Interview with Blake Burns of Hell & Hollar

MM: Thank you Blake for talking to us today. It has been a while since we heard from Hell & Hollar. What has been going on?

Blake Burns: Well, there is the obvious reason. But other than that we have just been trying to make a second record that is better than the first. We want to have a very fresh set when we start playing shows again as well. So that’s where the focus is now.

MM: The story behind “Siberian Hunter” gives it a long history really before it came to fruition. Talk to us about the song and how all the parts grew together.

Blake Burns: So our bass player Johnny (Dusko) came up with the song idea on a 3 string guitar he found in the trash. He then composed and recorded a demo of it. He brought it to us when he joined the band and we made it ours. I wrote the lyrics to the already placed idea in the title which Johnny already had. We then added it to our set and it just kind of evolved the more we played it. We recorded and produced it ourselves with our former guitarist Ian Pattison who is on the track. Ian did the mixing and then we were fortunate to have Maor Appelbaum join the project as the mastering engineer. We are all proud of the end result.

MM: Do you think that the song and video and lyrics all just came together by happenstance or is it like it was all meant to be?

Blake Burns: I’d say it was all meant to be. When I first heard what Johnny already had, I knew it was an H&H song. He actually told me that I could rename it based on whatever lyrics I wrote for it. But I already loved the name and was interested in writing to the idea that was right there in front of me. I have also always wanted to produce an animated video and this song seemed perfect for it. So I really think it all happened for a reason.

MM: Where did you all record “Siberian Hunter”?

Blake Burns: We recorded the main bulk of it in our home base studio here on my property. We are fortunate to have our own fully functional studio at our disposal. But we did vocals at Ian’s place as well as some production elements. 

MM: Is the studio recording place a place you consider to bring the right vibe to what you want to produce continually?

Blake Burns: Definitely! It has to be a place where you feel open, comfortable, and free to create.

MM: We overheard that you were a pro surfer at one time. Do you still get to go surfing?

Blake Burns: I did have about a 15-year career with that. I love surfing, it’s a passion of mine just like music is. I do still surf yes. 

MM: How did that lifestyle meld with the rocker in you?

Blake Burns: Quite well actually. I grew up in one of the greatest periods of surfing in my opinion. It was growing a lot but was also still maintaining a nice balance of the counter culture it was in the past. So it was very loud, fast, and in your face similar to rock. 

MM: If you were to give life, as you have observed it so far, a note what would it be?

Blake Burns: It’s easier to spread love than it is to spread hate and you will feel better for it in all ways.

MM: Who have been some of your most influential musicians and who have struck you as close to your writing style?

Blake Burns: There are so many influences I honestly would be here all day explaining them. Because they are all over the place in era and genre. But the biggest influence of all for me personally is probably Joshua Homme. His talents as a writer, producer, and all-around talents in the studio really inspire me. I also really love his openness to bringing in collaborators. Something I am looking to do with our next record. It’s always good to work with someone you never have on music. You never know what might happen.

MM: Is there anyone you would like to write with?

Blake Burns: I would have to stick with my last answer and say, Joshua Homme. I can only imagine how much I could learn from him.

MM: Describe a typical writing session. How about a jam session?

Blake Burns: Well, often we do just jam. We have some really cool jams recorded in the studio that goes on for like 20 mins and go all over the place and then come back to the starting idea and finish. We typically take those and pick our favorite parts and build on them. The lyrics normally are written last and directly to the feeling the song triggers in me. But lately, I have been writing a lot just to write and there is a lot of lines and verses that I love and look forward to expanding on when the right song comes.

MM: Any particular instrument you fancy most using when writing?  

Blake Burns: No actually. I think it’s good to always pick up something different. It can spark something. That little spark is so important. But I have been having a lot of fun using the Minimoog plug-in on UA’s LUNA. Its been fun to experiment with different sounds that, well, trigger a spark. 

MM: With each song written do you sense your abilities to write becoming easier or is each time like its own starting over point?

Blake Burns: That’s a great question. I think maybe the confidence builds yes. But every song does always seem like a new starting point. You just approach it more confidently as you go. But each song’s writing is an adventure and you never know what will happen. So it’s important to kind of approach each song as a fresh start.

MM: Did the time of lockdown give you more time to write music? 

Blake Burns: Yes and no. There was a lot of time to write. But I think we were all also busy navigating trying to keep our heads above water too. So there were times where we had to take the week or two off. But it is what it is right. You take what life throws at you and you just run with it in the best way you can. 

MM: What’s coming up next Blake, what can we expect?  Have tour dates and next releases been announced yet? And we would love to speak with you again soon.

Blake Burns: There will be show announcements sometime later this year. Right now we are working to bring our next release in LP form. So don’t forget to follow us on all our social media channels as well as our youtube to keep up to date and for exclusive content that will drop from time to time. I look forward to the next time we have the opportunity to talk. Thanks so much.

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