"We never constrain our inspiration. We let it pour out onto our instruments and the most fun we have, the more powerful are the resulting emotions."
After a successful 2019 laced with tours in Europe, Australia and Asia, the Swiss post-rock quartet hubris. beckon this new decade with the release of their third album Metempsychosis which is due to release in March, 2020. Adhering to references of Greek mythology as used for their previous albums, sonically this album promises an enigmatic experience which has its own flavour of uniqueness. The clever interplay of post-rock and electronic elements captures varied emotions and can quench your thirst for good post-rock. We had an opportunity to speak to these talented musicians and talk about the phases of hubris., their tour experiences and their upcoming studio album.
(((o))): Hubris, how did this band come about in Switzerland?
Jonathan (Guitarist, producer, composer): Nathan and I have known each other for almost fifteen years, and we have never stopped playing music together. We used to be in a metal core band, which also included some post-rock elements embedded in the compositions. At one point, we simply decided to drop the vocals/screaming and focus on a more elaborate ambient music. Originally, three of the four musicians that comprised hubris.were from that metal band, but eventually Nathan and I kept going only the two of us.
(((o))): The band had some line-up changes recently. Did this affect the progress of the band?
Nathan (Drummer, producer, composer): It actually improved in many aspects. In the past, although the compositions still stemmed from Jonathan and I, they were confronted with four different opinions on the matters at hand, which was actually very time-consuming and not productive. But most importantly, we were no longer tuned on the same emotional level. Sometimes when we played live, there was not this spark of excitement and feeling of completion that should emerge. Therefore, we decided to continue the adventure only Jonathan and I, the two original members. As we still needed two extra musicians for the live performances – we wanted to keep the rock and heavy aspects of the music for the shows and this works best with four musicians – we were joined by Lucien on the bass and Matthieu on the guitar. Both Lucien and Matthieu’s role is limited to performing live with us, but we consider them as part of the band simply to maintain a healthy musical environment from which can stem a peaceful atmosphere and great emotions, both paramount to performing.
(((o))): Two studio albums and a single. How has the journey been so far?
hubris.: It has been nothing short of amazing. We are grateful every second that we are able to do what we do, and we will keep doing it as long as life allows us. There is nothing quite like music mixed with friendship.
(((o))): With in-house mixing and mastering the band must have a good control of their sound. But generally, when creating your compositions do you adhere to any definite process?
hubris.: In all honesty, we have never asked ourselves any questions regarding composition or sound or anything really. When we compose, we keep the things that we believe sound right and discard the things that do not. Of course, we are trying to make the albums sound as good as possible in the best of our abilities, but we are never trying to pursue or imitate something. If something feels right to both of us, then it is right and will end up on an album at one point.
(((o))): Metempsychosis, a Greek term and then the tracks within the album also boast of Greek characters. What is the story behind delving into this theme?
hubris.: We have actually maintained this theme for the whole three albums. Emersion is about Zeus’s metamorphoses that he undertakes in order to seduce the women he longs. Apocryphal Gravity is also about Greek characters and different features of gods or goddesses, although the names also address an interplanetary voyage. Finally, Metempsychosis is about reincarnation more specifically related to various Greek mythological figures. What we find fascinating with Greek mythology is that one can relate any of the stories to actual daily-life events. Of course, it is not to be taken as face-value, but rather as a canvas of morals, messages and life stories.
(((o))): The sound of this album is quite power packed, quite different from your first two albums. Why such an approach for this album?
hubris.: We don’t believe this album sound more power-packed than the other two, in fact there are as many heavy distorted parts in Emersion or Apocryphal Gravity as there are in Metempsychosis. It’s the first album in which we incorporated some parts where there are no synthesizer arrangements and only the guitar or guitars solo. Perhaps what is a little different from the other two albums is that we play more on dynamic. These ebb and flow movements are more prominent which results in the album being really stimulating when listened to as a whole.
(((o))): You have toured in some continents this year. What was the experience like and where did you guys experience genuine post-rock vibes?
hubris.: We experience genuine post-rock vibes everywhere we go. The post-rock community is to us the most open, friendly and candid music communities. Every time we play live, we are flabbergasted at how responsive the audience is and how they let themselves be emerged in the music. There is nothing better than playing live, but playing post-rock live takes the experience another mile further.
(((o))): What were the challenges you faced? Do you think the political changes in some countries might affect touring in any way?
hubris.: It’s always a bit stressful to tour when you have to jump on a plane regularly. Everything needs to be tightly and thoroughly organized and fortunately nothing bad happened during our tours. We have forgotten a few things here and there, but everything was accounted for and solved.
Well, we might have avoided a tumultuous political period, but it is of course not out of the realm of possibilities that we might face some issues one day. It is a shame to think that anyone would do anything to hinder the spread of music – which we believe is cathartic.
(((o))): It has been only 5 years since Hubris has been in the scene and it is already making quite a name. How do you establish your uniqueness in the post-rock scene?
hubris.: Again, although we do not consider ourselves more unique than any other bands, it is probably because we never constrain our inspiration. We let it pour out onto our instruments and the most fun we have, the more powerful are the resulting emotions. We might be overstepping on the following question, but we are also very diverse in terms of the genres of music we listen to. All of these come together to shape the music of hubris.
(((o))): Where from do you derive your influences?
Jonathan: Jazz music, pop music, metal music, blues music. Literally anything. To cite a few names – as a way to pay tribute to their amazing talents – I’d say Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Rage Against the Machine, Marcus Miller, Dhafer Youssef.
Nathan: My influences vary greatly also. From electronic music to jazz music to modern classical music. The few artists that I admire that I have in mind are Nils Frahm, Moderat, or Anderson Paak.
(((o))): The Hubris tour for the year 2019 concluded with France, and your new album is due to release in March, 2020. What are the plans for the band during the interim period?
hubris.: We are working on our release party as well as the album release itself in terms of promotion etc. For example, we will be releasing a live studio version of one of the songs of the album. We are also planning all the tours for the coming year and trying to organise them. Lastly, we will also be composing the fourth album. After the tours, we are feeling particularly inspired and we would not want to miss the chance to pour this imagination onto our instruments.
(((o))): What are the tour plans for the year 2020. Will we see hubris. in any festivals in the coming year?
hubris.: We cannot say too much yet, as nothing is confirmed but we are trying to set foot in the United States of America for Summer 2020. We should be touring after the album release and trying our best to make it back to India at the end of the year.