Hi Bruno, congrats on the new album, 'Whitecrow'! We will get to that topic in a second, but it has been five years since your last release 'Heretic Commando - Rise Of The New Antikrist' (2012), can you bring us up to speed with what Hypnos has been up to during that time?
Hi Sicktus. Thanks for your nice words, we are also happy that we are finally showing up with the new album, after five long years. During those years, we were focused especially on the live shows, we did many, including short tours with Napalm Death, Vader and Amon Amarth. Pity we did not get to play stages in Western Europe much. I hope this will be different after the new album will be released because we need more shows in the west. Besides being active with Hypnos, we brought our previous band Krabathor back into life again. We played Brutal Assault festival in 2014 and did a Czech and Slovakia tour in 2015. This was not easy because the second Krabba mainman Christopher, moved to the USA 12 years ago, so it was tough to even get together. And also, I was writing my autobiography entitled 'Revoltikon' for two years. Unfortunately for you from the West, it is written in the Czech language, but the book sold out all 666 copies in three months and currently there is unfortunately no chance to buy this book anymore. So when you imagine that besides the above noted issues, I even needed another eighteen months or thereabout to write the new Hypnos album, it is clear that we were not taking any musical holidays!
Alright, thanks for the quick recap of the past couple of years. Onto the new album. 'Whitecrow' obviously is a concept album. Can you tell us something more about the theme? What is it about, what is the main storyline?
The storyline is focused on the positive aspects of our lives and the will to see them. People often submit to the bad mood, the media as well like to bring news taken from the worse point of view, because, as they state, people want that. I mean, this is bullshit, negative news brings better sales to newspapers and have maybe more views on their commercial programmes, but generally such life offers no improvement, it is the circle of non-important information we mostly even do not need at all. Therefore I created my alter ego, a boy named Whitecrow, reminiscent of a Middle Ages plague doctor, who tries to use his own mind, see positives that surrounds us and heal the people from this crap. We are here to enjoy our lives, so we must do something to live a good life. The lyrics are therefore connected with aspects as hope, trust, friendship, love etc. Maybe it sounds that I turned to God as many other junkies who quit doing drugs and started to convince others to become religious persons. I want to point out that I am still focused onto real things in life and that I remain strongly atheistic person, refusing all existing religious beliefs. Now, as always before.
Where did you get the original idea to do this story, this theme? And what research did you do on the topic? Any interesting reads you can recommend, whether it be books or websites for our readers who want to dive a little bit deeper into the topic?
It just came to my mind, slowly. The complex picture was done piece by piece, as a mosaic. As the months were passing by, I was sure more and more about the way I wanted to go with this album and everything started to make more and more sense. I usually works for me like that. I get the initial idea which is continuously growing up, as a movie playing in my head.
The approach of the compositions, built up and main theme is almost epic/cinematographic at times. This is helped a lot by the high amount of variation on the album. A big part of the album is hugely different compared to your earlier work, more midpaced and slower, almost doomy even at times. At the same time there are some black influences. Overall, the album feels darker, more varied. Despite the dark tone, it has a positive vibe. On the whole, I really enjoyed it, but aren't you afraid this change of style will maybe not do well with the old Hypnos fans, who maybe expect more straightforward oldschool death from you guys?
Man, you answered instead on me. I guess you are right, I also consider there are doomy passages we were not using much in the past and the whole album is more atmospheric. This was our goal. Also, almost every person writing a review for this album mentioned that this is much darker as ever before and I am slowly coming into the mood to believe them. You know, of course we are a bit afraid our die-hard fans won´t like this record but honestly, we don´t want to write the same songs for 20 years, we love to go forward through the land of music, we love many musical styles and therefore we are glad to see our records vary. And last but not least, the musical style change is not as dramatic, it is not any jump, you can still hear aspects that are typical for us, because I simply can´t change my style of songwriting. I would say that Hypnos still sits on death metal chair without any doubts. We are just maybe a bit more colorful than before.
So what came first, the musical shift, or the decision to make this a conceptual album? And what inspired this musical shift - besides the fact that it fits the theme?
Man, I don´t know indeed. It happened somehow…together.
What was different when writing and composing a concept album, compared to earlier albums?
I wanted to bring more atmosphere into the songs, I wanted to create certain gloomy moods, even if the album results in positive. Therefore we used long simple tones, repetitive passages, also some jamming parts and appearances of so many guests on the album, which helped to create specific atmosphere.
And did you like the experience overall? Will there be more concept albums in the future? Any ideas on topics yet? Even if you are not planning to do it, what would be a topic you would like to do an entire album on?
Sicktus, you are the first one I'm telling this, even my bandmates do not know about this yet. As we are finalizing the works for 'The Whitecrow', I am closer and closer to the idea what the next Hypnos album will be like. At this moment I am thinking of writing a second part of 'The Whitecrow' to complete the story, entitled 'The Blackcrow'. Darker and more evil.
A long question here, actually several questions in one go. One of the things that adds to the variation and atmosphere, are the many different vocal styles, plus the inclusion of a lot of cleaner stuff, instrumental stuff... There are quite a few guests on the album who also contribute to this. V. Santura (Triptykon, Dark Fortress), Paul Speckmann (Master), Christopher (Krabathor) and Martin Missy (Protector). It is not the first time you worked with guest vocalists or musicians, but where did you find these guys, how did you contact them, how did you convince them? Some are pretty obvious of course, but please tell us how you approached them and tell us something about their roles on the album. Also, who is the voice over / story teller?
Well, I do not like monotonous deep vocals and therefore I used to combine the vocal styles even in the past. This time I did two vocal versions of each song, growling and a higher black metal pitch, for almost each song and send it to my bandmates to decide which one to use.
Concerning guests, I was a bit scary of that because we planned two well-known special guests even for the 'Heretic Commando' session and we failed in both cases. I felt quite embarrassed because I had announced them already and people had questions then, logically. But this time we luckily succeeded. Paul Speckmann, the album narrator, moved to my hometown almost twenty years ago and we are in sporadic contact, their practice room with Master is in the same building as Shaark Studio, where we did main recordings. I planned to ask him for some speeches even in the past because he has a really nice, deep voice. Many bands used him for guest vocals and I did not want to follow this trend, I really wanted just his speech. Victor Santura – I had a chance to meet him several times as a member of my dream band Triptykon, I am big fan of T.G. Warrior since I was 15 years. But I have to say I am also fan of Dark Fortress, especially the album 'Ylem' is an absolute masterpiece! Victor´s Woodshed Studio was into the bargain one of the options we were thinking for recording session. So I just asked him via e-mail, same way as I asked Martin Missy. I have been in touch with Protector drummer Carl for a while and since I am also Protector fan, Carl helped me to get in touch with Martin. To my surprise and delight, he agreed as well.
Christopher from Krabathor, it is obvious that after the Krabathor comeback it would be good to confirm our co-operation in the studio as well. It was our first common studio recording after nineteen years! Igorr from Root, who was a member of Hypnos once, wrote and performed three great acoustic tracks. Zuzana Jelínková from Dying Passion is great singer, I love their band and they are one of the most underrated bands I know. By the way, it is for the very first time we used female vocals on the album, I hope our fans will enjoy that. Skuny from Shatoon, who did lead vocals for the last track 'Too Dark To Shine / Too Young To Die', is a singer from our area who is a bit out of the intense musical business and I have to say, I missed his vocal expression. Specials effects and orchestral sound design were done by Martin Štědroň, a guy working as a composer for theater performances, therefore it might remind of some movies, or soundtrack compositions. And at the end, one guitar solo was recorded by the album sound engineer Børge Finstad, who was so happy while recording. I have to say that all guests were nice and professional, I have to say big thank you to all of them, they did really good job.
Any other plans to promote the album, a tour perhaps? Will we see Hypnos live again in The Netherlands or Belgium?
Believe me, I would wish so much to reach the Dutch and Belgian stages again. The last time we played in Holland was 2014 at Tatoofest in Nijverdal. Unfortunately we are not with any booking agency, so it is quite tough to work it out by ourselves, but I hope the new album could attract some promoters and that we will receive some gig proposals. I am booking the tour to support the album for Autumn 2017, but in Czech Republic and Slovakia only, where I know the situation very well and where our position is much better than abroad.
There will be a official lyric video coming out soon, are there any more thematic videos in the making?
Yes, we plan to release not one but even two more videos, for the songs 'One Flesh, One Blood' and 'Get Inspired By The Light'. It will be done by the same team of film makers as The Whitecrow lyric video.
I really like the design of the album art, who designed it and what instructions did you give them, if any?
We started to work with Jo Mercieca from Malta, who did the artwork for the 'Heretic Commando' album. He did the front cover, but later quit to continue on graphic works due to the fact he was too busy with other issues. So I had to search for another layouter and at the end we completed the artworks with my Czech friend Frodys from the bands Awrizis and Postcards From Arkham. By the way, he is also the film maker I noted in my previous answer.
Bruno, in 2014 you released an autobiography, 'Revoltikon'. I must admit I did not read it, because A: it is in the Czech language and B: even if I could read Czech, it is sold out. Can you give our readers a glimpse of what topics are discussed?
Unfortunately there is not much to say. This book is my complete life story from my childhood, focused mostly on my musical career. It has over 400 pages and includes circa 250 pictures. As it is sold out, we can do nothing about that now, I am guessing there are just 3 people in Benelux who have a copy from me, one of them is for example Theo from Hail Of Bullets. But currently I am working on an audio book, turning the pages into spoken work, I am dealing with some speakers, actors etc., but the main part should be read by myself.
The first pressing of 'Revoltikon' was sold out pretty quickly, will there ever be a second pressing?
I do not think so. Publisher Mystic Production announced the first press as limited edition to 666 pieces and they would feel to be kinda ripped off if they would do a re-press. But maybe I will convince them in the future, when 2nd part will be written! To be exact, the first press was actually 800 pieces, but 134 pieces were used for promo, for me, friends, libraries etc.
To be completely honest, my first thought when I read the announcement back then was "Wow, an autobiography, but he is only like, I don't know, 40 years old, isn't that a bit early to do such a thing?" Why did you decide to write it and why in 2014?
It had nothing to do with my age or need to look back upon my life. The first idea came to my mind when I was about 40, because many people were still asking about things related to Krabathor and tours we have done in the past. We toured South Africa for example in 1998 etc. Almost from the beginning of my career, I was publishing my articles and reports in main Czechoslovakia media and people still remember that. I started to think to collect all these reports and publish them again at once. I felt it would be a shame that it should be forgotten and knew that if I won´t do it, nobody else will. But while reading them, they were mostly written the way I wouldn´t write it now. So I had to re-write them all. And then, I added text in between the periods that were not yet covered, added a lot of photos and the basis for an autobiography was written. I wanted to write almost about everything I remember because after a couple of year I might not remember.
There were five years between 'Heretic Commando' and 'Whitecrow', will the wait for a new Hypnos album be again this long? Or, well, since 'Whitecrow' is not even out yet, it may be too early to talk about a follow-up. Let me refrase that question: what plans do you guys have with Hypnos, both in the near future and in the longer run?
My plan is to release the next Hypnos album around 2020, when I will be 50 years old, but who knows. I am also recording the audio book now, maybe there will be some Krabathor activities, I would like to write a continuation for 'Revoltikon' called 'Hereticon', and much more... There is a lot of plans and I hope to reach at least some of them…… That is my inner engine!
Alright, that is about it. Any last words?
Thanks for your support and we will be looking forward to hit Dutch or generally, West European, clubs again! We are looking forward to that.