HERCULES MORSE (from l-r): Paul Shott (bass), Steve George (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Harry Gardner (lead guitar/backing vocals), Guillaume “Gizmo” Redonnet-Brown (drums)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
With a powerful, awe-inspiring mix of hard, alternative, desert and stoner rock, held together by some exceptional songwriting, Hercules Morse have been showered with praise by fans and critics alike over the last couple of years.
The two EPs the Southampton quartet have brought out so far, 2015’s ‘Edge Of Life’, and the following year’s ‘Equine Size Comparison’, had overwhelmingly positive responses, with the rock music press giving them both high marks.
Now, the band are moving things up a gear with their debut album, ‘Vita Boundary’, which will be released this May.
With an element of dry humour, the frontman of the four-piece, Steve George, spoke to me about all this and more.
How did the band form?
Three of us have known each other for longer than we care to remember, and have been making music together for pretty much the entirety of that time.
We found our drummer, Gizmo, whilst doing a tour of the Haribo factory in Pontefract. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a basket hidden behind the machine that makes the fried eggs for the Starmix. We raised him (read as “groomed“) into the rhythm-machine he is today.
From where did the name Hercules Morse originate?
There was a cryptic message written on a card left in the basket that contained the infant drummer, Gizmo. It said “Her Clue’s Morse“. We misread it as “Hercules Morse” and took it as a sign that we should form a band of that name, and the rest is history.
It was only recently that we realised our mistake, but we couldn’t deal with the fact our band, and our lives were based on a lie, so we just repressed it really hard.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Haphazard. We write by law of averages. One of us plays a note, then the rest of us systematically try all the other notes until we find one that doesn’t sound rubbish, then we continue with that process until we have an entire song. If you’ve ever watched a toddler using a shape-sorting toy, it’s a bit like that.
What inspires the band lyrically?
I write them. It’s a terrible idea to let me have control over the lyrics, as I’m really lazy. I usually just copy out the side effects sections of prescription medication leaflets, and mumble enough that people can’t tell what I’m saying.
So far, you have released two EPs, both to much acclaim, most notably from Kerrang!, BBC Radio, and Rock Sound. Would you say you were blown away, especially with your debut, ‘Edge Of Life’, by the reactions that they both got?
We write music that we love, so, in some ways it wasn’t a total surprise when it turned out that other people like it too. However, we’re generally incredibly neurotic and crippled by self-doubt, so it was reassuring when that actually turned out to be the case.
In May, the band will be bringing out their first full-length album, ‘Vita Boundary’. How has the recording process been?
Recording is one of my favourite aspects of being in a band, but this time, I felt a little bit more pressure than previously, as we crowdfunded this album, so I knew we had to deliver something marvellous for the people that have supported us.
I pictured us creating something that sucks, and subsequently, the crowdfunders forming a lynch mob, hunting us down and knee-capping us. It proved motivational.
Unlike the recording of our two EPs; this time I was self-restrained enough not to eat my own body weight in junk food. My digestive system thanked me for it. That may or may not have had an impact on the final product.
How have you found the transition from EP to album?
We grew up listening to albums, so it was always an aspiration of ours to mimic the artists we admired and create an album of our own. It’s extremely satisfying to have brought it to fruition.
What can be expected of it?
Stylistically, it’s a development of the foundations laid in the EPs, i.e. contrapuntal fuzz rock with a heavy emphasis on melody and lyrics relating to headaches, hair loss, and dizziness. We can expect 10 songs worth of egotistical self-gratification. You can expect riffs, riffs and more riffs. It’s a win either way.
The band have played with the likes of Turbowolf, Band Of Skulls and Dinosaur Pile-Up, to name a few. How is the experience, for you all, of playing live?
Playing live is great. My mum comes to pretty much all of our shows, so I get to count it as spending time with her whilst barely even having to have a conversation. Therefore, I earn family brownie points whilst doing something I enjoy. Dreamland.
What’s planned for after ‘Vita Boundary’ comes out?
This is an excellent question for which I don’t have an excellent answer. We’ve been pretty focused on getting this album ready, and haven’t looked beyond it really. I expect we’ll probably spend a few months/years meditating in India, then produce some kind of masterpiece.
‘VITA BOUNDARY’, THE SELF-RELEASED DEBUT ALBUM FROM HERCULES MORSE, WILL BE AVAILABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD OR PURCHASE FROM MAY 4.
FURTHER INFO ON THIS, AND THE BAND, CAN BE FOUND HERE.