After what can only be described as an excruciating long wait, Hacktivist will finally give unto the world their debut album, ‘Outside The Box’, this March. But, as the adage wisely states, good things come to those who wait. Speaking with guitarist/clean singer Timfy James, currently in the pre-pro stage of the band’s upcoming tour, we ask the musician about the wait between releases, whether the band has ever considered a covers release, and his thoughts on our locals, Devastator.
So Timfy…the album is finally coming out after all this time. Has this just been a matter of it’ll be done when it’s done, or were there a few behind the scenes complications that held the album back?
There was a lot of things that got in the way. When the EP first came out we were under a lot of pressure to go out on the road and [play at] a lot of festivals that a lot of band wouldn’t do in that point of their career. Most bands when they start have the time and the space to work out where they want to go, but we didn’t get that. Once the EP came out we were off playing in all different countries and all that crazy stuff. That took quite a toll.
There was a lot of personal stuff that happened along the way. But honestly, if it weren’t for all of those negative things, the album wouldn’t be as good as it is now. I am happy that it’s taken this long, and I know people have been really waiting for it, but the buzz is still there. It’s the age-old thing; life gets in the way of music and music gets in the way of life.
Yeah, I remember when that EP dropped, you went from being unknown to this household name. As you said, you skipped the growing pain era and were dropped straight in the deep end.
Yeah definitely, man. That’s just how it is. We’ve grown and learnt a lot, and we’ve been on the road with so many bands we look up to, and done so many things. Considering how well the EP did, it was very hard to sit there and try to replicate that success.
It can be a very hard thing man, I know. I saw you guys at Soundwave 2014 and no band has drawn a crowd that big that early in my mind. Are you worried that maybe a lot of the momentum the band had has been lost due to the long wait of a new release, despite the occasional singles?
No, I don’t think so. But that did come into our minds that people would move on, and everything we’ve put out since we’ve seen that our fans are loyal. It’s not like anyone has come forward and taken the trophy from us, so if we don’t bring something out in three years, they might as well wait (laughs). As soon as they hear the album, it’ll be like we never went away. It’s not anything that it would have been before, you know? You could even say that if we brought it out early, we would have lost fans, as it wouldn’t be as strong if we had just waited and taken our time.
Well-said man. And with no one else sounding like you do, the only other band that has that sound is a band from Sydney called Devastator. Who I’m sure you are aware of.
Yeah, we know those guys.
What do you think about them? Cause they take some big cues from you guys, but they are a bit more tech influenced.
We get this question quite a lot actually…
Oh, I bet dude, but still, you must have an opinion on them?
I would say that they are a tech version of us, especially from the album now. We explore areas they couldn’t play but just because of how their music is. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but if someone hadn’t heard of either of us and said, ‘Right, I’ve just heard a band and it’s rap and djent’, then Devastator is exactly that. They are the meat-and-potatoes version of us, and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I think that we have a larger scope in the style.
Obviously they took influence from us and they didn’t exist before us, I know that for a fact. But there’s enough room for everyone in the world and people ask if they are stepping on [our] toes, and we don’t think so, as they are a bit more hip-hop and more djent influenced, and we have more diversity and the new album shows that.
Songs like ‘Rotten’, ‘The Storm’ and ‘Taken’ I could never really see Devastator doing.
Yeah, it’s not their thing. They are happy with what they’re doing and we’re stoked that other people are doing that with the genre, because it works.
I don’t like the word djent, it’s like a swear word to me. It just pigeonholes anything. If a band says they are djent, and they do anything different, the scene comes out and says ‘THAT’S NOT DJENT!’ I do listen to heavy music, but I don’t want to be a part of that scene as there’s not much forward thinking in it. It’s just about being technical and using Axe-Fx’s. Because, we haven’t gotten this far by doing what everyone else told us to do, or what they wanted us to be like.
Yep, spot on mate. Just speaking of the singles though, with ‘Deceive and Defy’ – why did you replace Charlie Holmes’ guest vocals with that of Jamie from Heart Of A Coward? Was that just a temporary thing or did it have to do with the nasty rumours going around last year about him?
Charlie was a really good friend of ours and I’m good friends with that band, Heart In Hand, and I won’t go into the rumors; we’re above that. I trust everything that the Heart In Hand guys say, they aren’t malicious and they wouldn’t want it to end – they loved that band. They’ll always miss it. Without going too much into it, we didn’t want to be associated with those things and it would be hypocritical of us to carry on with something like that. Despite being allegations, they are strong allegations and whether it’s true or not, it’s just better to stay out of it.
I loved their second album, ‘Almost There’, that was such a great album!
That’s actually my favourite song by them too.
Nice man. Quick question – will there be any more covers released anytime soon, because you guys would do a fantastic job of a full covers release it I think. I’ve dug all of your covers thus far, but I can see why you wouldn’t want to do one…
I think using the covers for us is wrong. I think we really make it our own. When we are finished with it, it becomes a Hacktivist song. But it’s quite a good idea man. We did a Limp Bizkit one recently at a New Year’s party…
You have to record and release that one.
(Laughs) yeah, man! We’ve done loads and we just love putting them into our sets, as we can’t play ‘Niggas In Paris’ forever. I think it’s more for live stuff, as it may be overkill for a full EP. It may be selling out though.
But as you said, you more or less remake the songs, and I think a lot of actual fans would love to see and hear them. Finally, with the first song on the album, is that Marlon Jermaine’s brother?
Yeah man, he’s his brother.
Okay, because I viewed that as being like an MC opening up a show.
Yeah that’s it. He’s an amazing MC and we’re gonna use that for our album tours as well, and I don’t think he realised that we would use it. He was proper happy about it when he found it. We don’t want to stop exciting and surprising people with our music, cause a lot of people are scared of change. The song was a message written to the fans, it’s a lot like a poem, just really dark. We wanted that British, gangster vibe and that’s how Marlon sounds. He’s a bit of a scary guy (laughs).
(Laughs) Well it really works. We’ll leave it there Timfy, thanks heaps for this mate. Also, I’ve really loved the new record.
Yeah no worries man, and thanks mate.
‘Outside The Box’ is out March 4th through Unified.