An interview with Peter “Pepe” Hansen, guitarist and founding member

You come from Aarhus, Denmark: how did you develop your extreme music direction growing up in a country not known for it as much as neighbouring Norway, Sweden and Finland?

You can make good music wherever you come from, and I don’t think that you make better music just because you come from a country with a lot of good bands. We didn’t really think about that Denmark isn’t that known for metal bands; we just started writing our own music inspired by what we liked and suddenly we were quite good at it in making music for the band, I have always worked hard to make something that is our own, not something similar to a lot of other bands. Even though we haven’t invented anything new, I don’t think that there are any other bands that do things exactly as we do it; we have our own sound, and that is important to me. 

Your first three albums, HateSphere (2001), Bloodred Hatred (2002) and Ballet of the Brute (2004) upgraded your status from a Danish sensation to one of Europe hottest thrash quintet.  What triggered such a rapid rising?

We worked hard and toured a lot and that really did something. People got to know about us, not only on albums but also as a live band, and we visited a lot of places many times. We got a lot of contacts and I guess that is how you should work your way up. Suddenly more people know about you simply because you have worked your ass off. We actually first started touring abroad after the second album, so in the years 2003-2006 we toured a lot to get people’s attention.

Talking about your latest project, The Great Bludgeoning, which has been out for a short while now, it has an even harder sense of devastating, striking, blasting thrash: what was the major inspiration for this remarkable album?

Well, we finally had the line-up that we wanted and I guess you can hear that on the album as well; we all looked forward to writing this album. The new guys are not only great guys and musicians, but they are also all big HateSphere fans, so when we started writing the album everybody knew how they wanted it to sound. We didn’t agree on a certain direction, we never do, but it ended up a bit more old school than our last couple of albums.

Was it intentional to make it sound so rich with old school thrash?

No, actually not; however, we all love our old school sound and I guess I had a lot of old school thrash riffs in me at that time ;-) Now it’s quite exciting to see what kind of riffs I have in me for the next album, hehe!

How do you avoid your lyrical content becoming repetitive and stale seeing as you having six albums out already?

Hmm, I don’t know. I think in the music it is the small details that make the difference and, as we got a new singer, Esben “Esse” Hansen, he automatically took over the lyrical part of the band. Luckily for us, he is a great lyricist and had a lot of cool ideas for what the songs could be about. Mainly everything is still about death and destruction,  but as I said before it’s the small details that makes the difference.

What, for you, are the differences between The Great Bludgeoning and the previous album, To The Nines, and did you approach the new creation in a different way to its predecessor?

I think it’s obviously more old school this time and one of the reasons is surely the fact that the new guys are all metal heads and all long-time fans of HateSphere; they know how HateSphere should sound and how they want it to sound. A couple of guys from the previous line-up weren’t that much into the metal that we do, so I am sure that this new line-up has got a lot to say. All in all, this album just feels great; it feels like we have played together for many years!

I was so impressed by the acoustic intro of Venom: how did it happen and how did you put together such an amazing track?

I don’t quite know how to describe the creation of a song because it’s always a mix of things that makes the song turn out as it does. The acoustic intro was one that I had been working on and playing with at home for my kid and my girlfriend for a long time; I wanted to make a song out of it and I just wrote it.

You made history by being the first Danish band to play China, what was it like to play there? How differently did you perceive the reaction of the audience?

It was a great, great experience but also very different to play there. It was amazing to experience the atmosphere and the excitement of the crowd over there. I guess not that many knew about us, but they all treated us like we were pretty big. It was Painkiller Mag and Schecter Guitars who brought us over there and they did a lot of promotion for it. We hope to be back there soon as well, so hopefully that’s gonna happen.

You toured with great bands such as Exodus, Morbid Angel and Dark Tranquillity: are there any of these bands that HateSphere could be touring with every year?

If the world was a better place, then every one of them. We are grateful for having played with that many great bands and if we could choose, then we would play with all of them. But the competition is way harder now. There are tons and tons of bands and in the end it’s not always the bands themselves who decided who to bring on tour; it’s booking agencies and record companies etc. So, you gotta work hard and you gotta be lucky to get the good tours. But I am sure that we have a lot of great tours coming up.

Is there any European festival that holds a special place in your heart apart from Roskilde (of course?) and why?

I would say Graspop in Belgium and Hellfest in France. We have played both of those festivals and the atmosphere, the line-up and everything is just amazing. Hope to be able to play there soon again!

HateSphere proves that thrash is still in big demand:  why do you think that so many people need it so bad?

I guess it’s just because it ROCKS!!!!