Hyena Kill are one of the most exciting heavy bands on the UK scene today. This duo is taking the promise of bands like Queens Of The Stone Age and Deaftones and bringing it to the underground. Wonderfully abrasive and fully aware of their own bombast their upcoming record Atomised is a testament to all that makes this type of music great. I got a chance to Skype with their very open and friendly drummer, the fabulous Lorna Blundell and talk about just about everything.
How the hell are you?
Really good thank you! I’ve just been jamming all day by myself since Steve left to get his amp serviced.
Since like 11 yeah!
And you said before the interview you were rehearsing tomorrow.
Yes – but that’s just because we’re about to go on tour.
So it’s normally not this hectic?
It’s pretty hectic at the moment. We’ve got a lot going on with the album coming out. I’m spending a lot of time on social media which I don’t know how I feel about! (Laughter)
What’s your social media strategy?
We do our best with it but Steve and I aren’t internet savvy -we are mainly musicians. Sometimes we get frustrated with the amount of effort we have to put in. It’s amazing how you can interact with fans and people. It’s only our friends who get stuff straight from us. We try to update every day. There’s always something new going on.
I haven’t had a chance to hear the new record yet, but how was that experience? How was it an evolution on previous stuff?
It was an amazing experience. We wrote a really heavy album because people kept telling us to write more catchy songs and me and Steve were like ‘that’s not what we do’. So we kind of subconsciously rebelled against it and wrote a very heavy record. It’s not a heavy metal record, when people ask me what it sounds like I refer to it as ‘Tool meets QOTSA meets Deaftones’. I was listening to our old EP last night, which I don’t do often at all, but I saw the progression we made and how we’ve matured was awesome. We also put a bit more money into it getting it mastered at Abbey Road. We were a lot more serious. The producer knew exactly what to do and what we were after and we smashed it.
What inspired you to take it to the next level like this?
There’s only so much you can do with EP’s. We did consider doing another EP. It’s not a massive album though, it’s only eight tracks. We just wanted a body of work we could be really proud of that could represent all that we have done in the last four years. Me and Steve are really proud of it an as musicians we have had to up our game and Steve’s vocals are incredible on the album. The producer wouldn’t let him do a shit take.
You said it’s a ‘heavy record’ but not a ‘heavy metal record’ wherein lies the difference?
We have quite a bit of groove. I listened to a lot of nu metal and hip hop growing up and I’m not a huge heavy metal fan. We take influence from it but we also listen to a lot of pop. Steve is a massive Nirvana fan so the way we structure our songs is quite poppy. From a drumming point of view I don’t use a double bass pedal which keeps it groove based. It does get a bit nasty and raucous so it does verge on metal now and again. When we first heard the record back though, we didn’t realize how heavy we had made it – but it wasn’t heavy metal as in like the crazy stuff. It’s just really thick sounding. It’s massive. If you’ve heard our latest single – it’s similar to that.
What makes something heavy for you?
For me personally – a lot of screaming and guitars. I think heavy is like massive drums and stuff. WE do do heavy but I wouldn’t class us as heavy metal – not solely. I think when people describe us on our behalf we do get put in the heavy metal category. I have called us a heavy rock band though. That would be my description – heavy rock.
In that heavy rock/metal/fuzz scene we are seeing a lot of duos coming like Conan, The Body or Eagle Twin – why do you think that is?
That’s a question we get asked every now and again. We forget that we’re a two piece because we had a bass player initially, years ago, and he decided to leave. We didn’t get another bass player because we practice so much and had so many gigs coming up that we couldn’t find a bass player. So Steve got an octave pedal and started playing through a bass amp and we unknowingly kind of developed this sound that didn’t accommodate a bass player. That became our personal experience and made us into a two piece. There were a few other two pieces knocking around at the time too which influenced us. I think a lot of two pieces do it for convenience – it helps communication. It also helps for touring.
It’s a catch 22 though because we also had to pay out of pocket for this album and that was expensive for two people whereas for a four piece it would have been a lot easier. I think people are just experimenting with sound though. The two pieces I’ve been exposed too are quite different. No two are the same. With two people you have to fill a void. When our bass player left my drumming had to get a lot better because we had to fill out the sound. If we wanted a bass player now it would be difficult because Steve’s sound is so massive. I don’t know if it’s a fad but there’s a lot of them. Sometimes Steve and I forget.
I wasn’t trying to imply it was part of a phase – it definitely makes sense…
It’s fine! I think a lot of them popped up in Manchester almost overnight. At one point we were on a bill with all two pieces. It’s not really a fad I just think it’s easier to jam with two people. I’ve met bands with ten members and I have no idea how they all get in the rehearsal room. It’s convenient really. It’s a lot cheaper in terms of touring.
Do you think that two piece bands are the future?
I’m not sure. Two piece bands have been around for a long time. Obviously the classic example is theWhite Stripes who we get compared to a lot – I don’t think we sound anything like them – maybe its just the girl boy combo. I’m not sure about the future – that would be cool.
On your band page you would bill yourselves as ‘proud cows on acid’ I feel like there is a story there.
When we first started the band we couldn’t decide on a band name and it was when we still had a bass player. We just started putting words together and one of the names was Proud Cow. It was a party phase for us all, we’ve grown up now. I wanted to call the band Proud Cow and I got outnumbered. Steve came up with Hyena Kill which was great because there were no other bands out there with that name – although initially we had to fight a lot of wildlife videos on Youtube! But we originally called ourselves Proud Cow and the ‘on acid’ I think just came from messing around. When we were typing p our Facebook bio I think we put it for my amusement and never took it down.
In regards to ‘on acid’ how much did psychedelics impact the early phases of the band?
Not at all actually. Steve would be better at answering this. It was just a joke. We call our record label Proud Cow Records. We weren’t that messed up – we were just drinking a lot at the time. It’s something Idon’t think about though – no one has asked in years.
You mentioned having to cut back on alcohol what happened there?
This was four years ago now. We just loved to party. When the band started to get places we were like… ‘Well…’. Don;t get me wrong – we like to have a few beers, we’re English after all – but rock and roll as it is going on tour and drinking a lot is exhausting. I started to go to the gym and looking after myself. At first we really did fulfill the stereotype of being grungy messy kids. We were a lot younger then. When the band started to do something we had to sort ourselves out.
To head towards the end, what do you feel your place is on the UK scene?
That’s a good question – it’s funny because we don’t fit into a set genre. I feel like we could fit on a lot of different bills, metal, grunge, heavy rock whatever. We are quite accessible. A lot of people will say ‘This isn’t our type of thing but I really enjoyed that.’ I think people are impressed by the intensity and volume driven by just two people. As far as where we are on the scene we are still very underground and hugely DIY. We’ve only just recently started to get a team of people behind us which we are really grateful for because it means we can focus on the music more. It seems to be getting every year though. With every hometown shows the venue gets bigger. We sell out a lot of shows in Manchester. In the UK we are still working on making a name for ourselves. People get in touch saying they enjoy it every day though. I just had some guy knock on our practice room door who heard us play yesterday and who plays drums down the hall. He didn’t realize what we did and he had already heard of us. That always takes me by surprise. We are slowly getting there even if we are massively underground.
What do you love so much about music?
It’s become my life! I’m not quite sure what I would be doing without it. I love listening to it as much as I love playing it. I think it’s really important for me to listen to variety of music. I don’t want to just listen to rock, I listen to a lot of things that suit my mood. It helps me get through life. If I could make some sort of existence off it I think I would be very happy.
Do you have any final words of wisdom for me?
Play music, it’s good for the soul!