The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world






Everyone tips the 'Next Big Thing' and it's often what reviewers call the 'Kiss of death' for a band. Our reviewer, after listening to Hornet's debut album SKIES ARE FALLING, declared that "UK Metal is in safe hands with the younger generation"... You decide. We caught up for an exclusive interview with vocalist Joe Thompson






Thank you for taking the time to talk to the Rockpit. For those who aren’t familiar with the band can you recap how it all started and how you got to where you are today?


Joe: It all started with four best friends wanting to get together and create music. Mixing our influences and ideas together we established our own sound as well as where we wanted to take the band. Then we started to think "this really is something that could go somewhere". After we got all our ideas together and with a lot of hard work and elbow grease, cliché as it sounds, we've managed to establish an ever growing and loyal fanbase. Not to forget the help of our residency at The Intrepid Fox and venues like The Borderline. The buzz is definitely spreading!


Can I just get this one out of the way? Hornet? So you’re going to be much bigger than WASP?


Joe: (Laughs) Well… I never think it's a good thing to start saying you’re going to be bigger than established bands like that! Especially ones that I take massive influence from. But who knows? We'll give it a damn good shot and see how far we can take this…


Seriously though why Hornet and what did you guys grow up listening to?


Joe: For me Hornet instantly puts an image in your mind of something mean and aggressive and that's what our music and show is all about, something with a real sting that'll catch your eye. You won't want to look away just in case you miss something. We all as a band have very varied music tastes. Obviously we have all listened to the rock “classics” but as the band has progressed I've found myself listening to an even larger range. I could sit here all day naming bands and singers that have had a positive effect on me but to name a few off the top of my head, I’d say Alter Bridge, Pantera, Robbie Williams, Buckcherry and Frank Sinatra.


Has Hastings changed much since I was a kid twenty years ago?


Joe: Probably not! Just lots more boarded up windows and the pier is a little more... what's the word… burnt to the ground (laughs).



What’s the touring scene like in the UK at the minute for an emerging band, is it easy to get a show?


Joe: Yeah it’s easy to get shows, it just depends. You can turn up anywhere and play to one man and his dog and if you’re lucky the other bands playing that night, but what’s the point? There are plenty of great venues in the UK but we always make sure wherever we play we can pull the fans in. The main thing is an entertaining show and the right promotion. Without good, relentless promotion you could play an amazing venue with nobody in it.


Where are you playing next?


Joe: The Borderline, London on the 12th December. It’s a great venue.



Tell us all about the Hornet live show?


Joe: The live show is what makes Hornet! Aside from our elaborate show with the lighting, dry ice, confetti and that, we always put 100% into every show we play, that's a promise. For the size of the band at this current time I truly believe we have a stand out performance that people really connect with and talk about for days afterwards. It’s word of mouth that has earned us the fan base we have built so far. Come along to The Borderline on the 12th December and see for yourself!


We were suitably impressed with your debut album “Skies Are Falling” declaring that UK Metal was in safe hands with the younger generation. Were you happy with the feedback so far?


Joe: Absolutely, for a new emerging band to try and capture something slightly original whilst still keeping the rock element that people crave for, I don't think we've had a bad first attempt! Obviously we’re still progressing as a band and there is plenty more creativity to come into our songs yet, but yes I'm really pleased with the current response from fans and the press, it means a lot to me personally and it's something to always be proud of.


How are you capitalising on that?


Joe: It just gives everyone involved a real positive drive and energy. It’s great to see that people are enjoying what we're doing. We want to reach out and restore people’s faith that there are some great young rock bands on the scene and there is a strong future for rock music. Bring on album number two.


You funded the album via crowd funding – would you recommend that route to any new band?


Joe: Yes. If you think you've got a fan base that wants the album bad enough then absolutely. In such a difficult financial climate it's a perfect way for upcoming bands to be able to even make the album, so much goes into bringing an album out. If people want the music, the band gets to give the people the music; it's a win/win situation!





When you sat down to record what was the game plan? What did you want to achieve?


Joe: We wanted something that really captured our sound on CD, sounds easy but once you’re in the studio it's a completely different thing. With our genre of music I think it's really easy to maybe… record things a little too 'raw', but with the help of our producer and engineer, Phil Kinman, we found the perfect balance. He helped capture the raw live feel of Hornet but with a really polished and professional edge.


The opening track says it all really – one of the best songs we’ve heard this year – what songs are going down well with the crowds live?


Joe: Thank you very much, that's one of my personal favourites. “Second Hand Smoke” has always gone down really well with the crowd; some say it’s our quintessential song. “Skies Are Falling” and “Storm The Gates” are also getting great receptions which is awesome.


“Second Hand Smoke” was our reviewer’s favourite – tell us a little about that song?


Joe: It's quite an old song actually, one of the first songs we ever wrote together. I think it goes down so well with people, especially live, because of the chorus. It has a real strong build up and then it goes… bang! It all comes crashing down and really makes you want to jump and sing along. The lyrics were based on the idea of sleeping with a girl who has been with a friend already, sloppy seconds if you like (laughs).


“Sweet Lips” shows a sense of humour is that important to the band?


Joe: For me personally it's really important. You have to take your music and your act seriously but at the same time, not too serious. I don't want people to see us and think "here's another stereotypical young band who think they're rock stars". It's all about playing great music, putting on a great show, having a laugh and connecting with your audience. With a good sense of humour you can connect with your audience on a larger scale, I think.


“Down to the Bone” we felt might have been a song you’d had around for a while, were we right?


Joe: Yes actually, out of all the songs on the album it's one of the oldest.


Our favourite “Storm the Gates” we thought might be an indicator of where the band is heading, is that a fair call?


Joe: I guess you could say that, yeah. Diversity is very important to me and I don't want to get branded a 'one trick pony' as it were. We've got loads of great ideas coming through and hopefully we can transfer these to our music. The Hornet “sound” will obviously always be there but there is so much more to come than the “in your face” approach we usually do.




What have been your greatest challenges to date, and your favourite moments musically?


Joe: Personally, recording “Storm The Gates” was a challenge, mainly because it was a style that I'd never tried recording before. We put in a lot of hard work to that song and I hope that's recognisable throughout the music. I've had a lot of great moments so far but a couple that stand out is the tour in Europe which was an amazing experience, as well as a show we did at The Borderline supporting Kobra and the Lotus. Great times!


With technology changing so much over the last few years and seemingly not slowing, and TV force-feeding us the lowest common denominator, what hope is there for rock music?


Joe: As long as there are people out there that want rock music then there is still hope. It's tough times for bands, but there are some great new bands starting to push through and really grab people’s attention.


Thinking back to your early memories of music, what was it that first made you decide you needed to be in a Rock and Roll band?


Joe: I think it was after watching a DVD of an AC/DC concert with Bon Scott and just seeing the raw energy pouring off them, really inspiring stuff. Early KISS concerts as well, what a spectacle.


From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?


Joe: To work hard, believe in yourself and truly appreciate your fans, they make you what you are!


What does 2014 hold for the band?


Joe: It’s looking to be a busy year ahead for us. A new single and music video is already in the pipeline. Lots of new songs are already underway. In early January we’re planning to go into the studio to demo and work on new music, and then we’re planning to tour the UK and Europe, hopefully play some festivals to reach out to a wider audience and increase the ever growing “Hornet Swarm”. We’ve got big plans to unleash in summer 2014, so watch this space.


Can music change the world?


Joe: I think that's asking a lot (laughs) but I do believe music can change an individual person and really have a positive effect on their life. It certainly has for me throughout the years.


If you could have been a ‘Fly on the wall’ for the creation of any great album from any period, just to see how the magic happened and it all came together, what would it have been for you any why?


Joe: I think perhaps “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera. Mainly because I'd love to see how Dimebag Darrell (R.I.P.) recorded his guitar parts in the studio and to see them bringing together the “power groove” sound, especially with Phil Anselmo as the singer for the first time. What an album!


What is the meaning of life?


Joe: Xbox, Relentless and music.


Any last words for the world?


Joe: Keep supporting music, it's the fans that help determine how big and successful a band gets and Hornet is forever grateful to our fans! Oh and my Xbox gamer tag is CF Number 3 (laughs), add me up!




Joe spoke to Mark Diggins November 2013





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