It has always surprised me how bands that play some of the most brutal music on stage and on albums often turn out to be some of the nicest, most sincere people that I meet. Hate Eternal recently played a number of dates on their Asia and Middle East tour, in support of their latest opus, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, and on their brief stopover in Singapore, we had the opportunity to have a short chat with the band members, Erik, Jade and JJ.
JJ: It was great!
Jade: You’re catching us at some tired times here man!
Erik: We did not know we were doing an interview so we would have been a little more on our ‘A’-game, you know, so this is a big surprise to us so I apologise if we’re not – uh. We just didn’t know. We didn’t sleep last night, we flew an hour so we’re just kind of loopy, so I apologise! But the tour has been great, it has been fabulous. We had experienced so many great people and different cultures – food, you know, sights and it’s been amazing and something that we will always remember for sure. It’s been really great.
Were there any particularly memorable incidents on tour?
JJ: There’re plenty of those –
Erik: Some that we can’t talk about, but uh, you know, I’ll say more than anything it’s the fans, how happy they were. People were so happy to see us play.
JJ: Oh the hosts have been very gracious too, they told us a lot about the traditional culture, and also some of the newer things as well.
How about a sneak peak behind the scenes of Hate Eternal?
Erik: Us eating, practicing, it’s kinda nothing too extravagant really, we just – we like to eat, we like to work out, exercise, practice, and sight-see. We’ve been doing a lot of sight-seeing because we never know if we ever get this opportunity again, so we take full advantage of it.
So how what has the experience in Singapore been like so far?
Erik: Well, we just got here about five hours ago, so you know its –
JJ: We did eat some stingray.
Erik: We did eat some stingray, yeah.
JJ: It’s a beautiful city.
Erik: Learning the history, and some of your politics and government, things like that that are very interesting. You have very good economy here, so it is very interesting to learn. We learn a lot about some of the laws, and how you do things, which we find very, very interesting.
The last stop for the current tour will be in Dubai, which is known to be a strict religious country, so are there any expectations from the band on what the show is going to be like?
Erik: We really have no idea.
JJ: We have never been there so it’s impossible to tell.
Is it the band’s first time performing at these places on the current tour?
Are the crowds in Asia different from those that are in, say, in the US or in Europe?
Jade: They’re definitely more excited, it seems like it’s newer to them to have bands from America coming and touring here, so they definitely better appreciate the occasion rather than at places where shows come by every other day. But you know, the crowds are like, people are going nuts, and people are also going nuts same here as over there, but seems like it’s newer to them so.
Erik: Not a lot of American bands get to come over here. I mean, I’ve been touring for 20 years and it’s my first time over here, never came here with Morbid Angel. People are so, I mean, they come with a stack of CDs, you know, just signing and signing so many CDs. I think people are just very appreciative.
The band last year released the new album, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes, which is arguably one of the best albums in the band’s history. What was the songwriting process like for this album compared to previous releases?
Erik: We took our time on this one, like writing it. We got a lot of pre-production. Every time we tour, we’ll practice for the tour then we would record new songs, work on new songs because I own a recording studio. So we worked on songs for a year and a half, in between tours and then we took like two months just to practice all the songs. And then we track drums, bass and guitar and then I took a break from the record. It was the first time I did that, I usually start from the beginning till the end but I took a break halfway in before I came back to do vocals and the solos. So having that break was really good for me because I’ve been doing so much in engineering. To me, Phoenix Amongst the Ashes not really one of my best records, but really one of my best productions, one of my favourite productions that I have done, so it’s to me it’s just a win-win situation.
Apart from playing in bands you also own a studio, doing production jobs for numerous other bands. How has this experience helped in the writing of Hate Eternal’s music?
Erik: It doesn’t. Because it’s like totally different hats. When I’m producing a record, I’m just focused on that. When you’re producing an album, you have to focus on that. Anything else is really obsolete, you can’t worry about your personal problems because you know as a musician, I realize that your whole life, the band’s whole life, is an album. So as the producer, I know that so I treat their album as their life, as mine. So when I’m doing an album I’m just focused on the album and I’m not thinking about anything else. They are very separate entities.
You have also produced albums that are not death metal, such as the power metal band Cellador. How are the experience producing bands from different genres different from each other?
Erik: It’s a huge difference, you know, power metal death metal, or rock, or hardcore. They’re all very different. But honestly, even in metal everyone’s different. The whole thing in producing is that you have to figure out everyone’s individual personalities and then the collective as well, and then the musicality, what people are capable of, how far you can push them. And different music different styles have totally different approaches, so for me I have to take different approaches to different styles of music. But it always poses a tremendous challenge, that’s why, you know, I love doing death metal of course, but I enjoy doing other music as well because it’s challenging in another way. We have to work different, so I enjoy it all!
Is the band currently working on new material?
Erik: Yeah, we’ve been working on some new tunes. I hope we record a new album late this year or early next year
What’s the current progress of the album?
Jade: We’re thinking of doing some more tour for this record.
Erik: We’re going to expand from Phoenix, just like how Phoenix expanded from Fury, we wanna keep expanding I guess, which means more chaos, more heaviness and more melody. What Phoenix really did was kinda really expanding the horizon. It is the most diverse and dynamic and I think we want to continue making our music more dynamic as well.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Hate Eternal. Any plans for celebration for this occasion?
Erik: As I look at the fact that we’ve been around for 15 years it’s a celebration everyday because it’s been a long hard road so you know, 15 years has been a lot of hard work and a lot of good things, a lot of bad things, but I’m just glad that we are still around and still doing it. Honestly, personally I’m enjoying it as much now, if not more than I ever had. To me that is a celebration; I love going on stage, I love recording, writing records, it’s the best. It’s just the best ever.