With the release of "Knights In White Phosphorous", Hot Graves has become a name to be reckoned within the metal underground and I had the opportunity to catch up with a member of the unholy trinity, Tim "Hutch" Hutchens.
I had been running around earlier that morning like a chicken with my head cut off, as I usually do, way too much java, as is the custom, and the time to give Tim a call was soon upon me...I already knew he was a laid back kinda guy, but I still half expected to be greeted by some demonic voice from the underworld...
The person who greeted me was anything but evil, and we were quickly chatting away as if I had called a close bud; our conversation was great, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can't wait to hear more from Hutch and the guys!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you my interview with Hutch!
ThrashHead: Let's go way back for you personally before the band got together, what were you listening to, what were your influences?
Hutch: Before I did Hot Graves I was doing Secrets She Kept, which was a full on Black Metal band, before that... in High School I was in a punk band, but all through middle school and high school, I listened to a lot of California punk rock, Face to Face, Bad Religion, also a lot of Sepultura, Obituary and Morbid Angel...when those records were coming out. For me, there is wasn't a big distinction between punk and metal, we'd listen to a Rancid record then go to a friend's house and put on "Arise" by Sepultura.
ThrashHead: Right, that was one of the questions I was going to ask you later on...my Editor and I had discussing this at length, we have been looking at the path metal has been taking, both punk and metal...you know, back in the day both were in separate camps and then they started influencing one another and you got thrash or crust, but it seems like today, the new vanguard of metal, which you guys help represent...it seems like the two are finally coming together and that's going to be the norm now for both.
What do you think about the direction that both underground metal and punk is taking, it seems there isn't much difference today... like it's all meshing, coming together.
Hutch: It does feel like a lot of the distinction between some these bands comes down more to an aesthetic than it does an actually a sound; if you have a metal logo and dress then you're on the metal side of the fence, if you have the crusty look you're going on that side. It's kinda funny like you said, you have a band like Toxic Holocaust which is more on the metal side, yet they are touring with a band like The Casualties which is a punk band. It's right in the same mix.
ThrashHead: How did you guys first come together, at first was a four piece wasn't it.
Hutch: Yes it was. Hopefully in the future we'll be a four piece again in the near future as well, with two guitar players.
Myk and Matt were both in a band called By The Horns, I was in a band, Secrets She Kept, which is still active without me...we knew each other from town, you know, because there isn't a really huge metal scene in Gainesville...we'd play shows together... Myk was also doing a band called Thee Kvlt ov Ouroboros. The Kvlt broke up cause the singer moved to St. Augustin, the drummer ends up going to New York, so with that free time from the Kvlt disbanding, Myk decided to start Hot Graves with Matt, who was also in By The Horns... and to change it up, they asked me to step in from Secrets.
ThrashHead: So Hot Graves wasn't meant to be the main project then?
Hutch: No, we both had our other bands going on which we were focused on, but things just kinda worked out this way.
ThrashHead: How did you come across the name Hot Graves...did that come from the Midnight song you guys covered later on "Necro Mixos Sacrificio"?
Hutch: Yeah, that's exactly what it was. Myk came over to my house one day when he asked me to be in Hot Graves, and he brought with him the "Complete and Total Fucking Midnight" CD and he was " I want to start a band and call it Hot Graves" , he gave me the midnight CD and two songs he demoed out, once of which was "Total War" which is on the demo comp, "this is what I want the band to sound like", so you know he had that CD and heard that song and said "This is it".
ThrashHead: You guys have that crusty, dark thrash sound...almost on every website or article that's written about Hot Graves, it seems people get really tripped up on exactly which genre, sub genre, sub sub genre, in which hot graves can be classified in...."blackened dark thrash", etc....between you and me, I can't stand genres, there are so many of them now I practically don't know which way is up any more...
...You guys are definitely to the darker side, what drew you guys to that kind of black metal influence...is it just being Florida boys?
Hutch: No...there's definitely Myk's influence in that because he writes the vast majority of the music. But it's gonna be Myk listening to underground black metal and stuff like that...and tapping into that musical sense.
ThrashHead: Your first album, D-beat Death Dirge , showed Hot Graves was, from the get go, F'n hardcore with songs like "Raining Puke", "Metalblaster" and "Kill For Satan", which also appears on Knights in White Phosphorous, but the odd man out on that was a cover of Bad Religion's "Yesterday", why did you guys choose in particular "Yesterday" to cover?
Hutch: Ah, again, that would be Myk, he picked that one, Myk wanted to do an old punk song, and it wasn't weird for us...so, simple as that. And Matt grew up in Minneapolis in the punk scene there, he had a couple bands up there, it wasn't until he moved to Florida did he get into more the metal stuff. And Myk was in a punk band in the past too.
ThrashHead: Ok, here's the obligatory stupid question, on that album, as I mentioned, there is a song "Raining Puke", was that Hot Graves' way of giving a nod towards Slayer's Raining Blood?
Hutch: Again, Myk wrote that one as well...I actually don't know what he would say on that...
ThrashHead: I had to ask, because I know from seeing somewhere that Slayer is listed as a band all of you enjoy, and the second I saw Raining Puke...I thought to myself: "Ok, is this Hot Graves way of saying..."
Hutch: My guess on that would have to be NO, is that Myk was just thinking of people barfing everywhere and raining puke...
...dunno possibly, but "Kill For Satan" is definitely a nod towards Tsjuder's "Kill For Satan".
ThrashHead: You guys already have a few albums under your belt, but "Knights In White Phosphorous" was the first major LP there...
...Hot Graves had songs like "Blood Eruption", "Desecration Time" and "F.O.A.D." blowing folk's minds, how did you feel when those reviews started rolling in; did you say to yourselves, "This is definitely solidifying who we are, this is real now."?
Hutch: When we started to get reviews, I was telling some people I know and friends that we were getting embarrassingly good reviews, I was overjoyed people liked the album, but at the same time, a little confused; I was like "what did we do so right" to get all this praise...I am very happy with the response the record got.
ThrashHead: I was really into the album because first of all, I am not a big fan of death metal, I have never been, and it immediately caught my attention... this was completely different, I remember thinking to myself that these guys are definitely singing on the blacker side of things, but they are breaking the mold...this is not a rehash of what has been out for 20 some odd years, the originality to it was astounding. I think that is what people are into, saying: " this is what I really like and it's not boring at all, it's completely fresh and new". Do you think you guys will be influencing future generations of black metal?
Hutch: That would be a wonderful thing, that would be very flattering if we did. I am not going to say for certain that I have an opinion whether or not we're going to be influencing people, but if that's the way it works out, I'll take it as a compliment. We won't stop playing any time soon, so hopefully people, will be picking up our records and be getting ideas of their own.
ThrashHead: It's definitely refreshing, and people are picking up on it.
After the release of "Knights", did you guys end up doing what so many metal and punk bands in the underground do; a ceaseless schedule of touring? Hot Graves has played with Cleveland resident metalheads Midnight and even made an appearance in San Antonio at Goregrowlers...
Hutch: We try to tour as much as possible, we don't tour nearly as much as people think. The Midnight shows were awesome, it was amazing to play with Midnight after being named after their song, we try to stay on the road, doing what all the other bands do; sleep in the van and try to make connections.
I like touring particularly because I get to meet and see other bands play and get exposed to music I wouldn't necessarily like. We played with Proselyte form Boston in Atlanta and those guys were awesome, that's a record I might not have heard otherwise had I not met them personally. I've seen Midnight, they never play Florida, it was amazing to see them, let alone play with them.
ThrashHead: I had suspected Hot Graves to be the hardcore road warriors, because it seems every two seconds you hear about another Hot Graves show going on. As for 2011, supporting Knights, what's one of the coolest things that's happened to on the road.
Hutch: (Pause) We played with Goatwhore in New Orleans, we've played with Goatwhore before, but that was really cool...they are awesome dudes. Let, me think... we all got tattooed in Philadelphia by Charlie Rouse who painted the cover to the album...that was awesome.
ThrashHead: On New Year's eve Matt busted up his arm pretty good, how long before he's ready to hit the kit again.
Hutch: He actually only broke his radius in his left arm, there's no fractures in any of his wrist bones, so he's actually healing fairly quickly, doesn't wear a cast, he wears a brace, he has putty to strengthen his hand muscle...we're supposed to be playing live again in April....a show that hasn't been announced yet, so early April, but we'll be practicing before that. We still do band practice every week, we're still staying active, writing.
ThrashHead: We'll keep an eye out for a new show in April.....as you just mentioned, you've been working on some new material?
Hutch: Oh yeah, we have a sense of the next record written, we have about a dozen songs fully completed, we've demoed some of them out, while Matt is hurt, we've worked on that, and get them laid out and see what we got for another album this year.
ThrashHead: So, we will definitely be looking at a new Hot Graves album this year?
Hutch: That's what I would like, Yeah.
ThrashHead: That'd be awesome!
You've been getting support from people across the social machines, there seems to be this massive groundswell of fans building up, it reminds me of the old days where all the best music is by word of mouth and not hype, how do you feel about this army of fans out there getting the word out onto the street about Hot Graves?
Hutch: It's cool, I like the social machines, as you call them, it's just bands have to learn to use them to their benefit essentially. I like what the internet can do for a band, as far as getting the word out, and now I can hear a band anywhere in the world, read an interview, get to know what their music; where finding a physical copy of an album might have been almost impossible ten years ago.
ThrashHead: Our Editor just did an article concerning downloading which essentially outlines that perhaps bands need to create a quality product whether it be a record, cd or cassette, while offering the music as a free download. Saying, that the important thing is to get the music out to the masses and the real fans will pick up the record because of the quality and tangible connection to the band it provides.
How do you feel about the recording industry now, for a band of substance trying to make a name for themselves in the digital age where one of the downfalls is that there is just soooo much out there?
Hutch: It's definitely oversaturated, it's nice that anyone can do it, but then anyone can do it. Hot Graves has a 7" out now, and all our vinyls come with a download code, we definitely want attractive packaging, the LP isn't on vinyl yet, but it will be. We're all big fans of vinyl as a whole, and we'd like to create something that we'd like to buy, gatefolds, wonderful art, posters and other acoutramon to go with our records and CDs.
So, it's like you said, it's not just the songs, it's the packaging, it's more than just the songs...I have plenty of digital songs, for the bands I like, I would gladly go out and buy the record, get a patch and other things.
As a band, we need to learn how to use the new music industry to our benefit, which is going to grow, but I don't think a lot of people are going to survive...we need to figure out how all we all fit in and how to be able to sell something which is essentially out there for free.
ThrashHead: With that said, what's the best way then for fans to get out there and help support Hot Graves?
Hutch: The best thing for us, apart from buying our music, would to buy Hot Graves clothing; a recent study showed that wearing a t-shirt is incredibly helpful to a band to gain exposure. Something else, which is about to happen relatively soon, which you can do to help support us, we've organized a compilation CD of Florida bands, people we know personally and have played with, every band on the comp will have the comp available as a free download on their Bandcamp page, so if you like Hot Graves you can come download from our page and you can hear all these other bands we are friends with and tour with from Florida, and if you don't know about Hot Graves, there's ten other bands on it which will hopefully expose you to us.
ThrashHead: Cool, so there is a comp people can simply score on Bandcamp.
Hutch: Yes, and it will be free and we'll have it on sale too very cheap for when we play shows. So you can pick it up if you want it, with a bunch of great Florida bands. The Florida scene is doing pretty well, but we're all kinda spread out because it's such a big state.
ThrashHead: Any words for the fans in the trenches trying to get Hot Graves heard?
Hutch: I meet a lot of kids that are into metal, they like death metal, they tell me they like Cannibal Corpse and I'll be like "you gotta hear Blashpemophagher , you gotta hear Ignivomous" they don't really get into the underground stuff, and they tell me the bands they like, which are cool bands, but really popular, and I respond " but you gotta hear this Hooded Menace record...", kids need to step down a little bit and really get into the underground scene to get the really good music, because there are so many bands who are really good but get kind of washed over because everyone's too busy checking out whatever's on the cover of Decibel or Revolver...not that those bands aren't good but, if you're into the most popular band of the genre, there is probably a lot of other bands that are really cool too you'll want to check out.
Also, if a kid wants to find some new underground music, a good place to start is Myk's weekly internet radio show on GROWRADIO every Tuesday from 8-11, he plays all sorts of underground, hard to find, cool stuff, as well as stuff all metal heads should know like Gwar, Merciful Fate, etc.
ThrashHead: That's another thing we've been discussing a lot here at ThrashHead, there seems that everything's gone full circle again, it seems like all the good music, a majority of it, is actually in the underground. Now you either have really, highly commercialized crap which shows the bigger labels aren't in touch with what's going on anymore, latching onto anything that was big before seeing if they can launch it again, all the underground labels, your guys' label, Profane Existence, Tankcrimes, Hells Headbangers...wherever you find metal in the true underground is where you're gonna find the good music... so you feel the same that metal has gone full circle again, and it's back in the underground and that's where the scene is?
Hutch: Yeah, I agree to some extent metal has come full circle, but I really think, the underground has always been the consistent factor, like trends pop up and thrash gets popular for awhile and then that will go away, and now Doom, everyone wants a Doom band, and there's a lot of awesome Doom bands, and after awhile this next trend will pop up or this or that, but in the underground there is always good bands of every genre always happening.
Darkthrone has been putting out records in the underground forever and they are all awesome,..it's just the standard, those guys are awesome, the support Fenriz has given us, if they get popular or another genre pops up for a year or six months and fades away, whatever... also, you always have a label like Nuclear War Now! who is always going to be putting out good records.
...End of transmission
Many thanks Tim for sparing the time to hang out with us. If you'd like to check out some Hot Graves tunes, here are their "Necors Mixos Sacrificio" (Awesome covers of some of their favorite tunes), the "Desecration Time 7", and their latest LP "Knights In White Phosphorous"...enjoy!