Hilltop Hoods

Posted by: on Apr 13, 2015 | No Comments

 Over the past fifteen years they have become an institution in the Australian music scene, since releasing their breakthrough album The Calling in 2003, which featured the hit track ‘The Nosebleed Section’, they have allowed and inspired the likes of Tkay Maidza, Thundementals, Jumbla, and countless others to take to the stage and make a career out of hip hop. Starting out at a time when Hip Hop wasn’t really cool and ruled by their American counterparts of the day, Hilltop Hoods have since broken the stereotype of what was once branded as ‘bogan hip hop’ and when I got a chance to catch up with MC Pressure for a chat, it was only a short while after the Beat The Drum 40th Anniversary of Triple J concert, which was held in mid January, and he was still buzzing.

Beat The Drum was amazing man! It was one of those festival and performances for us that is a rarity and a one off, it was incredible and all of the collaborations throughout the day and for us the collab we did in ‘Cosby Sweater’ with a million rappers on stage who were some of our best friends and most respected peers as well, it was incredible. It was a one off that will never happen again and to be apart of it was truly great.”

Coming in at #3 on the Hottest 100 countdown of this year, was the one, the only ‘Cosby Sweater’. If you haven’t heard this track, then you have been living under a rock, because over the past six months, it is simply unavoidable due to the amount of airplay that it has been receiving since the band released their seventh LP Walking Under Stars last year. Talking about the origins of the track, it was inspired by one of the biggest influences on the band Notorious B.I.G. A.k.a. Biggie Smalls.

“He is without a doubt, one of our favourite New York rappers who passed on quite a few years ago. The track is an ode to him and is inspired by a classic photo of him in which he wears a horrendously multi coloured Cosby sweater. We saw the photo of the king and thought that we were going to make a song about it. Although the track is called ‘Cosby Sweater’, it is actually not believe it or not, about Bill Cosby. When we released the track, there was a lot of talk that the song was about him. The song was written at least eighteen months before that.”

Talking about the process behind Walking Under Stars, Pressure feels that it was a completely different process to how they made The Calling. Ten years on and within a different environment, Walking Under Stars is Pressure’s favourite release.

“Recorded in a different studio, with different equipment, there are some obvious changes to how we operated ten years ago. We are also different people writing about different things as we head out into the world. Walking Under Stars is probably our most musical album to date and we had the most session musicians come in than ever before. From bass to six string guitar, keys, horn sections, string sections, collaborations with vocalists in different choruses, it was definitely the most collaborative and creative I think we have been.”

The writing process that Pressure and Suffa take to penning classic tunes such as ‘The Nosebleed Section’, ‘Clown Prince’ ‘Chase That Feeling’ and many others, hasn’t really changed all that much in the time they have been together. “The recording techniques and the collaborations change, where as the writing process is very similar. We still use a classic hip hop style production, we might fill it out with session musicians these days, but it is still very much sample based Hip Hop, which is considered ‘old school’ these days.

Over the career of the band, there has been several awards and accolades as each new record is brought out, however as Pressure explains, success was never thought of at the start of the group back in the mid 90’s in Adelaide.

“Suffa and I met on the first day of school and we started making hip hop together for a laugh and it grew from there and became more and more serious.

I remember when we released our first demo in 97’, we were probably working some part time shitty job and even then it was a hobby. Nobody in Australia had a career out of Hip Hop at that point and we didn’t consider ourselves pioneers of being able to do that or anything. It happened organically I think.

I wouldn’t say that it’s a viable career option for any young musicians reading this, but you can make a career as a musician in Hip Hop in Australia today. It’s a hard slog and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it can be done.”

With upcoming shows at Future Music Festival as well as Groovin’ The Moo and headline tours around Australia planned for the rest of the year, the stage show that you can expect to see from the live performance is significantly different to previous shows. “We try and change our show up every album cycle, at the moment we are touring with three of us. We tour with Plutonic on drums and a horn section this time round. The album before, we toured with pianos and string sections and we try and change it up and give people a different experience each time they come to see us. We can’t wait to hit the stage at Future, it’ll be a sweaty affair and the crowd will be into it I can’t wait.”

“The Nosebleed Section’ is the biggest track in the band’s history and the song that broke them into the Australian music scene, yet it was a song that nearly didn’t happen. “Suffa found the break for that whilst on holiday in Port Elliot. He found it in a thrift shop. It was the song that blew us up and the defining moment for us. The album went double platinum and we were playing festival bills. It changed our lives.”

 

 

Hilltop Hoods play Groovin’ The Moo April 25th to May 10th

 

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