Could you first introduce yourself/the band and tell us how it came to be?
Jonathan Hohl (Guitar, composition, production) – We are hubris., a post-rock band from the canton of Fribourg in Switzerland. Nathan, the drummer, and I have been playing music together for over a decade, but we first started in a metal band which was heavily influenced by post-rock. Eventually, we decided to give a proper “post-rock” band a go, albeit with our own music influences. On March 13th of this year we will be releasing our third album.
How would you define not only your sound but the creative character of the band?
Nathan Gros (Drums, composition, production) – We try to incorporate literally everything that we listen to into our music. As mentioned, Jonathan and I started our first band in the metal genre but before that we both listened to different genres of music (e.g. my father is an African music percussionist). We end up with post-rock that quite clearly is not post-rock in the stricter terms because it is heavily influenced by so many other styles. What is post-rock is that we start all our compositions with a basic post-rock quartet (i.e. 2 guitars, bass and drums) and that the compositions aim to foster introspection. But then the drum patterns that I usually come up with sound very much like what you would hear in a hip-hop tune for example.
Are there any previous musical experiences for band members and how have they been embraced in what you do now?
JH – Well, yes as we’ve just explained regarding metal music. Also, Matthieu, Lucien – the two musicians that we always play live with – and I studied Jazz. Although they do not strictly have a hand in the composition per say, having played with them – personally for many years – has definitely had an impact on me and the way I understand music or compose it.
Is there a particular process to your/the band’s songwriting?
NG – So far, it’s been nothing but pure chaos. We’ve been trying to improve for every album, but there are always elements that we don’t pay as close attention as we should, and it ends up with us having to kill ourselves eventually to repair the small mistake. For the fourth album that Jonathan is composing at the moment, we are trying to stick to a strict plan, so we do not get caught up with an overwhelming workload towards the end of the production.
Would you tell us about your latest release?
JH – Metempsychosis, our third album is to be released on March 13th of this year. It is very much in the lines of Apocryphal Gravity our second album, although we have tried to incorporate so more styles that we like or play into this genre of music. For example, the track Dionysus contains a disco-like drum pattern for the first riff.
What are the major inspirations to its heart and themes?
JH – The one and only big inspiration that I go dig up for is Greek Mythology. I have studied it at University (i.e. at the time when we first started the band) and it remained this way to this day. I like not to get lost in what is available to me in terms of inspiration and the fact that I can go back to a specific and definite source of inspiration is quite liberating actually. I am of course referring only to their stories or themes but going hiking for a whole day is as inspiring as anything else. I simply make sure that I cater this inspiration to myths.
I am always intrigued as to how artists choose track order on albums and EP’s and whether in hindsight they would change that. What has been the deciding factor for you or do songs or the main do that organically?
NG – So far, we have always tried to have our albums be listened to in one go. It means that all the transitions between the songs have to be flawless and very much decided and/or worked on early in the production process. Sometimes Jonathan would compose a song and use the last few chords of that said song to compose the next one, which then makes the transition somehow create itself. It makes performing live a bit more difficult, because then we have to decide whether we play two songs or more from the same album one after the other or whether we abruptly cut one and place another song in-between.
What do you find the most enjoyable part of being in a band and similarly the most cathartic?
JH – Probably the experiences and emotions you share with your mates on stage. If I could choose to keep doing only one thing in music, it would 100% be to play live. What I think is the most cathartic experience as a musician is having had the best moments composing a song you love and then present it to an audience for the first time. Release parties are always so paramount because almost the entire audience discovers some of the songs for the first time, so you try your best to give out the best of experiences.
NG – I guess most enjoyable part as being in a band is to have something where you can express yourself and your feelings without being judged. I have so much respect and gratitude for my band mates because I know they give their 100% each time we play music, even for a simple rehearsal at 8am after a short night of sleep. I know I can trust them because they are like family, and I know they will always be here when needed. The most cathartic moment must be when our albums get delivered on my doorstep, simply because I know there is no more turn back on the mixes or anything else linked to the album. I mixed the last three albums, and this was probably my last, because I want to be more focused on the music and less on the small details (that actually gives you bad insomnias…) of the mixing aspect.
For anyone contemplating checking you out live give some teasers as to what they can expect.
NG – We try to stick to the album quite religiously, there is not much room for improvisation. The only difference with the album – with the exception that it is ten times louder – it that we usually add a lot more dynamics than the actual songs. Some of the lead guitars are also a bit louder, to make it more interesting live. Most importantly, we literally kill our necks on stage every single time. No exception. We always put ourselves in a performance mood and go as crazy as the music transports us.
What has been your most thrilling moment on stage to date?
JH – Our tour manager in India had been working day in day out to make the tour come to fruition and we did not really know how to thank him as we did not have much to offer except music. It was about 4-5 months before Metempsychosis was to be released, so nobody – except him and the label – had had a listen to any of the new songs. We made the decision the same day of the concert to actually perform one of our new songs live, just for him. We spent hours that same afternoon right after the soundcheck to make sure that all the backing tracks, click track etc. were on point. At about the end of the show, we took the opportunity to say a few words to him and then dedicated this song, Dedalus, to him before we started playing the song. It was the first time we played it live and we had not rehearsed it for weeks since we were not going to play it for the whole tour. Perhaps we did not play it as cleanly as we could, but the energy and emotions were so intense.
NG – I would say it was on our last tour in India when we played in Bangalore at Fandom. We had all the elements that makes a show a great show: good gear, good sound-system, good vibes and the best audience we could imagine. This was the first time I saw people imitating the drum parts, singing the guitar melodies and screaming when we ended a part (not even a song). We were tired and I was sick on that day, but as soon as we got on stage, all the pain went away and who knows how, we played one the best shows of the band’s history.
Do you have live dates coming up?
NG – Yes, a few shows here and there (April in Belgium, May in Germany), but most importantly we have our release party that will take place on Friday 13th of March at Fri-Son in Fribourg, Switzerland.
What else can we expect in the near future?
JH – We are working on our tours for the second part of the year, but we cannot say too much about it just yet. Also, as mentioned earlier, I am already composing songs for the fourth album and we are really confident about the potential of these future songs.
What are the major inspirations to you sound wise and as a musician?
NG – I take a lot of inspiration from artists such as Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, The Contortionist, Moderat, Young Widows and so many other artists from many genres. This might sound weird, but I do watch a lot of YouTube or Instragram videos from drummers to get inspired. The drumming community is amazing because there are so many people eager to share their knowledge.
JH – The people that influence me the most soundwise are not from the post-rock scene at all. I am a big fan of Queen of the Stone Age’s guitar sounds, but I don’t think fuzz would match that well in our music – I haven’t tried it yet, but who knows. There is that guitar player from Nashville, TN called Jack Ruch who I have been following for quite a while. His tones and ideas are flawless.
And finally, what song or release would you say was the spark to your passion for music?
JH – All the songs that I have looked up that I thought sparked my passion for music where released after I believe my passion for music emerged. So, I don’t really know unfortunately.
NG – I started playing music at 6 because my dad was playing African percussions, and at this time he didn’t have any albums but only songs he would play live with his band in small venues in Switzerland. My parents bought me a drum kit when I was 7 because I transformed my plastic toy kitchen into a drum set (that got broken after a few days “playing it”). The funny part of this is that I didn’t try on purpose to transform this toy into a drum kit, I was just having fun with something that sounded cool to me.
Many thanks once again; anything else you would like to add?
JH, NG – A massive thank you to anyone who’s supported us over the course of hubris.’ existence. Perhaps our lives without hubris. would be a bit less stressful, but god knows how grimmer it would be too!
Check Hubris out further @
The RingMaster Review 26/02/2020
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