Saturday November 7, was marked by ‘Another Stoned Saturday’ – a show held in Vilnius’ nArauti club, which featured local Doom, Stoner Metal and Desert Rock influenced bands.
For those unfamiliar with these terms – Doom, and the later derivatives are specific types of metal music, which are characterised by their slower paced, riff-driven sound.
Following their set at nArauti, Music Export Fund caught up with one of the bands from ‘Another Stoned Saturday’ – the Doom two-piece, Hellhookah, featuring Arnas on guitar and vocals, and Gintarė on drums.
MXF: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. You’re probably really tired after your show, and no wonder, given you needed to fill the stage as a two-piece. How do you achieve such a full and heavy sound with the just the two of you?
Hellhookah: It took some trial and error in order to find this sound. When we first started playing shows, we would get comments that our sound was too thin, not heavy enough, and that we need to take on a bass player. But that was out of the question – we wanted to be a two-piece from the very beginning, so we spent some time experimenting with pedals and effects in order to sculpt this thick and full guitar tone, which covers a broad spectrum.
MXF: It seemed that everyone tonight in nArauti knew each other – is the Doom scene rather small in Vilnius?
Hellhookah: I guess you could say that most Doom enthusiasts are here tonight, so yeah, you could call it a rather bespoke genre here. More people are into Stoner Metal, which is a more contemporary and a more catchy iteration of the genre, but our style is more old school – something closer to the origins of Doom [metal].
MXF: Doom Metal and Stoner Metal often get a fair amount of grief from other metal fans on the grounds that it is too slow and too simple – do you get any of that here?
Hellhookah: It is true that most people who listen to heavy music often have a preference for fast tempos and flashy solos. And even though metal fans are known for their strict opinions, especially in the virtual realm, we don’t get too many shots fired our way. Not directly at least.
MXF: What is it about Doom that you love the most?
Hellhookah: It’s definitely the riffs. They just get you hooked. In speed-driven strains of metal, you need to stop and consciously engage – it’s almost as if you need headphones and a controlled environment to appreciate the intricacies. Doom on the other hand, just grabs you and envelopes you – even if you’re just a bystander.
MXF: What are your biggest sonic influences?
Hellhookah: The most apparent one , of course, is early Black Sabbath – the fathers of Doom. Another one would be Saint Vitus, but they are a bit less known – it’s rare that someone would compare us to them. More important influences? Witchfinder General,The Obssessed, Pentagram, and Trouble.
As for the less direct influences – our love for music started with classic rock: Queen, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple.
Later we started getting into blues and other classic/psychedelic rock bands – Canned Heat, the Dutch band, Livin Blues, Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Hawkwind are just a few – there are definitely a lot of Blues and Rock’n’Roll influences for us.
Some years ago we were also both into Thrash Metal – bands like Sodom, Slayer, Razor, Kreator Destruction, Exhorder, Demolition Hammer, Exodus, and so on.
MXF: Your lyrics are very mythical – where do all the sandy landscapes and monsters come from?
Hellhookah: A lot of the lyrics in our songs are just real-life experiences hiding behind metaphors.
However our most mythical track, Endless Serpent, is inspired by Native American mythology. I was reading the book ‘Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge’ by Jeremy Narby.
I was fascinated to find that the Serpent, as a symbol of the cosmos and of life and death, is encountered in many ancient myths – Greek , Sumerian, Native American. It is mind blowing that this symbol unifies different civilizations from different parts of the world. The more I explored this, the more of an influence it became on our music.
MXF: You usually have gigs in Vilnius, but have you had the chance to play any festivals in Lithuania?
MXF: What about playing outside of Lithuania?
Hellhookah: We were working on getting one gig in Latvia, and we had everything organised, but now it’s up in the air – we don’t know if it’s gonna happen.
You see, the thing with Latvia, is that the darker alternative scene is even smaller than here.
For instance, tonight we had more than a hundred people come through the door and this is an OK turnout.
In Latvia getting 50 people in is considered a successful show. It’s the same with Estonia – we know people who were trying to establish connections there, but there just isn’t enough demand for this sort of music.
MXF: You’ve been working on your first record, tell me more about the whole process.
Hellhookah: Making a record is like building a monument dedicated to yourself. That monument is a reference point; a snapshot of who you are now. You immortalize your present self and you want to move forward and make new material. We already have three or for songs for a future release.
MXF: When should we expect the first one?
Hellhookah: It’s actually all mixed, mastered and ready to go, we just need to release it properly. We are in talks with a couple of labels, one from Italy and one from Switzerland. It would be great to get signed and get support with promotion and distribution – hopefully that’s happening really soon.
MXF: So it’s safe to say that you’re not gonna disappear any time soon?
Hellhookah: People often say that metal isn’t serious, that it’s always gonna remain just a hobby. But for us it isn’t – we wanted to dedicate our lives to music ever since we were teenagers.
We know that it’s not gonna be easy – take Lemmy, the frontman of Motörhead, for instance. In his autobiography he revealed that he was able to fully sustain himself from music alone at the age of 40. And this is a prolific band that is world famous.
Another inspiration is the band ‘EYEHATEGOD’. Before the band got famous, one member was homeless. So, you see – everything is possible if you put enough effort in.
Hellhookah official Facebook: www.facebook.com/Hellhookah
Hellhookah YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCXJyJCn8cl706H36QYndENg
Buy Hellhookah’s music HERE: