Now that the Black Country metallers Hostile are finally releasing their second album, The New World Disorder, it is time to sit down with their guitarist A.J. Mills and talk about the new album, touring and collaboration with K.K. Downing…
Hi A.J., and welcome back to Steelmill! It seems that 2016 will be a busy year for you guys. Last year was a bit calmer, as the much anticipated second album didn’t get its release. What happened at the Hostile camp?
Hi! It’s great and an honour to be back at the Steel Mill! Yes, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for Hostile, we are really looking forward to playing countries we haven’t been to yet and have heard so many great things about.
Last year was a bit quieter than usual due to replacing band members, we have a new drummer and bass player now Ash Leatherland and Ant Wall. Both of the guys made themselves comfortable real quick, and have been absolutely brilliant to work with on the new album.
And you have just signed a record deal with Gasworks music…
Yeah, we are really happy with signing to Gasworks music. They act more like an ‘old school’ label in the way that they invest in growing a band, and bringing them on just like in the good old days! So it works perfect for us, and also for them, as it’s just what the band really needs to keep moving forward.
In the beginning of this year, there was news about a new ep being out in March, but now the plans have changed. Instead of the ep, there will be a full album on its way, am I right?
At first we did plan on doing an ep, because in this day and age kids’ attention spans aren’t very long, and most of them just like to download a few tracks for their mp3 players. However, whilst we were writing, we had enough material to class ‘The New World Disorder’ as an album, and we didn’t feel it was necessary to drop any tracks, so we decided to stick with an album that’s straight to the point and not too long!
Is the release date still the same, March the 1st?
Yes, that’s correct.
And there will be a physical release as well, not just the download option?
Yes a physical copy will be available via Amazon etc, and you will even be able to purchase ‘The New World Disorder’ direct from Hostile’s website. Download option will be available via all the usual channels, iTunes etc, and we are also planning on releasing a limited number of vinyl records!
The first album, Eve of Destruction (2011), was produced by K.K. Downing himself, and it also included one song that he had written for you. How did you end up working with him?
Well, K.K. actually went to school with my uncle Steve, believe it or not! We are all from the same hood ‘The Black Country’ where, as you well know, is the birth place of Heavy Metal. So, anyway, Steve convinced K.K. to step out of his metal fortress in Shropshire to come and check out Hostile play live at a place called ‘JB’S’ in Dudley. Now the really cool thing about this is that Judas Priest actually used to play at this venue, when they were just starting out and up and coming.
After the show K.K. told us that he would like to produce our album, so we played it cool whilst he was still there, and after he left to go back home, we all went crazy! Being massive Judas Priest fans it was a dream come true!
Like the first one, The New World Disorder is also produced by K.K. Downing. How was the collaboration this time?
K.K. concentrated more on the songs being the best they could be, making sure we tried absolutely everything with arrangements, dynamics and overall vibe of things. I think we made things a bit easier for him second time around, because we learned such a lot from him working on ‘Eve Of Destruction’. It’s great, because you never stop learning from somebody like K.K.! After all, he is a Metal God!
You told that the new album includes a Judas Priest cover, Blood Stained from their album Jugulator in 1997. That’s not the most obvious cover song from Priest’s catalogue, how did you end up choosing this one?
Well, when we were all growing up and swapping tapes at school, Ripper Owens was the current singer in Judas Priest, and ‘Jugulator’ as well as ‘live Meltdown 98’ were the tapes that were doing the rounds in school. Of course we were well aware of what came before those Priest records, as we grew up listening to the likes of ‘Painkiller’ and ‘Stained Class’ and all those other great records that came before, but ‘The Ripper Era’ was the era that made us, and most definitely me in particular, want to pick up an instrument and play in a band. I even have a ‘Jugulator’ tattoo on my arm! Just in case I ever forget why I do what I do! So, it only seemed right when we decided to do a Priest cover, to do one from this era.
Blood Stained is a brutal piece, for sure, but what about the rest of the album? Should we expect the same straight-in-your-face kind of metal as on your debut album, or will there be surprises?
The new album is a lot more mature than the last one in my opinion, but yes, it’s still very heavy and designed for the mosh pits! Fast, heavy and melodic chorus was the approach we went for on this album. It still contains a lot of the groove elements our first album captured too. It has a lot of energy, for sure. So be careful if you play it whilst driving your car! We will take no responsibility if you gain a speeding ticket!
Naturally, Hostile will be on the road again, with Italian and UK dates already announced. Do you have any further plans, or maybe confirmed dates elsewhere in Europe?
Yes we have a lot of European dates confirmed now! You can check them out at our website on the tour page. We have a very busy tour schedule this year with more dates to be confirmed real soon!
I guess Blood Stained will be on your set list… Earlier you’ve had a few Priest classics in the set, will there still be room for them now when you have more of your own material to choose from?
Blood Stained will most definitely be in the setlist, and maybe some nights, if we are going down well and we have run out of our own material to play, we might alternate throwing in another cover. Painkiller usually goes down well, especially in Finland! Haha!
I’ve seen you play on a big festival stage, as well as in a small, intimate club. Both experiences were great, but also totally different from each other… which one do you prefer as a musician?
Both are great! Packed out small clubs always have a great atmosphere because of being so close to the crowd and interacting with the nutters down the front, but it’s always great to stretch your legs on a big stage and stare out into a huge crowd! If I had to choose, I’d probably say festival stages, because I love the whole festival atmosphere.
And the final question: other that metal, what kind of music do you like?