The U.K. doom/stoner metal band Black Moth just released their latest album Anatomical Venus. Vocalist Harriet Hyde fills us in on the record, their newest member, tour plans, life on the road and other topics.
Chad Bowar: What led to the 3.5 year span between albums?
Harriet Hyde: We actually wrote and recorded this album well over a year ago, but soon after, we signed to Candlelight. The logistics of changing labels proved to be complicated and time-consuming, which as you can imagine required a lot of patience on our part! We’ve been dying to share this with the world for a long time now and it feels so good to be playing the songs live!
How did guitarist Federica Gialanze’s addition affect the songwriting process for Anatomical Venus?
Fed is an absolute beast of a player! She replaced Nico who was equally awesome but more of a surf/rock’n’roll guy, whereas Fed is metal through and through. She is very much into her harmonies, so she and Jimmy were able to go full-on Thin Lizzy like never before! She has been in thrash bands before now and has a big love for prog, so she brings a whole new set of influences and style. It’s also wonderful having some more female energy in the pot.
What led you to work with Andy Hawkins for this album?
Andy engineered our last record and we loved working with him and in his gorgeous studio The Nave. He is a good friend, a talented musician, an eccentrically creative mind, someone we could feel relaxed with. Our bassist Dave even helped build the studio so we knew it very well. It was a joy to work with him.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I loved it when Paul from Hawk Eyes came in to do backing vocals on “Buried Hoards” and “Severed Grace.” We had a right laugh and it worked so well it was one of those goosebumps moments. It was either that or recording the layered solo for “Moonbow,” that was so exciting as it was one of those moments of experimentation when you just keep pushing an idea as far as it will go!
How has the band’s sound evolved from Condemned To Hope?
I think we have matured a lot as people and as musicians. There is something more serious about this album thematically, and a bit less tongue-in-cheek. I’d also say it’s sonically a lot heavier. We were tired of people saying after our shows, “you’re so much heavier live!” So we tried to capture that more on record.
What inspired the album title?
The Anatomical Venus is a wax model of a woman, created for teaching anatomy in 18th century Italy. I discovered a book on them whilst browsing in my local book shop, by Joanna Ebenstein. It instantly captivated my imagination. They represented to me the surgical excavation into the spirit of women. A knowledge that in this context cannot convincingly claim to be merely scientific.
The models are unnecessarily, gratuitously beautiful and even erotic in their expression and positioning. Their intestines are often spilled out on the table and their flesh is peeled back in an astonishingly realistic portrayal, but their faces often show erotic ecstasy or absolute terror.
Is there a lyrical theme or thread?
Yes. I am now a trainee psychotherapist so have spent the last few years digging deep into my psyche, the belief being that we need to know ourselves, shadow and all, to be of any use to our clients. So there is much more personal element to my
songwriting here than ever before, but also a somewhat political one as I see the Anatomical Venus as somewhat of a metaphor for what the patriarchy has done to women across history. There is a definite focus on female psychology and
what is is to be a woman in a rock band in 2018. They do say “write what you know!”
Did you struggle with song order at all?
Oh Lord, yes! That took forever to settle on something we were all happy with. Strangely, “Istra” felt like an obvious opener and “Pig Man” the perfect outro, but everything in between was very tricky to decide on!
Does the album being released via Candelight/Spinefarm change your goals and expectations?
No, not at all, really. I’ve only ever really had one goal with Black Moth and that is to make music that feels good to play and share with others. It’s about that feeling of human connection for me. Obviously the more people we can reach the better but the quality of connection is far more important that the number of ears it falls into. I suppose with these guys, our album will have further, global reach, so from that point of view it is exciting to think of it reaching more distant ears. My goal has shifted slightly in terms of wanting to reach more female listeners, but that’s not related to the label change.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
Like with horoscopes, I read and agree with the good ones and discard the bad ones, writing them off as quacks/idiots who didn’t get it. (laughs) But seriously, it is a wonderful feeling when a reviewer, who listens to a lot of music, finds something
special in what you have made that resonates with them. I wouldn’t say they have any influence on our songwriting beyond that though, as it’s such a personal affair.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans? Any chance of a North American tour this album cycle?
We’re playing a big tattoo convention in Paris next week with Graveyard and doing Desertfest London. There will me more touring in UK and Europe as well as festivals. We’d honestly love to do North America, it’s just so expensive as an English
band to come over. Hopefully the right opportunity will come up that will make it worthwhile. Spread the word, America!
What has been your most memorable Black Moth live show?
For me it was definitely opening for L7 on their two UK comeback shows. A lifelong fan (unfortunately too young to catch them first time around), I never dreamed I’d get to see them live, let alone share a stage with them. They were phenomenal
and it was one of my proudest moments, turning round and seeing them headbang to us from the side of stage!
What’s the most unusual venue you’ve played?
We played a random little farm in the Italian countryside once, surrounded by dogs and kittens,well before we started playing at least. Pretty sure we scared the poor beasties away. At about 3am the owners drove us into Venice which was
absolutely magical by moonlight when the streets were empty and ghostly.
What’s your favorite way to occupy down time when you’re on tour?
I like to explore whatever city we’ve landed in if there’s time. The worst thing about touring is travelling so far and only really seeing the back of a van or another sticky rock club! I always take a few books with me as well, find the nearest cozy pub and go into a little cocoon of my own making. I need alone time to recharge and not lose my mind!
Seen any good movies or DVDs lately?
The last film I really loved was Prevenge by Alice Lowe. It’s a super dark British comedy about a disturbed pregnant woman who goes on a killing spree, and she is actually pregnant herself in real life when acting in it. Totally subverts the
idea of motherhood and it’s absolutely hilarious! She also stars in Sightseers, which is pure gold.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Oathbreaker, Chelsea Wolfe, Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and I really love Grave Lines’ new album.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
The new album is out now so get on that! Also we have made videos for the singles “Moonbow” and “Sisters of the Stone,” which we’re really proud of so have a butchers at those too. As soon as we get that North American tour sorted you’ll
be the first to know!
(interview published March 5, 2018)