Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bringing in the bells with... Hector Bizerk

Growing in confidence and stature was the name of the game for Hector Bizerk during 2014 as more and more people are being switched on to their unique and thoroughly Glaswegian brand of hip-hop.  For Audrey and Louie it's been coming a long time, but this year say them hit mainstream consciousness courtesy of a SAY Award shortlisted album, and gave them the space to experiment and expand their art with their latest EP's.

With 2015 peeking over the horizon, I caught up with Louie from the band to chat about the year that was 2014 for Hector Bizerk.

How has 2014 been for Hector Bizerk?

We've had a rare-tare to be honest Neil.

We were invited to headline some festivals in Scotland and Ireland, played some shows in US, played with some of our hero's Public Enemy, De La Soul and even played at The Barrowland with The Libertines too.  We won a SAMA and were top ten nominated in SAY Award too!  We also released The Fish That Never Swam  EP to a sold out Art School in September, and collaborated with visual artist Pearl Kinnear and film makers Andrew Mackenzie on The Bird That Never Flew.  Liz Lochhead also covered one of my songs Party at A&E  which was unreal to hear The Makar doing some of my rhymes.  To quote the immortal words of Muhatma Ghandi.. "Fuckin' yass!"

How have the band progressed and changed from this time last year?

I think our sound has evolved naturally with the addition of Davey Calder on percussion and synth.  He came in to replace wee Jen and we've written a full album of material since he has been in the band.  With him, Fraser and Audrey I genuinely believe the musicianship is outstanding and we are becoming a solid song writing unit.  We've taken some risks with each of the EP releases and I think it's important to write dangerous music.  I think our recordings and our live show have improved.

Louie, you and I chatted back in May about The SAY Awards.  Is it still as much of 'pinch yourself' feeling to have Nobody Seen Nothing  amidst the cream of Scottish music?

It definitely is something we are very proud of.  I think Stewart Henderson and the guys at SMIA have done an incredible job in showcasing the very best music in Scotland and for us to be included in their was something special.  I think that Young Fathers victory in the Mercury Prize also subsequently resulted in some great press for SAY Award too as most people think their debut album also won the SAY Award too.  That was fortuitous for the awards profile and I'm pleased about that.

You embarked this year on a series of four EP, with their titles taken from the famous Glasgow motto.  It's also been a massive year for Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole, culturally and politically.  The band are vocally passionate about the city, so how do you think 2014 has been for Glasgow?

I think our city has done itself proud hosting high profile music events like MTV EMA's, the sporting event that isn't quite the Olympics, and of course the fact our city never shat it in the referendum.  We have such a vibrant music community here in this city and I'm proud to be able to watch world class music in my hometown any night of the week!  That in itself is something special.

2014 has ended with the release of your EP The Bird That Never Flew,  the second in your series of four, and arguably your most ambitious project to date.  How does it feel to have the EP out?

Because we made it as a film, we're in a bit of a limbo with it as we need to protect it's exclusivity at the moment.  We've show it once so far at the premiere event at The Poetry Club.  It was absolutely sold out and everyone was quite overwhelmed by how beautiful it is.  I'm very proud of it and acknowledge the contributions of our talented friends Ian Henderson, Andrew Mackenzie and Pearl Kinnear.

What's been your favourite Hector Bizerk gig this year?

It's really difficult to chose man.  New York was amazing and our first festival appearance in Ireland was fucking nuts.  People were going mental.  I thought we'd never top that type of atmosphere then we headlined the Solus Tent at Wickerman the following night and it was even better!  Hectember was insane too!

What have you been listening to this year?

I've been listening to a lot of Pronto Mama; their latest EP is flawless.  I also really like Man of Moon from Edinburgh and of course lots of hip-hop.  As well as that the Arctic Monkeys album was off the scale. 

Audrey has been listening to lots of Ryan Adams, Alt J, and Galactic.

Fraser listens to lots of stuff we don't allow him to play en route to gigs such as Bon Jovi and Extreme.

What constitutes a Hector Bizerk Hogmanay?

Last year we played for Milk in Glasgow, and we actually missed the bells and got the count down wrong.  That was a bit embarrassing.  I ended up spraying champagne on a couple who were having an argument!  This year we are in the Highlands with Detour, sharing a bill with Prides, Fatherson Miaoux Miaoux and Pronto Mama.  That will be some carnage.

Lastly, thanks for chatting to us, enjoy New Year, and all the best for 2015.  What can we expect from you next year?

We have a small Glasgow headliner in Friday 20th February in Broadcast to launch the 3rd EP The Bell That Never Rang.  Then we will release the 4th and final EP in March, and a brand new album in September.  We have some plans to play overseas again too so we have a really exciting year ahead!

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