Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Hoofmark Interview


1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?

Hi! Of course. To put it bluntly, HOOFMARK is old heavy & country music.  That’s it! Now, that sure doesn’t seem to say much about anything, but it’s a wonderful way to symbolize the variety of interests the project has. I’ve come to call the approach Unpolished Black Heavy Art too. It keeps things free, you know? Conceptually, it also clears things up in my mind regarding what I can and can’t do musically (good news is that I can basically do whatever the hell I want! haha)

When I formed HOOFMARK back in 2012 all I wanted was to create metal and the only reason I wanted to do that was because I felt I had something to say musically; stories to tell and whatnot. That’s still true today. (The moment I realize there’s no more music in me is the moment I call it quits anyway.) Along the journey I realized there was something about particular brands of blues and country (the Texas Blues especially) that sparked the same enthusiasm in me metal did.

My wish remains to organically combine a fresh brand of caveman old-school black metal (or first wave black metal) with the earthly characteristics of the blues I adore. I scratched the surface with “Stoic Winds”, got nice and comfortable – and personal – with my two country blues singles and figure it’s about time to get real uncomfortable. Gotta keep on travellin’.

2.How would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recordings?

Crude, I suppose. Down to earth, simplistic, all that. A violent clash between a younger me and a not so younger me on the brink of losing his mind? That too haha It’s the danger of having too many references. I think I just got a new way to describe the sound on “Stoic Winds”: Crude maximalism. Now I have an entirely different problem! I don’t think maximalism is stoical at all. Damn it!

Seriously now – and to namedrop some metal for ya – “Stoic Winds” wouldn’t be much of what it is without the numerous fists in the face of god by Bathory, Motörhead, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Amebix, Darkthrone, Poison (Ger), Tormentor (Hun), Törr, Mefisto, NME, Pagan Altar, Manilla Road, Paul Chain, Slaughter Lord, old Sepultura, Sarcófago, Sabbat, Parabellum, Mayhem, Burzum, Tangorodrim, Death Strike/Master…... I’m quite the sucker for demo stuff. Old demo stuff mostly. Nice thing about it is that I’m still discovering new music from back in the day. Like, last month or something I listened to these Hatred guys from New Jersey playing death metal just the way I like it. Proper shit-fi. Demo was from 1985 – what a ride!

As for sound more specifically, for “Stoic Winds” I wanted it to be as warm as it possibly could. I remember explaining the direction I wanted production to take in regards to “sound temperature” to my producer (hi, Hugo!) and he nailed it with one word: Alentejo. It’s a region of south-central Portugal that’s typically both really warm and really dry – and really pretty, you should go there! It was a conscious decision in the sense that I didn’t want to go all grim and Scandinavian with my black metal. Never been there anyway. Also, I got more of a problem with heat, which reminds me of a funny story: I once saw Abbath playing at a festival in Seixal (south-west of the country) in the middle of the afternoon. Must have been like 35-36ºC and it looked like his face was melting. Now THAT’S metal haha

3.Your lyrics cover Philosophy, Fantasy, Anti Religion and Western themes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in these topics?

I take lyrics very seriously because I like to tell stories. I like to tell stories as much as I like to write new music and sometimes these intertwine. I’ve had occasions where the lyrics came first. I’ve had times where it took me over a year to wrap up the lyrics on a song. I’ve had times where the lyrics didn’t work on song and so I picked up the words and just wrote a story. I publish some of those at www.porchfires.com.

Having said that, writing lyrics for “Stoic Winds” wasn’t easy. It was country, more than metal, that made me connect the dots in regards to storytelling, songwriting, vocals, even delivery! Can’t completely explain why that is, but especially things out of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Townes Van Zandt and David Allan Coe made the most sense in my time of need.

As for the themes, I’ve often felt that the more otherworldly or simply psychedelic stuff now frequently present on black metal releases have in a way restrained the danger that should be inherent to the genre. Danger and evil are of significant interest to me and I seem to get plenty of both via the rocks beneath my feet, philosophy, archaeology, primitivism and westerns (real good ones! – give Butcher's Crossing a spin).

4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Hoofmark'?

I basically had one requirement for the project’s name: it had to be one word only. Most of my favorite stuff is one word and I think it usually works a lot better (except for Paul Chain Violet Theater, which is the best name of all bands ever!!). I went through some really shitty options at first, then I got better at it but ended up finding out that some of those names were taken. First time HOOFMARK came to me I actually dismissed it very quickly. Then on the same week I opened up the notebook I was using for lyrics and ideas, saw the word and it clicked. *BAM* I got my name.

Its meaning is self-explanatory on one hand. Also, marks on the ground make my mind run free. That’s for the tracks of beasts and the ones of humans.

5.On the recordings you record mostly everything by yourself, are you open to working with a full band or do you prefer to work solo?

Depends on the work really. For “Stoic Winds” I was super green on a variety of subjects and felt the need to involve plenty of other people. ‘Twas some experience, let me tell you! For “Come Flames” I knew exactly I wanted to work with a particular brand of bass player and I did and it was all light as a feather (Jiné is such a brilliant soul). With “Chunks” I just did it all myself ‘cause it felt right. For the upcoming album I will try to get some very special artists on board, we’ll see how it goes.

Whatever the case may be, HOOFMARK is not and will never be a band.

6.The album is coming out on 'Ultraje', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?

I can tell you the label is in very capable hands and that I’m extremely grateful for their support. Their hearts are in the right place (which is the most important thing, if you ask me…) and I’m excited to see what other people they sign. Like HOOFMARK, I get a feeling they are just getting started. They got a friend in me.

Great, now I have that song on my head.

7.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your recordings by fans of black metal and other underground forms of music?

It did some rounds, I guess. Got tapes out there, did a wee bit of network and the feedback was generally nice but it never took off or anything. It’s hard, you know? There’s SO MUCH FUCKING MUSIC out there. Great music too. I figured I might as well keep releasing stuff I’m happy with and let the material speak for itself. I’m not intending on getting big or anything like that. If it grows let it do so as organically as possible.

For instance, it feels like this thing with Ultraje happening now, about a year after the initial release of “Stoic Winds”, is symbolic of that. Consider me happy.

8.The musical project has been around since 2012 but you waited until 2016 to release any music, can you tell us a little bit more about the earlier years?

I wouldn’t say I waited haha it just took a long time. The earlier years were nuts and for a long time I had no earthly clue if what I was doing was worth a damn to me or anyone else (I knew the music said something – but that was about it and my insecurities kicked in HARD). It’s of little consequence to the rest of the world of course, but it took me a lot of courage to put this out the door at the time. Realize that a lot of the groundwork for “Stoic Winds” was actually laid down even before 2012. There is stuff there from my high school years. It didn’t help that there were setbacks aplenty and that for a long time I just couldn’t make up my mind as to what just should stay and what should go. Again, “Stoic Winds” is, if nothing else, the product of a clash between a younger me and a not so younger me on the brink of losing his mind. That’s metal too… right? 😊

9.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician in the future?

After two country blues singles I’m heading back into metal territory – a unique slash of it. All I can say for now is that I’m allowing myself to run wild. Having a time here.

10.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Ramblin Tommy Scott is kind of a new thing for me so I’ve been listening to a lot of that. Just this week I went back to some old favorites too. Strange Boys and the wonderful The Make-Up, plus a bunch of Roy Orbison. Oh, and Terminal Death. HACKSAAAWWWW. That fucking track in on the same level of craziness as “Die by Power”.

11.What are some of your non-musical interests?

You got some of those already: archaeology (especially the Neolithic period), literature, ancient philosophy, primitivism, animal cults, colors, evil, westerns. Wine is good too. Red. I like rocks and toothpicks and felt tip pens and I really like this video games series called Dragon Quest (playing number 7). Wrestling, naïve art and abstract expressionism, Tobe Hooper, tattoos and how can you not like cats! I’m interested in just about everything that’s interesting.

12.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

For sure. Let me see…

First of all, thank you very much for the kind words directed towards “Stoic Winds”. Really appreciate it.

THANKS, Martin Ain! May you continue to inspire the true through the eternities.

Be a feminist.

Fuck off trump. Fuck off nazis, homophobes, transphobes, sexist douchebags, racists and bigots.

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