. We’ve made friends with some awesome bands all over the place, which is a great by-product of touring.

Europe is most definitely ahead of the game in terms of making a tour work financially and from a hospitality standpoint. Music and the artist seem to be valued more as an art form in those terms than it is in Australia.

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HWCT/Hey Colossus Split 12″

Japan is the same, but again, very different at the same time. We played all-dayer shows of 10+ bands and of varying genres, which was a highlight. Though sometimes they can be quite an endurance test when you’re on towards the end of the night and they’ve plugged you with an endless supply of Kirin or whatever!

But touring in Japan is a really wonderful experience, one we’d love to rekindle again next year perhaps.

Where can people buy this record once vinyl has sold out? Are you gonna repress it or is it a case of you snooze you lose? Any tours planned for your band, and with Hey Colossus?

No, there won’t be a re-press, just the original pressing of 216 copies. It will remain available digitally however, so if you want one, I’d suggest ordering one now.

The plan is to return to Europe for another tour next year and shows with HC will definitely be on the cards. They are a funny bunch of dudes and are always cracking jokes and we get along well with them, so we’ll be looking forward to that tour.

Order your copy of the Hey Colossus/Hotel Wrecking City Traders split 12-inch at Wild Animals Records. Follow HWCT here and Hey Colossus here.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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