This Is Hell Interview

Interview: Nick Calafato
Photos: Roman Laris

After releasing their 2nd full length effort, ‘Misfortunes‘, New York hardcore thrashers This Is Hell came to the UK to play a string of Barfly shows with Brighton’s very own up-and-comers Dead Swans.

Nick Calafato caught up with guitarist Rick Jimenez for a quick chat just before the band systematically laid waste to London’s Camden Barfly.

So this is the last date of your tour, how has it been and what have you thought of Dead Swans?

Ah man it’s been so much fun. We knew of Dead Swans already and actually handpicked them to come out on tour with us, they’re such an awesome group of guys and we’ve had one of the most fun weeks ever. It’s been so awesome playing in these small venues, I mean we’ve been over here a few times already but these Barfly shows are so cool. Especially being in a hardcore band, playing in these venues with no barrier means we get to be so intimate with the crowd and it makes the shows so much more fun and real to play, ya’know?

What has the reaction been like to ‘Misfortunes‘ on the tour?

It’s been really good man, obviously we have mixed up the set-list with old stuff but we’ve felt more comfortable playing the new stuff because obviously the new album is already out so the kids know the songs. We’ve been really excited to play the new stuff, I mean when we last come over last year on the Comeback Kid tour we played a couple of new songs but obviously the kids didn’t know them then. But overall the reaction to ‘Misfortunes‘ has been nothing but positive really.

How about from the British and American press?

Yeah, the same, we haven’t seen any bad reviews so far!

Misfortunes‘, to me anyway, sounds like there was a definite ‘back to basics’ mentality, as it seems a lot more thrashier than your previous record ‘Sundowning’.

I guess so, yeah. I mean we never set out to make a record in a specific way, we just wrote in a way that seemed natural to us. It’s been interesting for us as musicians in the fact that some of the songs on ‘Misfortunes‘ would never have been on ‘Sundowning‘, in the way that some of the songs on ‘Sundowning‘ would never have gone on the EP. But of course it’s definitely faster than some of the stuff on ‘Sundowning‘ but this was just natural for us. There has also been a line-up change with this album so it was cool to take in some new ideas too.

What are some of the lyrical themes that have featured on ‘Misfortunes‘?

Well our bassist actually writes a lot of the lyrics. To be honest it’s a pretty negative record, but it’s also definitely a real record. We didn’t wanna come out with a really posi record because that just wouldn’t be true to us. There are a lot of issues we’ve dealt with on the album that we haven’t dealt with before, I mean for one I’m a manic depressive so a lot of the songs are truly heart felt to me. We’re not a bunch of depressed wierdo’s we just wanted to write a record that was real to us and hopefully people can relate to it.

Between the two years of releasing ‘Sundowning‘ and ‘Misfortunes‘ how do you feel the band has progressed as musicians and as people?

Well we’re definitely still the same people, ya know. We have progressed as a band but I don’t necessarily consider ourselves successful. I mean what is successful? I still love playing these small shows and I don’t aspire to play massive shows to thousands of people. It ruins the vibe of the show. I would rather play a show to 20 kids who absolutely love us and will go off as opposed to playing to a crowd of 5 thousand people where 50 kids know us. It’s just so much more us playing these shows, we feed off the crowd and the crowd feed of us. We definitely don’t consider ourselves rock stars or anything, we’re just a bunch of dudes playing the music we love, I guess. I mean, people like Pete Wentz in Fall Out Boy, I fucking hate that guy. Seriously, I saw him half naked on the front of Kerrang this week and I just couldn’t believe it. I doubt his marriage with, what’s her name, Ashlee Simpson? will last very long at all.

Yeah, also Fall Out Boy used to have connections with hardcore didn’t they?

Yeah, they used to be friends with Bane or something like that. It’s just so annoying seeing him like that, parading himself about. I mean fair play to the guy, he’s done well ya know but it just angers me so much seeing him acting like such a dick all the time.

What have been the best countries to play so far?

I’m totally not just saying this but England is absolutely brilliant to play, we love coming here so much. Even playing in different parts of America and seeing kids getting into it is amazing for us. We’re still like, “Oh my god kids in another state knew our songs!“. Even just going to nearby countries like Canada gives us such a buzz. Mainland Europe is always good, especially Germany and Belgium, the kids just go nuts over there.

What does the rest of this year hold for This Is Hell?

Well straight after this we head on over to mainland Europe, then back to America for a few shows and who knows after that!

Thanks for your time, really appreciate it.

No worries man, take it easy!