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ROCKWIRED INTERVIEWS HANGFACE

STRANGE DAYS
TOM ESPEN PEDERSEN OF HANGFACE
TALKS TO ROCKWIRED ABOUT
WORKING ON THEIR FORTHCOMING ALBUM
THEIR TWO SONG CD METAMORPHOSIS
AND NOT HAVING TIME TO HANG OUT AT THE BEACH

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INTERVIEWED BY BRIAN LUSH
The last time ROCKWIRED spoke to HANGFACE, it was the year 2005 and they were on the eve of releasing their debut CD FREAKSHOW onto a public that had pretty much abandoned hard rock in favor of insipid Hip "Pop" and mopey Emo.  Sure you had THE KILLERS, and GREEN DAY'S AMERICAN IDIOT in heavy, constant rotation, but HANGFACE's debut and the band themselves deserved that shot at overexposure and endless play on rock radio (what was left of it). It was hard to imagine their powerful, EDDIE KRAMER-produced sound coming from north of the Arctic Circle. These were five fellas who came to the States, met all of the right people, electrified audiences with their live sets (opening for the likes of PAT BENATAR and BILLY IDOL), and even snagged a few endorsement deals here and there (ESP GUITARS, LINE 6, DRUM WORKSHOP DRUMS, GHS STRINGS, VIC FIRTH STICKS, SABIAN CYMBALS, MODULES BASSES and LATIN PERCUSSION).

HANGFACE is a textbook example of a rock band doing everything themselves - not only in business matters, but also in terms of stretching things out musically. "On this album  we want to try something different and experiment and go for a more current sound." says guitarist TOM ESPEN PEDERSEN. "We figured that we won't know until we have tried out different producers." 

The band has just released a two-song CD entitled METAMORPHOSIS, produced by MARK KICZULA (GRAMMY winning engineer, JAY-Z, LINKIN PARK). METAMORPHOSIS is a reflection of the changes that have taken place within the band personally and artistically. "One thing that's entirely new on this album is the writing process." says PEDERSEN. " It's very different from the first time around."

TOM ESPEN PEDERSEN spoke to ROCKWIRED over the phone at the end of a recording session. Here is how it went.

You guys have this two song EP out now called METAMORPHOSIS. Is the album going to be called METAMORPHOSIS as well?
That, we don't know yet. We wanted to put a  name on the first single that symbolizes the time that band has been going through for the last few months. We lost HOGNE and found this new guy and have started writing a bunch of new songs in a different way than we have done before. We've been through a very significant transition. That's why we've called it METAMORPHOSIS. If you look at the cover you can see the whole metamorphosis process.

It's very nicely illustrated.
Thank you. It the same artist (MATT TOUCHARD) that did the FREAKSHOW album.

What happened to HOGNE?
HOGNE has been with the band since day one, and since we came over to the States in 2003, it's been very busy. We've been on the road for the entire time with the exception of the time that we are in the studio. We've done hundreds of tour dates and most times we have been staying in a tour bus. That life is not for everyone and I guess he was just getting tired of it. He has a girlfriend at home and he proposed to her last summer. It just came to be the time for him to move on. He told us a few months in advance and we understood. There's no bad blood at all. As a matter of fact, we're attending his wedding next weekend.

In Norway?
Yeah. We'll be over there doing some festivals as well. So we'll be there for him on his big day.

Where are you guys recording the new album?
We've been all over the place with it. There are different studios and different producers and engineers. We want to experiment with different people. Right now, we're in a really, really nice studio in Hollywood. Never been here before. It's really beautiful. We're having a great time. We did the the first five songs and the two that you hear on the single we sent you at NRG Studios in North Hollywood. That was where we did the FREAKSHOW album with EDDIE KRAMER. These new songs were produced by this engineer MARK KICZULA. We first met him during the FREAKSHOW recordings when he was engineering and now he works for DON GILMORE, a well known producer for people like JAY-Z, LINKIN PARK, and AVRIL LAVIGNE, and GOOD CHARLOTTE.  On MARK's down time from working with GILMORE he wanted to work with us. He recorded five songs, that are pretty much ready. Two of those songs are on the single we sent you. We want people to see the new direction that the band is going in. We don't have a street date for the upcoming album and we didn't want to lose fans in between albums so we figured we would release the two strongest songs.

The last time, you guys worked with EDDIE KRAMER, and now it's with MARK KICZULA. How is it different?
In many ways. EDDIE is a great guy. We're great friends to this day but on this album  we wanted to try something different and experiment and go for a more current sound. We figured that we won't know until we have tried out different producers. MARK only worked on the first five songs and now we're working with someone else again. We're recording with different people until we have enough different songs that we think are album material. For all we know, the album will end up being produced by a bunch of different people. That would be very interesting.

It would be.
The biggest difference between EDDIE and the people we are working with now is that they don't have  the reknown that EDDIE does and that can be a good thing. It makes them hungrier to elevate their own careers. They'll make an effort to bring out the best in the band and will want to experiment along with us. It's been a great experience recording with different people. EDDIE's sessions were great and we were happy with the FREAKSHOW album.

Is the process a little less intimidating now? On your first album you were produced by this rock legend and now you've got this revolving door of people that you are working with.
It's less intimidating. We've recorded with so many different people by now, I don't think that we would be intimidated by anyone. Especially a big name.

You shouldn't. You've performed with enough of them.
Yeah.. They're just people who've had great success.

Of all of the people that you've opened up for, who was your favorite?
That's  a tough question. We did  lot of dates PAT BENATAR and we had a lot of good experiences through that. Other than that, there are festivals that we've played. We've opened for ALICE IN CHAINS and BILLY IDOL. It was cool opening for DISTURB'D. As a band we're affiliated with a lot of great people and have all of these great endorsement deals, but we're 100% independent. At the moment, we don't have a label, we don't have management, we don't have anything basically. All of the decisions are made by us, which is good and sometimes it's bad.

What are the good things about it?
The work ethic of this band is really unique. I used to be in a couple of bands back in Norway and I thought I had a good idea of what it was to be in a band, where you rehearse a couple to times a week and do a show every now and then, but HANGFACE is a fulltime job. Even though we do a lot of shows, most of the work is done off the stage. It's not like we're hanging out at the beach when we're not playing shows. We never do. There is always something to do, and at the end of the day, it's all about elevating HANGFACE to the desired level. The four of us, at all times need to use whatever means of promoting to make things happen for us, and not wait around and hope that a record executive is going to show up and sign us. That doesn't happen anymore. The good thing about being independent is that you have complete control. Nothing is going to go behind your back and no decision is going to be made without you knowing about it.

What are some the drawbacks to being independent?
It's a lot of work. You don't get the life that everyone thinks that you have when you're in a rock band. A lot of our friends in Norway think that we're living the life and hanging out at the beach when we're not doing shows. We could, but our career would be very brief and we would go nowhere. and no one would know who we were. If we had someone at the wheel helping us make decisions with administrative stuff, that would be a huge advantage, But we'd have to trust that person. We have alot of people helping us out there. Some people really go out of their way and we really appreciate it. When those people read this interview, they'll know who they are. It's great having people around who can do the things that you can't do. There is no point in hiring people to do the work that you can do yourself.

What drew you to music specifically?
Personally, I've always been listening to music from a very early age. I was just a kid and I was listening to GOOFY and childrens music. The first rock band I ever got into was an English band called SLADE. I really dug a couple their songs. They really opened the rock n roll doors for me. When I was around 12 years old, I got my first GUNS AND ROSES album and  that was when I realized that music was my life. It was the only thing I cared about. That's when I started playing. I started out as a drummer and it didn't work out very well. After being forced out of to the shed to play my drums, I realized that maybe I should pick up a different instrument.  I figured I'd play guitar and I did. I played to my GUNS AND ROSES albums. I joined my first band from there and that was how it started.

For the forthcoming album, what's inspiring these songs?
Interesting question! One thing that's entirely new on this album is the writing process. It's very different from the first time around. On the first album , most of the song structures were written by HOGNE (the former bass player) and BJORNAR. They wrote most of the material on FREAKSHOW. After they wrote the songs we came in and re-arranged it and put it together as a band. This time around, HOGNE isn't there. Everyone started writing, which was great. Between October and December we wrote between thirty to forty songs that we made rough demo recordings of and from there, we started pin-pointing the direction for the new album.

You guys don't sound like you're all that pressured to get the new CD out there.
Oh no, not at all. That's another thing about being independent, you can do it at your own pace. It's not that we're sitting around. We just want to make it right. We don't want to release something just to release it. Until then,people should just catch our live shows.

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READ THE LATEST ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HANGFACE HERE