Interview: Ben Marvin and J Hurley of Hacktivist at Camden Rocks 2014

By on Wednesday, 11th June 2014 at 11:00 am
 

With a name like Hacktivist, an interview with some kind of 21st century incarnation of HAL 9000 would have sufficed. Instead, vocalists Ben Marvin and J Hurley spurn the monotone passive aggression to offer a colourful account of their rise to prominence, their unique rap/metal crossover style and and their love for the borough that is the heartland for London’s alternative scene at this year’s Camden Rocks festival.

So, obviously the theme of today is rock music. How important do you believe events like this are to the genre as a whole?
Ben Marvin: Very important, man! It brings everyone together – a lot of bands that have done festivals and tours together all getting to mingle. It’s good for the fans because they get to split and choose who to see and at what venue and stuff. But, yeah, really cool.

How does it feel to be playing in Camden, with such a unique rock music heritage? Do you feed off that a little bit?
J Hurley: I love coming to Camden and playing music. Every time. Obviously it’s the heart of music for London. I’ve always enjoyed playing here. The crowd’s always crazy – everyone’s always crazy! Every time we play it’s always energetic and just… crazy!
BM: It’s always a good vide in Camden. Good Chinese too.

What’s your favourite Camden venue?
JH: Underworld. But, I went to see Yelawolf at The Electric Ballroom, and that was awesome.

What is it about the Underworld that keeps drawing you back?
JH: It’s nice and dark and dingy and low…
BM: It’s a grimy venue, but it’s a big grimy venue. So, it’s the best of both worlds. Your on top of the crowd; it’s really intimate, small stage. There’s a lot of injuries take place. Ticks all the boxes.

Urban festivals, or fun in a field?
BM: I say both. Both have their qualities. I think we’re yet to play a festival or gig that we haven’t enjoyed. There’s pros to playing urban festivals. We played a lot of festivals last year where the bill’s were all over the place with the artists that were playing. So, we love doing shit like that. But, at the same time we’ve played stuff like Fieldview, which was kind of like a hippy fest so we were really out of place there. And, that was a proper ‘sit down on the grass’ kind of thing – and even that fucking went off. So, I think all festivals are good.

Sticking with the ‘rock’ theme; what inspired you to start making rock music in the first place?
JH: For me, my brother kept coming home with loads of drum n bass/rave tapes. It wasn’t even called drum n bass then! It was just ‘rave’ music to me. And, then I used to listen to the tapes and sing along to them, and then one day I just thought I might as well make my own lyrics. Rather than singing their stuff, I’ll just write my own. That was when I was young. I was probably about 14-15 when that started happening, and then when I got to 16 I thought “Right, I’m going to write lyrics now”. From then, that was it.

So, lyrically, who are your main influences?
JH: I’ve got a log of influences, like Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Pharrell Williams, P Money, I like Eminem
BM: Obviously, J’s not from the rock scene. I kind of wheeled him in a few years back, and ever since then I’ve been getting him in to metal. Then, about a year later, that’s when we started Hacktivist. I’ve been in metal (there or thereabouts) bands since I was 14, so me and J I guess got in to the music scene at the same time but from different angles. I mean, I’ve always been involved in the rock scene, so we kind of met in the middle and created Hacktivist.

How’s the reception been to your unique brand of crossover?
JH: They’re loving it. The reception’s been amazing – the reception’s been better than I thought. Every gig’s been like “woah!” – people singing along. Even when we went to Russia, there were people singing along to every single word of the lyrics. I just thought “wow!”, it blew me away, man.
BM: We’re definitely a ‘love or hate’ band. I think when we started, there was a lot of controversy about what we were doing for some reason; because we don’t fit in to a certain category or whatever. We never tried to be a certain thing anyway. It was just an experiment. We never realised we would even be a band. I think, over the course of time, even the haters are slowly moving over because – a lot of people who hear us, don’t like us. They come and see us live, and they come and speak to us and are like: “I never really got you guys, but now I get it”. It takes a while. I mean, I was the same when I was a kid and first heard Slipknot, I was like: “What the fuck is this shit?” – this is when I first started getting into the rock music and stuff. And, you know what, I listened to the album 2 or 3 times on loop and something just clicked. From then I was into heavy music. I can understand why people would automatically take a dislike to us, but overall I think the reception’s been way better than we could have ever dreamed of, man. It’s just going up and up!

Stay tuned for more of Ben’s coverage of Camden Rocks coming soon.

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