Interview, June 20th, 2018

Last week (June 15) was the release of the third album by the American band Hoth. What a beautiful album! 130 dB needed to know more about that. We talked to Eric Peters about his influences and the new album.

But first, a short introduction of the band.

Hoth is an American band from the city Seattle (Washington), formed in 2011. The band consists of Eric Peters and David Dees. Through a mutual friend they met in college. They all appeared to love beer, metal and science fiction (in random order) and decided in 2011 to combine Metal with Star Wars. A combination that they missed. The approach was to write metal, describe epic battles with frightning creatures and evil villians. And make music that they like to hear themselves. A healthy approach seems to me. And that turned out to be true. After the debut “Infinite Darkness” appeared the concept album “Oathbreaker” which was appreciated all over. And now the third album “Astral Necromancy” appears. And again everyone is very enthusiastic. If Star Wars does not interest you, you can safely listen to all of the albums.

First of all, you get some questions about your background and personal taste, so we know a little bit more about you. Let’s start!

– Have you grown up in a musical environment and what music was played?

My father had a midi synthesizer keyboard for a bit while I was growing up. He also plays a lot of acoustic guitar and bought me my first guitar for my birthday. Growing up we listened to a lot of Irish trad, which my father liked quite a bit. There was occasionally some Enya, U2, and Nirvana mixed in there, which was pretty much my early exposure to music.

– Do you still know your first contact with Heavy Metal? How was that like?

I think the first real metal CD I got was Metallica’s “Black Album“. From there, a friend’s older brother introduced me to Iron Maiden, and I got very into NWOBHM and thrash metal from there on out. I still love Iron Maiden to this day and trad metal is by far the most fun to see live!

– Can you tell us which album had the biggest impact on you as a teenager?

Good question. Probably “Wolfheart” by Moonspell, which I listened to almost non-stop. It really fostered a love for the darker elements of metal and some of the more extreme vocals and instrumentation. Dimmu Borgir’s “Death Cult Armageddon” was a close second.

– Maybe the same album as the question before (not in my case), but which record has formed your heavy metal taste the most?

I have grown in my taste quite a bit over the years. My current taste of metal is usually black metal with some folky flavor mixed in – so I’d probably have to say that Windir “1184 was probably the most influential on my current taste.

– And what was the first metal album you ever bought?

Probably Metallica’s self-titled, that might have been a gift though. So possibly the Iron Maiden compilation album Edward the Great. Hard to remember at this point!

I try to teach myself playing the guitar. I started with the riffs of “Iron Man” and “Seek and Destroy“. Choosing the riffs how to play it, is fun to do. But then those riffs should sound nice, smooth and cool. And that’s where I get bored very quickly! Playing the same riffs over and over again is so terribly boring. And it sounds like crap too. Damn! For three months now the guitar gives me a middle finger and I have not touched that piece of shit since then. It is of course a very long period to learn to control an instrument. How did you keep that interesting for yourself, especially in the beginning and which tunes were the first ones you learned?

David would probably have a different answer for this question. Repetition is important to learn something correctly, but I feel like these days, it is so easy to find tabs online for a song you really like and then practice playing that song, and if you get bored, it is easy to find another tab.

I can’t recall what the first song I ever learned was, maybe “Fear of the Dark” by Iron Maiden or “The Trooper”.

– Which album did made a massive impression on you and was the reason that you make the kind of music you’ll play with Hoth?

Another good question – I don’t think there was a single album that influenced our sound. We like to make music that would be something that we would want to listen to.

We are big fans of Moonsorrow, Windir, Dissection, Immortal, and more bands that sort of blend genres and have a strong penchant for melody.

– If you take a maximum of 5 albums with you, for example to an uninhabited island, which ones would you definitely take with you? And why?

Mgla – Exercises in Futility

Moonsorrow – Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

Windir – Arntor

Schammasch – Triangle

Why? Because I love these albums and listen to them very frequently. I don’t think I would ever get bored.

– On which album ever recorded, would you’ve liked to play yourself?

I can’t say. Too hard to answer. It is hard to put yourself in someone else’s creative shoes, because they way they eventually came to create something might be a very different process from how you would approach it.

– Which album do you play the most in recent weeks/months?

Aorlhac – L’espirit des vents

– Which album do you like best so far in 2018? Come on dude, don’t say “Astral Necromancy”!

Definitely Aorlhac’s “L’espirit des vents” which is just amazingly well-done black metal in the vein of Taake, but maybe even better. Also, the new Visigoth “Conqueror’s Oath” just keeps growing on me. I probably listen to it at least twice a week.

– I always play metal. Depending on my mood, this is NWOBHM, Thrash, Death, Doom and Black Metal. But I have a few guilty pleasures. Reggae when the weather is nice. So I do not play that often in the Netherlands. Nick Cave. Progressive Rock. Back to the seventies! Classical music. What about you?

I am a fan of Synthwave, Drum and Bass, Berlin School, Dungeon Synth, some neofolk and tribal stuff, Romantic era classical music, and occasionally some post-punk/goth stuff. It all really just depends on my mood, but generally I am listening to metal.

– Do you have any more interest besides Metal and Star Wars?

Ha, yes. Many. I am a big fan of craft beer, which Seattle is known for. I have brewed my own on a couple occasions. I also like nature, hiking, etc. I play video games occasionally, I am enjoying a few TV shows right now like Westworld and Vikings. I also like hanging out with my two cats.

– And we’ll finish this background and personal taste thing off with the most happy question of all, which song should they definitely play on your funeral?

Gravdans” by Fallen, seems appropriate for a funeral.

Allright, now that we have a picture of you, let’s switch to your band Hoth.

– Hoth consists of two members. I can not find anywhere who plays which instruments. Did I search badly? Or is that on purpose because you want to keep that for yourself or has anyone simply never asked?

It is on purpose to keep things a bit more mysterious. When asked directly I usually say I play the kazoo and David plays the marimbas.

You have never performed live with Hoth. The reason, you told in an interview, is that it is another layer of work, you have your daywork and other projects. Sounds logical. When I played my airguitar as a teenager, my dream was to be the hero on stage. That everyone enjoyed my music. And after the gig there were chicks and beer. Of course. Now the reality may be different. My wife for example, does not like that chick part, I suppose. But like a sportsman wants to shine in competition, I can imagine that the ultimate goal for a musician is to be on stage.
Don’t you miss something by not performing? And do you see that happen somewhere in the future?

I think we might be missing out on something by not performing live. Metal music is very theatrical so there is a very present and fun element of playing live. However, I personally more enjoy the creative aspect of making music, not the repetitious practicing to make things perfect. The worst thing that could happen would be that we deliver a subpar show to our fans, no one wants that.

To be honest, I don’t see us ever playing live. David has had other bands that have played live locally though, so he at least has that stage performance outlet.

– Everyone develops in life. In many cases this also applies to musicians and their music. A healthy thing. If you compare your second album “Oathbreaker” with your new album “Astral Necromancy“, what do you think the development can be seen?

We improved on a lot of elements. I feel like Astral Necromancy is a lot more focused, both lyrically and sonically. We have more common threads between the songs that definitively link them together in the album. We cut back on what we felt like were meandering moments on Oathbreaker, namely we did not use any acoustic guitars on Astral Necromancy. We worked very hard to record the choir track Ad Inane Precatio, which was difficult to conceptualize since it is a polyphony piece. I think we also learned a lot about how we wanted the album to be paced. In terms of production we worked a lot harder to dial in the drums to sound more how we wanted them and we got a new guitar to really get the sustain and tone we were looking for. We learned a lot in the process and I hope our next efforts can be even stronger.

– What I hate, if I can not follow the development of one of my favorite bands. How important is your own musical development for you? And how does this relate to the existing fans?

We grow musically organically, though we are not trying to reinvent the wheel with every album. I hope that our fans can appreciate our musical journey and enjoy the songs we create and put out in the world.

– What do you think is the biggest succes with the band so far?

We were definitely blown away by the moderate success we had with Oathbreaker and never expected to be as popular as we are. I hope that we can build on that success with Astral Necromancy and future releases.

– There are more and more albums every month. In 1990, for example, 17 metal albums were released in May. At that time, I almost knew every band. Now in 2018 for comparison, approximately 550 metal albums were released in the month of May. It is impossible to keep track and I certainly do not know all bands anymore! As a result, I am sometimes surprised by a good band, which I have never heard of before. For example, I recently found a band unknown to me, Altars or Grief. A day or 5, I have done nothing else but listen to their record “Iris“. Have you recently run into a new discovery?

The more music the better, yes it means we might miss something and not hear something that is amazing, but overall the more good music being made the better the world is. I spend a lot of time listening to random bands. I think my favorite recent discovery is probably “Electric Conjuring” by Iron Spell, which was released in 2016, it is absolutely amazing heavy metal that sounds straight out of the 80s. It puzzles me that they aren’t bigger!

– The song “The Void Between the Stars” has a super cool guitar melody that starts at 2 minutes 8 seconds. That is really cool! The Austrian band Visceral Evisceration has a song “Knee Deep in Blood I Wade” in which such a guitar melody is from the beginning to the end of the song. Of course I do not want to impose anything on you, but damn I think it’s a great idea for a song on the next album!!?

We always love crafting catchy melodies that get stuck in people’s heads!

– Your album “Oathbreaker” was a concept album. Honestly, lyrics do not personally appeal to me. First, in general, the vocals make that I can not understand them at all. And with song titles from your colleagues like “Chopped in half“, “Hammer smashed Face“, “Dead by Dawn” I get a picture, and I do not feel the need to read the lyrics extensively. Your lyrics are about Star Wars and perhaps because of my general disinterest in song lyrics, I miss something in your case. But can you briefly tell us what the Star Wars stories are about this time? And does the subject Star Wars give you enough ammunition to make many more albums in the future with this subject?

Oathbreaker” is simply the story of one who falls from the light into punishing darkness. It is a story beyond time. That is the story, there are those who have decided that it is a story from Star Wars, but it could just as easily be a retelling of Hamlet or any number of other tragedies. You as the listener need to decide what it means for you.

As such, “Astral Necromancy” is not about Star Wars. Unless, you individually want to make it about that. The lyrics are up to your interpretation and your interpretation is just as valid as mine or someone else’s. “Astral Necromancy” is about necromancy… in space! It is about horribly powerful black magic that requires great personal sacrifice.

Star Wars is a full universe with a lot of subject matter, we could have just made Infinite Darkness over and over again with more and more of the same sort of silly songs, but we have grown as musicians and songwriters and have moved on. We want to tell stories with our songs and lyrics, and that is what we will do. We have already started talking about what stories we want to tell on our next album.

– I regret that I only recently discovered your band. You have really released a beautiful album. At “Astral Necromancy” I now have my hands full, but soon I will listen to “Oathbreaker”. I’m definitely going to keep an eye on you in the future. And oh, twin guitars I also think are very cool! Maybe another idea for your next album? Full of twin guitars! Shit, what do I have many ideas. Are you looking for a third band member? I am very good at playing airguitar !!! The last words to you. Shoot…

Thanks for talking to us and giving us a chance to talk about our music and our influences! We are happy with Astral Necromancy and we hope that everyone is enjoying it. Please look for more Hoth in the future, we plan on creating more music. Also, brush your teeth, call your mom, drink a beer, and go outside today!