I've been friends with members of PROTEST THE HERO for almost two decades and my love for them and their music knows no bounds. This year I was lucky enough to attend and film their Hamilton show and do extensive video and written interviews with Luke. Check out the written one below.
but first, some incredible news...
Zegema Beach Records is ecstatic to announce the early 2016 release of PROTEST THE HERO's 4xLP Cassette Boxset. The four tapes (Kezia, Fortress, Scurrilous & Volition) will be housed in a screenprinted carboard box with a fold out lyric sheet and will be limited to around 500 copies. More info as it becomes available!
This new interview was answered during the months of July/August and is an (((((OPENmind/SATURATEDbrain))))) exclusive with Lucas Hoskin (lead guitar) of PROTEST THE HERO.
Considering promoting new bands is what my blog is all about, what unknown/obscure band(s) would you like people to know about?
You have always been the one with his finger on the pulse Dave. Nowadays, I find myself ‘discovering’ bands who have been around for ages but I just never got around to listening to them. People know about them now, but I think one of the bands to really watch is Mandroid Echostar. They have all the right pieces and they seem to keep getting frighteningly close to using them perfectly. Definitely worth checking out.
What band is amazing in your opinion, but does not have following nor the recognition that it deserves?
I would have to go with my friends in a band called the Safety Fire. They weren’t afraid to push in any direction when it came to writing - ultimately, it meant they had to keep finding new fans, I think. Awesome live band and even better people. I think they might end up being one of those cult bands where people think, “I wish I understood it all when they were still around”.
Describe your band.
I would like to think we are ambitious in everything we do, whether that be in our music or how we present ourselves as a band. We have never been afraid to stir the pot in music or in business. I hope that never changes. On the other hand, this question could have been more truthfully answered by saying we are just a bunch of hairy fellas who appreciate farts more than anything on the planet…
Can you reveal anything interesting (and perhaps not well-known) about yourself or the other band members?
I think that not surprisingly, we really know each other more as human beings than as musicians / band mates. All we know is growing up together and it’s ultimately our friendships which will transcend anything we do as a band. That’s something I forget when I consider our own band or our peers. First and foremost, we/they are brothers and sisters who care about one another more than anything band wise. The bands that break up or don’t make it far are those who can’t say they have that.
Can you describe any of your personal (or band) conflicts?
How much time you got? We are at constant odds about just about everything. I would like to think that’s what helps us come up with the best decisions though. At the moment, we are having trouble getting in the groove of writing again (always happens after so much touring). We are at each other’s throats about what’s the best way to go about it! I think it’s going to click again soon though.
Do you feel like your new/next material can be likened to something in regards to its significance – such as a thought, idea, feeling or specific purpose? Is this communicated lyrically, instrumentally or thematically? (If this question is too ridiculous, how’s this -> “Can you talk about your new material?”)
The newer material is particularly exciting for me. Not only do we have a total shift in writing process and a new member (Mike Ieradi), but we plan on releasing it in a way we haven’t seen done too much before. Something we have been considering talking about for months and we are finally going to try it this Fall!
What things have happened in 2015 thus far, that you would like the readers to know about?
We are at the end of the “Volition” album cycle. 2013/14 were a busy two years to say the least. 2015 has been pretty relaxed thus far. We have played a couple shows around home and took an amazing and unforgettable trip to South Africa in April. Our guitarist is having a baby any minute now so we have deliberately planned this time to be for writing and sticking close to home.
What are you looking forward to most in the last 6 months of 2015?
Definitely recording. It’s by far my favourite part of this life we have chosen. Despite being frustrating at times, it’s by far the most rewarding thing I do - watching something great come from literally nothing. Give me the willies just thinking about it. Feel pretty lucky we have made a career doing that.
Can you talk about your time in the studio, writing and your upcoming tour plans?
The only tour we have lined up at the moment is a short run to Europe in August. It will be a really exciting one though because in between two festivals in Sweden and England, we get to head back to Russia for a third time. I can’t explain how crazy and wonderful our shows have been there before. It’s a very appreciative atmosphere - and that is a two way street for sure.
What was it like transitioning from being on a larger independent label to doing stuff on your own?
All in all, it has been amazing. We are lucky to still work alongside labels though (in distro deals) so are able to bug them for their guidance from time to time. The ability to write and release music any way we want was something that was forbidden while involved with record deals. Gotta say that it feels pretty good to have that kind of freedom. Wouldn’t have been possible or felt that good without some great labels along the way though.
What are the band members’ favourite PROTEST THE HERO songs to play and why?
I most like the songs which I don’t have to think too much about playing - those ones that are on complete muscle memory. Then I can just sit back and enjoy rather than worry about what’s coming next. “Mist” is definitely one of those songs…
What do you feel like you have “given up” to play in PROTEST THE HERO, especially while touring?
I wouldn’t say I have given up friendships - but they suffered for sure. You watch your close friends get closer with each other as you drift further and further outside the circle. It’s a completely natural and expected process, but it still affects you. I imagine most home-bodied folk often tell themselves “I gotta hang out with so and so, so that we don’t drift apart”. That’s something you stop telling yourself while on tour because you can’t physically make good on it. I would never give up any of the people in my life - I am just lucky they are understanding and supportive.
I think I heard that you don’t like playing your old stuff. I get it, I think, but can you explain it so die-hard fans who want desperately to hear your old shit will be appeased?
I know what it’s like to want some of my faves to play the oldies, so I respect it when people ask for those tunes. As we get older, I think we are more likely to reach back in the years and play that stuff. When you are younger and trying to make a name for yourself, the old stuff only serves to embarrass you. You want people to want what you are doing now because that’s the stuff you are desperately passionate about.
Have you ever written guitar parts after already knowing the theme? Has Rody ever given you ideas to write around?
Yeah that’s something I personally have found works well. It works the other way too though. The main riffs in “Mist” had already been written. I remember Rody was out of ideas for lyrics and I told him this one song had a kind of celtic and upbeat feel to it. It reminded us both of one of our favourite places on earth. The rest kind of just fell into place.
What do you think of the new Refused song?
Hahah - this is a loaded question because I know how you feel about it already. I kind of like it - I mean, it could have been massively worse than it was. To me, it seemed like par for the course - but since their course took a giant break for 17 years, it’s a pretty promising first step in my opinion. Personally, when we release a song from an upcoming record in advance, it’s carefully determined by a couple things. 1 - it sure as shit isn’t even close to the best on the album 2 - it has all the qualities that are undeniably Protest The Hero though. I think Refused’s choice may have been similar. Let’s wet their appetite and blow them away when they hear the rest of this beast.
If you had to slap a genre label on PROTEST THE HERO - so potential new listeners could get a good idea of your sound without hearing you, what would you label yourselves as?
Nowadays, I wouldn’t slap anything on it. For the most part, I find labels only detract from listeners. “Eww, this is post-hardcore? I don’t know what that is but I don’t think I will dig it”. I know labels are pretty crucial to hinting at what you are all about but I would much rather someone put on our music and find out they hate it then to assume they won’t like it because of where it’s hidden in a record store.
Do you find it hard to balance objectivity with emotion when listening to/playing/talking about music?
Absolutely. I have become everything I ever hated. The almost 30 year old who thinks he has a more valuable opinion on music because he has been around the block. Keeping that in mind though, I find myself listening to more uncharted music now than ever because I want to counteract my jadedness. If that makes any sense at all!?
Can you talk about how Propagandhi, Choke, Refused, Gob, Good Riddance and Dragonforce have affected your band?
None more so than Propagandhi. They won’t agree, but I think they are one of those untouchable bands. Increasingly relevant as they age - that’s an enormous rarity in any art, I think. I look up to them more now than I did as a 16 year old. And they have been my favourite since then…I don’t imagine anyone will eclipse that while I am still alive.
What band were you excited to meet, but they turned out to be assholes? And vice-versa?
No one comes to mind. There were bands I really wish I had made the effort to get along with more though, maybe they feel that way too. I would never judge any musician based on meeting them once. I know how lonely and hostile the touring world can make you - everyone is due for a bad day or two while out on the road, regardless of the face they are expected to put on.
What questions would you liked to be asked, but never are?
You have asked a lot of great, insightful questions Dave. I often wonder why a lot of interviewers don’t get into private stuff - not that I necessarily want my privacy to be invaded or anything - I cherish that haha! But that IS why I will praise the reddit AMA. People come on there and straight up ask you when the last time you shit yourself was. We all have, we just don’t get asked about it on record much.
What’s the best advice that someone in the ‘industry’ has given you?
Someone told me once to embrace help. You can’t do everything by yourself and need assistance along the way. Sure, you are going to hook up with the wrong people from time to time, but that’s the only way you learn who is in it for the right reasons.
As someone who has seen the inside of the music industry more than most, tell us your thoughts about it.
The term itself seems like a powerful juxtaposition. Music is this thing you are supposed to love, nurture, cherish, and ultimately stand behind regardless of its success. Then you need to take that child of yours (basically) and sell it for money…as much money as you can. There are people who have rooted their life in trying to exploit that transaction. It’s those type of people I hope I never become - but it’s that type of transaction which allows us to continue. All we can do in PTH is be honest with the people we are selling our music to.
What's it like when people talk about stories and shows/names and places that you don't remember? Besides the alcohol causing some memory problems, your brain simply cannot remember all of that information. How do you cope?
I guess I just try to be upfront. Show-goer: “Hey Man, do you remember me?” Me: “No, sorry - remind me.” Anyone who gets upset you don’t remember them is insane. My Mom still refers to me as “Boomer” sometimes. That’s a dear, departed Dachshund our family had decades ago. An animal who doesn’t even share a single letter with the word “Lucas”. I don’t expect anyone to remember who the hell I am.
If you could cover any band/song, whom/what would it be?
Linoleum by NOFX, obviously.
If you could get in a time machine and go back to see any band (NOT show specific) who would you want to see?
Sounds pretty cliche, but I think it might be Jimi Hendrix. I am not a crazy fan by any means, but the originality of his style and the times would be a trip…literally.
What band are you most excited about right now?
I would say Thrice. I honestly didn’t think I would see the day where they came back, played some awesome shows and made a new record. I am grateful they decided to give it another shot - it didn’t feel like they were done yet when they left.
What pisses you off the most at shows that you attend? Play?
People screaming stuff from the audience. It’s funny to me that level of rudeness has become accepted - but I guess some people feel like the money they pay for the show entitles them to some be a PART of the show. Getting up on stage is another one - if we ask you to come up, by all means come on up. But if you just want to be seen or are posing for your phone, that’s insanely disrespectful. The one exception is if you are really young and you just don’t know the etiquette. But if you are some big-fat, drunken marshmallow - get the fuck outta here bud.
Will you ever be left over with a B side after completing a record? Or am I ignorant, and there are unreleased songs that I’m unaware of?
There were a couple instrumental ones from the ‘Scurrilous’ sessions. They turned out okay but there is definitely a good reason why we consider them b-sides!
Talk about your ‘In Search of the Truth’ 7”. What are your feelings on that release now. T’was a long fucking time ago. Holy shit.
I recently found one of these kicking around my parents’ house. I thought for sure I had given my last one away to a guy who lives on my childhood street (Scott - how are ya bud?). Luckily it wasn’t because I still look at that thing and smile. Sure, it’s terrible in pretty much every sense of the word. But it’s something we did together when we had no clue how anything worked. I might not ever put it on again, but it’s still nice to have and look at once in a while.
Do you ever get bored with your playing style? Do you change it consciously? Is it an organic shift?
Yes, definitely. Sometimes I feel like an old dog who can’t learn new tricks. I don’t have as much energy or enthusiasm as I had when I was in my teens - although I do conjure up that hunger from time to time and it feels great. I sit down and learn something new and feel young again! All that said - I call on my old tricks more often than not, I just hope listeners still like them.
How do you feel about downloading/streaming music?
I do it.
What’s the best thing about being in PROTEST THE HERO? The worst?
The Best: people’s face when they learn your full time job is “being a musician”
The Worst: people’s face when they learn your full time job is “being a musician”
Do you feel like you’ve faced any pressure to change or go against what you believe in as PROTEST THE HERO has gotten more popular?
Not really. We do keep in mind what people ‘might like to hear’ though when writing music. That’s something that I like though - how might so and so react to hearing this song or this passage. It allows us to keep trying to perfect our style while still growing on our own I guess.
What is your:
Favourite release of all time:
Propagandhi's ‘Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes’
choice for best cover art/packaging?
I don’t know the band but you have the album where the record folds out to be a giant boombox. I saw it on your Facebook and it immediately sky rocketed to number one.
(Dave’s note: he’s talking about the Graf Orlock ‘Doombox’ 10”/discography cd – and yes, that is unequivocally #1,. Check it out here)
PROTEST THE HERO is marking the 10th anniversary of 'Kezia' with a tour featuring the founding members (aka Arif and Moe) and the album being played in its entirety. The band has also added another Toronto date on the 5th of December which isn't listed below. Check out that poster!
I was lucky enough to attend the Hamilton show by PROTEST THE HERO back in February of 2015 and did a two-part video interview with my good pal Lucas Hoskin which you can take a gander at below.