Hilltop Hoods – Across The Ocean

Hilltop Hoods

Hilltop Hoods are back in town playing another massive arena tour to celebrate the release of Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung. This will be the only Australian dates this year as the Hoods take well deserved long service leave so fans need to get on it and get their tickets before it sells out. Across The Ocean spoke to Suffa ahead of this upcoming tour of Australia and gave some insight to their long service leave plans.

hilltop hoods promo 2016

Sounds like it’s really exciting times in the Hilltop Hoods camp right now?

It really is, because it is coming up on Easter and everything had gone quiet around here it is like the calm before the storm actually. We’ve had some mad preparations the last few weeks and the weeks leading up to our first show.

Playing with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) must be a really cool experience? Are you taking them on the whole tour?

Just here, we use the local orchestra in every state so in Melbourne we have the MSO and in Sydney we have the SSO and so on.

Do you have any hesitation that it might not come together on the night given you’re playing with different orchestras?

There is a bit of that but hopefully we’ve been so careful with our preparations that we are not going to be in that position because we’ve gone to great lengths to try and make the set fail safe. When you’re dealing with an orchestra as well you put these things in place and they’re super incredible, professional musicians. It’s like read and get the job done, you don’t have to worry about them we just have to worry about us.

Have you been happy with how Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars Restrung has been received generally?

We weren’t expecting it to roll out like this, obviously we invested a lot of time in to it, energy and a lot of money as well. We were hoping that it would be received well but we weren’t expecting Adelaide to sell out. We’ve never done an arena tour before so it was all intimidating a few months ago.

Is it always an interesting process to go back and revisit some of the older songs, well they’re not that old but going back and reinterpreting those?

Yeah, you get to point, I don’t want to use the word fix but you get to address things that you weren’t one hundred percent happy with or come at something a different way that you wish you had originally. That’s the aspect of it that I like because I’m a little OCD and when we have a song and there’s something little that bothers me, it actually bothers me forever. Having the ability to go back and address those sorts of things is really nice as well.

Is that the primary motivation when you go back and look at these songs again?

I don’t think it is the primary reason. The primary thing is to try and make them as big and as epic as we can with an orchestra and a choir. Being able to address those things have bothered me or whatever is just a by-product of it and added on bonus to the process. The ASO are amazing at what they do and when you watch them site reading a piece they’ve seen for the first time in a room full of people in unison and thinking orchestra hive mind kind of thing is very impressive to watch. People who have dedicated their entire lives to one instrument and being great at it is pretty impressive especially coming from someone who can’t play an instrument to save his life.

There are some great guests on the album such as Sia, Montaigne and Tom Thum?

Yeah, we’re so lucky to be in that position to have Maverick as well and Chali 2na also. We’re lucky that a lot of what I always put down to success is the result of luck, timing and having good people around you. With this project we have a lot of good people around us.

Did you always have in the back of your mind that these were the guests you wanted to work with?

They all happened differently and when did I Love It Sia reached out and said do you want me to do it with you guys, being an Adelaide girl obviously, and with Montaigne jumping on 1955 I was out to dinner with my wife discussing the song with her saying the vocal range and register that I wanted. She is in touch with a lot of new music and when we got home she showed me a bunch of Montaigne stuff so we reached out to her and ending up jumping on the project. With people like Chali 2na, Pressure and I are massive Jurassic 5 fans and always have been was bucket list stuff. We have done lots of bucket list stuff working with Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought and Chali 2na, once again we were lucky to be in that position.

Did you learn a lot working with all these different people?

Well yeah, everyone operates differently and there’s no one set way with anyone I have worked with. It is always interesting and you always take something away from that. When we worked with Dan Sultan he came in, we showed the hook, he walked in, recorded it and it was done in fifteen to twenty minutes. We could have sat there stuffing about but that wasn’t the point because he nailed it. We had a day with him before he had to fly back to Melbourne so we went to the pub but then you get people who are really picky, really pedantic which is fine because it’s the results when you push and push.

What was your reaction to Restrung the first time you played it back?

Terrified! We do all our own mixing so when got the music back and put it together and played it, it sounded great but now we have nineteen songs we have to mix in this period of time. Some of the songs are upwards to one hundred and fifty track, so the initial reaction was terror. Also, it is super exciting to hear your music with an orchestra and choir.

Was it hard letting some of these songs go?

I guess it is that old adage, something is never finished it’s only abandoned. I think you have to know that point where your tinkering is becoming destructive rather than making something better.

What happens beyond this Australian tour?

We’re calling it long service leave to our manager. I’m having a baby in July and Debris is getting married in November and has a big family. We have been touring and recording for five years and we just want to take a step back and enjoy life a little. Not that we don’t when we’re touring, we just want to slow it down a bit.

First child? That will you slow you down a bit!

I’ve got a lot of horror stories that whenever parents find out you’re about to become a parent it’s like their eyes light up, ha, ha, one of us!

Will that be tough juggling life, touring and making music? Instead of beer, wine and skittles will it be cots, change tables and a nursery backstage?

It has been like that for a little while to be honest. Pressure has three kids and between the whole crew there’s another seven kids there so that’s nothing new in this camp!

Will you look at new material on long service leave?

We’re always writing and producing, always making beats, making tracks it’s just that we’re going to stop doing that to a schedule or to tour date. Most of my time will be building my music studio which is being turned in to a nursery evidently. After three or four months I’d imagine we’ll get itchy feet and get back together in the studio. It’s not work, we enjoy it!

Rob Lyon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Lyon has been writing about all things music for well over ten years in Adelaide clocking up more live shows each year seeing the best going round.

Whether it is rummaging through vinyl at record stores such as Clarity and Title finding hidden gems to scouring the internet to find that album by the next big thing or chasing bands to get that elusive autograph and photo his passion is music all the way.
Rob Lyon

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