Exclusive Interview: Black Rabbit talk writing and recording “Hypnosomia”!

What happens when you get axe wielding duo Jelle Bekelmans and Hidde Holfland, drummer Max Hendriks (Grindpad, ex-Warborn Waste, ex-Inferum) and vocalist Nino Thomas from Dutch Groove Death Thrash Metal Black Rabbit in a room? You get a fantastic interview about their new album “Hypnosomia“! The second of a prize pair, this one is all about the writing and recording of a magnum opus of a record inspired by the works of Megadeth, Obituary and Death

How did your previous experiences writing and recording “Warren Of Necrosis” help to smooth the path of the new record?

Jelle: “O man… We did all the recordings, editing ourselves at the warren recordings. We could use a recording studio which was completely ruined by former users. So we had to reroute the whole sound infrastructure. When we completed that the time was really short to record the songs we wanted. So we knew that we wanted to do the album in a professional studio with an engineer and everything. When we started recording it was a relief to just focus on playing the music as hard and good as you could instead of being busy with everything except music, haha”

Hidde: “It wás a shitshow. We weren’t prepared at all, and the studio sucking wasn’t even part of that problem. So yeah, we knew a lot better. We had to prepare as much as we could, and there is still a lot to improve!”

How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article?

Jelle: “Mostly Hidde and I are coming up with a riff or melody. And we both add parts until we think it is a good ‘’song’’ to work with. We always send our demo’s to Max. He tells us what he thinks of it and does his thing with it. When we are back together practicing we try the parts to make it a song. We add the vocals when the song is ‘’finished’’. In my opinion a song is finished when it is mixed and mastered, haha. We changed a lot after the recordings of Hypnosomia compared to the demo’s we made just before the recording. So a song is never really finished until it is on the CD”

Hidde: “Well said, I agree”

What was it like working with Stijn Donders (The Subliminal, Icarus, Infestis) and Peter Brussee (Knight Area, Ayreon, Torque) at Q Point Studios who mixed and mastered the album? What was it that enticed you to work with them?

Nino: “Stijn was great, and alot of fun to work with. He definitely made this album sound exactly the way we wanted it to do”

Jelle: “Stijn was just as hyped as we were during the recordings so that made it even more fun to record the album. He had really good ideas about the songs to improve them and make them more interesting. Stijn is a talented violin player so we had to add some violin on our album. You can hear them in the song Descending”

Max: “It was like going on holiday. Stijn knows how to handle us, he knows when we are getting tired and knows when we can do better. It was such a pleasure to work with him. And to be honest, I think Raiko Records is one of the best studios in our country. When people ask me where I think that they should record, Raiko Records is my answer”

Hidde: “Apart from him being extremely good at his job, he is a great guy to be around. He stimulates us to think further, and helps us in the process of creating an amazing album”

If you had the opportunity to work with a guest in the studio next time around, who would you like to work with and why?

Jelle: “Difficult question. I would love to work with a lot of musicians. But if I had to choose just one I would choose Mikael Åkerfeldt. He is a great musician and he has a lot to offer music wise. I love that Opeth is more than the death metal giants they used to be”

Max: “I would love to work with Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold), Will Ramos (Lorna Shore), Chuck Billy (Testament) or Randy Blythe (Lamb of God). I am a huge fan of these vocalists and having one of them featured on a song I wrote, that would be a dream coming true”

Hidde: “If I had to pick one person, it would be Sven de Caluwé from Aborted. He is one of my favourite vocalists, and I think it would work quite well with our music”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound?

Jelle: “Of course! I really love the ESP LTD guitars, when I first tried one I never went back to another. But on some songs I played a Gibson Explorer. The amps I used on Hypnosomnia are an ENGL Powerball, a Mesa Boogie (don’t know which type) and a Hughes and Kettner (same as the Mesa).The last two amps are not mine, they were already in the recording studio. We used an ENGL E412 and a Marshall 1960A as cabinets. We didn’t use any booster pedals on the recordings. For some solos I used my Dunlop Crybaby classic. I use a Boss NS2, Boss RV-6 at live shows”

Max: “For practice at home, I use my signature sticks from YourStick, Roland TD-27KVX and Iron Cobra twin pedal 900 series. In the rehearsal room I use all kind of different brands. My kit is a Tama Imperial Star, I use a Maple Black Panther snare, my cymbals are from Sabian, Paiste, Stagg, Zildjaen and Masterworks. My drumchair is from Soho and my hardware is from Tama, Gibraltar, Stagg, Soho and Pearl”

Hidde: “I have been playing on a Schecter for a little while now, and I love the way it sounds and plays. It’s smooth, and pretty good for our genre. I use an ENGL Savage, and boost it a little with a distortion pedal, but I’m still trying to play around with my exact sound. For live shows, the basic noise gate and an MXR booster pedal for my solos”

What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? Has that changed as the band has grown?

Max: “We aren’t endorsed and there are no conversations with brands about that. We are open for it but personally, I like what I am playing on. I have the sound I want. I am not
saying that I don’t want an endorsement but now I don’t have to think about my gear and just buy what I like”

Hidde: “I think we are still kind of looking for a perfect Black Rabbit sound, and if we are pulled into an endorsement now, it would maybe change our creative process. Only one way to find out though”

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