HateSphere should need no introduction by now. They’ve blasted crowds away all over Europe and Japan and put out a line of strong releases. ‘Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes’ is no exception to that rule as it celebrates thrash metal and power in abundance.
Powermetal.dk’s Thomas throws a few questions at powerhouse guitarist Peter ‘Pepe’ Lyse Hansen.
Pepe, good to hear that you’ve kept the standards and even improved yet again with your new release! How’s the mood in the HateSphere camp – good I trust?!
Pepe: I feel pretty good, hehe. The new album has really turned out as I hoped, we have just recorded two new music videos, and finally we are just about to tour China. So I have nothing to complain about right now.
What’s the story behind the title of the new album – ‘Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes’?
Pepe: First of all it is simply a cool title. We always go for titles that fit the atmosphere of the music, and not necessarily have a message in themselves. If you want an answer from me whether what it is about, then it can be interpreted as falseness in the world. People smile at you even though they don’t really mean it. These people are the most dangerous, because you don’t really know that they are against you before it’s too late. On top of that the title fits the new songs that also are not just as they seem. You have to listen more closely to them before they really open up for you – at least that’s how I feel – and the same thing with the title.
I’ve noted hints of Pantera and even Type O Negative on ‘Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes’. Damned Below Judas is the closest you’ve come to a death metal track. Who’d you say has been the major influence on your song writing this time – if anything other than yourself?
Pepe: Well, when I write music, I don’t have bands in my mind that I want to sound like – I want to sound like myself. Not in that way that we have invented anything new but we still don’t sound like anybody else, I think. What I have been listening to mostly the last year or so is hard rock, and I wont say that the new album sounds like that, hehe. The difference this time is that we have been more convinced about our own strengths and that we have dared to try out new stuff in the music. More rock parts and more midtempo parts have entered our music, and the whole sound picture has turned a bit more crunchy and dirty. It hits you harder, I think.
You decided to play the entire new album live in Copenhagen as a PR event. How did that idea come about? German Rock Hard magazine was quite enthusiastic (as they are with just about anything you do).
Pepe: Yeah, that event went really well, and the invited journalists were happy and liked the new material very much. Jacob came up with the idea a long time ago, and then started the preparations. First off was introducing the idea to our record label, and luckily they liked it, hehe. Actually this idea hasn’t been tried out since Iron Maiden did the same thing with their legendary “The number of the beast”, so we were quite happy that so many fans and journalists showed up and made the event so great. We talked to dozens of journalists from abroad, and in comparison with the listening party we did for “The sickness within”, we had at least four times as many invited this time. So all in all it was fantastic!!
Are you trying to start a trend in Danish metal copying Duran Duran? First Mnemic did Wild Boys and now you’ve done A View to a Kill… And am I right if I say that you primarily like the lyrics – the music has no resemblance with the original whatsoever?!
[The track was recorded for a German single. Members of Club Gaffa have also received a CD where the track was included.]Pepe: Well, I don’t think we want to start a trend, hehe, though it could be cool!! Both Mnemic and HateSphere have just found out that Duran Duran is an awesome band! Especially our drummer Anders is totally crazy about the 80’s music, and I have always been a James Bond fan, so this song kind of came by itself (it’s the title song for the 1985 James Bond movie “A view to a kill”!). On top of that I realised that this song had a very heavy structure that could easily be made into a HateSphere song, and then we tried it out. One of the demands for a song to be tried out as a potential cover-song is the possibility of the song being redone and rebuild, so it sounds like us. We don’t just wanna play the song exactly like the original, we want it to sound like HateSphere. When we did the cover of “Bark at the moon” by Ozzy, the cool thing was that people didn’t realize what song it was, before having heard it lots of times. So we took that as quite a compliment.
Speaking of Mnemic. Mircea’s boys and Volbeat have been confirmed as openers for Metallica when they play in Aarhus this summer. One wonders why the proudest sons of Aarhus aren’t on the bill. Wouldn’t that have been a perfect job for you guys?
Pepe: Yes and yes!! But the music business isn’t always fair, so we didn’t get the job. I guess Lars Ulrich doesn’t know what he is going to miss! But hell, a big congratulations to both Mnemic and Volbeat, it’s one hell of a gig to get!
You’ve toured with a zillion bands by now (well, almost…), but which ones would you single out as the most fun/interesting/rewarding bands to be on the road with?
Pepe: Well, one of our best tours was the one with Soilwork in 2005. Actually we have toured with quite a lot of Swedish bands – The Haunted, Dark Tranquillity and Soilwork – and the cool thing is that we are quite alike the Swedes mentality. So we usually have a great time, hehe. On that tour with Soilwork we were main support, lots of the venues were sold out and we just felt good with the other bands (Construcdead was also on the bill), so this tour always stands out. On top of that we have toured with big American bands like Exodus, Chimaira and Morbid Angel, and this has been amazing in the sense that these bands are all times favourites of ours. So when we got the opportunity to tour with them, we of course were thrilled.
The tour you’re embarking on now includes two dates in China. How did you make it into the bill on those Chinese festivals?Pepe: Actually this Chinese tour now includes five gigs! The first two gigs are at the Midi Festival in Beijing and then a club gig in connection with the festival. At the festival we are confirmed to play the main stage on May 1st, and I expect this gig to be really special for us. Not only is this the first gig for us since the live listening party in Copenhagen in January but then it’s also the first gig for us in China – and then we will play in front of potentially 80.000 people. From May 7th till May 13th we will be the first band ever to be embarking on a sponsored tour in China, so of course that’s a very big honour for us. The tour will be sponsored by the biggest Chinese metal magazine, Painkiller Magazine.
Are there any dreams of crossing the Atlantic and do jobs in the States? You haven’t played there yet, have you?
Pepe: That’s the next big goal that we have set. Actually we were supposed to play North America here this February with Unleashed, but some unforeseen complications forced us to cancel. But we are working hard to get a new tour over there, and I hope that it won’t be that long before we are teaching real metal ass-kicking to the Americans. That’s going to be amazing to do that.
What does your current top five look (sound) like right now?
Muse – Black holes and revelations
Muse – Absolution
Cradle of Filth – Thornography
Fate – Scratch’n’sniff
The Haunted – The dead eye
Thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer, Pepe. I hope you’ll have a great tour this summer! Any final rants for the readers?
Pepe: I will take the opportunity to thank all the fans who keep supporting us. We are looking so much forward to going out and playing live again, so we hope to see many of you there. Keep your eyes and ears open for the new album “Serpent smiles and killer eyes” that will be released here in Europe on April 30th (Germany – April 27th), and check out the new HateSphere videos for the new tracks “Forever war” and the soon to come videos for the tracks “Drinking with the king of the dead” and “Floating”.
See you out there!
More info on ‘Serpent Smiles and Killer Eyes’ and HateSphere can be found on the band’s website, www.hatesphere.com or their www.mySpace.com/hatesphere page.