20 Questions for Die Hard…

Every now and again, an artist arrives out of the blue with an extraordinary piece of work – almost perfect and complete. For me, Glasgow band Die Hard‘s album is one of the most ambitious, inspiring and downright psychedelic records you’ll hear all year. It’s available now on white vinyl and download… and I’m pretty certain it will blow your mind!

Die Hard are also the first to answer 20 questions for this site. This will be an ongoing series where I will attempt to quiz people I like for your interest and delectation… Enjoy!

1 – What is Halleluwah Hits? Label? Shop? Art Collective? All of them?

I guess the Idea of being an art collective has never been in our minds. Halleluwah began as a shop operating out of ‘Che Camille’ – it was a fashion/art community – which was based way up high on Buchanan Street. We (Die Hard) had decided to start a record shop there. We were buying in really limited edition stuff from sweet labels we loved, some of them from the other side of the world. While doing that we met this man named Syd. He had just moved back to Glasgow, after having lived in London for 20 odd years. He had a history of working in the music industry and he wanted to do something in the city. He loved what we were doing with the shop and asked us to help him run a label. We pondered this for a few months, wondering if we had the time. He assured us it would be mostly on A&R duty and helping with creative decisions. So when we met Dam Mantle we decided we had to make it a reality.

2 – Why name it after a Can song? Big Fans? Favourite LP?

There’s no real reason behind it. It’s an amazing song and the groove is sweet.

3 – What’s the ethos behind HH?

Syd would say keeping it pure; releasing records when we find something that fits our ideology. In a more simple term; making cross genre, high quality pop. There may only be one or two releases a year just now, Syd only puts his hard-earned into something he loves.

4 – How did you initially hook up with Dam Mantle? Will there more DM releases?

Dam Mantle handed in a demo, this was back when went by another name. We really liked it, we would stick it on up in the shop, quite a bit. We asked him to do a mix for the shop, it was blinding.  We went to see him play live & we agreed to put out the record pretty much as soon as he came off stage.

5 – Who is in this shadowy band – Die Hard? When did you start making music? Are you the same people who run HH?

We help run HH from time to time but Syd has his finger on the dial. We’ve been recording since we were 18, in various forms but the songs for Die Hard just came about over the last year.

6 – What’s the line-up in terms of instrumentation? Is there a lot of technology involved?
Well, there are three of us in this band; we play the main beef of the tracks live, to get the feel etc. After that we play with various machines to add the textures you hear on the record.

7 – Is it all self-recorded and produced? Are you bedroom boffins?

Yeah it is. We’ve worked with producers before, in previous bands. However, having our hands on the controls, being able to mix the picture and spending your own time creating, cleaning the painting & it feels natural. It’s one of those closed systems for us, seeing the song at the start and moulding it as it grows, right to the end

8 – How do you go around making one of these tracks? Are they hinged around samples?

We’ll record the foundation live, as much as possible with mostly with a guide vocal in there.  Then we run things through an array of samplers & effects, then back out live to be recorded again. Sometimes we’ll sample it again. Some of it sounds really deep-under and murky, but that’s been our intention.

9 – It’s a psychedelic & experimental sound – who are influences to you? (Animal Collective? Flaming Lips? Avalanches? Beta Band? Spiritualised?)

That’s cool because those bands that have a strong identity. However it’s hard to name bands. We feel real strong about visuals and movies. Something like Total Recall was a big influence on us growing up. A lot of John Carpenter films play though the Die Hard house (we live together, you see).

10 – The album has an orchestral edge as well – do you have live strings?

Yeah, we got some girls from RSAMD to play some strings.  It was a different experience because they were all used to reading scores. It was a challenge to communicate the ideas across, so we had to hit out with adjectives & whistle all the melodies. This culminated in one of us in front of them with a plastic beater, acting like Michael Kayman.

11 – Tell me about the lyrics on the record? There are some disturbing images on there… what are you writing about?

There’s a lot of darkness in the songs but it’s laced with black humour and hope. If people listen hard, they will find a lot of hidden messages in the tracks that have double meanings. We always talk about how the world is full of opposites intertwined – good and bad all the time

12 – Will you be playing LIVE at some point? Can you pull off the layered and complex sound on the album?

Most definitely! We want to create a feeling where you can see the music. A lot weird films get played at home and we’re always making videos, so we are looking at this with visuals at the forefront of our thoughts. Something quite intense!  ‘You Made Me Realise’ holocaust section in the Barras was intense. Turned round and the people to each side of me looked like they were standing at the mouth of a black hole. We’re investigating somewhere interesting to hold a show, real soon.

13 – Is this more an art project than a band? Are they one and the same thing?

It’s definitely more of a band; we’re a group/gang/family. A good example of it all being for the cause, is something we were doing last year. We had a booze run in Glasgow (dial a booze type) – we recorded through the night and ran out when we had an order. We’d jump on our bikes, deliver & save parties from death then end up joining in later on. It was sweet; it helped us make the album. We ended up on the front page of the Evening Times so ended up having to give it up. It was great though, midnight pirate stuff.

14 – How do feel you fit into the current Glasgow scene? Do you know any other bands?

Fox Gut Daata makes some amazing electronic music & recently formed Cru Servers with his brother. The latter, if you are into a bit o real dark gear. LovePact on Speed are amazing. Once these girls release something you will go ape for them. Cry Parrot consistently put on great gigs too.

15 – When’s the record out? What formats can people get it on?

Die hard LP drops on 27th Feb on HQ mp3 and committed to 12″ heavyweight pure virgin white vinyl. For the locals just pop round the corner to Avalanche or Love music and you’ll find us there. We also just heard Warp (Bleep), Rough Trade, Norman and a few more amazing indie record shops around the UK are taking it in… Which is sweet!

16 – Are there any plans for more releases on HH from other artists?

Yeah, no doubt. Syd’s got his pockets and they are not always full, but he has some good tips from us. Right now HH operates one record at a time, so full effort goes into each release but there might be a new release in the summer.

17 – What are Die Hard’s plans for the rest of the year after the album is released?

Recording the next EP/album, soundtracking one of two things for our friends and generally having a real ballin’ time.

18 – Why on earth did you name the band after a Bruce Willis film? Are you big Brucey fans? Are you sending him a copy of the album?

Die Hard works in our ethos and means a number of things, as a phrase. We wanted a name that has 5 different layers & this one has 8.

19 – Animal, Mineral or Vegetable?

Got to be Jack Nicholson.

20 – How much is that doggy in the window?
If you are shopping for a dog, but dislike the sound of barking, a possible solution is a basenji dog. It’s a breed of dog that doesn’t bark, instead it makes a yodel like sound. It’s pretty cool.

OK, not strictly 20 questions (there were more tangents I know…) but there you have it!

Thanks very much to Die Hard.

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