The Hyena Kill Interview

The Hyena Kill roll into Milton Keynes tomorrow night (Thursday October 20th) for the last date of their current headline tour. VH writer Hannah Golightly caught up with Steve Dobb and Lorna Blundell before their show in Liverpool to talk debut album Atomised, why they don’t need a bassist, the impact of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and dickhead soundmen.

Live photos: Elizabeth Maddock (instagram/facebook).
Feature image: Hannah Golightly.


HG: How did you two meet?

SD: On the local Manchester music scene. We were both in two different bands and we sort of like had a jam one day at a house party, of all places.

HG: In the middle of the party?

SD: Well it was at Lorna’s house, she had an electric kit

LB: Yeah, my house was always a bit…

SD: Yeah so there was Lorna’s electric kit and there was a guitar amp and we started jamming and it was… we came up with something really cool. Eventually, we both left our own bands that we was in

HG: Which bands were you in before?

LB: I was in a band called Disco Nasties.

SD: And I was in a band called Death Sirens.

HG: Cool, was it the same style of music?

SD: Yeah.

LB: It was great my band, it was a punk rock indie punk. It was mental. It was really hit or miss.  When it was really good, it was really good. But when we were bad, we were terrible. We had a really bad reputation round town.

SD: Mine was just Grunge.

HG: Yeah, I love Grunge. Yeah, big fan of the Grunge. [laughs]

LB: I love how it was called Death Sirens, it was clearly a rip off of the Deftones. [both laugh]

hyena-kill-interview-06(Photo: Elizabeth Maddock)

HG: So, who came up with the name, the Hyena Kill?

SD: [puts hand up] It was me. Yeah basically, I wanted something that sounded really different. And I really liked the name Bikini Kill.

HG: It reminds me of Bikini Kill.

SD: Well that’s where it came from. I was like, I sort of thought, well I like that. And then it was also around that time I was listening to Rancid and they got a song called Hyena…Coz I was just like putting words next to “kill” and thinking “what sounds cool?” and I was like “oh, Hyena Kill.”

LB: I thought it was horrendous at first and I was like “what?! No.”

SD: We had a bass player and I was like “I’ve got this name and they were like ‘no'”

LB: No, he wanted to use it. The bass player wanted it.

SD: Oh yeah, so Lorna was out-voted. I forgot about that. Yeah.

LB: I was like “what a ridiculous name”

HG: What did you do to the bassist?

[all laugh] SD: Er, he went a bit crazy and left.

HG: Oh?

LB: It happens. We must have just drove ours to insanity.

SD: Yeah. That was quite a long time ago really.

LB: It was over four years ago.

hyena-kill-interview-04(Photo: Elizabeth Maddock)

HG: So you’ve been going a while then?

LB: We’ve been a two piece for four years. Saw it on that stupid Facebook thing the other day. That TimeHop thing.

HG: So your band sounds a bit like heavier than most of the bands that I see doing the rounds. Do you think it’s time to bring heavier music back? Like when we had the Grunge thing?

SD: I will always say “yes”

LB: Yeah.

SD: I will always “yes” coz I like, loads of different music but I’m always a sucker for a heavy riff.

HG: So how has your sound progressed since your debut EP Scrape My Bones? How is your album Atomised different?

SD: Oh God. Well for one I know how to develop my sound a lot more and y’know, in terms of making it a lot more bigger for what I wanted to do live. I think it’s just the song writing and where we are as musicians has improved.

LB: Yeah. We had to step up when the bassist left. We had some gigs lined up and we just did them anyway. And then a lot of people said to us “why? You’re not even missing a bass player.” We did try to get a couple of people in didn’t we?

SD: Yeah. We had auditioned some bass players but nothing worked out.

HG: Maybe it’s just meant to be the two of you. Is that what you think too?

LB: Yeah. At this moment in time…

SD: It just feels right. We’re writing great songs together aren’t we?

LB: Yeah.

SD: We’re very happy with what we’re writing. I think it’s a development from Scrape My Bones is our playing and songwriting.

LB: Our relationship is much better. It’s more mature. And what we’re writing since the album is even more mature. So it’s just a progression.

HG: So what are your musical influences – individually and as a band?

LB: Well I like really shit music don’t I? [smiling]

SD: Yeah Lorna likes a range of pop.

HG: [mishearing them] Loads of “crap” or loads of “pop”?

LB: Both! [All laugh]

SD: No, to be fair, her pop taste, I do like everything that she likes.

LB: Not that I’m defined by what he considers acceptable. [All laugh] Coz I grew up on Nu-Metal. Like it was my thing. And he likes to take the piss out of it But…

HG: [looking concerned] Which type of Nu-Metal? Like the proper embryonic...

SD: The Shit type.

HG: What, like Linkin Park?

LB: Yeah, I know, I know. [Nods enthusiastically]

HG: Like early Korn was fucking amazing man…

LB: Well what that did was, it acted as a gateway to the rest of it. It was a gateway to the back catalog and bands like Tool and Deftones. I was a bit late coming to it. But I’ve always liked Pop music- ever since the Spice Girls and before the Spice Girls, I always was a big fan of Pop music. I’d love to be in a Pop band.

HG: I think it’s good to have a Pop sensibility no matter how heavy your music is.

SD: Oh definitely.

LB: Well Rock music is like Pop music just with guitars… like Nirvana- the structures of the songs were Pop songs: Verse chorus, verse. Yeah. Coz he was a big fan of the Beatles wasn’t he, Kurt Cobain?

SD: My influences are definitely rooted in heavy guitar based bands such as like Deftones, Tool, well and Nirvana but I also love Punk – that’s why I like to bring that Punk element to our music.

HG: Yeah, it’s definitely got that sort of Punk spirit.

SD: I definitely like to make sure there’s at least a bit of that in everything we do.

hyena-kill-interview-07(Photo: Elizabeth Maddock)

HG: Steve, what inspired you to start playing music?

SD: I think the turning point of playing music was watching my cousin’s band. I used to like – not roadie, I was too young to roadie – I was just like knocking around. Just twelve years old just sort of hanging around just going to their gigs and then hiding beer like behind the PA while they were playing.

LB: Twelve! [laughs]

SD: It was just erm… It was after growing up listening to rock music in my house all my life, it was just a thing that happened. And then, I think the turning point was absolutely massively cliched- it was watching Top of the Pops 2 and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ came on. And I’d always heard it growing up coz either my mum or dad would be playing it, but the visual thing of just seeing this band… I’d never seen what they looked like. I’d only heard records in the car or whatever… and I was just like “Shit!” And I said to my dad like “where’s that album? I know you’ve got it” and he was like “It’s there” and I just went upstairs and just rinsed it and then the next morning I just woke up like this whole new person. And that was it. That’s what started it. That’s what started the entire thing.

HG: When I was a drummer in bands in Manchester and Liverpool, I was up against a bit of sexism now and again. Just wondering, Lorna – have you encountered any of that?

LB: Oh yeah. I’m a big fan of the drum community. I love the drum community. They’ve always treated me really well and I’ve been really looked after and erm, within the drum community it’s not even an issue, like it’s not a thing. It’s barely mentioned like – “oh my God you’re a girl and you play drums”. It’s only every now and again that somebody says something that is either untoward or they don’t mean it, or they make jokes about it. But I think the thing is, I’m a bit beyond it now because I’m quite confident in my own…

HG: Ability?

LB: Yeah, and it’s not in like a “I’m the best drummer ever” by any means

hyena-kill-interview-05(Photo: Elizabeth Maddock)

HG: You’re a really good drummer though. I’ve seen your drumming.

LB: But I know drummers that are a million times better than me, so that’s my goal to be like really really really really amazing. So I always think I’m average at best. But I have enough ability.

HG: Way too modest.

LB: Well I dunno coz like I really like to look into drumming and I used to work in a drum shop and I’ve been exposed to a lot of drummers so… I know what I consider good. And my ability is average. But…

HG: It’s your style though, a creativity thing as well though that you bring to the table.

LB: Yeah, that’s true.

HG: I like all your toms [plays air drums]

LB: Yeah, love toms. Argh I love playing the toms. My old band wouldn’t let me play them, I used to get…

SD: I’m all about the toms.

HG: Yeah, sounds good, especially with a Grungy sound.

SD: I used to notice it a lot when we first started out.

LB: Doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve got good comebacks now. Like really quick comebacks like…

SD: We don’t play with dickhead bands anymore…

hyena-kill-interview-02(Photo: Elizabeth Maddock)

HG: Would you say it was bands who were making comments?

SD: Yeah, it was more… I’ve noticed it from bands more than audiences.

LB: And soundmen.

SD: Usually from dickhead Metal bands.

LB: I shot a soundman down once when he said something to me like er “Oh my God. Never seen a female drummer.” It was after the show. Coz we were like pretty nonchalant before the show. But after the show he was like “I’ve never seen a female drummer play like that. Blah blah blah” And “Because you know, 95% of female drummers are shit.” And I’d just finished the show so I was like really tired anyway so…

SD: He was a DICKHEAD.

LB: And I just stood up to him and I just said “You know, it’s attitudes like that that will deter young girls from playing drums.” And I said “It’s toxic” And he was like “Oh yeah, I totally agree” and I was like “Well I’m really confused because if you agree, stop spouting that shit.” Y’know what I mean?

SD: Totally unnecessary. He was talking shit all night. It was just inevitable he was gonna say something.

The Hyena Kill’s debut album Atomised is out now, and available here. You can hear album opener ‘Crosses’, below.

You can also catch them live during the last two nights of their current tour at Moles, Bath (Wed Oct 19th) and at the Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes (Thur Oct 20th).