Featured Artist

Cosmic Rock

 

Our Featured Artist on a rain drenched sunday night is none other than the mighty Oliver Hill. Guitarist for Grave Lines and Dead Witches, known and loved by many in music scenes worldwide. Oliver gave us some time in a break in his busy schedule to talk a bit about the current news with his music, his background, thoughts on the musical process and more. - G

 

 

1.Hail Oli how are you today bro? good to speak with you.

Hey brother great to speak with you too. I can’t lie, I am extremely tired. I seem to spend a lot of time travelling with the music these days, Living the dream! Grave Lines had two killer shows this weekend in Nottingham and Manchester with Bong and Sete Star Sept, nice varied bills and great turn outs. Today I travelled a six hour round journey to complete the mixes for the new Dead Witches LP with John at Chuckalumba in the New Forest. Talk about train brain.

2.Yeah for real bro sounds like you are very busy these days. Tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get into music?

I had a pretty troubled start in life. Family life was tough and abusive. I spent a lot of time alone and was always the weirdo at school. The only times I felt good was sitting in a tree listening to my Walkman. I eventually started going to local gigs and met people I liked eventually becoming less shy and turning into the person I am now. Making the leap from playing music and recording in a solitary way to playing in bands was the best thing I’ve ever done.

 

 

 

3.What were some of your favourite bands and albums?

Queen Sheer Heart Attack had an enormous impact on me, it was the first vinyl record I owned and it’s still one of the craziest and most flamboyant albums I’ve ever heard, having said that Throbbing Gristle’s Second Annual Report and Earth two were big asteroids which hit my world soon after.

 

4.Right on. Did you see any concerts that really inspired you back then?

I saw a lot of noise shows and noise rock also crust and Hardcore shows. Mostly DIY shows. Sonic Youth and The Stooges, Wolf Eyes, Fugazi, Fall of Efrafa. The DIY scene was important to me as it still is now. People making music against all odds for the passion of it and making a community.

5.Yeah great. So these days you are playing in Dead Witches and Grave Lines. Tell us a little about Grave Lines first. How did it form and you have a new album that was released earlier this year?

I’ve known Matt and Jake for about a decade now. I’ve toured together in their old band many a time and Matt even drove my old band War Wolf on tour.

When their band Dead Existence broke up, they approached me and we discussed jamming. Now, this was around the time I had a little lull going on. War Wolf had ended and my band mates in Sea Bastard needed a break for life duties. I hate these lulls, so before I knew it we were in a room in London with Julia of Throne and we’d already written Cronus Chain, our first song. It went really well and after we finished Welcome to Nothing, our first album, I could already see the next album forming, we didn’t stop writing and we ended up with a double album beast which got picked up by the lovely chaps at New Heavy Sounds. We’ve got to play some gigs in dream line ups as diverse as Oathbreaker and Noothgrush.

6.How did Dead Witches come together?

I’ve been a fan of Mark Greening’s drumming since I was very young and had followed his career and had played some shows with him in Ramesses. I was pleased to see he had a new band after parting with Wizard and With The Dead. Not long after the album emerged their guitarist lost his battle with depression which was a massive shock. He was always so nice and we chatted on social media a fair amount.

One day after a grieving period, Mark messaged me out of the blue and asked if I’d like to play in the band. Without audition and overcoming my apprehension about playing someone else’s music, I made the long journey down to Dorset and we cracked on with it nailing the first album and starting to write new stuff with great velocity.

 

 

7.So you guys are just wrapping up the new Dead Witches album. What it’s like and how has the recording process been?

Dead Witches went to record with John at the legendary Chuckalumba studios where Dopethrone and Let Us Prey by Electric Wizard we’re made. It was my first time recording to tape, the studio was made up of antique tube gear and had that warm electric smell as soon as you walked in from the fresh air of the New Forest which surrounds it. We went in well rehearsed and put the base tracks down live. John was lovely to work with and the folklore around this studio was something I dreamt about since I was very young. It was pure magic.

 

8.How do you feel it is similar or different to the earlier material?

It was a very collaborative album for us all to work with and I got to write the majority of the riffs. I really just let my mind go into that 90s occult English stoner doom dream state and pay homage to my roots while accessing and alchemising anger and dissatisfaction with life. With the change in line up and difference in writing duties I see it as a very exciting resurgence of a band which is darker and more confident in our direction than before.

9.I often see you rocking the Iceman is that your main guitar? What gear do you record with?

I first became interested in the Iceman because of my love of Celtic Frost and Tom G Warrior but when Chris from Enid sold me his axe, I immediately fell in love. The strong and straight, flat through-neck makes them very durable and extremely resonant and perfect for down tuning. I now have three.

 

10.Do you write songs and what inspires your music lately?

I have written a lot of songs but tend to mostly write riffs and music at the present time. I always see music as alchemy. Turning the shit in life into gold. Turning dissatisfaction into riffs. Turning sadness into fuzzed out riffs. On days alone I’ll write and walk my dog and think about music.

 

 

11.Awesome bro. What are some of your favourite films or books?

Recently I’ve been going back to a lot of old favourites lately. Psychomania, the occult biker film; The Devils the long time banned Ken Russell film starring Ollie Reed and Vanessa Redgrave; Les Frissons des Vampires the sumptuously filmed Jean Rollin erotic vampire film. Next up is one of my favourite Zombie films The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue and Frightmare about a old lady serial killer. I’ve had my head down in a lot of Crowley and Thelemic books lately, quite stuffy!

 

12.Whats the scene like in your area?

The scene is pretty disjointed down here in Brighton unlike my formative years where it was a hotbed for new and interesting music. There’s still quite a scene but it’s been battered by loss of venues and promoters thereafter. Luckily I work in a venue which survived and is still independent. The Prince Albert is a pub and venue that I get to help protect with a team of lovely people and a caring owner. And we have some very promising festivals like Mammothfest and other smaller ones like TST.

London still has an incredibly vibrant heavy scene tied together with incredible festivals like Desertfest and great rock bars like the Black Heart and the Dev.

 

13.I know you like to travel, what have been some of your favourite places outside the UK?

I love to travel when I can. I especially love Nordic lands, Iceland was my first. Since I first stepped in Bergen, Norway I felt like I was in a place of great magic. The way the most settled in the fir trees on the mountains is something I crave every day. I made many friends there and it has become my bolthole. My friend Gaahl from Gorgoroth has a new band - Gaahls Wyrd and they are incredible, I’ve been lucky enough to see them a few times. I like to go out with Gaahl to drink natural wine and eat when we are together.

 

 

14.That’s very cool man. Any future news or plans you’d like to share?

Next up is Doom For The Doomed in Birmingham with Dead Witches and then we’ll be playing Brighton Mammothfest. Grave Lines have a bunch of interesting shows up our sleeve too.  In between that, it’s Autumn a perfect gestation period for new tunes.

 

 

 

15.Any last words for your fans today?

Life as a human is full of peaks and troughs, highs and lows often followed quickly by each other due to the chemicals in our brains. Music is a form of alchemy where by experiencing pain in music it can actually be turned into gold. A lot of people who listen to heavy music experience sadness and dissatisfaction with life, and the music we like to listen to or make may sound negative, but it’s actually transformative. Instead of fleeing the pain of existence or trying to cover it up you actually experience it in a moment of beauty and travel through it. There is nothing like the shared experience of playing with other musicians and of playing to a crowd of people. I love the way that the vibration of my guitar can travel and touch and reach people around the world, with people like yourself. Cheers Gideon.

 

Thanks Oli and look forward to hearing the new music, always cool to talk with you and stay well bro. - G