This week we’re featuring the Belgian group King Hiss in Meet The Band, your chance to get to know a new or up-and-coming artist. Their latest album is Mastosaurus. Vocalist Jan Coudron introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of King Hiss.
Jan Coudron: Five years ago, we’re talking 2011, guitar player Joost Noyelle (Congress, Liar, Man’s Ruin), me and rhythm section Dominiek Hoet (Man’s Ruin, Empathy) and Jason Bernard (Gootch) decided to join forces. The band started taking shape after Jason and Josh’s bands fell apart. Not long after that, Dominiek joined on bass and while Josh was doing the vocal parts, suddenly I took an interest in the band.
Only a few months later we recorded a demo and started to trash local stages. In 2013 we released the Snakeskin EP The record was very well received and earned us a spot on Graspop Metal Meeting. From then on, things started to move at breathtaking speed. One year later (2014) we released our first full-length debut Sadlands that included a collaboration with Dave Collins (QOTSA, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, etc.). After the summer of 2015 and after a shitload of awesome shows, we decided it was time to lock ourselves up to write our second full length Mastosaurus.
Describe the writing and recording process for Mastosaurus.
We wrote and created the whole album in someone’s living room. While the family was enjoying dinner, we were playing the new songs loud as fuck. Awesome people. Our gratitude towards them is eternal. We then dived into Oceanside Studio with producer/drummer Ace Zec (Death Before Disco, Customs and Nailpin). He was the right person to entrust the 10 songs to tape. No compromises, no pulling punches.
The songs were then mixed in Austin, Texas by Machine, known for his solid work for Clutch, Crobot, Fall Out Boy, Lamb Of God and We Came As Romans, among others. The mastering was done by Paul Logus, no less. You probably know him for his previous work for Anthrax, Clutch, Steel Panther and our very own Diablo Blvd.
What’s the lyrical concept of the album?
Our new album Mastosaurus follows a pitch-black storyline. The album portrays the epic adventure of a doomed antihero, fighting the demons in his head. The long, brave battle and the refusal to simply accept an impossible fate.
How would you characterize the album’s style/sound?
It’s hard to describe your own style. We spent a shitload of time on fine tuning the drum, guitar and bass sound. More than our the previous albums. There was quite a gear change. Lots of new guitars, amps, pedals, stuff to play with! We aimed for diversity. A combination of a bright clean and heavy low without losing an open sound. We came as close as we could.
Following the storyline, both Josh and Dominiek knew that happy riffs and other funny stuff where out of the question. We wrote about 14 songs and kept 10 that matched the spirit of the story. The album is darker than our previous records. I guess you could call it our “Empire Strikes Back.” (laughs)
Why did you decide to go the independent route instead of signing with a label?
Ever since we started, we chose a DIY philosophy. It’s not really a matter of principle, it’s more a matter of having control over our own project. So far, it worked very well for us. But who knows, when a solid opportunity presents itself, we may change our minds.
What has been your most memorable King Hiss live show?
I think the first time we played Graspop Metal Meeting in 2013 was really overwhelming. Bucket list material. We never dreamed of playing for a couple of thousand people. I know it sounds weird, but it makes you humble and proud at the same time.
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Of course we hope the play a lot of Belgian/Dutch shows to promote our album. But we also like to see what’s it like to play abroad. So, we’re planning to tour this springtime.
What’s the heavy music scene like in Belgium these days?
A lot of exciting and creative stuff is happening in the heavy music scene in Belgium. Bands nowadays don’t give a shit about the boundaries between genres. They just want to make the kind of music they think is awesome, play it loud and as much as possible. We feel that there’s a lot of mutual respect between the bands.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Anything heavy from sludge to classic rock. Also lots of experimental and electronic stuff. I love a lot of movie-soundtracks too…
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Buy our album and support local bands. That is all!
(interview published November 5, 2016)