Steve Thompson is on a high.
Since winning the coveted award for best metal/ hardcore band with his act Horrorwood Mannequins at the Australian Independent Music Awards last month, the group are ready to slay with new material. “It was a bit of a shock for us to win as we were up against some talented competition,” Steve says.
“It’s nice to get recognised for all the hard work.”
After a few line-up changes, the band now consists of Steve on guitars, Audri on vocals, Devoy on drums and Spud on bass. “We just released the ‘Under Your Bed’ EP, which is very fitting for the Horrorwood Mannequins. I’ve actually got a prediction for 2017 that 1997 is on its way back.
“I’m seeing a lot of that era having a resurgence especially with the Superheist tour we’re doing at the moment. But as far as the [metal] scene in general, it’s not in as terrible a shape as people seem to think.”
The group's 2015 debut album, ‘The Hard Way’, was released via Sydney-based label Unbreakable. The album caused enough of a stir for the group to head out on the road where they’ve been wildly received, particularly in Canberra. “The scene in Canberra is probably the strongest in the country that I’ve seen at the moment.
"Especially the guys at The Basement. That venue goes above and beyond to make sure the bands are looked after. It’s becoming one of Australia’s iconic venues.”
As for the process of writing music? “Most of the tracks on this EP I actually wrote while I was riding my motorbike in Sydney traffic, so the basis of them was initially that of road rage.
"I generally come up with a vocal melody and put a guitar track underneath that and then hand it over to Audri who takes my lyrics, throws them in the bin, and puts the HWM flavour on it.”
Steve grew up on a diet of metal that has undoubtedly influenced the songs on the new EP, like its lead single ‘Burn It To The Ground’ and a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Negative Creep’. “I was exposed to heavy metal really early. My parents were into the ‘80s hair-metal stuff and as five-year old I remember tying strings to my cricket bat and practicing my rock moves,” he laughs.
“In high school I gravitated towards punk rock and played with Bodyjar at 16. It was a strange introduction to the music industry. I thought that’s just what happens; you join a band and go on tour. Later, I figured out the harsh reality of what you actually have to do to achieve that.”
The EP was produced by Ezekiel Ox, who the group regularly play with on stage. The band went to Melbourne to record and although they had planned on doing a single, the songs flowed out to become the new release.
On the Superheist tour, Horrorwood Mannequins are giving audiences a hell of a time. “The shows are getting wilder and wilder. People are starting to learn the lyrics to the new songs and it’s always great to have the crowd screaming them back at you.
"Sometimes we’ve gone a bit over the top with the make-up. We tend to keep our clothes on when we’re on stage these days because that’s nice for everyone else that’s watching,” he laughs.
Despite crowd enthusiasm, they have encountered barriers in getting airplay. “Radio support has been really tough for us. We’re not exactly a radio-friendly genre, but we’ve even had a bit of trouble reaching out to Triple J.
“Me and my mates used to sit around for the Hottest 100 and being Australia Day we’d want to get as drunk as possible. So we would drink every time we knew a song and we kept that going over the years and all of a sudden we’ve had to change it to you drink when you don’t know the song.
“If you’re in a band these days and you plan to make a living through selling your music, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Live performance, merchandise and licensing is how bands make money these days. Music’s almost a subsidiary product. But without the music you can’t have the rest.”'Under Your Bed' is available now.
Horrorwood Mannequins Shows
Thu 24 Nov – The Cambridge (Newcastle)Fri 25 Nov – The Factory Floor (Sydney)Sat 3 Dec – Brisbane Hotel (Hobart)