Born in the Wake of the Fire: An interview with A. Mack of HULL

HULL press CROPPED
Posted 05 December 2011   Interviews

The History of Now

TBR:  It seems that there was quite a buzz in anticipation of “Beyond The Lightless Sky”.  What was has it been like for you guys from the time you guys finished recording, leading up to it’s release?  Have you guys felt any sort of pressure to live up to the expectations?

A. Mack:  I am not sure we really fell victim to any sort of overloaded hype bonanza.  I personally did not, but that might just be because I don’t pay attention to that shit since I am from outer space.  As a whole, I think we felt pretty confident about letting this recording be a public representation of us, mostly because the motto of our recording session was “can we play this live, just the way it sounds in your ears?” Then, when it was all said and done, we definitely went through a process where we almost re-learned the songs so that we sound as polished as the album does…

TBR:  HULL is based out of Brooklyn, New York – a city with a notorious reputation for being hard to impress – what would you say the keys to making it this far have been?

A. Mack:  Intense motivation coupled with the taste of being a part of something we all believe is unique and amazing. Also just simply rolling with the punches, which seems to be a basic skill probably all over the world. Tuck ‘n’ roll grammaw!

TBR:  Are you guys all native New Yorkers?  If not, tell the people a bit about where the guys were from and what drew you to the Big Apple.

A. Mack:  Only one of us is really from these parts – Carmine. He is a native Long Islander. Nick is from up near the Adirondacks, so I guess he is technically a native New Yorker too. Jeff is from the suburbs of Philly and Sean and I are from the mountains in the west. I would tell you where, but we wizards have to keep it secret, keep it safe…

TBR:  Not sure it’s widely known, but for those who don’t know already, can you give a brief history of how Hull came together?

A. Mack:  I moved to NYC in hopes to start a band and I did just that within the first few months. I was on guitar and my friend that I moved out here with was the singer and the band was called Wyoming.  We had an awesome lead guitar player but he had a rather unfortunate case of ADD. During this time of band members who weren’t really a right fit, I tried out for a band called Reservoir that Nick played guitar and sang in and that went great, so we started playing together.  The bass player of Reservoir told me to reach out to another person who had tried out before I did and so reach out I did!  This guitar player’s name is Carmine Laietta and he will shred your dick off right through your fuckin’ zipped up pants!  Needless to say, he was in.

Moving forward, Wyoming was still trying to dial the band members in and we had to come to the painful realization that our bass player, who RULES, was not available enough to take it seriously. While searching for our proper thunder, we decided to try out having Nick play third guitar. This was epic, to say the least, but we had too much lightning on our hands and no thunder.

It was around this time we all decided that we didn’t want a front man anymore and we were far enough from Wyoming’s sound and line-up that it was a good idea to change the name.  We then tried out Sean on bass, who was a perfect fit, and then we all decided Hull was an appropriate title for what we were building here. After that, we recorded Viking Funeral with Brett Romnes on the drums and soon after found our lifelong drummer Jeff Stieber. I know that was long winded, but that is how it all went down, dude…

“Beyond The Lightless Sky”

TBR:  The new album certainly seems as though it’s going to catapult the band forward to a wider audience but you guys have been active for several years and have a few other recordings under your belt already.  Could you talk about the progression from your previous release, “Sole Lord” and “Beyond The Lightless Sky”? 

A. Mack:  As a member of the band Hull, I would say there was not much unique progression between these two albums, but instead a lot of learning about what needed to happen on the engineering end of things. The lessons we learned after pressing Sole Lord are the exact differences that make this new record sit on a mount above the rest…

TBR:  “Beyond The Lightless Sky” is an incredibly diverse and dynamic album.  First, I’m interested in the influences – both inside and outside of Metal – that you guys share band members.

A. Mack:  The similarities of musical influence that span across the entire band are probably ones you could guess. To name a few: Neurosis, Melvins, old Baroness, Mastodon, High on Fire, old Smashing Pumpkins, and the like. I think we draw a whole lot more inspiration from the bands we have played with on the road, which most often our friends have created…

TBR:  I’m also interested in some of the areas where your musical tastes don’t overlap.  Does anyone put on “that CD” during your roadtrips that makes the other guys groan?

A. Mack:  Oh all the time!  There are five members in Hull and our extremely varied musical tastes is exactly what created the beast. Just speaking for myself, I know not everyone wants to listen to Yes all the time and I personally can’t stomach listening to some ‘normal’ bands like Nirvana or Faith No More.  Don’t bother trying to tell me how fucked up that is, because I already know…

TBR:  Leading up from the band’s formation into the initial songwriting for “Beyond The Lightless Sky”, did you guys have a lot of deliberate sort of discussion and planning for the overall direction you wanted to go or do things tend to happen more spontaneously?

A. Mack:  Spontaneity in our musical process is something we try to hold true to no matter how much we feel like we need to make things happen quickly and/or now. We do, however, have a very in depth and serious process for creating music. That comes with the territory when you write concept albums based on individual civilizations throughout the span of human life on the planet Earth…

TBR:  I think that people are especially interested in the dynamic between band members as an extension of the band’s sound and in some cases, I think that exploring the songwriting process can provide an especially interesting window into this aspect of things.  With the complexity of the songs on the new album, HULL makes a case for this line of questioning.  To get to the point, tell us about how you guys work together and how your various personalities work together as the songs are being written.

A. Mack:  If you are saying that a peek into our personalities would give perspective to our band, I would have to disagree. There are things that happen in the practice space that NO ONE would ever want to know. Hell, look at Metallica after they put out that movie!  If they hadn’t already driven their band into the ground, giving people a peek behind the curtain certainly fastened the lid on the coffin…

TBR:  One area where you guys place a LOT of attention to detail are in your lyrics or in your “Saga”.  Who is responsible for the writing and could you tell the people a bit about how you (they) developed such a strong interest in writing?

A. Mack:  There are five people in this band and we all put forth a lot of energy into helping the writing process in every way. That being said, some are better at pulling lyrics from the story and some are better at spitballin’ and some are not…

TBR:   Lyrically, are there any thematic aspects to “Beyond The Lightless Sky” and if so, could you tell us a bit about them?

A. Mack:  The overall theme for our new album is parallel planes of truth and fear in the Mayan culture. The lyrics we sing reflect the characters’ feelings throughout the saga…

TBR:  Clearly, HULL is at least somewhat influenced from the Norse traditions and way of storytelling (READ THE HULL SAGA HERE).  Where does this interest stem from?

A. Mack:  Sean is the son of a Viking!  To be honest we probably all are. We have a band tattoo among us all that reads “Born in the Wake of the Fire”. What that means to us is that we feel we are warriors, born after the battle has subsided. Now, our quest is to tell the legend…

TBR:  I think it would be extremely difficult for anyone to see Hull as a Black Metal band but I can see some interest in one way or another from those who identify with Black Metal.  Can you comment at all on how Hull is seen in that community?

A. Mack:  In any community, our goal with our music would be to satisfy all people who listen to any genre. This would be why you will hear elements of black metal within the twisting and turning of Beyond The Lightless Sky…

TBR:   Speaking of musical genres, personally, I see them as a “necessary evil” when communicating with others about music but I suspect that we both agree that it can be pretty useless and absurd.  More than any band I’ve heard in recent memory, I can just imagine how Hull is going to twist a lot of musical journalists into all kinds of wild contortions.  Has that sort of thing started in the press yet?  Any thoughts or funny stories to share?

A. Mack:  I would have to definitely agree that labeling music through genres is not only silly, but also unfortunately necessary for proper communication. The stringing together of genres to describe our music started when the band did and I imagine it will only get worse. Looks like we will remain, for now, Progressive Psychadelic Stoner Doom Sludge Metal broguys…

TBR:  Any thoughts to share on the actual recording process?  Was it a memorable session in the studio or did you guys just come in prepared, get the job done and get out?

A. Mack:  We definitely went into the studio VERY prepared, but nothing coul prepare us for how wonderful it would be to work with Brett Romnes and Billy Anderson at the controls!  Set them for the heart of the sun!!

Tales of the Homeland, The Saga of the Road

TBR:  You guys have already been on the road a bit.  What are a few of the things that you’ve learned that you figure that only NYC could really teach?
A. Mack:  Avoid potholes and police!!!

 

We’re putting together a piece on New York and trying to build a picture of history and the present day scene.

TBR:  Give us a few of your fondest memories related to the musical soul NYC in terms of places, events, etc.  The things you grew up with as a kid that were part of your musical experience

A. Mack:  One of the fondest musical experience I have had in NYC that would probably only happen in NYC is seeing old Baroness and Mutant Supremacy play in a loft apartment, set up in the middle of a half-pipe, in the middle of someone’s living room. They even brought boogie boards for crowd surfing!  That was right up there with seeing Yes play live!!

TBR:  Looking back, NYC was a pretty magical place for heavy music through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Looking at things today, honestly, how does the “scene” of the present day stack up?

A. Mack:  It stacks up in a cyclical way!  I really feel like, especially in Brooklyn, we are coming back around to those old ideals of being cool dudes who play in cool bands who just want to play with and support their friends who are cool dudes who play in cool bands… Cool!

TBR:   If someone’s passing thru New York and has only 48 hours and you wanted to give them the proper experience from morning to night, do you wanna give up any tips?

A. Mack:  Find someone who lives in a weird part of Brooklyn and surrender your day to their idea of a good time. And if worse comes to worst, just stay away from times square!!!

TBR:  You’ve already played a number of recent dates.  Any more plans for supporting the album over the next couple of months?

 

A. Mack:  Our supporting tour kicks off on the 19th of October and we are going out for a full US tour with some cool dudes who play in an awesome band called The Fucking Wrath. Keep an eye open for the date we come to your neck of the woods and remember to stay radical!!  EVERY DAY!

 

TBR:  Any last words?

 

A. Mack:  Fuzzlebotteryton!!

— Words by The Bone Reader
— Photos by Greg Cristman
http://www.gregcphotography.com/index2.html

BEYOND THE LIGHTLESS SKY is out NOW on The End Records

HULL official website here!
HULL on the Book of Faces