Interview with vocalist and guitarist Peter Hobbs
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 30, 2012
Australian thrashers Hobbs' Angel of Death, singer/guitarist Peter Hobbs' solo project that started back in 1986, has been re-activated again. The band played a few select shows around the European continent this past autumn, including an appearance at the Headbangers Open Air Festival in Brande-Hörnerkirchen in Germany on July 28th.
Hobbs' Angel of Death touted the music on the band's self-titled debut album, released via Steamhammer Records, "Virgin Metal." The album got lots of credit from the fans for its strong Slayer-esque vibes, and has reclaimed a well-earned place as one of the most important Australian Metal albums of all times.
The follow-up album, Inheritance, released 7 years later in 1995, came out on the small Def label, and fell into oblivion without getting much support from the label.
After that the band went a hiatus, returning in 2002. They have been in a more or less "on/off" state, with different line-ups, but have remained active.
Currently, Hobbs' Angel of Death are working with producer Harris Johns (the guru behind Hobbs' A.O.D.'s debut album and who has also produced releases from Helloween, Kreator, Voivod, Tankard and many more.) One can hope this fuels the band's old creative flame in a way that will result in miraculous results.
Peter Hobbs himself gives us more details about the band's comings and goings over the past few years. He assures us that the band is pumped up with ever-flowing creative energies, and has that vital flame back that make Hobbs' Angel of Death worth another try. Read on...
Luxi: Good day Peter. What's going on in Down Under these days? I assume it's getting warmer there day by day as summer is approaching, correct?
Peter: Yes, we are heading into the warmer weather which is great as it can only mean more time for my legendary ritualistic satanic flesh cooking BBQ's with my Metal brothers... ha-ha-ha!!!
Luxi: Now let's leave all the bullshitting and get straight to the point, shall we? ;o) Basically, we'd like to know what's going on with Hobbs' Angel of Death? Have you been writing new stuff for your next release or is the band "on hold" for the time being, as far as making new music is concerned?
Peter: Constantly. I am inspired and writing music all the time. I have the basic foundation for the next HAOD record, and I must say it's more intense than ever before. The band is not on hold at all; it never is or really ever has been. Basically, the line-up changes a lot and that certainly slows things down on the rehearsing side, but I am fired up like never before and like I said, I am always thrashing and writing, man.
Luxi: Hobbs' Angel of Death reformed in 2002 even though that line-up didn't last very long. Would you give us an update about Hobbs' Angel of Death's current line-up and do you believe this might be the recording line-up for your next album?
Peter: This can be a confusing matter because, as I mentioned earlier, the line-up is always changing. I have recorded half the new record, and I am already changing. I look for someone who can actually play the new material, as well as the old, and be committed. I have worked with so many great musicians over the years and continue to do so, so there is certainly no love lost, so to speak. They have all been very important to me and the history of the band. As for giving you a final line-up; Hobbs' Angel of Death is likely never going to have one.
Luxi: How would you describe the new material you've been writing compared to the old stuff you've recorded with the band? Have you tried to stay loyal to the old style from the debut album, which brought you a lot of respect from the Metal community back then?
Peter: Back then, I didn't know I was writing a so-called "classic" record. To this day, I never thought about it much. I've always just played what I felt like playing and I think all musicians and bands should play this way. Once you start to think about what others will think and adapt your writing style, you've compromised the music and made it less honest. For me, this new album has elements of the early stuff, but as I said, it's more, let's say, 'intense."
Luxi: What inspires you to write stuff nowadays? Would you your song writing is inspired by the same things as in the past? Is it harder or more difficult to get inspired nowadays, as far as your songwriting goes?
Peter: Inspiration comes from living. I've lived a long time and seen a lot of shit, so there's no real bottom line influence, as such. All things dark, evil, and macabre are what I find truly inspirational. I am a huge fan of horror films and satanic imagery, and these things help for sure, but the aggression comes from what I have lived while being so dedicated to these things.
Luxi: What kind of label interest has Hobbs' Angel of Death received since the band's carcass was dragged out from the darkness in 2002?
Peter: I have not approached any myself, as of yet, but I am getting offers regularly. We shall just have to wait and see.
Luxi: Hobbs' Angel of Death has played a few shows on European soil recently, like the Headbangers Open Air Festival in Germany on July 28th this year (2012). Would you comment on those shows a bit?
Peter: I had the best fucking time ever in Europe! I always do! The Headbangers Open Air Festival was an extremely well organized event and a truly great experience, I felt honored to be on the bill with so many great bands, let alone the response the band received. It was overwhelming. All I can say is thanks to all those who have supported the band over the many years.
Luxi: Would you say the response you received in Europe exceeded your wildest expectations?
Peter: Like I said, absolutely. I am grateful and I love my fans. I intend to come back very soon and play more shows, venues and countries throughout Europe in the coming years. That goes without question.
Luxi: Have you decided on a studio to record your next release? As I understand, you are working with Harris Johns once again, the man who produced your self-titled debut album back in 1988. Must feel great, doesn't it?
Peter: Harris is like a part of the HAOD family; he knows what I like and knows what I don't like. He was the only person I had in mind to do the next record and I am very excited to be working with him once again.
Luxi: Have you have a schedule for when Hobbs' Angel of Death might enter the studio again?
Peter: We have been in and out of the studio over the last few months and that will continue for a few more months. I hope to see a mid-2013 release for the new album.
Luxi: Let's talk a bit about your past releases. Your debut record had a pretty huge "Slayer-ish" vibe to it, so obviously Slayer was an influence back in the day. Do you still consider them a noteworthy influence today, the old Slayer stuff especially?
Peter: I have always loved Slayer, and still do. I remember when the classic Reign in Blood record was released; it spoke to me and there was a somewhat evil awakening, and I just knew that this is what I must do, but take it to the next level, an extremely evil and violent level. I do not think I owe my career to Slayer, they just opened my eyes as far as musical boundaries are concerned so, respect to them.
Luxi: Where did the "Virgin Metal" description come from? How did that saying come about to describe the music of Hobbs' Angel of Death?
Peter: Ha-ha-ha... yeah, back then me and my manager at the time (Daniel Janecka from Modern Invasion Music) thought it would a good to give the band a slogan that basically means "hasn't been done before" and "this band will de-virginize your ears," ha-ha-ha!!! The music that I created at that time was simply a new dimension of satanic Metal aggression.
Luxi: When Hobbs' Angel of Death got started back in 1985, I assume there weren't that many bands of your caliber in the Australian underground Metal scene. Only a handful of Metal bands managed to become known outside of Australia's borders; bands like Mortal Sin, Armoured Angel, Slaughter Lord, Rampage, Sadistic Exekution, Reign of Terror and few others. Hobbs' Angel of Death were definitely at the very front line of the Extreme Metal invasion, leading the troops to every possible corner of the world back then...
Peter: All those bands are great and I have the highest respect for them all. I believe at the time, it basically was the beginning of the entire Extreme Metal scene in Australia, and "Virgin Metal" is basically describing to the fans of the genre, "Hey! Check this out! You've heard nothing like it here before!" So, we all collectively gave Australia an amazing history of credible bands that the world took notice of.
Luxi: Before Hobbs' Angel of Death you were in a band called Tyrus that started out as a 4-piece Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band in 1984. In the early days, you played quite a few cover songs from such bands as Sabbath and Priest. Tyrus' musical direction was later changed to be more Thrash Metal-orientated, and you released one demo and one EP (on tape) in 1986. What caused the split-up of Tyrus? You re-recorded three Tyrus songs and released them under the Hobbs' Angel of Death moniker ("Crucifixion," "Bubonic Plague" and "Cold Steel") on the reissue of your debut album. I assume many people don't realize that they are not originally Hobbs' Angel of Death songs?
Peter: They were all songs that I truly loved and wrote with one thing in mind: me. Ha-ha! What I mean is, the band had to end. It was time for a fresh start. Like you mentioned, the original days were more Sabbath-orientated and I wanted to make a dramatic change to Thrash Metal, so a change of name was inevitable.
Luxi: It was the legendary Australian label, Modern Invasion Music, that re-released your debut with those three bonus tracks in 2003, but they also released two of your old demos, Virgin Metal Invasion from Down Under and Angel of Death (both from 1987) on one CD under the title Hobbs' Satan's Crusade that very same year. Where did the idea come from to release both on CD? Was it a result of huge demand from your fans?
Peter: Daniel and I both decided that it would be good for the fans to hear the demos, a way of giving a bit of history. The re-issues were important, as the original CD was becoming a rare item with no one being able to find a copy. I have worked with Daniel since the Tyrus years and he and I had a great time inventing and re-inventing what I was doing musically, so I have much respect for him.
Luxi: What amazes me quite a bit, from the liner notes of the re-release, is that the Angel of Death demo sold over 1200 copies in a very short period of time in 1987. Do you think the strong "Slayer-ish" vibe in the songs on that demo is one of the biggest reasons why it became such a hot item among underground Metal fans? Keeping in mind the fact Slayer had released what is probably their most classic record, Reign in Blood, just a year before?
Peter: I'd like to think that it sold based on the fact it's a fucking killer release... ha-ha! But yeah sure, ultimately fans of Slayer and Metallica at the time dug what we were doing and, more importantly, what we were capable of. I can say I am very happy that the vision I had turned into public interest.
Luxi: At this point I need to ask, do all these references to Slayer irritate you? I'm sure you'd rather like to think of Hobbs' Angel of Death as Hobbs' Angel of Death and not just the Australian version of Slayer. I bet you have heard these comparisons to Slayer hundreds and hundreds of times before. Have you gotten to the point where you are used to them or do they still bother you?
Peter: Well, let's put it this way, there are much worse bands one can be compared too! Ha-ha! So, no I don't find it irritating at all. I was influenced by them, amongst many other things, so if people want to say "Hey, check out HAOD, they sound like early Slayer!" then, all I can say is "great... fine by me."
Luxi: In my opinion, your sound was closer to Canadian thrashers Infernäl Mäjesty on your debut record than to anything Slayer had released prior to Reign in Blood, due to the heavier and darker atmosphere on that album. Do you agree?
Peter: Some great bands come from Canada. To be honest I never really listened to them. One thing you have to keep in mind is that people can only say the words "this band sounds like" when they have bands that you apparently remind them of. So it's not a surprise.
Luxi: Hobbs' Satan's Crusade was also released as a luxury gatefold vinyl, limited to 500 copies only. Was this something you wanted to get released for all the true die-hard fans of the band?
Peter: Yeah, absolutely. Another Metal brother of mine, KK Warslut (aka Keith), from the band Destroyer 666, displayed high interest in getting this out on vinyl and I was all for it. It sold very well, and I believe it is extremely hard to find now.
Luxi: The cover of this release looks very similar to your debut album's cover. Was it possibly some alternative artwork that was meant to be used for the debut?
Peter: No, what happened here was, as the record was basically demos from the first album, I wanted to keep them somewhat uniform with what became the self-titled album. I had this great photo of me playing live in my collection. It is one of my favorite photos of myself from that period. I then got Rev Kriss Hades (from Sadistik Exekution) to paint the exact photograph, which he did an amazing job and that became the cover.
Luxi: Your second album, Inheritance (originally released on Def Records in 1995), seems to be a hard item to find these days, too, so why did you decide to not re-release it as well?
Peter: One thing at a time, ha-ha! I always felt a little strange with the writing of the record. It was a time in my life when things were just hectic and changing. I treasure the album and one day it will see the light of day once again, but for now, its happy being in the vault.
Luxi: Musically, Inheritance lacked some of the things that made your debut album so superior. What exactly happened during the songwriting process when you guys were rehearsing songs for it? The album is aggressive, brutal and all that, but somehow it lacked those catchy, "Slayer-ish" parts that were captured in the songs on your self-financed debut album. Do you agree?
Peter: All I can say and all I will say about the record is this; it's a personal album, probably more of a Peter Hobbs album than an Angel of Death one.
Luxi: Practically speaking, Inheritance was also marketed somewhat poorly; it was only available in the Australian markets although some distributors carried it outside of Australia, too. Was is the sum of many things that went poorly that resulted in the album sinking into sort of an eternal oblivion?
Peter: The label was small, and it simply wasn't the time for that record, you know? You have to remember that that period of music was changing with the likes of major record companies marketing and pushing the whole Seattle-Grunge movement more than anything else. So, Thrash Metal couldn't compete. But as I said, it was a different record, and some people just couldn't "get" what I was going for with it.
Luxi: It took me several years to realize that Hobbs Angel of Death had released another album, which I finally managed to buy for myself from eBay about 10-12 years ago. I have heard the same kind of stories from some of my friends, as well...
Peter: Sure. It's incredibly hard to find. I don't even think I have one myself, ha-ha-ha!! Can I buy yours?? Ha-ha..!
Luxi: Your debut album was also released in Japan, together with Razor's Violent Restitution, on one CD by Teichiku Records two years later, in 1990. Was that something you were personally involved with or was Steamhammer wholly behind the license deal with this Japanese label?
Peter: I think that was Steamhammer's idea, I knew nothing about it; I'd assume it helped them market two bands from two different countries doing kick-ass music.
Luxi: Did Australian underground Metal bands support each other during the late '80s/beginning of the '90s, trying to spread the word about their fellow bands, making recommendations, etc.?
Peter: We all knew of each others' bands, but Australia is a big place, you know, so it's not like we hung out all the time and partied, etc. Sure we'll help each other out for shows, and spreading the word, but it's not something anyone focused on really. Everyone was just trying to do the best they could with what they were doing and that's about that.
Luxi: What can you tell about the Australian Metal scene these days? Bands tend to come and go, but there is no denying that there have always been great Metal bands from Down Under. What do you think of your country mates In Malice's Wake, Atomizer, Deströyer 666 and Desecrator? Those four names have made a great impression on me with their own releases...
Peter: Firstly, a lot of the time, everyone's a fucking musician and a critic, so you are playing in front of other musicians who are pointing out mistakes rather than enjoying themselves, ha-ha! But yeah, they are all good bands, man. I have played with them and have the utmost respect. As far as today's "scene" it's probably the same as it is everywhere in the world, play some small clubs to a bunch of drunken Heavy Metal-worshipping motherfuckers and kick some ass. We all try and help each other getting on bills and festivals when it can be done and that's when all the crazy Metalheads come out to thrash! There are some great bands around, some new, some old, some great, some not so great, but we all find what we like. Ultimately we all share the same love for Metal.
Luxi: It's a fact the Metal scene has been changing a lot over the past three decades; new trends have followed each other with some grabbing kids' attention better than others. Most importantly, bands are getting more recognition than before thanks to labels using the latest technology to promote bands from their rosters (e-cards, mass emails, videos getting promoted through the Internet, etc.). What do you think of the Metal scene these days, Peter? Do you still follow it as actively as back in the '80s? What new bands have made the biggest impression on you and why?
Peter: I am not as much interested in some of these new genres and styles of Metal, but I do enjoy bands like Mayhem, Blood Tsunami, Necrophagia, Notre Dame and Anaal Nathrakh, to name a few...
Luxi: As you surely have noticed for yourself, Thrash Metal has been making a strong comeback in the last 4-5 years. Some bands that split in the late '80s or early '90s, have reformed (Heathen, Exodus, Assassin, Sacrifice, for example) and recorded comeback albums. What's your opinion about some of these comebacks?
Peter: It's great to see these bands back as I was a fan of them back in the day, but most importantly, it's great for the kids to hear and see bands they may never have before.
Luxi: If we return to the past a little bit, Hobbs' Angel of Death played at the Metal for the Brain festival in 2003, Wacken in August 2004 and a fistful of gigs through North Western Europe during the very same year. How did it feel to play with Hobbs Angel of Death at those festivals and gigs in Europe, considering it had been a while since you had done any serious gigging?
Peter: I had my flame back, a new line-up and a fresh attack. It was great but, unfortunately, short lived. What took me by surprise the most was that I still had extremely dedicated fans all over the world; a truly eye opening experience for the band and myself.
Luxi: At the request of Schmier, you shared the stage with his band, Destruction during that time. What can you tell the readers of The Metal Crypt about that event?
Peter: Schmier is a great guy and I was honored to be a part of that show. It was a great night as the venue was packed and the crowd was insane. One I shall not forget.
Luxi: Do you still receive gig offers from organizers around the globe that would like to get Hobbs' Angel of Death to play clubs that they own?
Peter: Constantly, but being offered shows and gigs doesn't mean that I can just jump and do them. I have to prepare a line-up and make sure the set is tight and ready to perform. But these days I am on fire with my musical demons and I am almost ready for anything!
Luxi: What kind of expectations do you have for 2013 as far as Hobbs' Angel of Death is concerned? New album, lots of touring, nice gigs, getting famous, getting rich, etc., etc.?
Peter: Ha-ha-ha... preferably all of those! Certainly a new album, another European tour and the one thing I really want to do next year it to play in the USA. I have sooo many fans there that are desperately wanting to see HAOD tour in America and Canada!
Luxi: How would you like people to remember Hobbs' Angel of Death when the band has ceased to exist? Perhaps as a band that really wasn't just 'another Slayer -clone' band from Down Under, eh?
Peter: A truly evil, blasphemic Thrash Metal band that is honest in delivery; an Australian band that crushed the weak. A band with fire and conviction that always stands for what we believed in; a band that would kick you in the guts with their live performance and leave you with a sore neck and a craving for more of the HAOD Thrash experience.
Luxi: One last question before we are finished; what's your own personal "dream-come-true" for this band? Is there anything that you would like to accomplish with Hobbs' Angel of Death more than anything else in this life, like hoping to do at least 1 or 2 more albums?
Peter: I'm just glad to be playing. I am no rock star. I don't do this for fame and fortune, I just do it because I can, and people want to hear it. Although I wouldn't complain to be earning a living from it, ha-ha!
Luxi: Thank you for your time and making this interview happen, Peter. It was my pleasure to talk to you about the past, present and future of the band, so thanks again & I wish you all the best with this new incarnation of Hobbs' Angel of Death. If you have any last comments, then feel free to spit them out now...
Peter: Thank you so much for the interview, Luxi! I really hope that HAOD can come to Canada soon and play to all the crazy Thrash Metal heads out there!
|Other information about Hobbs' Angel of Death on this site|
|Review: Heaven Bled|
|Review: Heaven Bled|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Peter Hobbs on September 7, 2013 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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