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Harlott's Andrew Hudson: "I have been the harbinger of such an outcome since our first release 10 years ago, it was just convenient that this year has been the closest to an extinction event as we have seen in a while."

Interview with Andrew Hudson from Harlott
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 11 November 2020, 10:48 PM

As if we haven't been through this so many times, but any time to remind the fact that we might be our own danger, well, it is rather important to bring it up time and time again. It has never been proven the mankind is evil in its nature, yet there have been sayings through history. Nonetheless, there have been enough proofs that we have the ability to be good to one another, overcome situations together united, and this is what mankind should aspire. The Australian Harlott, and their leader Andrew Hudson, believe there is danger looming, and it is just a matter of time. We have to learn a lot in order to stop ourselves in the zero hour. Harlott released the captivating Thrash Metal epos of “Detritus of the Final Age” and it is mighty interesting according Hudson talk with Steinmetal.

Hello Andrew, it is a sheer pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things looking up for you?

Hey mate! Thanks for having me. Things are pretty good at the moment, albums coming out and the country is opening back up after some pretty severe lockdowns, so I can't really complain. Might even be able to get on stage soon!

Through the interviews I am trying to understand what is going on in other countries in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, and nearly everywhere it seems that it is being controlled. However, there is another breakout worldwide, in several stages true, yet it is still there, the second wave so to speak. What is the situation in Australia?

Nationally we have had things pretty much under total control. Almost no cases in most other states but in Victoria, where I live, we had a bit of an outbreak and we were locked down for a few months to get the numbers back down to zero. There was a pretty decent amount of time in which we weren't able to leave our homes unless it was to get supplies, or get to work. Face masks have been mandatory and temperature checks occur anytime you enter any premises anywhere. It was a pretty dystopian existence for a while but its nearly back to normal now. Who knows how long it will last, and I definitely feel that this will be a common place occurrence from now on.

How have you been coping with the situation, in particular the inability to play live? How does the local scene in Australia feel the effects of Covid? Is the government helping in a way?

Our music scene is totally dead. So many people have lost their jobs and it's not just the musicians, it’s the techs, the engineers, the roadies, the bar staff. The government have had payment plans but the live music sector is so far down their list of priorities they would much rather keep venues with gambling machines operational because they will generate better tax revenues.

I don’t think we will ever fully recover from the damage done, our city of Melbourne has one of the highest live music venue per capita in the world, and it's going to take a long time before that scene can return to even a fraction of its former strength.

It would appear that the emergence of your new record, “Detritus of the Final Age”, in a special kind of way, isn’t that of a coincidence. Of course it doesn’t seem that mankind is at its final threshold of existence, yet you have to admit that there are alignments that can’t be ignored. What is your statement about that?

I have been the harbinger of such an outcome since our first release 10 years ago, it was just convenient that this year has been the closest to an extinction event as we have seen in a while. I've always written about mankind being the manufacturers of their own demise, so I didn’t really expect it to be a life collection of organic material that was actually going to be causing the devastation.

I do feel that Covid has been mostly a catalyst to help expose just how catastrophically inept we are at handling such an adversary. Imagine if it was a truly deadly virus with a greater infectivity… we would be fucked!

So according to what you are claiming on the record, philosophically is that eventually there will be that leftover of mankind, after probably a colossus kind of an event that would obliterate most of the world population, and even then, that leftover would find a way to destroy itself? If not, what is the record getting at?

There likely won't be an event that will extinguish all life. A complete societal collapse would be enough to descend us into chaos. But let's say that 99% of mankind is killed off in a war, or in a plague, or due to poisoned earth and water supplies. The remaining 1% would still number in the tens of millions, but without a structure, without resources, without what we took for granted how long could we hope to prosper, and would be want to.

You always see these films and read these books about people doing whatever they can do survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but I think after what we have known most would not be able to survive or want to survive.

Coming to think of it, it was said, long time ago, that man, in its essence, is evil. Therefore, I can assume that this sort of saying has been part of your belief, is that a possibility of course in light to the notion that it has the ability to destroy other than build? If not, what do you believe that mankind is deep within

I do believe that we are inherently self-serving, selfish, and maligned. It is unfortunate that those kind of traits can help one be successful and are as such quite selected for a desirable in our social systems. It's almost like we have bred those behaviours into us over time. We have equal abilities in destruction and creation, we just utilise creation more to improve our existences. But it’s a good indicator of where our priorities lie when you see just how quickly technology will advance during times of war.

I can’t help but think about the album’s artwork, which is intriguing even though it appears like a raw kind of painting. Nonetheless, it shares a fate that people should fear from, and listen to the moral output that can be interpreted in many ways. What do you see in it? What was the initial vision behind this art?

I see the slaves of a system past lost at the foot of a broken monument to unity. It’s the Geneva building I think… in ruins after the final war. It has the globe motif that I like re-using from album to album and its got a great color scheme that makes it a unique looking release in our catalogue. I went to Andrei with a very brief idea of what we wanted and he, as usual, came back with exactly what I had in mind despite me barely giving him anything to go on.

After finishing up a sort of trilogy with the first three albums, where does it put “Detritus of the Final Age”? Is it a standalone story?

It feels like a standalone release with a different sound and some different styles. It’s a mixed bag of lyrical ideas and content really feels like a step towards the things to come for this band. I couldn’t leave it at 3 albums as much as I may have wanted to…

With Thrash Metal being an undeniable part of the band’s legacy in formation, I noticed that “Detritus of the Final Age” tried to break the Thrash Metal grip while slightly, and yes slightly, to other variations of contemporary Metal. No doubt this is an important stage for the band, even pivotal in a way. How would you define this process that went through the band while writing the music for the album?

After finishing the trilogy, I felt a little bit free to explore those other variations. I have a big love for thrash metal as I'm sure it is plain to see but I adore almost all heavy metal and there isn't much I won't listen to. There are some genres that have such moments of pure metal brilliance that I cannot want to bring some of that into what we do in Harlott, and as a result there is a fair amount of variation to the record whilst remaining in the confines of being a thrash metal record. I think It makes for a more invigorating listening experience and helps to keep you gripped from start to finish.

What were the influences that kept you company as the new directions within the band’s music came to light on the album’s songwriting?

I was listening to the Battlegrave debut album ‘Relics of a Dead Earth’ as well as the Blackhelm ‘Grand Ruinous’ release a fair bit. And you can hear that pretty distinctly in the album. I had also been listening pretty extensively to bands like Pallbearer and Bell Witch which make for a haunting experience but I do thoroughly enjoy the way they can make things sound so drenched in despair just with their excellent note choices and pacing.

Would you say that there is a chance that Harlott has a future where it would go on further progressive, even turn to a little Post approaches, maybe turning into a kind of current Voivod (Just throwing at you as example)?

I don’t think anything is off the table and I already have some very strong ideas of what I want the next album to sound like and what I want it to do. I don’t think we will ever not be a thrash metal band but there's plenty of room in that to add a little progression. It will all depend on what I wish to do with the music as I can only really apply myself enthusiastically if it is out of passion or interest. Definitely expect more of what you heard on album 4 on album 5, with an even greater investment into experimentation.

As part of the band’s process to become diverse, you also recruited two new band members, in particular the lead guitarist of In Malice’s Wake, Leigh Bartley. How would you describe the contribution of Bartley to the band’s drive and dynamics and of course its lead section?

Leigh is a mature and established musician with a pure taste and his involvement in the lead sections on this record really finish off each track with a tasteful and well-crafted assault on the senses

Perhaps the album’s toughest, heaviest and a fistful of Thrash Metal is “Bring On The War”. I couldn’t resist banging my head silly to the slow tempo carnage that went on. However, the song also shadows additional faces of the band. Would you say that this song took out a lot from you guys, to become something that you weren’t? A challenge perhaps?

It certainly did feel a bit weird doing something at that pace, and it was difficult to get the rhythm to feel right in the studio. It also took a lot out of me vocally because I had so much room to let the words out instead of spitting them like usually, I really had to dig deep and push hard.

There were many points where I was tempted to speed the track up, but I resisted the urge to add in a few bpm. It’s a great song to bust out live and we were lucky to have a chance at the start of the year to play it on stage for our home crowd.

“Prime Evil”, certainly attempting to top the former’s efforts, is a chunk of violence, with a wicked lead guitar section that is off the scale. Brian Hopp of Cephalic Carnage annihilated with stellar solos that really made this one fiery. How would you describe this cooperation between you guys? How did it come to be?

We toured with Cephalic Carnage on the Havok / Darkest Hour package and got along with them like a house on fire. In particular, I bonded with their guitarists Brian and Steve and was very keen to have them be a part of the album. Brian is a freak musician and could have done absolutely anything that we asked of him, and we literally just gave him the track and told him to go for broke. So what you hear is pure unadulterated Cephalic Shred and I’m stoked with how it came out.

 “Grief” is where I found you personally to be aching and more passionate than ever. Needless to say that it is one of the darkest tunes I heard from you guys. How would you describe the feeling of recording the vocals for such a track? What is your connection to it on a personal level?

It felt weird, like I was exposing a part of myself I wasn’t used to showing. I had been through some very significant personal loss and it was so impactful that I felt it would be a disservice to the pain I had endured to not put it into a song. The lyrics came out of me easily on to paper, but very painfully from paper to microphone. It was very hard to record and every take was a struggle to get either the right anguish, or the right melody. I’m proud of the final product and although I avoid listening to it, I know that it came together how I wanted it.

Have you guys considered doing a live stream event any time soon or do you rather wait to go back on stage, no matter when it will happen?

We were actually lining those up earlier in the year but the lockdowns in Australia became so severe it was illegal for us all to get together, and the thought of recording all our parts separately in a room just felt incredibly not metal. We can afford to wait a bit longer and do it properly!

Andrew, you guys went out of your way with an amazing album, you deserve all the best. Thank you for the interview and may you return to the stage asap. Cheers man.

Pleasure was all mine mate!


 



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