Over the coming days and weeks, Already Heard will be previewing this years Slam Dunk Festival in detail through a range of interviews and features.
Although many consider the Slam Dunk Festival to primarily be a rock, metalcore and pop punk festival, it does offer more and goes beyond expectations. With a subtle use of electro and rap throughout its history, Milton Keynes’ genre-bending troupe Hacktivist could be considered the perfect fit for Slam Dunk. However having appeared at a number of renowned festivals in recent years, it’s somewhat surprising the quintet have never played Slam Dunk until now.
Nevertheless with the long awaited debut album ‘Outside the Box’ finally released this past March, Hacktivist are prepared for their Slam Dunk debut. With their highly spirited performance clashing with down-tuned riffs and UK grime wordplay, Hacktivist may just once again surprise a few people later this month.
Before they head to the late May Bank Holiday event, you can find them supporting Issues alongside Astroid Boys.
We recently grabbed a word with bassist and music video producer Josh Gurner to discuss ‘Outside the Box,’ potential Slam Dunk guests and more.
AH: Despite playing numerous festivals in recent years, this is going to be your first time playing Slam Dunk. Are you looking forward to it?
Josh: Absolutely! It has such a good reputation for being an awesome festival in the past and this year’s line-up is one of the strongest I’ve seen. Loads of bands that we’ve played with before to catch up with and loads of bands we want to see too.
AH: Even though you’ve never played it, have you ever been as a fan? If so what are your memories?
Josh: Sadly I only have memories of regret from not being there. About three times I’ve been packed and ready to go then something’s happened where I couldn’t make it, but heard all the stories from my friends that had gone.
AH: We’re a few months removed from the release of ‘Outside the Box’ which received widespread praise. For anyone who hasn’t checked out the album yet, what are they missing out on?
Josh: For someone who’s never heard the band, it’s a unique blend of heavy drop-tuned guitars, and UK grime style lyrics. It’s something you have to hear yourself to understand. If you’ve only heard the EP, ‘Outside the Box’ is a maturing of that sound. We’ve shown a wider range of influences across the album which makes it a much more dynamic and varied piece of work, but still has the weight and groove that Hacktivist is known for.
AH: Do you think the album is a good representation of the bands live show?
Josh: We still self-produce and record our own music and Timfy (James) does a great job with the tones he comes up with and the way he mixes. But, a recording will never capture the full feeling of a live show. We pride ourselves on delivering an electrifying live show and put 100% of ourselves in to every performance, be it to 20 people or 20,000 people. Anyone that’s seen us knows we have a lot of fun on stage and the crowd all seem to as well.
AH: The album was a long time in the making, it must be such a relief to finally have it out there?
We were touring heavily from before even the first EP was released which made writing the album a long and fragmented process of writing little bits and then going on the road again. When we finally blocked off the time to collate these little bits in to a cohesive album it came together quite quickly, and you’re correct, it was a huge relief! But in the three years we spent touring between the EP and the album, we developed a deeper understanding of each other and refined our sound. I think it’s a better album now than it would have been if it was rushed out 2 years ago.
AH: You’ve collaborated with numerous people in the past, can we expect any surprises at Slam Dunk?
It wouldn’t really be a surprise if we told you now… But you’re correct, Heart of a Coward, Astroid Boys and Shikari Sound System all had features on our album and will be around that weekend, so who knows!
AH: Slam Dunk isn’t the only festival we’ll be seeing you at this year. In terms of preparation, do you do anything different compared to a club show?
Josh: Playing a festival might mean we pick the set list a little bit differently and we might have to test some extra equipment, but we approach every show in pretty much the same way. Every night it’s stretch, drink, blast something filthy on the speakers, little playfight, then hit the stage sweating.
AH: In the lead up to Slam Dunk, you’re going to be touring with Issues and Astroid Boys. Sounds like a good way to warm up, right?
Josh: We’ve been trying to get a tour with Astroid Boys for years but it’s never happened until now. To both be out with Issues as well makes it a pretty exciting tour and have us pumped for playing Slam Dunk.
AH: Finally why should festival-goers head to the Impericon stage and watch you at Slam Dunk?
Hopefully you’ll already be at the stage watching Heart of a Coward, but once you’ve refreshed your beer, I urge you to check out Hacktivist live. You’ll only get the full feeling of 8 strings riffing your face off through a big fat PA with our big fat sound guy blowing up the speakers.
‘Outside the Box’ by Hacktivist is out now on UNFD Records.
Hacktivist will be playing on the Impericon stage:
Slam Dunk North (Leeds) – 6:10 – 6:50pm
Slam Dunk Midlands (Birmingham) – 6:10 – 6:50pm
Slam Dunk South (Hertfordshire) – 6:10 – 6:50pm
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Slam Dunk Festival 2016 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)