Sunday, August 13, 2017
A Ripple Conversation With Mick Of The Hazytones
When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.
What have been your musical epiphany moments?
My parents were always listening to old 60's, 70's rock, so I grew up with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Doors, The Beatles, The Stones. It's really when I got in high school (when your 12 years old in Quebec) that I dug deeper into those bands, listening to their full albums and getting into it. A Funny moment was when, back in high school, we were all doing skateboard, one of the guys had Misfits stickers and he was saying it was a skate brand. The guy next to us said: Hey stupid, it's an old school punk band. I became good friends with that guy, we started our first band and he got me into metal bands like, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, and also Nirvana. That's how it all started.
Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?
I write with the Kurt Cobain method, melodies first always. At any given moment you can write a cool riff but it's when you get a strong vocal melody over it that you know you're holding something. I will usually write the lyrics long after the song is complete, usually a little bit before we hit the studio. I always have temporary lyrics for singing live but it's in the studio that it all comes together. I always thought I was weird doing so but I reed in a lot of my favorite artists bio that they did the same.
Who has influenced you the most?
The Beatles had a strong influence on me, not just because of their music but their whole career. Seeing them evolve from unknown guys living in Liverpool to one of the best songwriters of all time really influenced me. Reading their bio they seemed like taking influences from wherever and it led to some really great albums (sgt. peppers, abbey road). I later got into the stoner scene (Kyuss, Uncle Acid, Sleep...) which really influenced me to start the Hazytones.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
Inspirations comes from a lot of place, long nights of insomnia, touring, relationships. I'm also inspired by all the great stoner rock music coming out these days, the scene is so strong and they are so many good bands getting their music out there. Motivation comes from the fact that I really like being on a stage and on the road.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
Montreal is a great place to start a band, this city probably has as many musician's as people who go to gigs, which leads to a really big amount of bands playing every night. This gives you a feeling that, when you think your band is great, you go out to gigs and see those amazing bands and you tell yourself; I got to get tighter and practice my scenic presence and write better songs. I sometimes feel that Montreal would have been the Seattle of the 2000's if the music industry had stayed the same.
Where'd the band name come from?
We had been trying to find a good name for at least a month. We did a show under the name Stoneage (lol). I wanted to have a stoner reference in the name, Frey suggested the Baritones over facebook and it made me think about Hazytones. Right then and there we kept it and it felt right
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
I'm a big fan of old westerns (Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, Tarantino) but the music on those movies is already pretty good! So I would say the next film by Tarantino, I would love to do some desert rock/stoner on one of Tarantino's or even Scorsese!
You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?). You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?
Probably Marked by the Devil, cause it's a metaphoric dark vision of life that I enjoy singing live. I assume people can relate to it in any ways they want.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Well there are so many things that I can't say in an interview (lol). Touring is all about the after party's in my opinion. If you don't enjoy the after show's well it must be tough to be on the road. One night on our last tour we were playing in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, not a big town. I could not find a venue so we ended up in a library with 3 other bands. I managed to get a liquor license to sell in 30 minutes (gotta love Saskatchewan), so obviously we got drunk. Just when we started our set about 8 stoner kids walked in and knew all of our lyrics. They invited us for a crazy after party at their place. This is what makes the road fun, you never know what to expect.
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
Playing live is something magical almost spiritual. Nothing else compares to a band and an audience connecting. What's great about being on tour is when you play your set every night, you start to improvise some things but you feel confident about them. What makes a great live experience is when the crowd turns you on (we usually end up acting crazy on stage when that happens) which then turns the crowd on. I think nothing beats this feeling.
What makes a great song?
I think good hooks will make a great song. A lot of things can be a hook, a great riff, a good melody or the arrangements. But you need something that, from the first listen will make you go; what is this I'm hearing, it caught my attention. I think you have to stay away from having a sound that is too similar to somethings that's been made. I am not saying our music is reinventing anything but I want people to recognize the Hazytones sound as soon as they hear a couple of notes.
Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
Well I am definitely not proud of the first songs I wrote. To me my first real album was The Hazytones. And we wrote the music when the band was fairly new so, I am really eager to get a second album out. I feel like this one is really going to be the album of a lifetime, now that we gained a lot of experience with the first album and the touring.
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
Josh Homme is really doing great at the moment, I think he's a really talented songwriter. I think King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are on the right track too, releasing so much new material like they were a 60's band gives me hope that the market is big enough for lot's of new music. Ty Segall is also a good example, he gets involved in multiple projects, he's always touring, and he has killer material. Also a big shout to smaller stoner bands like Elephant Tree, Black Mastifs, and Mothership (which is becoming huge).
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
Vinyl to me, is the only real format for listening to music the way it was meant. It is the only format that is going to make you listen to the albums the way the artist wanted you to listen to it. Digital is made a bit more for ''hits''. Nowadays if you have one strong hit on an bad album your band can still get a lot of exposure but it will never be as rewarding as having a good full length.
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
Whiskey!!! If all venues could bring me coca-cola, whiskey and ice I would be a happy cat. I'm a big fan of bourbon and old fashions too. The problem with whiskey is if you have only 2 drink tickets, you will last longer with two pints than two whiskey coke.
We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?
I grew up in a really small town with no record store. But if you're in Montreal check out ''La table tournante'' (the turn table) it's the best in the city in my opinion.
What's next for the band?
More touring cause we enjoy it so much. We want to hit the U.S.A in January and Europe again in April. Between those tour we will work on an second album that is 60-70% written.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
Continue to support emerging bands and go see them live! You guys are making bands go somewhere. I am really thrilled with the ''stoner'' community, you guys are rad and I love you all.