Hackneyed's vocalist Phil talks Burn After Reaping

Young German death metal act Hackneyed sprang up out of nowhere a couple of years ago, with their début album Death Prevails. A little while ago, on the eve of the release of Burn After Reaping, I had the chance to talk to Hackneyed vocalist Phil about the album, their dream festivals, and the loss of their original guitarist, Ix.

Given that this was the band's second time in the studio, each band member knew exactly what he had to do. It resulted in the recording process being quicker and easier, and in them having time left over in which to try a few different things.

'We had some time left to try different things, and to make experiments with our sound, and our instruments,' Phil explained. 'So on Burn After Reaping there are a lot more different things like some effects with the guitars, some special riffings and so on. I think it's cool for the whole CD.'

Hackneyed's drummer, Tim, is a dude who always films everything and everyone, whether they're in the studio or on the road or at shows. He's always around with his camera, which makes developing promotional videos – such as the multitudes released in the lead-up to Burn After Reaping's release – much easier.

'Yes, he recorded everything!' laughed Phil. 'So he's got a lot of stuff to choose, and so it's pretty easy for us, making promotional videos.'

When I asked Phil if they spend a lot of time trying to decide what to include for the promo videos, he laughed and told me that it's actually a problem for their drummer.

'He's got an eye for it, and so he's really fast. And he can look at a video one time, and pull it apart. So he's got an eye for the right things for a video. He's really fast in it,' Phil explained.

When Death Prevails was released, I became incredibly excited about Hackneyed; it was one of those releases that make you sit up and take notice. This is especially the case with this band, because over the past five to ten years it had become quite rare for a very young band to produce such polished death metal. When Burn After Reaping was released, however, these guys had seemed to strip everything right back to its essentials. It's still Hackneyed, but far more pared back. So much so, in fact, that I couldn't let the opportunity to ask about that slip past.

'It wasn't our aim to record it different to the first one. I think it's the experience and the time on the road,' Phil mused. 'We've played a lot of shows since the first one and I think it came by itself. I think it was also the equipment that we used and Corni Bartels is a great producer and he had some cool ideas. So I think the sound became different by itself.'

Fans of the band would know that earlier in the year, Hackneyed announced the fairly sudden departure of its original guitarist Ix. The loss of their guitarist came as a bit of a surprise for the band, but at the same time they were able to replace him fairly quickly.

'It was a bit surprising for us because he told us one day that he wanted to leave, that it was too much time for him to spend for the band, that he wanted to do some other things. But it was his decision so we just had accept it,' Phil explained. 'And Juan, he's the guitar player for our new album, he entered the band really fast, and he learned our songs really fast, so we could play every show we had booked already. So it was no problem for us. But it was surprising for us, really,' he went on. 'We're a bit sad about it, but it's ok.'

While most of the songs for Burn After Reaping were already written, Juan wrote After Reaping, the outtro on the album, but most of the songs for Hackneyed are written by Devin and Tim.

'They're brothers, and their spend their whole free time in our practice room together, writing songs, so we had about fourteen songs in only one year,' Phil told me.

In the past year, too, Hackneyed have played some huge festivals. But of them all, Phil said that Summer Breeze would have been the best. At the time when I spoke with Phil, Summer Breeze had happened just six days before.

'We played that last year, and this year again. It took place in our own town for about five years, and now it's about fifty kilometres away, but it was always a dream for every one of us to play there coz we were there every year, and it's always a part of our lives. So, we always said, “hey, wouldn't it be cool to play on that really huge stage”, and so the dream became true. Twice now,' he laughed.

Considering they'd achieved that dream so early, I wondered if there were any other festivals on the dream list. Phil is cautious about that sort of thing.

'Ah, hard to tell,' he said. 'I'm really lucky with everything so I don't think about it,' he laughed. 'If I say I would like to play Ozzfest or something, and I don't play in the Ozzfest, it's difficult for yourself because you're losing your fun in it if you want too much, I think.'

When I spoke with Phil, Hackneyed were in talks with Nile and Krisiun about an upcoming tour – not a huge tour, just Belgium and the UK over one and a half weeks. This has since been confirmed for the second leg of Nile's Euro tour.

While they'd love to tour even further afield – such as to somewhere like Australia – the expense of it makes Phil a little bit doubtful.

'It would be really great,' he enthused. 'But I don't know because it's a really expensive flight [to Australia]. It would be a dream for myself to be there, only as a tourist, but as a musician it would be a really great experience for us. So I really hope some time we'll play there. Hopefully soon.'

Hackneyed's Burn After Reaping is out now on Nuclear Blast/Riot.