INTERVIEW: Heck | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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“Once you realise you haven’t got a concussion, you just get on with it.” Ladies and gentleman, the Heck philosophy. If ever a band set out to create utter pandemonium, it’s Heck. The thrashy hardcore four-piece from Nottingham have been (quite literally) tearing up stages across the country since their formation in 2009. Their recorded output thus far consists of three wonderfully abrasive EPs, and as they gear up to release their debut album Instructions this month, you may find yourself asking, ‘how come I’m not familiar with this merry band of lunatics they call Heck?’ Chances are, you already know Heck. But you probably knew them as Baby Godzilla, their previous name until the real Godzilla stepped in…

“We hit our stride as a band quite quickly at the beginning, and after the release of our third EP, Knockout Machine, we fully intended to release an album,” explains guitarist Jonny Hall. “But then of course things started to go wrong legally, and we started to hear rumbles of trouble. We began recording the album at the end of 2014 with an aim to release in April 2015, and then the cease and desist order came through, and that was the end of Baby Godzilla. It was a very hard pill to swallow as we’d built up so much momentum. We’d played Reading, Leeds, Download and the Kerrang! Tour and were ready to go, and then we had to suddenly grind to a halt.” With the owners of the Godzilla trademark threatening to take everything they had if they pushed ahead with the name, Baby Godzilla were backed into a corner.  But true to form, they fought their way out, re-christening themselves and refusing to be beaten. “It knocked us back, but it also reinvigorated us. It felt like our souls had been ripped out, but you just have to say ‘fuck it’. You have to launch back into it with everything you’ve got.”

So why ‘Heck’? “Because it’s not a trademark!” laughs Hall. “We wanted something that felt like us. Something memorable but that didn’t take itself too seriously. If we took ourselves too seriously, we’d become unbearable to each other and everyone else – music should be fun. We did come up with some really bad names though, most of them Die Hard quotes. ‘Fucking TV’ was one of them, simply because a character says ‘fucking TV’ at one point. We all loved it, but then you think about the logistics of trying to get a website. No one would find you amongst all the porn!”

It felt like our souls had been ripped out, but you just have to say ‘fuck it’. You have to launch back into it with everything you’ve got

Though the road to Heck’s debut album release has been as chaotic as their live show, it’s surely been worth the wait for their loyal followers. Instructions is an absolute beast of a record: a face-melting, ear-shredding masterpiece of noise. From the minute the album opens with the deranged howl of vocalist Matt Reynolds on Good As Dead, Heck charge ferociously through ten tracks of crushing riffs and snarling vocals with an intensity that hits like a blow to the face. Though the barrage of noise can initially leave you shell-shocked, there’s a lot more at play beneath the cacophony. “People don’t tend to think about the technicalities underneath the noise, as it kind of smashes and blinds you for the first few listens as it’s so full on. But if you have the time and dedication to deconstruct it there’s a lot more in there, we put a lot of work into it. The last track on the album is 16 minutes long and it took us nearly a year to finalise. It’s a mammoth! It’s the hardest, most technical song on the album and we’re proud of that one. We know people dismiss us as just a live band, which is going to happen as our live show is pretty silly at times, but if people really listen to the album they will realise there’s more to it.”

‘Silly’ might be a little bit of an understatement when it comes to describing Heck’s live show. A ‘mind-blowing spectacle’ is probably more of an appropriate description, as the band lay waste to the traditional audience/stage concept to hang from lighting rigs, serve themselves shots at the bar and wreak general havoc at whichever venue is brave enough to play host. Unsurprisingly, this total disregard for their own personal safety has led to a few injures. “I managed to destroy all the ligaments in my right knee on the first day of a tour,” cringes Hall. “I had to finish the tour without being able to walk. I broke one of my own front teeth with my guitar the day before the Kerrang! Awards which wasn’t a good red carpet look. Matt is made of steel, that guy does such stupid things and comes out unscathed. Once he jumped about 20 feet from a lighting rig and landed like a sack of potatoes and got up and ran off.  We were all wondering ‘how is he still alive?!’ Tom our drummer slashed his hand open on a cymbal, gaffer taped it up and went to A&E to get stitches then decided he couldn’t be bothered to wait because his mates band were about to play! You expect these things to happen, and it does hurt, but ultimately it doesn’t stop us. Besides, we’ve only had two A&E trips as a band so far!” Well Heck, that’s pretty good going.

Heck play Think Tank?, Newcastle on Sunday 13th March. They release Instructions on 11th March.

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