Interview: Hideous Divinity
Interviewer: Tim Finch
Hideous Divinity have just released their forth studio album, Simulacrum, via Century Media Records. It's their first release on a major label so we decided to catch up with band mastermind Enrico Schettino to get an insight into the the album, the recording process and all things Hideous Divinity,
The Razor's Edge: Welcome to The Razor's Edge! For those reader's who may be unfamiliar with you guys. Who/what are Hideous Divinity?
Enrico: Thank you. So I guess for those who don't know us we are a death metal band. You can put a label if you want, technical, brutal, progressive, vegetarian, grindcore, whatever... [laughs]. We've going for quite some time, we've released four albums, 'Simulacrum' the latest one is the first one out on Century Media. It's a huge step for us, hopefully to something bigger.
The Razor's Edge: Your new album has just been released and it is stunning. You must be proud of what you've achieved?
Enrico: Thank you so much. Well, yes most certainly. I alway believe that the point of releasing new music is being pretty sure that what you are doing is better to some extent than what you did before. I remember only one case of a band, a legendary band, that were so honest to say "we are not going to release new music as we believe it is not going to be better than what we've done before. That band was Bolt Thrower. That was something that I appreciated so much. If you are a professional musician and you are doing something like that. It's both humble and professional at the same time.
I am proud of what Hideous Divinity have done. The modus operandi so to say of song writing, preproduction, recording has been the usual team. But of course given the positive pressure from Century Media we tried to improve every aspect of this to be more meticulous about every aspect and nothing could be left to chance.
The Razor's Edge: How long did it take from initial ideas to actually having the finished the new album 'Simulacrum'?
Enrico: Oh boy! I am a super slow writer, what I like to do with the other band mates is to give them something that is more or less a song. In order for me to do that it may take forever and that makes the other guys very frustrated. Let's say the seeds for the new music were sown almost immediately after Adveniens, so we are talking about two years ago.
What we wanted to do, was to do a promo to selected labels. Our deal with Unique Leader had just expired and we thought maybe this is the time. After three albums is it time to see if there is someone out there in the big leagues who is interested in having us? So we did a few songs for a promo; 'Anamorphia' the forth track on the album and 'Actaeon' which are two songs which represent the new course of our music.
Once we got that, the rest of the music went with the flow. The whole writing process had re-writing, re-arrangement, drum parts, vocal patterns. When the vocals came in the completely destroyed the structure as it was, even if it's something that I didn't like I understand that when the vocals step in there is a change in the structure of every song.
So it's a long process.
The Razor's Edge: You mention you did a demo to shop out to potential new labels. How many labels were you talking to?
Enrico: Well, I would say you know the names. We're talking about the upper leagues. We already had a connection with Century Media and we knew they wanted to hear new music. We basically told them this is the direction we are going. In one way the message was 'If you are expecting Hideous Divinity to do the same old technical death metal songs over and over then this may disappoint you'.
Personally speaking, I'm going to be 40 soon, I see the idea of doing the same old music, the same old songs over and over again really boring and truly a waste of time. There are so many bands, fresh bands out there that you just don't want to be one of the old "What do they do?" - "Oh the usual old stuff". We tried to be something different.
As we already had some established contacts with Century Media and once they heard the new songs they we like 'me likey' and we signed on with them.
The Razor's Edge: It's your first release for Century Media. Whats its been like working with the legendary label compared to previous labels?
Enrico: Well, its great. We owe to Unique Leader the world. We will always be grateful to them, we managed thanks to them to be well known in a competitive niche because when the first album came out and it was the super-hype of the Italian death metal scene. We could have just been one of the many bands, and it's thanks to Unique Leaders work we are not.
When it comes to Century Media what really amazes me is who professional and passionate they are at the same time. We are part of a great team and it's good to be treated as a professional. But what does that mean? Does it mean we are treated to the red carpet and luxury backstages with baskets of fruits? No thats not the meaning of being a professional. It means that we have a deadline and we are supposed to comply with that. That is what they expect from you. To be treated and that way and to have the positive pressure really stimulating.
Not to mention that were super cool about our ideas. Like the video, we knew the video because of the performance artist, we knew was going to be really very violent and very explicit. So we double checked with Century Media as it's going on their Youtube channel and it would be their product to sell and we didn't want that to be effected by a very violent video. So we sent some screenshots and said are you guys going to be ok with this otherwise we really have to change everything and stop before we start. But they said 'no, not at all, this is going to be great, so much more meaningful than that stupid splatter video with entrails and stuff. We though this is great, it's the true meaning of support and we were even more motivated.
The Razor's Edge: How do you feel as a band you have progressed over the last 4 albums?
Enrico: I think we've progressed a lot as the music changed with the different geological areas that extreme music went through in the last 9 or 10 years. When we came up with the first album it was us coming out of nowhere so we wanted to be noisy, easy-listening, exciting, super brutal etc. Only with the second album that we started to have our own personal style. Then the third album we have all those influences of black metal. To me black metal is the most interesting niche in extreme music because of the atmosphere, the fact they are refusing to be hyper technical and everything is brutal, brutal, brutal but still they take you places. That was a huge step forward that we took with Adveniens.
This new album is the coronation of the trip and I really don't know where we are going to be with our fifth album. I believe we have always been a reflection of what we thought was good at the time that the album was out. I had so many influences over the past albums. Let's just face it, music has changed so much, so many interesting things came, went away and came back in disguised form. It's so interesting when you think about it.
The Razor's Edge: Now the album is out, whats next for Hideous Divinity? Where do you go from here?
Enrico: [Laughs] Now it's time to bring it around, it's time to paddle and paddle and run and run. So there are already plans for tours next year, already festivals that are arranged for next year. Some of these are not quite confirmed and I am superstitious and I don't want to say anything until the flyer is out. For me it will alway be the same; like from the day that we had the official word that we were going to go on tour with Cannibal Corpse I said until we see the flyer out with out logo to me it's not happening. I can't help it.
So there is something for the beginning of next year and we are trying to couple with that with something in the other continent for 2020. Now it's time to bring it around, Century Media has a lot of expectation from the band, they say we are going to make a huge investment in you but we expect us to help us to help you.
The Razor's Edge: So in those plans are there any intentions to come to the UK?
Enrico: We've been pretty lucky with the tours that we did in Europe the UK's always been there for some very meaningful dates. It's funny when you think about it I think we played in Glasgow more often than we've played in our home town.
I have great memories of playing in London, first playing the Black Heart and then the Underworld. The gigs at the Underworld were amazing, especially the one with Cattle Decapitation because they had so many die hard fans in the UK it was unbelievable.
The UK may not be the biggest crowds but the fans we meet and keep over the years have actually become really good friends. My only wish if I could - the venues please - put some showers in the venues.
The Razor's Edge: In terms of touring; who would be your ideal touring partners?
Enrico: I'm very selfish when it comes to that. I will chose bands that I get the chance to see every day. So I'm going to pray for a tour with MGLA so I get to see them play live every night. How good would that be for me. I'm sure the rest of the band would disagree but since you've asked me I'm giving you my point of view. [laughs]
The Razor's Edge: Are there any locations/countries on your wish list to play?
Enrico: As a bucket list I would say South America because it must be crazy there. The problem with South America is that unless you are 110% sure the promoters are reliable people I will never get into that. I've heard so many bad stories of bands that are way bigger than us they found themselves in some serious trouble and had to either cancel last minute or landed in the middle of Brazil and no one was waiting for them.
I believe it is one of those continents where there is still hype and its like when the circus comes to town when a metal band from abroad comes and people go insane. The last country that I remember like that is from 2013 when we toured the Ukraine and Russia. We played in cities that didn't have a clue who we were or had even listened to death metal. But people went insane and said 'What the hell? You came from Italy to play in Russia? You guys are my favourite band'. It was crazy.
The Razor's Edge: Thank you for talking to us!
Enrico: You're very welcome