If you don’t mind with those kind of questions, please introduce your band to our readers.
HSE is a project in which, apart from me, are Stelios (Erectus / Limbus Patrum), Mitch (Head Cleaner / Atrocity Pioneer / Doomed Again) and Skee (Sketch / The Workable Truth / ). In fact, in Thessaloniki, only a handful of people devoted to the old school are left so, when inspiration kicks in along with the right mood, we get mixed into various projects.
I imagine there’s a message to convey via the band, or something you’d like to say, even things that haven’t still been comunicated through your name.
Unfortunately, there is no mystery around our name. It happened during a morning coffee ‘session’ with Mitch at a coffee shop downtown; in that coffee shop, you could listen to indie / rock music of the 90s, so we commented on how excellent the production was back then. When REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’ burst through the speakers, we both started singing and suddenly we began to comment on how the lyrics of this track could lead to great band names. ‘Haven’t Said Enough’ is part of a verse of ‘Losing My Religion’ . Another idea was “Me in the corner”, coming from the same song, as well.
Your debut album was released three years ago and it was like a punch in the stomach, since it came quite suddenly and surprised us in a positive way. What happened until the release of your second album?
Indeed, 2014 was a very creative year for me, during which HSE’s debut sprung, together with the 12” split of Head Cleaner with Progress of Inhumanity, and the 7” split of Doomed Again with Paroxysmos. 2017 was even more creative as the new 7” Head Cleaner split with Austrian Mastic Scum came out, the second full length album for HSE was also a reality, a new EP for Doomed Again and a fourth release with one more project, Baader, with whom we will shortly release our first full length album. In my spare time as you understand, I only play music.
Talk to me about the writing process of the “Entrance to Mayhem”.
‘Entrance to Mayhem’ came out just like the ‘First Signs of Malfunction’ release. I went over to Stelios’ house four times with my guitar and while talking to each other, we built the basic structure of the tracks and the shaping of the new character we wanted to attach to our tracks. Stelios – as everyone knows – is one of the most important sound engineers in Thessaloniki and his home is actually a fully equipped studio. There, on the spot, we did the preproduction. We finished the drums, the bass lines, etc. After that, we had a piece of excellent, raw material, thus we recorded the tracks from the top at Sklerotikz’s rehearsal studio, where Sakis also works as a sound engineer. As you understand, we are very lucky that two of the four band members are sound engineers.
What are the album’s main lyrical themes? How important do you think are the lyrics of an album for the band itself?
All lyrics are written by Mitch. As in Head Cleaner, we focus on socio-political commentary. I treat lyrics the way I treat my music, deadly serious. I cannot take seriously a band that releases an album that’s filled with lyrical jibber jabber. It is incredibly lazy and irritating to the listener’s ear. I don’t listen to such records.
Does it piss you off when a band has humorous lyrics in death metal and grindcore albums, or do you think that everyone is entitled to do as he pleases?
Of course, everyone can make their choices. As a listener, I’d rather listen to albums whose lyrics have an opinion and of course as a guitarist I take into cosideration the lyrics of a band every time I think of joining it; it has to express my opinions as well. In a country like Greece, where people have been leaping out of the balconies over the last ten years, I think someone who wants to express themselves through death / grind has also something to say. Humorous perspectives emerged at a time and in societies that had all their problems solved. When you don’t have to worry about unemployment, hospital care, social care, then you can of course make fun with themes of green pukes, electric saws, assholes with teeth and I don’t know what else but my friend, there are much more serious issues to deal with now.
What do you think are the biggest differences between the two albums you have released so far?
When the drummer changes, the band changes. There is this unwritten law in the music we play. Apart from this, however, one can notice many differences, comparing thia album to the previous one. At first we decided to expand our tracks. In the first album, our tracks had an average duration of 45-50 seconds, thus we decided to experiment with the compositions, so we could double their length and move to 1½ minutes. Mitch also changed his vocals. In the first album, the approach was ‘blacker’ and minimal; now it has returned to its loud trance and pluralism of vocal lines. Me and Stelios tried to darken the material with more melodic lines and empty spots as opposed to the continuous intensity of the first album. The biggest difference, however, was the drumming of Sakis because we gave him the time to study the material very well. On the first album, we grabbed Tolis, we threw him into the studio and told him come on, listen to one track at a time and do spontaneously what you believe is right, therefore the final result is real, authentic, groovy and spontaneous work, but ultimately not so imaginative as we thought. In this album, when I listened to Sakis’ drumming I really shuddered. His ideas, along with the turning points, the ghost notes he played and the way he engulfed every riff were things that filled me with joy.
Do you feel like you’ve matured in this album? Do you think experimenting fits the music you chose to serve?
In this album not only we evolved, we have made huge leaps of progress, both synthetically and as characters. The projects are there to experiment with new things. We didn’t form HSE in order to play like Head Cleaner or Erectus. We wanted to be completely liberated from the limitations each fan had in his head about how to play this kind of music. The album is extreme, it’s full of ideas and I think it’s too artistic too.
What do you think about the Greek scene? What’s the main reason why the average Greek Grindcore / Deathcore fan cannot express himself?
I think the Greek scene, at east in the last 2-3 years, faces demise. Somewhere between 2010 and 2013 there was a storm of new releases, concerts, formation of new bands, etc. After that, nothing. For example, I look at the Greek Death / Grind Scene Festival posters, which, if I’m not mistaken, took place 4-5 times at that time, and I find that 8 out of 10 bands that played at that time have broken up already. All of us who formed this scene are all over 40 years old and unfortunately I see no new yeast growing. I don’t see 17-year-olds and 20-year-olds tearing everything apart like we did, music being their life. Back then, we used to gather at Navarino Square from Tsimiski to Alexandrou Svolou road and wherever you turned your ear to you used to hear discussions about music. At the southest section were the skaters, the punks were somewhere in the middle, the death metallers were in the northern section, then came the heavy metalheads and so on. Everyone was wearing Walkman earphones, carrying discmans or – the richer ones – mini-discs; we traded tapes, copied cassettes for each other, our pocket money was only for purchasing albums, etc. Now you just press the play button on youtube and within ten seconds you kump to your conclusion about an entire album. Back then, we bought albums blindly and because we had paid for them, even if they were garbage, we listened to them so many times that we convinced ourselves that we actually like them. Today I believe there are no true fans. The devotees buy records, go to concerts, live for music. Today I have the impression that everything is about styling. Buy a band’s t-shirt, cut it a bit to show some tits or arm and combine it with the necessary accessories. I remember that when I was in high school, if we saw someone wearing a t-shirt of band without knowing how many times a day the band’s drummer pooped, we kicked his ass.
Since I know you – to some extent- personally, to a reader’s question about what I think makes your sound different and violent, I mentioned that your musical preferences when you initially formed your music character were totally extreme, as you didn’t came in much contact with classic metal structures. Do you consider this fact as a negative, positive or as a totally irrelevant factor on how you have evolved as a composer?
Yes you are right, when I consiouslystarted searching for music, I was going crazy with Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Pearl Jam in 91-92. Immediately afterwards, I went crazy with Nausea, Mastiga and Slayer and from 1994 onwards I stuck with Napalm Death, Brutal Truth and Carcass. However, as a listener I find joy in various music expressions and I don’t consider myself a stuck person at all. I despise these people in general. In my album collection you can also find records by the Editors, The National, Future Islands. My only heavy metal preferencess come with Mastodon and Ghost. I never liked heavy metal, ever. Violence exists in all the musical genres and not just in the obvious ones as people may think. Jazz, let’s say, is full of violence. Can you comprehend that for example, when I listen to Editors, many times have felt violent feelings wanting to burst through me? Of course it is not the violence that is being sought; violence sometimes arises through expression, not only with music. Take the paintings by Pollock or Egon Schiele for instance. Some are much more intense than works of Hieronymus Bosch or Giger. The intensity is expressed by spikes and this is usually translated into violence. During a non – mild emotional state. As a composer I have been influenced by 90% of Napalm Death and Brutal Truth of 1994-1997. There you will look for the patterns I use, not intentionally but as a natural consequence. I have been baptized within this musical context.
Tell us about the future plans of Haven’t Said Enough. Is there time and mood for live shows whatsoever?
Initially, the plans was HSE to be a studio project. There is plenty of mood for live concerts, however there is not much time for rehearsals etc. Everyone is busy with their own band so we focus our time for rehearsals and trips on that.
The epilogue is yours.
Thank you for the interview. Do yourself a favor and listen to the record. You won’t regret this.