The Hit ups Interview

On the last day of Mojo rising festival in Falmouth, in a venue that promised to be the best of all the locations the festival was held at over the previous few days, the Electro rock, synth packed beast of The Hits Ups were scheduled to headline but the event was cancelled due to noise level problems. Instead of an energy fueled mosh I sat down in the corner of the emptying bar with lead guitarist Charlie Torrible and lead singer Josh Hughes-Games to have a chat about playing live, musical influences and a friendly yet rival band.Image

Q: Has this ever happened before?

Josh: Yeah it has actually once before, its just one of these difficult things when theirs miscommunications between people, we’ve got to be diplomatic in these situations. Its one of those hollow things for us that we get paid for what we do, we like actually doing shows, so its like a real drag when you turn up and can’t play and in this case your ready to play, were ready to go, but anyway cant be too bad.

Charlie: When it happened before we were in the basement of a hotel and they’d booked it all up especially, it was all amazing and then in the second song in the hotel manager came down and was like you’ve go to turn it right down and it sounds like a real easy thing to say I guess but when you base your whole vibe around kind of in your face punk rock.

Josh: Its quite difficult to explain to someone that you can’t turn that kind of music down, and you especially can’t turn lyrics down because its just loud, that’s all it is just loud.

Q: What are people to expect when they come to see you live?

Josh: If people come to see us live they can expect a lot of energy, we do play really loud, our intention is just to make people dance and get people having a good time, let people go a bit crazy. Its an experience for us, we like going nuts and involving people as much as we can. So a very interactive show.

Charlie: Yeah because there is a lot of traditional ways to experience the whole the live scene, I’m not talking about us I’m talking about gigs in general. You go there, you do this, you do that and I guess your supposed to walk away saying that yeah I loved that song or I loved that thing and we wanna totally freak people out in the best possible way and for them to go fuck that was the best thing I have ever experienced, not just the music but you were right in my face in a sexy, sexy way.

Q: What has been your best gig to date? Which was the most fun?

Charlie: Yesterday was sick, got a bit hectic but …

Josh: Yesterday was amazing. Its one of those interesting things, Its always difficult trying to pick out your best show because their always amazing for different reasons. We’ve played like a festival shows that have been like massive crowds and their insane. But last night we were in Bristol and we had loads of people crammed into this tiny room and it was just kicking off, going mental. We played London as part of this tour, that was crazy as well.

Charlie: There’s different reasons, like a festival is a completely different thing theirs like a sea of people that are half baked anyway. Canterbury was a weird, awesome show because it was this tiny little narrow bar.

Josh: We were on the floor just playing, I was on the table.

Charlie: It was just really cool and that’s the best way people vibe off it and that’s one of the amazing things about this tour because it was the first time properly taking in everything like stop, stop, stop nationwide and it’s the best feeling.

Josh: People have really been reacting well to it which is a really flattering thing because when everyday we have people sending us messages on Facebook and to our email saying we want you to come back and people who were in the crowd who really enjoyed the show and its such a nice thing to hear. All good shows for different reasons but Bristol was grate, London was grate, Canterbury was grate and all the other places were grate to.

Q: What festivals have you got lined up in the summer?

Josh: Were being a bit sneaky about what’s going on in the next couple of months because we’ve got a lot of different things planned, some of it we can’t talk about yet because were still sorting it out but were be disappearing for a while, we might be making some festival appearances and a couple of little shows but were be announcing about it all soon.

Q: When did the band start? When did you all get together?

Josh: Its been a strange progression in away because we’ve all played music together for along time under different guises but me Charlie, Samuel and Lewis so Drums, guitar, bass and vocals we’ve played together for a long time and me and Nick who’s the synth player, we used to do this hip-hop thing together so we brought him into the band about two, three years ago. So the incarnation of the Hit Ups as we are now, about three years. Before then we did a load of different stuff and all stuff we were really proud of  but it was not what we are now so we view what we are now as three years.

Charlie: When your little kids you’ve got to spend a lot of time being shit before you get anywhere and actually can put on a good show and play some good songs

Q: Is that advice to anyone trying to start up?

Charlie: Its advice to anyone trying to do anything, this is Charles motivational speaking hour welcome. Everyone starts up and are like yeah were shit and I’m like of course your shit you’ve only done it once. I’m trying to think back to the first gig we ever did, to be fair we were pretty good, but its like anything, you’ve got to go through that.

Josh: I think its one of those weird things for us to be giving advice because people have asked us that question before like what advise would you give to up and coming bands and I’d say I don’t know because were still learning it all. But just doing it for the right reasons and continuing to try and do it is the best thing to do.

Charlie: Listen to awesome music, listen to awesome bands.

Q: Another question you may get asked a lot: who are your music influences? What music has influenced the band?

Josh: This is another of one of these things for us, all of us come from such different musical directions it’s a nice thing. We have loads of bands we all like but we all bring in different things like I’m a big fan of the southern hard-core stuff like Every Time I Die and some more American hard-core influences like The Bronx and those sort of guys.

Charlie: I’m a mega Foals, electro and indie music so all the elctro heads, producers like Wolfgang Gartner.

Josh: Then from that you’ve got Nick whose a huge hip-hop fan, he always has been like that really experimental end of hip-hop he’s into Flying Lotus and them kind of guys. That’s how we write, we want our music to appeal to as many people who it can get to really.

Charlie: Lewis Jamiroquai and funk head and Samuel is a grunge guy with his punkish; you can definitely smell the punk in Lewis’s drumming.

Josh: I think its one of those things, we try to bring in as many influences from as many places we can. I wouldn’t want to cut off any of the influences, apart from drum and bass, he (Charlie) might thou.

Charlie: This is the thing were have an argument about that

Before the interview with Josh and Charlie, just an hour earlier we had met up with another band playing at MoJo Rising, The Other Tribe. After saying we were heading down the road to interview The Hits Ups they couldn’t help but add a few questions for us to ask.

Q via The Other Tribe: Charlie, has being a “suit” in the music industry helped in the music far?

Charlie: It hasn’t helped any of the music definitely not but its helped my understanding of the bis has gone tenfold, its gonna be so valuable that and also what he means by suit is that I work in legal and business so I’m always dealing with contacts and the negotiations and stuff and so for me I really understand when you gonna get fucked over in the contract and what parts of the contract you can negotiate and what parts you can’t and its like if we got a deal I’ll be doing the legal aspect of it, when we’re dealing with our managers, agents stuff I know the kind of framework  could potentially fuck us up. Cuz a contract is their to make you feel secure but its full of little twists and turns so its kind of like false promise like here now you can feel relaxed because you’ve signed this contract, when the reality is now we’ve totally fucked you over. But that’s the rant, I love the company and I love the business but its not helped with the music one drop cuz I haven’t got the time to write. On that point I’m looking forward to taking some time out and coming back to the music which I’ve missed a lot.

Q via The Other Tribe: Denim cut offs?

Josh: Denim cut offs yeah still sexy baby.

Q via The Other Tribe: Josh, you have been nicknamed the illustrated man. Explain.

Josh: The illustrated man, I didn’t know I had that nickname. I have a relative amount of tattoos but not that much, I have some quite intense tattoos. But I don’t know if that’s talking about tattoos or drawing but either way I have some silly tattoos and I also do draw so thank you very much.

Q via The Other Tribe: Who looks up to who between the two bands?

Josh: Obviously they look up to us. Obviously I mean look at them.

Charlie: Their the new boys on the scene, we’ve been there for years.

Josh: Were the patriarchs man, we’ve been around.

Charlie: You can write that down CC them in and put it in bold.

Josh: Just tell them any time they want an arm wrestle were waiting. We’ve know them guys for a while and we love em. 

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An interview with Eric Owen and Kevin Mckeown of Black Pistol Fire

Black Pistol Fire are a talented two-piece piece band hailing from the southern US. They released Big beat 59 in August this year, a fast moving, thoroughbred rock n roll album. I did a review on the album recently after it came out and it has become my favourite realise of the year. Drummer Eric and guitarist/ singer Kevin took some time out of their tour in the North America to answer a few questions.

Q1. There’s a lot of bands you have been compared with, The Black keys and The Kings of Leon being the main two, but who did you gain the most inspiration from while making Big beat 59?

E – I’ve seen us been referred to as “Punk N Roll” before and I think that holds true on Big Beat ’59. The album as a whole has a lot of different sounds where “Beelzebub” is gospel, “Hot Mess” has an Americana vibe, and “Dead Love” definitely has a Zeppelin II+III feel. Overall though, the biggest influence has been old 50’s style rock and roll. We (especially Kev) are really into Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. I think it was a matter of taking that original sound and updating it with our energy and modernizing it.

K – I was listening to all kinds of different music while recording Big Beat. Some Gospel, old blues (Freddie King, Howlin wolf), 1950’s and 60’s rock n roll from Little Richard to Link Wray.

Q2. What was your main reason for becoming a two piece band?

E – Kev and I have been friends since we were in Kindergarten. That’s over 20 years of friendship. We’ve also been playing music with one another for about 12 years. We’d had other members in different bands, but we have such a strong bond personally and musically that it’s kind of hard to throw someone into that. When we play live, I think we’ve learned to read each other and change things up at the drop of a hat if we want. It makes things easier in one regard, while it also makes it a lot more difficult by limiting yourself.  At this point though I wouldn’t have it any other way.

K -Becoming a two piece band happened by accident. Eric and I played in a band back in Toronto as trio, with a bass player. But sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes the chemistry is just not right. I wasn’t really happy playing in that band by the end of it, so I decided to move to Austin and really make a push with the music. Eric said that he also had plans of going to Austin, and by the time I got down there he had already booked shows for us. It was just the two of us, so we played them for laugh and it turned out people were really digging what we were doing. We had always jammed/rehearsed as a duo, so I guess it just became very natural thing to do it live.

Q3. Why do you that southern USA rock sound is so popular in the UK?

E – I think Southern Rock is just feel good music that sets that stage for people to let loose and have fun. Those sounds conjure up images of people getting down and having a party! And man do y’all know how to have a good time over there, so it’s a natural fit. Your festivals look MENTAL!

K -The Southern U.S was the birthplace of so much influential music (country, rythym and blues) and it developed into rock n roll which really shook things all over the globe. I think the U.K has always had a great taste for amazing music!

Q4. Did you think it important to bring out a second album quickly after the release of Black Pistol Fire or were all the ideas already in place for BB59?

E – I think we always want to keep going forward. If we’re not on the road touring, there’s no reason to just sit around. Kev is constantly writing and we’re always working on new songs. Even though Big Beat ’59 just came out, we went ahead and recorded 11 new tracks just last month. So we’re hoping to release another album early next year at some point. I think it’s important to keep momentum up. And also, some of the stuff we’re playing around with is just so good!

K – I am always constantly writing, so we were ready to go into the studio. If we have songs, we record them. Our tour schedule has not been too crazy, so we have been fortunate enough to have the time to record. We are actually just finishing up our third LP at the moment which will hopefully be released in early February 2013.

Q5. There are a lot of different sounds throughout the album but yet I think the sound stays undeniably your sound throughout. What do you think it is about the music that makes it sound so you?

E – It all comes down to the energy and passion that we play with. There’s 2 guys playing on the album and whether its drums, tambourine, electric or acoustic guitar, or mandolin, it’s coming from us. And Kev has an unmistakable voice that carries throughout so when you hear him, you automatically associate it with BPF. While we’re influenced by so many different kinds of music, we’re the ones that are playing around with all these sounds.

K – We just play with the same intensity that we also play with when it’s the two of us. I think maybe that is what makes our sound, whether it’s, stomping our feet, clapping our hands or pickin’ a mandolin!

Q6. Are there any plans in the near future of you coming to the UK for a few gigs?

E – Not a day goes by where a fan from the UK doesn’t hit us up online and ask when we’re heading over there. We’ve wanted to for so long but we just haven’t found the right promoter yet. It’s a very costly trip to make when you think about it. We’re actually working on getting some business set up in the UK right now. I’d say that one of our primary goals for early 2013 is to get over to that side of the pond. It’ll happen, it has to!

K – Yes! Hopefully, we will try and make it over there in the very near future. There are a few things in the works right now, but I won’t say too much.

Q7. Finally, what are your hopes and aims for the future after your quick rise in popularity since your first release?

E – I think we want to keep making and playing the music that we love and get it out there to as many people as we can. And play for some bigger crowds. I’d say that 2 huge goals in the future would be to play Glastonbury in the UK and Bonnaroo in the US.

K – We really want to tour the U.K and play as many festivals as we can. The main drive is to just try to keep making good music!!

Take a look at their website here: http://blackpistolfire.com/#home