November 2002 - HYPNOS 69
I've had to admit, that my first association with the name HYPNOS 69 wasn't the best. Due to my prejudice, I've expected total average "stoner" rock. But after I've put the CD in the player, all my critical apects where really blown aways. This Belgium band is far away from any ultra-fuzz straight-forward stoner desert sound. Their music is very close to the heavy blues psych 70's Rock bands, and this three guys have captured a total authentic sound on their new energetic album "Timeline Traveller", that's rich on variations and moods. I hope, that HYPNOS 69 will deserve a bigger attention, and when you've once listen to the album you know why. Thanks to Rock 'N' Roll Radio for passing over the questions to guitar-player and vocalist Steve Houtmeyers.
Please, introduce yourself to the readers. Who's in the line-up of the band and when did it started?
Hi, I'm Steve. I play in Hypnos 69 from Belgium. The band exists since '95 and was formed by Steve (guitars, vocals, Hammond, Rhodes), Tom (bass, baritonguitar, Hammond, Delta synth, ...) & Dave (drums, percussion, Rhodes, bells, ...)
What kinds of music have you played before you've formed the band?
Before we started Hypnos 69, I was lending my skills to the Belgian grinders Agathocles. Dave played (and still plays) in a punk band called Intestinal Disease. Tom played the bass in some local rockbands.
Your first release is the "Where all the Ends unite" 10"-EP. Have you recorded demos before this?
We've recorded 2 or 3 demo's before we released the 10". Due to poor sound-quality and some musical changes we've never been able to get it released in a way. The older things sounded more like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. They were a little more metal-orientated.
The first time I've listen to your music, when I received the promo of your new album "Timeline Traveller" and it became soonly one of my faves. You've captured a total authentic 70's vibe, that's far away from being just lame retro rock. It's all very energetic and the sound flows real natural. What's your point of view about the album?
"Timeline Traveller" was recorded in a really good studio. The producer works only with vintage recording-equipment, which gives you an authentic compressed sound, just as they had in the late '60's / early '70's. The entire album was recorded analog; no pro-tools or other digital shit was used. And the use of a Hammond-organ and a Fender-Rhodes piano really contributed to the atmosphere of the album. It really sounds like it was recorded back then - which I think is cool.
I think, that "Timeline Traveller" is a well-fitting title for the album. Have you got a concept for it, or was the title a spontaneous idea?
Nice of you to ask this question: "Timeline Traveller" is more or less something autobiographical. It's about how some people tell you that you're not "up-to-date" and should be more following the mainstream and not keep on hangin' with this "hippie-thing". They claim that there's more to find in present "new" music, rather than in music from the past. Well, that's where they're wrong. There has been made so much great music in the past, that you'll need more than a lifetime to discover or just listen to it all. Each and every day I discover new-old bands from the sixties and seventies! That makes me in a way a "Timeline Traveller".
How do you compose your songs? Is everyting planned right from the start or do you make a lot of improvisation during the recording station?
Most of the time it starts with a basic idea. I work something out, we jam the thing out to discover all possible aspects and we put a song together. It's a process that sometimes takes an hour, sometimes an entire year - it depends.
What I like is the well-balanced sound of the band. The music on the album "lives" and carries a lot of different moods. Is this aspect important for you?
I think that this is the basic idea of our music. Music is an extension of the mind; we try to play what we feel. That why so many people keep on telling us when they saw us perform, that every show we play has something different, although we've played mostly the same songs. One of our "secrets" for a balanced sound are our amps! We use Hiwatt, Orange & Fender-amps. We've searched for some years to have a real vintage sound, not some copysound or whatever. These amps really "live"!
There's not much singing on the album, so how important are lyrics for your music?
Yes, there's not much of a vocal-contribution on the album, but we don't really mind. As you know most early seventies psychedelical bands where 70% instrumental. The lyrics on this album where not that important - most of them were written in the studio the same day as they were recorded. For the next album, we're going to make an extra effort on this!
What do you think, when people describe your music as "stonerrock"? Of course, you won't get angry or depressed (I hope so!), but for my taste HYPNOS 69 are far away from being just a "stoner-rock" band, due to the variety in your music and it's not only fuzz-laden heaviness to the max. For me as a great fan of all the heavy bands of '66-'74, you've got the original vibe on the album. Real amazing!
I don't really mind the term "Stonerrock", although I think we have more to offer than average-Stonerbands. I would describe our music as 'psychedelical seventies rockmusic' rather than "Stonerrock".
What are your favorite heavy bands out of this time and what are your other musical influences?
All time favourite band is The Who. Other influences are Grand Funk Railroad, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Blue Cheer, Flower Travellin' Band, The Doors, Mountain, Rory Gallagher. I also like Janis Joplin, The Beach Boys, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull. Too many to mention here...hehehehe
How is the situation for a band as HYPNOS 69 in Belgium? Are you in contact with other bands and do you play a lot of gigs in your country?
We play quit often in Belgium. Due to the helps of Benny & Sara from ORANGEFACTORY, we had the chance to build up a nice live-reputation and to make a lot of contacts with other bands.
Do you use any kind of gimmicks in your live shows, as lava lamps or a lightshow to underline the psychedelic parts in your music?
Yep, we use a lavalamp-projector and occasionally some video-projections.
How much time does you invest in the band and what are you doing aside of making music?
We rehearse about 2 or 3 times a week. I study languages (French, German & English), Dave has a daytime job and Tom does nothing a the moment.
What are your other interests in life?
That's difficult, 'cause music is the main thing in our life. I'm reading a lot on topics as Ancient Egypt, Pyramids, Inca/Aztek, Ancient India, etc..
Have you any plans to make a tour through the Netherlands and/or Germany to promote the new album?
We've done a small tour in the Netherlands and Germany in September with Insider from Italy. We might play next year on the Swamproom-fest in Hannover and we might do some gigs with German rockers Colour Haze.
Thanks a lot for your answers! Is there anything you like to add at least?
Yep, Thank you for this interview; I really liked the questions! I'd like to thank Rocknrollradio and Orangefactory for their true & honest support!