Published on July 15th, 2015 | by Brian Coney0
EP Premiere + Interview: THVS – Everyday Hexes
Forming from the embers of Belfast riff-wielding institution Comply or Die, heavy rock three-piece THVS are on the precipice of completing the first stage of their instantly ear-grabbing metamorphosis. Officially released on Friday (July 17), we’re pleased to present a first listen of their expectedly visceral four-track EP, Everyday Hexes, also chatting to frontman Michael Smyth about the writing and recording of the EP, the formation of the band and their plans for the future.
Hi Michael. First thing’s first, how did THVS come about?
The band came about after a band practice got cancelled so Matt and I decided to go up and play anyway. We set up facing each other in the practice room and blasted through 6 songs that night, three of which ended up on the EP, unchanged from that run through. From this we decided we had something and still wanted to play together after our old band split up so after trying the songs as two piece we asked Dave, who I play with in Tusks, to play bass. Thus THVS was born kicking and screaming into this world.
THVS. Does the name have any significance?
All rock music is thievery so why not just be up front about it?
You formed from the ashes of Comply or Die. In what ways does this project differ from Comply or Die?
Well, Matt and I were in Comply or Die together and that’s where the similarities begin and end. THVS’ songwriting takes a very different approach with the idea to keep things sharp and to the point and do as much as possible with as little as possible. If a song only has two chords what else can you do with those two chords? There’s more emphasis on the vocals in THVS, a more traditional take on vocals. Actual sound wise, THVS is simplified and more direct, a lot less pedals and swirly effects, it allows for everything to breath and have its place which gives everything more punch and power. Dave brings a lot to the band both in terms of song writing and sound, he has certainly helped shaped the direction of the band.
What was the songwriting process for the release? How did you go about writing and arranging the material?
Like I said, three of the four songs were written literally the first time we played them, Matt and I just went in and for lack of a better expression jammed and that’s just what came out. We haven’t changed any structures or arrangements, we literally played a song, stopped and went into the next one. It was very organic. The other song I brought a riff or two and we took it from there. We have an idea of what the band should be but we’re open to trying anything and seeing where that takes us.
Was there any musical influences bubbling under the surface when making the EP?
Nothing specific, I think the EP is quite varied across the four songs while still retaining a sound that makes it THVS. Now that we’re up and running that sound is expanding and our scope is bigger. I don’t think you could pin point to any specific similarity to any other band. It’s heavy rock, that’s how I see it. We draw upon lots of different influences. Everyone has similar tastes that vary from person to person so everyone brings something different to the band.
As for the lyrical/thematic content, is there certain ideas or thoughts that bind the whole thing together?
I think the title is really reflective of that, ‘Everday Hexes’. It’s about those everyday events that we either choose to do or have thrust upon us that feel like a curse. I think that comes across in the lyrics as well. Trying to make sense of our everyday world and navigate our way through that.
How did you go about recording the release and how was the experience?
It was one of the best recording experience I’ve had so far. We went in with Walt at Graham House studio who has done the last few records for the bands I’ve been in. We went in set up and played through them a few times. We do it live together, it’s important to capture that feel. So it feels like an actual band rather than all perfectly lined up in protools. So yeah no dramas, nothing broke, nothing went on fire, no one got kicked outta the band. It was great, Walt done a stellar job.
What, if anything, do you think sets you apart from your riff-wielding peers in Belfast and further afield?
Well, everyone should be doing their own thing, I don’t think we sound like anyone else. Our approach to song writing and the particular sound we want to capture is different from anyone else playing at the moment. We’re not interested in being a carbon copy of anything so we strive to be ourselves. There are hardcore bands out there, stoner bands, punk bands, metal bands, rock bands and I think we kinda straddle all that. There’s elements of all that in there so we’re not tied to one specific genre, that’s what our sound is.
On a similar note, how healthy is music of your ilk in Northern Ireland these days? Do you think it’s fine the way it is or needs a little more traction?
It seems a lot harder to get shows now, before you could have got a gig every week somewhere but it just seems like there are a lot less places to play and I don’t just mean in Belfast. I think in terms of promotion for heavy music, it’ll be more limited as it’s more niche but it’s always been that way. It’d be great to start to see some wider recognition of it but we’re sure as hell not in this for the money so it is what it is.
Finally, what’s your plans with the release in terms of shows and getting it out there?
We’ve got our release show supporting Carnivores on July 30 at The Bar With No Name, we’ve got a show August 29 in the Limelight and September 4 at the Bar With No Name. So we’ve a few shows lined up, look to getting down to Dublin for a show at some point and see where else we can dig up that will let us play. Other than that harassing good people like yourselves for press and let the promonaut roll on.