INTRO BY KAT VISTI
INTERVIEW BY CAMI LIBERTY
Hatchets For Hands formed in a makeshift studio in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. In 2017 the band released their first singles "Mistress Death" and "Venom Streets." Following the release of their debut EP, entitled Convulsions of a Dying Empire, we sat down with Cullen Poythress of the band (drums/vocals) to talk about the new EP, how they became a band, and more!
How did you guys first come together to start the band?
CULLEN: "Brian and I have been playing in bands together since we were kids. Sometime around 2007 we were both living and working in San Francisco and decided to start making music together again. It started as just a simple side project that we had no real serious plans for, but as we started getting deeper into it things started taking shape. Little by little we started carving out songs, started buying studio time and really focused on sharpening our skills as players. Today we have a full-blown project in Hatchets For Hands and we’re busier than ever with writing and recording."
You recently released your EP “Convulsions of a Dying Empire”. Can you tell us a little about what the process was like creating it?
CULLEN: "It took a really long time to get this record out. As a young band there is a massive growth curve we experienced with our skills as musicians and with our proficiency working in the studio. We wrote so many songs and each one we wrote was better than the previous one which made it really hard to settle on a group of songs to put out on a record like Convulsions. Eventually though we knew we had to get something out so we landed on the tracks that you’ll find on the record. Two of the tracks were singles we released as sort of demo singles that we reworked and produced up to match the other songs on the album. We feel like the tracks we showcased on this record were the best representation of our style and sound as a band."
Do you find that you always have the same process when creating songs or does it change often?
CULLEN: "Our process also took some time to dial in. As a two man band functioning as a five piece, our process is much different than a full band. In a way it makes things easier, but there are definitely aspects of it that are also challenging. The process begins with us sharing ideas and concepts for songs and building on that. Sometimes it’ll start with just a single riff or hook and once we have that foundation established we build around it. The songs often evolve a good bit too. Sitting on them and thinking about them allows us to analyze them on a deeper level and upgrade them as needed. Nothing we put out comes straight out of the studio—these tracks are aged and refined over time."
Of the songs on the EP, which would you say you’re most proud of?
CULLEN: "That’s a hard one because they’re all so different and they all hold a certain significance in different ways. If I had to choose one, I’d say it would be Warpath. Warpath was one of those songs we wrote in the early years and it had this staying power about it that spared from the studio floor with so many other tracks that we threw away. It’s certainly evolved from its initial iterations, but the skeleton of the song remained intact from its original form. Warpath today has emerged as the stand out single from the record and has gotten the most attention from fans and critics. We feel like we definitely made the right decision to keep evolving it and pushing it to the track it’s become today."
Where do you find most inspiration when creating music?
CULLEN: "We get inspired from all types of things in and outside of music. There’s inspiration all over if you’re open to it. We’re both fans of visual art, film and history and often get inspired by certain themes, images and characters—those types of things can inform concepts or ideas that become songs. In a musical sense, we take inspiration from all types of music as well—mostly metal, but we also take cues from other genres and styles."
Is there anything else we can expect from you in the near future?
CULLEN: "We’re planning on getting back in the studio this summer to start work on our second album. Continually releasing music is our biggest priority. We’ve gotten some great momentum off this first record and continuing that momentum is what we intend to do with our writing and our releases."