-- Hexa Mera gets shredded! --
Me and Jan Huygens from Hexa Mera have been in touch for several months and we both looked forward to meeting each other in person. And what better way to get up close and personal with him and the rest of the gang than on Metalworksfest 2018 (April 14, 2018). Team Hexa Mera and I discussed their recent appearances on high-profile festivals such as AMF and GMM, the fact their 2014 debut album got recorded three separate times and they give some very important advice for young, ambitious bands!
BMS: First off, congratulations on obtaining a spot on the lineup of this year’s Metaldays!
Jan: Thanks a lot, my friend! After playing on such prestigious festivals like Antwerp Metal Fest and Graspop Metal Meeting it’s another huge honor to play out there in Slovenia this summer!
BMS: But you’re still hungry for more, right?
Jan: Oh yeah! You know, we enjoy both playing at small venues and bigger stages for different reasons. When you’re playing for a crowd of around a hundred people there’s much more interaction and intimacy between you and the audience while on a big stage you have that indescribable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. After all, playing on a big stage proves to the world and more importantly to yourself that you’re doing something right!
Yannick: Nevertheless, most of our shows take place in venues like these and we would lie if we’d say that we don’t like playing such gigs. We keep our feet to the ground, continue to work our asses off and remain very critical about our music.
BMS: Speaking about your music, your songs mainly deal with humanity, tell me something more about that.
Jan: In every Hexa Mera album we discuss a specific element of humanity. For instance, our 2014 release Human Entropy deals with the fact that mankind will eventually disappear from the face of the earth, just as it went with the dinosaurs millions of years ago. Our latest album, Enlightenment, is more focused on mankind being in need to reach a certain sense of revelation in order to survive the many issues we’re dealing with nowadays. Terrorism, overpopulation, worldwide pollution, etc. Our material has a lot of philosophical aspects to it but also plenty of anger. We’re well-aware that the world and humanity aren’t doing that well and we let that frustration flow through our music!
BMS: Tell me something about the making of Enlightenment. Did you do things differently compared to your earlier release?
Pierre: Not in the technical sense. One of our goals was to further expand our musical and creative prowess with Enlightenment. After all, we learned a lot of valuable lessons back when we were working on Human Entropy.
Jan: Indeed! I recall we actually made three different versions of Human Entropy. After recording the first version we thought “this is the real shit!” But when we let some professional people outside of our social circle listen to that particular version, they quickly told us that we should improve the album’s overall sound quality and to push harder on the melodic and technical aspect. So we decided to rewrite the album and then we went back into the recording booth to make a pre-production. We also hired a sound mixer called Ace Zec to help us get out of our comfort zone. We’re extremely grateful for having him on board because he was one of those people who realized our true potential and told us man to man that we can do much better than we initially believed.
BMS: So you could say it was an… Enlightenment?
Jan: DAMN STRAIGHT!
BMS: What are your future plans?
Jan: On May 2 we’ll be bringing out a new music video, so go and check it out below! And in addition we’re slowly but surely thinking about writing a third album.
BMS: I look forward to it! Now what are your other activities outside of Hexa Mera? I’ll start with you, Pierre!
Pierre: Currently I’m renovating my home. It takes a lot of work and energy. Good thing drumming is a bit like construction. You smash them sticks on them bricks and you end up with a solid wall of sound!
Jan: I work as a history and ethics high school teacher. I’m also a full-time geek and gamer. I play a lot of video games, mainly shooter games and other genres that are full of action and excitement. I also manage Hexa Mera’s social media accounts and I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and cat!
Mathias: And if Jan and I aren’t jamming our guitars together we’re playing video games together! Jan is fond of setting up multiplayer games with me!
Niels: I make a living as a graphic designer, a lot of Hexa Mera’s artwork is my creation. I’m also a huge movie, music and comic book nerd. Especially when it comes to the Mignolaverse!
Yannick: I really enjoy fishing and I’m working on establishing my own fishing equipment store.
BMS: Great! My dad enjoys fishing as well! But I still have one important question. What sort of advice could you give to younger, less-established bands?
Jan: Work as hard as possible! The metal scene is a tough place to break into because there are so many bands both in and outside of Belgium trying to reach the big festival stages! Many bands lose their motivation over time because things aren’t progressing fast enough for them or they don’t get along together very well and eventually break up. That’s why you and your other band members must stick together as a team and always give your 110%! It shouldn't make a difference if you’re playing for 50 or 5000 people!
Niels: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, most people who come out to see your gig want to have a fun time and don’t nitpick on the smallest details. Of course that doesn’t mean you can slack around, but do all you can to give your audience an intense and captivating show so that they can go home happy and maybe buy some merch on the way out!
Yannick: Be willing to take advice from other people! Of course you don’t have to listen to wannabe critics who simply say your music sucks but do listen to those that tell you what areas you can work on to further improve your song writing, overall sound quality and overall stage presence. Such constructive feedback can help you a lot in the long run!
Jan: Also play it fair! I know it’s seductive to put money into your social media accounts to buy likes, views and followers so to artificially inflate your popularity but it won’t do you any good. It’s better to have 10 likes from people that genuinely care about your work than having 1000 likes from some third-world country that thinks heavy metal is some kind of raw mineral! Don’t compare yourself to other bands in terms of popularity, but look at what you can do to further increase your reputation in the metal industry! Work hard, play hard, and earn your goddamn support!
BMS: Oh yes, it does! Thanks for the chat folks! Time to make the chimichangas!
Hexa Mera - Dare To Know