•  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

Dear John, hello again, how is winter in Portland? What is your favorite season?

JH: Winter came late this year, but the grey, bleak skies and the brisk icy chill are finally here for the next few months. I don't really have a favorite season. I enjoy the mist and the colors of autumn, the total death of winter, the rebirth of spring, even summer can be alright. It is nice to live in an area that actually has four distinct seasons.


How long will be your concert set on the tour? What songs will you be playing? Do you have in plan a new song, too?

JH: Obviously, since we are touring in support of The Serpent & The Sphere, we will be playing many new songs from that album. We also plan to play songs from the four other albums as well so expect a good 90+ minute set at the headlining gigs. Festival sets will be shorter, of course, but we will try to play at least one song from each album if time allows.


You will play in a lot of countries. What are your expectations regarding this upcoming tour?

JH: We will see some new places and revisit some old familiar ones. I try not to have many expectations when I go on tour. I just step into it as prepared as possible and hope things will go smoothly.


Finally, you will return in Romania, this time in an old fortress, at DBE. What bands would you like to see on the same stage here?

JH: You know me… I prefer to play with bands that sound nothing like us. I would really like an eclectic evening. Spiritual Front and Raison d'être would be brilliant as would Sol Invictus, Rome, Waldteufel, Tenhi, and Allerseelen. If we had to choose some metal bands, I'd suggest Solstafir, Obsidian Tongue, Dornenreich, Darkspace, Fen, Dordeduh, Peste Noire


What memories do you still have from Romania? From the gigs and from visiting the country? Alcest played for the first time in their history in a show were you were the headliner. And this happened in Bucharest, in March 2010.

JH: That was a great trip. I enjoyed the week of sightseeing after the gigs for sure, particularly all of the old fortresses, castles, the pastoral countryside and quaint Romanian towns. I wrote most of the lyrics for Marrow Of The Spirit in that huge hotel at the summit of the Carpathians, as you know. The Romanian cuisine was also excellent, especially the traditional restaurants you took us to. Some fond memories indeed.


What other places do you want to visit here? Unfortunately, no spare time in this tour, as you are playing in each evening. But next time, maybe?

JH: I'd love to visit Hunedoara castle. It was on my list in 2010, but we simply ran out of time. We probably won't have time for it on this trip either.



Back to music. What feedback have you received for your latest album from the press, and fans?

JH: The initial reviews were positive overall and the fan reviews were divided as usual. I haven't really paid much attention to it for a few months though. I guess we made a couple year-end lists which is nice. As a rule though, once the album is done and out of my hands, the public reaction is something I try not to concern myself with. Some people will love it, others will hate it. That's just the way it goes.


Are you satisfied with the label? About promotion, distribution, visibility…

JH: Both Profound Lore and Eisenwald are doing excellent jobs. No complaints.


What music are you listening to these days?

JH: Neil Young & Crazy Horse ("Ragged Glory" and "Broken Arrow"), Tim Hecker, Roky Erickson, Townes Van Zandt, Arktau Eos, Art Of The Black Blood, Phurpa, Poison Idea, Canaan, Derek Bailey, Frith, Laswell, & Hayward's Massacre, Kazuki Tomokawa, a lot of various old music from the 1940's, etc...


What new bands or new albums were important for your taste this year?

JH: Kazuki Tomokawa's Vengeance Bourbon and Einstürzende Neubauten's Lament were both awesome. Highly recommended! Swallowed and Morbus Chron delivered a couple of interesting death metal albums this year. Saor and Ifing both put out excellent albums which is extremely rare for that style. The new Solstafir was great. I also highly recommend the Daniel Menche/William Fowler Collins record. Behemoth, Pallbearer, Fen, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Menace Ruine, Mamiffer, Abigor, and Taurus all put out good stuff this year…


Tell me a few words about the other band members. Everything is ok with them? I saw Don is married now, Jason is a perfect father… and Aesop, hmmm… does he still drink a lot of coffee every morning?

JH: I have no idea. We go our separate ways and hardly talk to each other when we aren't on the road or in the studio. Don lives in New York and Aesop's in San Francisco. Jason's in Portland, but he's always busy and never around. I'll see those guys again in 6 months when we are rehearsing for the summer tours. We have always been a bit of a weird band.


Thank you very much for your patience. All the best and good luck! See you in August, John.

JH: Indeed! See you then...


Underground will never die, am I right?

JH: Well… that's a nice thought, isn't it? Not sure if a true music underground really exists anymore. It seems to live on in a purely nostalgic form these days…