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The Experimental Side of Hands

  • 2010 14 Jan
The Experimental Side of Hands

One of the stronger releases from Facedown Records this year came from one of their latest signings, Hands. The album Creator brought an experimental edge to the hardcore label and that's not just musically. Instead, it seems the North Dakota band didn't exactly plan on the sonic side they ended up with, but everyone seems happy all the same.

Vocalist Shane Ochsner took some time to sit down with CMCentral to discuss the band's position on Facedown, what the label saw in them and how the whole thing was an accident in experimentation.

CMCentral:  The direction of your Facedown debut ... I'm wondering how much of that you had in mind going into the project and how much was a product of the studio?

Shane Ochsner:  Well, to give you the idea of what happened in fall of 2008, we had just gotten off of a tour and we spent all of August writing this concept record called The Sounds of Earth. We wrote this album that was supposed to be something different. We had to fulfill our record contract and we knew Facedown was on the horizon. So we wrote this bigger, ambient spacey thing that was out there in August and recorded it in September.

It actually turned out really, really cool and it took us in a different direction—a little more away from the hardcore stuff and into that spacey, ambient sound.

CMCentral:  So you didn't plan on that direction at all?

Shane:  No, we honestly knew we just had a record to write and we just thought we'd make it this whatever sort of project.

CMCentral:  Was that a byproduct of what you were listening to at the time?

Shane:  I think that was just us wanting to experiment. I think we knew that whatever we would record at that time wouldn't ... we knew the terms of that contract and we knew it wouldn't get much attention or see the light of day too much. So we more or less made a record and experimented with various sounds and used that opportunity to try different things. But the outcome was great. We didn't expect it.

So we recorded in September, went on tour in October and then in November, we started writing Creator. Our writing process is that we'll write every day from noon to five. So we took all of November and into December to make Creator and it was interesting because two months prior, we'd written this weird full-length experimental album and we were still buzzing on that. So I think our expectations for Creator at first was to make this really hard-hitting record—to make it sound like us, but to also fit the Facedown sound of a hardcore label.

We tried to make up ways to have that heaviness in there and it was interesting because by the time we were done writing Creator, the album became a hybrid of that experimental sound we'd created and our hardcore sound.

CMCentral:  Did that cause any tension with the label?

Shane:  Not at all. In fact, our EP was what got their attention in the first place, but when they heard the experimental album, Jason said it ended up being his favorite release of that year. He wanted us to take things in that direction, so it was sort of a shock. Obviously we were really happy with it, but it was great to have Jason saying he loved it and wanted us to keep it up. We were happy to hear it because it opened a lot of doors for us to just stick to our game plan of writing whatever kind of music we felt like and not have to box ourselves into any category or genre.

CMCentral:  Did you find some influences changing in that time?

Shane:  I don't think so. I know that we all listen to different things in the band. Obviously, that will have an influence on you musically, but I feel like when we write together, those influences may come through but if someone started or stopped listening to a particular band, I don't think it would affect how we sound too much. When we get together in a room and start writing, we're not trying to shoot for anything. We know where we want to go and stick to that. It's hard to explain I guess. [Laughs]


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**This interview first published on January 14, 2010.