Interview: Mastiff

Anger is definitely an energy. Anger is probably the number one energy closely followed by loss, grief or whatever you want to call it.

With their utterly fearsome new album Deprecipice, Hull heavy hitters Mastiff have brought out one of what is surely to be one of the year’s best as well as heaviest records as it has been gaining well deserved plaudits all round since it came out. Deprecipice builds on the heady music that Mastiff have been building so far but adds more venom, more anger and more energy this time around, to create a truly thrilling listen for all fans of heavy music. Fresh off a successful UK tour to mark the release of the album, Gavin Brown caught up with Mastiff vocalist Jim Hodge to hear how the tour went down as well as getting an insight into Deprecipice and discussing what is next for the mighty Mastiff.

E&D: You’ve just finished in support of your new album Deprecipice. What were some of the highlights of the tour?     

Jim: The tour went brilliantly and the highlight was hometown show, because it’s  the first time we’ve actually done an official launch gig for an album. London was amazing. Nottingham was amazing. They were all great, but those are the standout shows. Plenty people moving about, stage divers and stuff like that. London’s always good for that for us especially.

E&D: How special was that hometown show in Hull, especially with the album being released that day?

Jim: Like I said, it was the first time we’ve done it, we’ve never really had the confidence for this to work out the way it did. It was packed. This is the third home show, that has been packed for us. This one was special because it’s the first time people were getting to hear the songs from the album live. They seemed to go down very well so we couldn’t have asked for a better reception really.

E&D: Did the material from the new album form the basis of your set or did you play the album in full?

Jim: No, not the full album, because of having the guests on it, but yeah, pretty much the whole album we played. We’ve  said before we write to play, so that enabled ourselves to play everything as much as we can. ‘Everything Is Ending’ seems to be a favourite with the people. It’s the heaviest one on the album, I guess.

E&D: Have you had any thoughts about getting all those guests to play a show at all, if that was possible?

Jim: If the logistics worked out and Ethan was in the country at the right time. Yeah, that would be amazing. We’ve had Harry from Burner play ‘Serrated’ with us. He did that in London on the tour. Dan, who also plays on the solo that one, he’s local to us, so he could theoretically play it. Rob from Yersin could play ‘Worship’.  I think the one that everyone would probably want to see would be ‘Cut-Throat’ so we’ll see if Ethan from Primitive Man is ever in the country and he might be gracious enough. I mean, he was gracious enough do the track on the album for us, you can only ask!

E&D: What are Mastiff’s live plans fit for the rest of the year?

Jim: At the moment if I’m honest, we’ve got nothing. We’re just waiting to see, now the album’s out. Obviously promoters can hear it and they can see what the tour did. We might tour again later in the year hopefully.

E&D: What Mastiff live shows have stood out most to you over the years?

Jim: Damnation. I think that’s probably my top one. I think, the band would agree with that as well. Gav from Damnation said he trusted us with opening that whole new venue in Manchester a couple years ago, so it was quite an honour to open a new chapter of that. The festival was amazing. Probably had too much to drink, really, but luckily, I waited till after we played. Playing with Cult Leader a couple of times, that was another highlight. Cult Leader are probably one of the main influences for us as a band, so to get to play with them a couple of times was just incredible. There’s probably hundreds but playing with Burner at their album release, that was an incredible show. That was ridiculously good. We had so much fun.

E&D: How does it feel playing festivals like Bloodstock and Damnation relatively early in your career?

E&D: I think because the festivals have chosen us, rather than us pestering them and asking and asking it makes you a little bit more proud. It’s a hell of an honour. We’ve been asked to play and hopefully we pulled it off both times, so yeah, it’s been great.

E&D: Going back to the tour, are there any anecdotes from the tour that you can share with us?

Jim: I can tell you about them. I was there but I was fast asleep. Apparently I passed out. Rob from Yersin, we’d got back to this hostel in London, and we’d all had a little bit too much to drink. Rob gets up for a piddle in the middle of the night and an hour later, he’s escorted back to the room without shoes and the police brought him back to this hostel. He’d ended up a mile away from the bloody the hostel, shoeless, with an emergency bus ticket in his pocket, not knowing how the hell he’d got anywhere! Another highlight was probably in Birmingham. We didn’t actually know if the Birmingham show was going to happen because there was mixed up communication somewhere on the lines, and we never got any confirmation emails, to say, this is loading time, this is what happening, so when we get there, there’s no rider, and  stupidly the manager said, you’ve got no rider but it’s Saturday night so we’ll give you a free bar! That is a bullet to the brain for us, so we managed to clear the bar pretty much of all booze. That was that was quite a fun evening as well!

E&D: With the new album, are you happy with the reaction it’s been received so far? Everything I’ve seen is rightfully positive!

Jim: We could not be happier. It’s just been so humbling because it’s been like nines, eights, nines, across the board, and it’s absolutely blown my tiny little brain, which wouldn’t take much, but it’s just incredible when you’re doing something you love. You’re not chasing a style or genre or what have you, and you’ve got that freedom. Everybody else seems to get it. It’s just incredible and it’s humbling to us that we’ve been able to do this and get away with pulling this off, I guess.

E&D: Why did you choose to title the album, Deprecipice?

Jim: Well, it popped into my head one day, and I did check Google, Spotify and Apple Music, and there’s no albums out there that are called that. So it was like, Oh, that’s a great idea. It genuinely came out of the back of my brain, but obviously, it’s how we and probably most of the country for the moment feel, we’re almost on this depressive precipice, so It was just an obvious choice.

 

E&D: Was making the album cathartic for the band and do you feel that anger is energy with your music?

Jim: Anger is definitely an energy. Anger is probably the number one energy closely followed by loss, grief or whatever you want to call it. Anger seems to lead the way in the country at the moment because it is a shitshow led by absolute buffoons. It’s quite easy to get angry with those people. With grief, James lost his mum, just as we were going into the studio to write it and record it. He’d got a track written down, and I was struggling to put pen to paper with it, to put something genuine. I’m not a bullshitter. I said, I want to put lyrics down that mean so much to somebody, and James just said, Look, would you mind if I took over and ‘Void’ is about him losing his mum. It’s obviously a broad sweep, because it’s  open to everybody and everybody is involved in grief at some point in their life, so  I’m incredibly honoured to be able to shout those lyrics for him, and for his mum.

E&D: With the guest appearances on Deprecipce. How was it working with those guys and did you always plan to have them featured on the songs they did?

Jim: I think we sort of planned it. Certainly, we were offered, do you want any guests on the album? And if so, who will it be? We definitely wanted Harry from Burner because we knew how well he would fit on the track and we got on with him so well. Rob from Yersin was up for it straightaway, like, shall I do a Slayer solo? It’s straight up Slayer worship. That’s why it’s called ‘Worship’, so that’s how that came about. With Ethan from Primitive Man, we thought we’d just be cheeky, Dan and myself are friends with him on Facebook, and we messaged him and said, would you be interested in maybe throwing some lyrics or something down? And he came up with a yes. We were as surprised as everybody I guess, but the guy is just an absolute beast. I mean, I’m not narcissistic, but I think I can shout but that man’s range and his lungs are incredible!

E&D: Did you always want to go with a faster and even angrier approach for your music this time or did it naturally run out this way?

Jim: It just naturally ran out because I think the Hardcore scene seems to have encroached on everyone’s lives recently, with the likes of Knocked Loose, and bands like that, so we’re always influenced by the shit we listen to, and we were influenced by that, I guess, and that’s why it’s come out with more of a hardcore tinge to it. Next time, who knows, it maybe a bloody Doom album for all we know!

E&D: Have you had any thoughts about new material at all? 

Jim: There’s already a couple of tracks floating about, so yeah. I think they’re probably very similar to what we’ve done already. So we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we start to get our heads into gear that way, because James and Phil are prolific writers, it’s quite easy for them to seem to throw disgusting riffs out!

E&D: How was it collaborating with Black Iris brewery on your Trapped Inside The Void beer and how did that come about?

Jim: They messaged us and said, Look, we’re all fans, would you be interested in doing a collaboration? They’ve done a lot of collaborations with other bands already, and we were like, it’s a no brainer, and they just said what would you like it to be? We’d already a collaboration once already with Bone Machine Brew Co, a coffee stout that was 10.5% so we thought we’d go a little bit lighter this time! Give them a slightly less aggressive weapon to drink so this one’s only 7.2%!

E&D: What are the members of Mastiff’s drinks of choice?

Jim: Well, obviously that sort of stuff. Double IPAs and what have you. I’m a stout man, I’ll have anything dark chocolate or coffee flavoured. Dan, our bass player, he’s been sober for four years now. He’s aiming at maybe doing a non alcoholic drink next time, which we’d be up for because you can’t have booze all the time! Then Charlie, he pretty much just drinks bleach! He’ll just drink any old shit, he’ll love me for saying that! He just enjoys a drink.

E&D: What is next for Mastiff?

Jim: We have started writing already. Hopefully we’ll get to play a few more times with this album because it deserves being played and, without sounding like a big head, it deserves to be heard by bigger audiences. Hopefully we get to play some more bigger shows or our shows. We’ll just leave that up to the powers that be.

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