Earlier in August, we had a chance to catch up with frontman Casey Hurd of melodic/doom metal outfit Hinayana, to talk about the band’s new EP, “Death of the Cosmic.” The EP which has been getting some well deserve high praise is now available via Napalm Records. Casey goes into detail about the band’s recording process, how far they’ve come from initially being a one-man show, to what it was like working with the late Nature G of Mongolian folk metal act, Tengger Cavalr.
Thanks for speaking with me today. How’s everything with you and the band?
Thank you, it’s going really good, man.
Awesome. Back in May, You announce that you signed to Napalm records. A big congratulations on that. How did it come about?
They basically reached out to us sometime in 2019, which was right in the middle of when we were recording our EP, which set to release in August. We had been sitting on that material for quite a while, And ever since we solidified that deal, we’ve been working really hard on this release. Working with them has been really great. It’s kind of crazy to be on such an awesome label that we’ve known about for so many years. Some of our favorite bands and artists are on that label, and it’s just amazing to share that label with them.
Since you have been sitting on this EP for a while, I’m assuming that the coronavirus had no impact on the recording process. When did you finish up the project?
We finished recording it in 2019, so fortunately for us, we did not have any impact from this virus. I think we were lucky. I feel really bad for anyone that it scheduled studio time for the beginning of this year. That would’ve been rough.
The situation has impacted bands touring schedules, but what about video shoots or any other promotional projects for you guys?
It hasn’t impacted us yet. And since you mentioned video shoots, what we may end up doing is live streaming stuff. It hasn’t been a problem yet, though initially, when this whole thing started, it was kind of weird not meeting up with everyone for that rehearsal with the band.
So that was really strange. But fortunately were back to rehearsing, you know, we gotta keep the rust off even if there are no gigs coming up. We just want to make sure we are at the top of our game. We’re also engaging in some songwriting too, So it’s important that we’re all meeting up and sharing ideas like that.Going back in time a little bit, this whole project initially started as a one-man endeavor, and of course, has evolved into what it is today. How has the creative process shifted because of this?
So yeah, in the beginning, this whole thing started with just me. And honestly, it was only me because I didn’t have anyone else to work with. I didn’t live in Austin at that time; I lived just outside of Austin, and there weren’t many people out where I lived that were into this specific genre of music. Let alone musicians that wanted to start a band.
So I just said screw it. I just wrote the material myself and made a demo which people enjoyed, so I thought, why not just start a complete band and see if this thing has legs. I knew that I had to play it in a live setting and that I should push to do that.
As far as the creative process goes, so far it’s just been me, for the most part, composing and writing material, though now we have a killer lineup filled with amazing musicians, and everyone starting to work on this and pull their weight. As opposed to the beginning when it was just me, and then it was just me and a drummer.
So now everyone’s just getting involved in the creative process which is great moving forward past the EP. Though most of the songs on the EP are still composed by me, there’s more contributions from other members in there as well.
Your music falls somewhere in between heavier soundscapes and stunning melodic sections. What’s the trick when it comes to balancing the heavier aspects and the most soothing melodic sections in your compositions? Do you approach songwriting with a specific quiet/loud balance in mind?
Yeah. There is a little bit of that I think. And I think, as you said, it’s important to have a balance of those two and it’s always important to be aware of what comes next in the song. What part comes after what and how we want this song to be in terms of dynamics like you say, quiet, loud versus this other song, which is maybe a hard hitter. Or maybe another piece, which is much softer. With a low key kind of vibe at a lower volume.
So yeah, there is a method to that. That is actually that’s the trick. Like, you got to figure that out as you’re going, and that’s kind of where some of the more detailed, and pacing back and forth in the room, listening to the music and trying to figure out what comes next. That’s where those moments come from, it’s trying to figure out that balance.
So you have a rough idea in mind, and as you’re listening to it, you’re creatively speaking, just playing it by ear and see where it goes from there?
Yeah. Usually, I’ll start with something, I think for me personally, I’m very much a melody focused person. I really think that’s the most important thing, even in metal. For me, it’s the stuff that I listened to. At least the stuff I’m trying to create, you know, I think melody. So usually it starts with a melody or a chorus or something along those lines.
And then things sort of surround that. We see what happens before that, what happens after the chorus, or maybe it’ll start with a verse. Then we try to figure out, okay, what’s going to come before and after that, and how’s this going to lead to the next part? Does this have enough diversity in the song between riffs? It always centers around some main themes or a melody that is created in the very beginning.
The EP also Feature some great collaborations, such as the late Nature Ganganbaigal. How did that come about, and what was it like working with him?
Oh yeah, absolutely. He had been living in New York city for some time, I guess. And he moved down here to Austin. And it’s funny; we talked with him, he’s like, Oh, you know, it’s so quiet down here, it’s so quiet compared to New York city. I mean, I’ve never been to New York city but, this city is here in Austin is growing really fast. I grew up out in the country a little bit, this feels like the hustle and bustle of me, but for him, he was like, Oh, this is all empty over here.
We actually met online through some mutual friends, and we had been discussing some ideas, and he was really supportive of what we were doing. He thought what we were doing was really cool. So we wanted to meet with him and talk about the possibility of him maybe doing a part on one of our new songs.
We wanted to do something with him for a while, and I hadn’t listened to Tengger Cavalry for a long time. I’d known about them for years, and so it was really cool to be able to listen to what he was saying about, not only the collaboration but encouraging stuff that he was saying about our band.
It was really cool. He was very humble, and he was really awesome in that regard. So that’s kinda how we got started working on that. We were debating whether we want to do some vocals or if we want to do some other instrument. We settled on doing a horse head fiddle. I had an idea of maybe what it could sound like, or be this sort of melody or that. And he took it kind of in his own hands. He had his own idea of how we wanted to do it, and it turned out so much better than even what I had imagined and honestly, like I can’t imagine the song without his parts anymore. And that’s the song Cold Conception.
I really am happy with how it turned out and he was really super professional, fast, and it was just awesome collaborating with him and it really, really, sucks that he’s gone.
I’ve heard so many positive stories about him. He was an incredible musician and a fantastic person.
I think he was just like such a nice dude that he was so open to working with us. I know people in town, he was; apparently, I guess he had projects that he was going to do with quite a few people. I have people hit me up and they’re like, just the other week he was talking about, we were going to do this collaboration or this or that. It was really a big hit to the community here.
Definitely, speaking of the song Cold Conception, you’ve had a massively positive response to that single; what has that felt like for you guys?
It has been awesome. It’s been really great seeing that. And like I said, we have been sitting on it for quite some time, hammering out this whole, Napalm thing. It’s just a huge relief to finally be able to say, all right, this thing is getting released. We get to see what people think of this, you know? It was really cool being able to see that Napalm Records logo in front of our music. Cause we get all our favorite bands. We see that big old exploding Napalm Records logo. It was like, alright, here we go!
It’s been great. All of our fans have been super supportive and everyone seems to really enjoy it. So I’m really happy about that. We’re all just super excited about it. It was really cool to see all the fan comments roll in.
Yeah. One of the most incredible aspects of the production of the song, is the ambient pads in the background are creating like this cinematic soundscape that’s it’s so nuanced and articulate. Do you come up with the skin and bones of the songs using guitar space and drums; and conceive other sounds around the band, or does it all happen together organically?
It actually depends. So that was challenging, also mixing the Horsehead fiddle in that song because it’s got such interesting frequencies going on. It’s kind of a buzzy instrument. And so there’s a lot of weird stuff interacting when we’re trying to mix it. But our engineer was really great.
He really knew what he was doing with that track. It was kinda tough, though. Sometimes it starts with the like you said, the bare bones with the guitars, bass, and drums. Sometimes it just starts with an idea like that. But other times, it just starts with key melodies. Like on the keys or synths, mixed with like a guitar melody. And then from that comes the rhythm guitar and then drum parts, or sometimes it is just the keys by themselves with a rhythm guitar, and then riffs just form out of that.
I think it just depends from song to song. A lot of my favorite part is filling in and orchestrating all the little details and little synth parts and little stuff after the song has basically got the main framework and everything written out. That’s always the most fun part for me.
Your home state of Texas seems to be a really great place for doom, death metal, post-rock, and other genres combining heavy textures and ambient soundscapes. Are there any other local bands or artists that you’re particularly close to that doesn’t get as much recommendation there?
I say the scene is great growing, and I think we’ve got some awesome promoters and people who own venues down here. Some bands that I would love to give a shout out to is our friends and a band called Forebode. They’re almost like a black and sludge doom, almost a little stoner doom in some aspects. They’re really awesome. Super heavy. Those guys are really great and super cool dudes too.
There are other cool bands here too, though. Vesperian Sorrow is another awesome band. They’ve got along a discography, even just before they signed with BlackLine Records. So, that’s another great band. Since you mentioned post rock, one of my favorite acts down here is a band called Legendary Skies. Those guys are awesome. And they’ve worked with some of the same people we’ve worked in the studio. Like our producer, Kevin Butler.
I’m really a fan of some of the music that comes out of here. It always is surprising, it’s not always exactly like the stuff we do. But I mean there are some really great musicians in this town.
You mentioned living streaming, and I know the situation is kind of strange at the moment to say the least, but do you have any plans on supporting the EP as soon as possible with a tour of sorts?
Oh yeah, Absolutely. That’s what we were hoping to do in the first place. We’ve been itching to hit the road, get on a big national tour and really just get out there. We want it to tour for the EAP and it’s a weird thing, not being able to tour for new material. We just sit here while this is being released and there’s no touring or shows going, you know, it was just like, this is so strange.
We would love to as soon as we can. When things start opening up again, and things start hat really happening for live music, again, whatever that looks like, we’ll be there. We’re going to be bringing it on the road.
You didn’t actually book a tour that was canceled yet, did you?
No, fortunately, we didn’t have that disappointing thing happen. Which I know a lot of bands have, and I can’t imagine how much that would suck. Just going through all that work and just having it canceled. Fortunately, for us though, no. I mean, we had some shows canceled or postponed this next year to 2021. Honestly, we’ll see if those still happen. I honestly don’t know. I’m crossing my fingers they do cause there’s some really cool shows. I’m just hoping traveling is all good with everybody. And by then maybe everything has just calmed down enough to where something can go on, but we’ll see.
A lot of artists taking this time to write new material. Is that something that you’ve been doing in your downtime?
Yeah, that is absolutely something that we’re doing. That’s the one driving force really right now is writing new material, man. Just really focusing on it. I think that a lot of bands are going to have some great new material after this whole thing. I think that a lot of artists are doing the same sort of thing, taking this opportunity to write new stuff. As long as you’re shut-in, and you’re just kind of unable to play shows, this affords you the time that it takes to write an awesome album.
Like for instance, right now, we’re working on a full length to be released in the future. So that’s what we’re spending our time doing and otherwise, just working and trying to stay healthy.
We’ll we are definitely looking forward to hearing what comes out of this quarantine from you guys. Thanks again for speaking with me. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
I would just say to anybody, just stay positive. I really hope that our new music can somehow help in this really tough time period. Go check out the EP out August 28th. And keep a positive attitude, we’ll get through this.