Blackened hardcore Hexis discuss Touring as a DIY Band
Read more about the touring machine that is Hexis straight from the source
Hexis are without a doubt one of the harshest and hardest working bands in Europe. With a huge tour backlog and an impressive discography, both built in less than 10 years, Hexis are bringing their specific sound on another summer tour all around Europe. The band is playing a hypnotic mixture of blackened hardcore and black metal, while still operating and existing within the realms of the DIY hardcore punk scene.
You’re heading on another epic European tour, what’s special about this one? Are you reaching any places you haven’t been before?
We are playing 45 shows, 20 of the cities are cities that we haven’t played before. However, it’s all countries that we already played, except Wales, we haven’t played there before. We are playing both Fluff Fest and Ieper Fest, which I’m super excited about! We played Fluff twice in the past and the festival is amazing! It’s gonna be our first time at Ieper.
Hexis has been around for less than a decade but you’ve been already almost over the world, what keeps you going?
The best thing I know is touring. Playing shows, seeing the world, it’s all amazing and I think I love it more than the most people do, I don’t really like to be home to be honest, it’s nice a few weeks here and there to relax a little, but I prefer to constant being out there.
Recently we’ve become really negative about dealing with booking agencies, are you still booking all your tours by yourselves and if yes, why so?
I’m booking most of our tours, yes. There is a couple of different reasons for that, first of all, I love doing it, I guess I’m kinda nerdy, I love opening up Google Maps and putting tour routes together, searching for new booking contacts and all that stuff.
I always make sure that we are hitting up new cities, or at least places we haven’t played for a long time, when we are going on tour. It’s my impression that many booking agencies kinda just use the same ‘template’ for the tours they are putting together.
I love going weird places where touring bands usually don’t go and people is extra excited because they never get to see anything else than local bands playing, plus I think we never will find an agency who will like to book as many shows as we want to play per year and put the same kind of effort into it as I do, because it’s obvious that this band doesn’t mean as much to anybody as it does to me, so if we were on an agency then we will probably be touring way less and we will just play the same cities over and over again.
So why pay somebody to do a job that I enjoy to do and probably can do better by myself. But when that is said, it’s mainly our EU Tours I’m booking. In some countries that it can be a little hard to do it yourself, because people can’t speak English etc. like Indonesia where we had a guy from Jakarta called Tyan booking most of our shows there, I was only in contact with a very few of the bookers. I also didn’t book our US tours, it have either been the bands we have been touring with over there or agencies.
You toured the USA last year and we know it’s not an easy task for a European band to make it to the States and reach the right people? How did this go, was it worth it?
Actually it’s not really that hard to go there, I think people are making it sound way harder than it actually is, you just have to be a little smart with a few things. We went there without any problems. We didn’t bring any instruments or merch at all, and just said we were tourists, we even all traveled out separated and deleted our personal Facebook pages, just in case and to be on the super safe side.
So what we did was that our guitarist borrowed a guitar from the band we toured with, our bass-player bought a bass, our drummer bought some cymbals. We got our merch printed over there and we had our US labels sending vinyls and CD’s to us. The tour was okay, not one of my favorite ones, we had a good time with the bands we toured with, but most of the shows weren’t that well visited.
I think next time we are going back to the US, then it should be either because we can get on tour with a bigger band which have a bigger audience over there, or if we tour together with a smaller band then everything should be done more in a DIY way, the best shows we had over there was the few ones we had a DIY spots.
It’s kinda my impression that people don’t really want to go and check out smaller bands if they play a bar or a more fancy venue.
You’re relentlessly releasing music, touring at least 3, 4 huge tours every year. This tempo is unthinkable even for many bands we consider huge. How do you feel about Hexis now and what it was in your first years? Have you reached your limits yet, or there’s a lot more to pursue?
Of course when we started the band we did not think all of this will be possible, it was first something I figured out later on. I can’t get enough of touring and I haven’t reached my limited yet, I don’t know, maybe I’m a machine, haha.
But we gonna take most of next year off from the road (if not all of it), not because I really want to, but we haven’t wrote any new music for 2 years now, so I guess it’s kinda time for that again and I have a lot of different releases I will like to do, so tons of practice and writing to do.
There is still a lot of places that we haven’t visited yet, but me and our bass-player kinda have this crazy idea for 2020, like doing a 12 months tour, leaving January and be back home again in December, I guess if we gonna do that then we can cross the last missing places off the list.
Who writes the lyrics of Hexis? They’re always very visual and interesting and yet written in an accessible manner. What are your main influences as a lyricist—be that music, poetry, prose?
I write the majority of the lyrics, but previous members of the band have also wrote some. I take a lot of inspiration from scary movies/stories, I really like that kind of stuff and finds it super interesting. But sometimes some lyrics can also come to my mind just by sitting in a dark room listening to some super dark music, for example, bands like Khanate and Nortt have been really great for that.
I didn’t pay too much attention to their lyrics when I wrote for Hexis, it was more the music itself who brought different words and lines to my mind. But I always have a very hard time writing lyrics, because I’m actually not the best writer and I’m also super picky at the same time, so it can be a very long process to come up with something.
I sometimes write all night long and then just throw it all out in the trash again. But something I learned that works better for me is that it’s easier for me to write while I’m either tired/exhausted or drunk, I usually don’t come up with something that I like if I’m too clear/fresh in my head. It maybe sounds strange, but some of my own personal favorite lyrics are the lyrics that I’m even having a hard time understanding by myself when I go back and look at them now, I don’t like when it’s too ’easy’ to understand, and I think it’s pretty cool when people bring up their own idea of what the lyrics are all about
What are your favorite zines? I guess you come across tons of interesting distros and DIY publishers while on tour?
I actually have to be honest and say that I haven’t read any zines for a long time and I can’t remember the names of the ones that I liked. But I will actually like to get some new ones, would be nice for the long drives.
What are your top band discoveries you’ve shared the stage with or came across totally random?
Usually a few things yes, I’m running a label/distro, so I’m always doing trades with different labels and bands I meet on the road, getting their records for my releases etc. Some bands that I randomly saw while touring who made an impression on me is Vulvodynia, they are a slam band from South Africa, I’m usually not the biggest fan of that genre, but the show I saw them play was really great! Also Infernal Coil from the US, who are a Death/Black/Grind band, but I actually already knew them a little before seeing them, but it was super impressive when we played with them.
Tell us about your tour mates for this one—Woes?
They are great guys, we have been touring together for a couple of times and I have been knowing most of them for many years. I think in general then I enjoy most to tour together with people who like to party, which they do, so I think we are a good touring match, haha.
How’s Denmark these days? Is your government as shitty as everywhere?
I actually really like Denmark, or at least Copenhagen. Of course, there are some things which sucks here, but I guess it’s like that in pretty much every country. But I think, in general, I really like it here, the government puts a lot of their money into venues and cultural stuff, which I think is great! They are also helping out a lot of smaller bands with support money for tours, etc. which I know is a kinda rare thing in many countries, so if it wasn’t for that, then Hexis will probably not be touring as much as we do.
What about your local scene? Tell us a few bands, venues, zines and labels we have to check?
Some of my favorite bands here at the moment are LLNN and Cabal, they are both awesome bands and deserves a lot more attention. About venues, check out Underwerket, KB18, Loppen and Ungdomshuset, all places have great shows all the time! I’m not really up to date about zines. The labels who came to mind are Rakkerpak Records and Dasein Records, as I mentioned earlier, I also run a label, it’s called Bloated Veins.
Being the tour maniacs that you are, what are your top 5 pro tips for enduring life on the road and not fucking up?
I’m actually the king of fucking up on the road, like missing flights and stuff like that, haha. But I will try to give 5 tips:
- Drink alcohol, it makes it funnier and when you end up with a shitty sleeping place, then it feels less shitty to sleep there, because you don’t really care where you are sleeping, haha.
- Be sure that you put your merch up in a nice way, that there is a pretty good amount of light where you put it up and that there is somebody sitting at the merch table most of the time, that way then you are more likely to sell stuff and be less of a broke.
- If you are planning to take flights for your tour (we took 25 of them for two months in Asia), then book them at least two months in advance, I think that is the time where they usually are cheapest and then don’t miss them like I did, haha.
- Try to do as much as you can by yourself rather than paying somebody to do it. Of course it’s nice to have a merch person and a driver, but in the long run it’s a lot of money you’re gonna save. Also, if you are doing a tour which mainly consist of countries where they are using Euro currency, but there are a few shows in countries with other currencies, then try to plan it out, so you are arriving in that country with only a little gas left on your van. So you instead of using your Euro on putting gas on, can use some of the other currency on gas rather than having to pay to exchange even more cash to Euro by the end, even if you not are from a country where they are using Euro and the final amount you need to bring home is not Euro, then you are more likely to get a better exchange rate for Euro, rather than Maceodnian denars, etc. We also tried to leave Vietnam with the money we got from there and then exchanged them in Indonesia, which was like the most stupid idea ever. We’ve got a crazy bad exchange rate on them, I think they took almost half of the money actually. So I also think usually before leaving a country then exchange the money you made there to € or $.
- Even if you are tired and not in the best mood, then still try to be happy and nice to promoters etc. even if it maybe can seem a little hard sometimes. People usually judge you the first time they meet you, so if they didn’t have a good experience with you then they will most likely not book you again.
Few years ago, For The Kids Booking here in Sofia made a zine where they asked bands which are the dumbest thing a promoter can do, what’s your answer to this?
I will say, not keeping your word. We experienced this before when promoters didn’t give the guarantee they promised, which I find pretty shitty! Back in the days I used to care less if stuff like that happened. But when we are touring as much as we do and only have a very little time to work back home, then everything is just way more tight economic for us, so we really have to count on people sticking to their words.
Don’t miss catching Hexis live this summer. For a full list of their tour dates head here.