Interview with vocalist and guitarist Peter Hobbs
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: September 7, 2013
Australia's finest and most famous torch bearers of old school Thrash Metal, Hobbs Angel of Death, toured Europe during July and August 2013, covering 8 countries and played a total of 13 shows. In between all this touring, Hobbs Angel of Death have been staying in Berlin recording the band's third full-length album at Music Lab Berlin with legendary producer Harris Johns at the production helm (he produced Hobbs' self-titled debut album back in 1988).
Hobbs Angel of Death's last show on this European tour was at Jalometalli festival in Oulu, Finland on August 9th, 2013. The Australian masters of Thrash Metal got the opportunity to play with bands like Holy Moses, Voivod, Blasphemy, Tankard and last but not least, the mighty Slayer.
I managed to hook up with Mr. Peter Hobbs himself backstage, just a couple of hours before his show, and talk with him about the tour, the new album, Slayer and some other things as well.
Live and backstage photos by Luxi Lahtinen
Luxi: I know you just flew over here but what's your first impression of Finland?
Peter: I actually left yesterday from Berlin and arrived in Helsinki and got on a train last night. I find Finland to be a pretty welcoming country, I've been out mingling with people and I'm surprised how well Hobbs Angel of Death is known. I mean, we're from the South Pole and we've come all the way to the North Pole and travelled a lot of kilometers to get here. Tonight it will be my pleasure to share my passion and pain with the Finnish.
Luxi: What did you know about this land of a thousand lakes and drunken dorks before you arrived?
Peter: The think I knew about Finland was we have a great fan who lives there and his name's Luxi! (*laughs*)
Luxi: Thank you, that's such a compliment! Talking a little bit about touring, is this your most extensive tour of Europe thus far; 13 dates in 8 different countries, all in all? How has it been going? What have been some of the highlights?
Peter: We last came in 2012, when I found out that I still had a lot to give the fans, especially the newer fans. I went home and decided to keep going and record a new album. It's the 25th anniversary of working with Harris (Johns, producer) and we decided to collaborate again. He's one of the greatest producers I've ever worked with and a great guy. We decided to come back in 2013 and do a new Hobbs album. He's the only guy I would do that with. We each know what the other wants. Starting in 2012 and continuing to 2013, we've started brining in a younger audience, as well. They've been wondering "where the fuck has this guy been?" It's all due to line-up changes. Hobbs is getting the stature now in Australia where musicians can trust that we'll take them all over the world and that I still have the passion. To play these festivals in Europe you have to be on the ball. If it makes sense for me to do it, I'll be there. You can't procrastinate. I have a lot of friends in Europe who were influenced by Hobbs and it's great to see them and be influenced by them as well. As the tour goes on, more doors are opening, opportunities to play festivals. I live a long way away so I'll do my best; it's a financial decision, as well. Many Australian bands have made the decision to move to Europe to be near the action.
Luxi: You came to Europe at the beginning of July and when you have had days off, have you been in the studio recording the new Hobbs Angel of Death album?
Peter: Yes, and all we have left to do are the vocals, and a few fancy little things to show that Hobbs isn't just a Thrash band. Things like the 12-string on "Marie Antoinette" from the first album, and I'd even like to get a harpsichord on the new album. I want to go back to the roots of where Hobbs was back in the 80s. We've been through a lot of changes. Inheritance in 95 had some good songs but the production was the main concern, but we've put that to sleep. What I'm going to show the world on this new album is that Hobbs can actually play (*laughs*) Black Metal song structures mixed with Thrash, Hobbs-style. I've tried to study what other bands are doing, not copy them, but incorporate that into my music. And it will work both ways. Hopefully, younger bands will hear what I'm trying to do and incorporate that into their music. Europe is a really strong place to be and I'd like to relocate here, but there are a lot of things I have to do back in Australia, as well. I'd like both, actually; six months doing festivals in Europe and six months back in Australia. Cold weather really gets to me!
Luxi: I'm curious about any details you can reveal about the recording sessions for the new album. How does the new Hobbs Angel of Death stuff compare to the stuff you did in the past?
Peter: A few of the songs on the new album were written many, many years ago. I knew, by using them, I'd have that link to the past but with that added professionalism of the musicians I have with Hobbs. I have a new guy, Luke, who is extremely talented and only 25 years old. He really wants to succeed in music and is involved with teaching and other types of music, like jazz. He's really versatile. Luke watched King Diamond's guitar players and has put that flavor into the new album. Max has done an awesome job on drums with some great rolls and speedy playing. Bo, the bass player, has done an awesome job as well. We came to Europe as a team. Hobbs is no better than any one guy because we are a unit. I have the determination and passion to lead this unit. There has to be a boss in everything. These guys stand behind me 100% and I stand behind them that same way, that's why they are here with me. If you can't handle the pressure, tell me before we leave. It's a great learning experience with Hobbs but there are pressures. As you get older you have less patience. Before we left I had a chat with the guys and said "I've got a lot of shit left to give and I apologize for my snappy-ness and frustration before we leave. But at the end of the tour, we'll still be able to sit down and have beer." If you can't do that in life, you have a problem. You can't do it by yourself, that's why I have these great people around me. And I've always felt a lot of gratitude toward my fans. They are very loyal. It would be disrespectful for me to not return that loyalty. I listen to their ideas, because they care. Without them, Peter Hobbs would be nothing. Hail to the fans, worldwide!
Luxi: When the debut album came out you received a lot of comparisons to Slayer. Did you feel like people with hear the Slayer influence on the new album but that it is still Hobbs Angel of Death?
Peter: Like that t-shirt you have on now? (*points to Luxi's Slayer shirt and laughs*). Look, I'll never lie, Slayer were my idols. I looked at that band from the early 80s and knew that unit was going to go somewhere. Same with Dimmu Borgir. Sometimes it is being in the right place at the right time. Going back to Slayer; yes, of course, you're going to hear my past in the debut album. I listened to Slayer all day and night. Let me tell you a quick story. I was ready to do the debut; I was completely focused. I went to the record shop and bought this (*pulls out a vinyl copy of Slayer's Reign in Blood*), went home, put it on the stereo, turned it up to 20 and heard this sound and I thought "fuck! All my hard work, my focus, is smashed. I'm going to Europe in a week, how am I going to compete with this?!" My wife, at the time, said "don't worry about them, go and do what you do." That brought my focus back, I went to Berlin and recorded the debut with Harris Johns. So I bought these (Slayer albums) and I hope Tom and Kerry will sign them for me tonight. I stand behind what these guys have done and there have been many times in my career when I wished I had been on more bills. I've been waiting 30 years to be on a bill with Slayer, not as a support, but as an equal musician to do what I do best. There have been a lot of times when I've stepped back and given Hobbs a rest, let the industry move past for a bit. Today, 25 years later, the songs I'm doing still fit and can become "cult" once again.
Luxi: Harris Johns did some guest vocals on "House of Death" song on your debut album. Do you have any plans to use him as a guest vocalist again?
Peter: I have some surprises. Harris Johns is playing a couple of solos on the album. He's a very well respected person in the industry. Some call him God, but I don't believe in God so I just call him the "grrr!" (*laughs*).
Luxi: Are there any other guests on the forthcoming Hobbs record?
Peter: Yes, I'd like to mention who, but I think I'd better not. There's nothing worse than Peter Hobbs mentioning something and it not working out. It'll look like bullshit and I don't bullshit, I'm real. Harris, yes, he'll be on the album and he's coming up on stage with me tonight to participate in the show.
Luxi: Do you have any announcements to make about the release plans for the new Hobbs record? I am sure you have gotten some label interest for the new material, correct?
Peter: There are a few who are interested. I need to be clever about this because I want my old albums, as well. The current deal for the old albums has expired. I want to give the new label something special. I want the new label to have the "old cult" and the "new cult." I won't mention any labels but I've also thought about staying independent. If everything comes together, I want to release this blasphemous new album on December 25th.
Luxi: I just found out that you have been playing some new Hobbs songs during this tour. Why did you choose to introduce these songs in the live setting?
Peter: I want my audience to see that, even at my age, there's still something to give. There's a future for everyone; never get out of bed and say you can't do something. I wanted to showcase the new stuff and these new songs are fitting in to the set as if they'd always been there. I don't want people to wonder how long the set is going on; I want them to say "Fuck! This is new and it sounds like the old! That's what we want from Hobbs!" You can give me your opinion after you hear them tonight. I'll let you in on a secret; there is a couple of songs recorded and I'm looking for two guests. One is right up the alley of an American singer that I admire a great deal and who has given a lot to the industry. The other is a German female. One is in a band here at this weekend's festival (*laughs*). I asked her a while ago and she said yes, so here is her opportunity.
Luxi: How many songs have you recorded for the new album?
Peter: I've recorded 12. It has a really cool production and is a good value for the money. There are so many releases these days because everybody is in a band. I want it to come out on vinyl first. I love the big album covers and CDs are so small. It might even be a double vinyl if I include some live stuff from last year and this year. The CD/DVD can come out after.
Luxi: Do you have someone filming your shows from this tour?
Peter: No, that would have been good.
Luxi: Slayer will be the headliners tonight, and will play right after you have finished your set. I would imagine that's a big honor for you to play at the same festival with them, for the first time in your career, right?
Peter: Yeah, we'll probably pass in the doorway right here. At the end of the day I can say this; I love Slayer, always have and always will. I have the highest respect for them. Today, Hobbs and Slayer go to battle together in Finland. All the bands that are here are doing a great job.
Luxi: It was a huge blow for the Metal world when Dave Lombardo left Slayer and then, of course, Jeff Hanneman passed away in May this year. What do you think of Slayer's current situation?
Peter: I really feel that Slayer can continue, but it's like if one of my brothers, from the band, passes away, that's smashing, having been together as a team for so long. If you had an argument where you couldn't get along, you'd get to the point where you'd move on and agree to disagree, but the death of Jeff; that shocked me and I'm sure the guys feel it. They can either keep going on, in his legacy, or call it a day. I think they should go on. He'll be looking down, or up, he'll appreciate it.
Luxi: What are you touring plans after this show? You told me that you are hoping to tour in the States as well as in Canada someday. What's the current situation?
Peter: We are in the planning stage at the moment for something in South America. Hobbs needs to be in America, we need to be there. I spoke with the guys in Blood Feast and Malevolent Creation, and they are interested in doing something with Hobbs. Malevolent Creation actually covered Hobbs' "Jack the Ripper." The time has come for Hobbs to move into a lot of countries to show what we can do.
Luxi: OK, last question; if we took a trip down to the memory lane through Hobbs' entire existence, what would be the most memorable happenings for you personally with this band, and why?
Peter: Exactly what I'm doing today. The enjoyment of what I had back then, I'm doing it again today. It's actually made me feel younger, though I'd love a new body, but that doesn't matter. People ask why it is working so well today and I say, "Who fucking cares? It's happening! Do it!" I'd need a month to cover everything. Collaborating with Harris Johns to make another cult album that people will think well of 25 years from now. Just let me keep playing around the world.
Luxi: Thank you for your time, Peter!
|Other information about Hobbs' Angel of Death on this site|
|Review: Heaven Bled|
|Review: Heaven Bled|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Peter Hobbs on December 30, 2012 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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