South Australia’s very own Hilltop Hoods have long been synonymous with Australian-made triumphs. Trailblazers in a genre that eventually married underground with commercial success, they set a blueprint for their contemporaries to follow. Ten ARIA Awards, six number one albums, the number one most streamed Australian artist on Spotify two years running, record-holders for the most entries to appear in the Hottest 100 to date and 60 x platinum accreditations – Hilltop Hoods’ legacy is undeniable. Be there as the local legends headline Spin Off with what is sure to be one action-packed hometown show! Riding high with the new release of new single Laced Up MC Suffa speaks to Hi Fi Way about headlining Spin Off 2023.
It definitely feels like another huge year for The Hilltop Hoods?
Yeah, we’ve got a lot on our plate at the moment. We’ve just announced a New Zealand tour and we’re on tour in Europe and UK plus the new single is out now. So yeah, a lot of balls in the air.
Does it amaze you how things keep kicking up another gear with things getting even bigger and better than ever before?
Um, I don’t know. Like I definitely didn’t still expect to be rolling at this stage, but I’m grateful that we are, and you know, just grateful for the ride, I guess. I mean, when you’re in amongst it, it’s not something you really think of because it’s all you know, it’s like being around a puppy, you don’t notice when your puppy’s getting bigger because you’re always around your puppy.
The new single Laced Out is really good. What’s the story behind the single?
It’s actually based on a dinner I had with my wife when we first started dating a very long time ago. I was working at a factory at the time and I took her out and it was Valentine’s Day. I was sweating this entire meal because it we were at a quite a nice restaurant and whether I’d be able to pay or not, depending on what she ordered, so it’s based on that dinner. The hook and the single just shows in those situations how messed up your priorities could be because like I definitely would have had fresh kicks on this dinner and definitely would have had money for drinks later on. It was an embarrassing dinner. It was really uncomfortable and a guy came through selling roses, which was the worst part because he came past our table and I had to say no on Valentine’s Day.
At least you survived to tell the tale, that’s the main thing…
Yeah, I guess!
As you were creating this song did you have the feeling that this would be a single?
Not at all. We had a bunch of lads come over from a New Zealand group called Six60. Our management connected us with them and they came over and hung out at my studio for a couple of days and we did some writing with them. We actually came out with two songs that are probably going to be on our new record. Just as our time with them was ending, Chris, the guitarist, played this riff and had a quick play around with it and we thought nothing of it. Then I went to pick up some food and went to the bottle shop, I just couldn’t get out of my head. I had this hook in my head the whole time, I came back and I showed them the hook and they’re like, yeah, this is cool.
We all sort of laid it at everyone in the room in including Debris, who never gets on a mic. We made him, we gave him a little Dutch courage first, but we made him get on a mic and record it. Then we set it aside again and it just kept niggling us. Then our producer came back after some back and forth with something that’s pretty close to what it is now and we’re like, oh, that’s the one! That’s the joint because it feels like something different for us, but it very much feels like a Hoods track as well.
Is this a glance in to what the new album might be like sonically?
I’m not sure. I’m not sure that it reflects the album all that much. It’s like I said, it’s a bit different for us. On that one, not a hundred percent. It represents the album in that it’s on the album. Unless it’s a disaster, then it’s not on the album!
Have The Hilltop Hoods ever done anything classed as a disaster?
I don’t know, did you ever see the Parade of the Dead DVD? That was a bit of a disaster! Very well made, but probably a pretty stupid idea. Anyway, it was my idea. I’ve only got myself to blame!
How would you describe the new album you are working on so far?
What we’ve got so far is really interesting. For one, it’s the first time we’re going to have an album that’s produced by, well almost, by one producer end to end, which we haven’t really had since I was handling all the production. So that’s One Above and because One Above has such a clean sound, I think it’s just a much cleaner record than what we’ve done before, which is really nice. The space everything has, I’m really excited about it actually.
Will the previous singles you had be a part of this new album or did you start a fresh and they will be stand-alone singles?
I don’t know, we’re going back and forth on that. We both love those songs, and both really want them on the record, so they’ll probably be on the record. Why not? I mean, in this day and age, two on or two off, doesn’t make a big difference. I think they’ll probably be on the record.
What’s your thoughts on ChatGPT and AI in songwriting?
It is an existential threat to music in the way that nuclear war is an existential threat to humanity in that it’s always looming, but probably not going to happen. You know what I mean? Definitely in the pop space, a lot of algorithms there that are well trained, well written AI could follow, you know what I mean? It is got to be about a girl or a boy, it’s about love, it’s these chords, it’s this tempo and has these tropes or whatever. But when you get to something as dance and creative as hip hop or metal or something like that, I just don’t think it could create something in that space that would effectively make artists and the art they create redundant.
Anyone that’s using AI to make music at the moment in a way that you’ve got it writing for you or anything, you suck, you suck! You’re not an artist, you’re a person who writes prompt that AI draws on. AI is not artificial intelligence, it’s a super Google. It draws on the content that’s out there, so it’s drawing on content that already exists, you might say, hey, this is like sampling, but it’s absolutely not. They’re two different kettles of fish. I think there is interesting uses for AI, I’ve used it to write a reference letter, my brother uses a program when he creates music to put in vocals that he’s written in harmony that he’s written, but uses a voice of a singer, which I think is a great idea for doing demos or something like that. But as far as being a creative force, all that can draw on is what we already have. So, all it can do is regurgitate and that’s not innovation, that’s not expression, that’s not creating art.
Headlining Spin Off, there’s no crowd like Adelaide and you must be looking forward to this one?
We’re excited and to be headlining it as well, playing at Wayville to a hometown crowd, we’re really excited. I’m actually really pumped for it.
Do you get even more amped as one of the headliners at Splendour as well?
Splendour is one of my favourite festivals ever. We’ve played it for a few times so it feels like home to a degree. We’re really excited about that as well, which are both on the same weekend. We’re coming back off the UK and Europe tour and when we’re touring like that, the show tends to start really rolling once you’re in show condition.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch The Hilltop Hoods at Spin Off on Friday 21 July, tickets HERE…
Catch The Hilltop Hoods at Splendour In The Grass, tickets HERE…