Interview: Hubris Cannon
Ain’t no Heart of the Cards here. Just some crusty, mathy, magical goodness ready to fire your ass straight into the Sun.
Around this time last week, Eenzy, in a stroke of genius*, decided to curtail his hermetic study* and made his way to catch Hubris Cannon play a show here in Atlanta. Afterwards, he sat down for an interview with Twitch, the extreme musician and MTG nerd behind this goofy-yet-serious project. This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
Hey it’s Eenzy from Toilet ov Hell, I’m in Atlanta at the Drunken Unicorn with Twitch from Hubris Cannon. What’s going on man?
Not too much – I appreciate you sitting through that.
Yeah you just played a show and we just came out to the parking lot to talk for a second. First off, how’d you hear about our site?
A long time ago TovH was the first site to ever mention or note my doom band Lost Hours, like 2014. Someone did the best of unsigned bands [list], and literally that was just me trying to do something as an aside to the hardcore band I was playing with, and I just always appreciated that. So when I try to send out music to say ‘Hey someone listen to this’, y’all come to mind.
So you just mentioned you’re also in Lost Hours in addition to the band I saw tonight, Hubris Cannon, which is a one man project – up until now at least. [Hubris Cannon] has a very different sound right? Lost Hours is very doomy and Hubris Cannon sounds almost like crust to me. You described it as Norma Jean, keeping the Botch, minus Jesus, plus blast beats. It’s pretty different, so what inspired you to make this kind of music?
During the pandemic, I changed careers. I used to run restaurants and that became a bit difficult and I had some time off. As a writing exercise, I wanted to try something a bit different. I wanted to attempt to do a hardcore record, because that’s not something that’s really in my wheelhouse, and it would force me to try and do something that would otherwise make me a bit uncomfortable to play and hear. I know it’s kind of silly – the idea of chugging and stuff kind of goes counter to my usual tastes, but I kind of attempted it and failed spectacularly. And it ended up coming out kind of grindy, His Hero is Gone, Botch-stuff. So I didn’t hate it and people didn’t hate it – like I just put it online and printed some CDs and it sold out pretty quick, so I kinda just kept going.
You mentioned that up until now it’s been a one man band, but going forward you’ve added more members or maybe it sounded like the end of the band.
It was the end of the band as a one man project. Honestly, Lost Hours and this band have a lot in common – they’re both me in a bedroom. Both bands have expanded into full live bands. I’m kind of done with the one-man-in-a-sideroom experiments. I’m here to do a full… like it’s a band now. I never really took my personal side project stuff seriously, so I’m always playing in other bands and touring with other bands, so everything I wanted to do was always in the background. Not like being forced, but like self-confidence issues. Like this is my shit, who cares? But yeah, it’s fun and it’s a nice little outlet.
Yeah I felt like the performance was pretty intense. It felt more like a hardcore performance than a metal one to me, as someone who used to be big into the hardcore scene.
It’s definitely meant to be a hardcore band. Like I try to… It took me a long time to realize I don’t like metal. Like despite a lot of records and stuff I grew up with, like even now I’m still a huge fan of the more extreme side of stuff, but it just kind of comes off silly sometimes. And the strength of crust and 90s grind and those types of hardcore and [crossover] bands – there’s a point to it. And there’s a point to what this is. The idea of just kind of treating it as like “alright, we’re just gonna do some scary vocals and headbang and put your metal fist up”, it would just be weird to me.
Yeah that makes sense, it sounds like you don’t want to get caught in the tropes of typical metal bands.
Yeah, it’s just not my bag. Like, good on anyone who’s it is. But, especially the context of the records is something that’s very silly but taken very seriously. Despite the lyrical content being very specific – it’s all just Magic: the Gathering references entirely.
I saw that! To me the biggest difference, and this is not so much style as intent, is that hardcore tends to be very personal and emotional and it’s supposed to impassion people, whereas metal can kind of take that or leave it.
To follow up on it becoming more than just a one man band now, what impact do you think that’ll have on the song writing process or the sound of the band?
Well I’m probably going to be writing most of the songs – like I have another full-length full of stuff already written and demoed. But, I mean they’re [bandmates] better than I am, to be glib. Like I’m a passable multi-instrumentalist, but all these folks are unbelievably talented. Like the fact that I’m dragging these people into my own personal bullshit and they’re enjoying it astonishes me.
So, I used to play a LOT of Magic the Gathering. I used to play it competitively, which is maybe a bit embarrassing to admit at 32, but why MTG?
I still have started playing competitively again, and I’m 35, so no shame. It was something that became an important side hobby again. It was something where I played competitively when I was younger and then found it again, weirdly enough while touring with a black metal band, and I kind of fell back into it. I needed something, I was touring too much and working and bands started feeling like a second job, so I needed something to kind of just do. I wanted to start something that was kind of like a writing exercise; like musically I wanted to push myself as a writing exercise. I kind of see and hear and write in colors anyway, like everything has a different shade, and having these specific [MTG] references forces me into a weird box that I have to write in. It’s like, here are these unbearably nerdy references, but this is a dead serious band. I’m not gonna be signing about anything like goblins or any of that stuff, just the idea of… how can I put my own angry, political nonsense into this box? And it’s fun! It’s an interesting way to do it, to not have to have a hack-named ‘Death to all Cops’ song, but just have it done in a much more tactful way. I just… yeah, it’s weird.
Yeah! So I liked it, but I’m clearly biased. But when you draw inspiration from MTG, is it just from the card game itself or from the narrative universe that they (used to) publish in books? I was a real nerdy kid and I used to read the books-
No I mean, I bought The Brothers’ War the day it came out when I was a child.
Oh, ok – That’s the one I was thinking of!
It has nothing to do with the lore, it has zero impact in any way, shape, or form. It’s like the language [of the game] used as song titles or something – like this, what does this card do, what does it represent in my own like real world. There’s no MTG lingo references at all in the lyrical content, it’s just very stripped down, faux poetic shit about whatever I’m angry about. Which to be fair is a lot. The game itself is something that’s been a weird throughline, and again, it helped center me and helped make it so that music was important again. It took that edge off. And also on tour I’m always shocked at how many people play.
Me too, I’ve always been surprised by how prevalent MTG is in the metal community. Like Visigoth has written some albums that, they’re a power metal band, but that explicitly reference the lore.
Yeah, I mean like Outer Heaven – I was only peripherally aware of them, but then someone said ‘Have you heard the first EP?’, and you look and it’s like ‘Oh! Vault of Whispers [an MTG card], I see what they’re doing! Fuck yes!’
Yeah I agree, I think that it’s really cool. I get that it’s like nerdy, and I was gonna ask what the connection between metal and MTG is, but I feel like nerdiness is at least at the core of that.
Yeah. There’s a weird outsider thing – which is kind of a hack thing to mention on both accounts – but it’s also a world that means a lot to you, and honestly you hate most of the people around you.
[we both laugh]
Like in extreme music there are just a bunch of shitheads, and playing in GP’s [retired MTG tournament system, RIP], it’s just garbage people. But in that same breath, there are people who are there who really give a shit, like really give a shit, and it means something. I’m straight edge man, this is how I have to ruin my life. I have to destroy myself somehow.
Yeah, with booster boxes! So you mentioned you’re straight edge, it says it on Bandcamp for Lost Hours and Hubris Cannon. That’s not something you see bands self-identify with so much in the metal scene compared to punk/hardcore. Do you see a relationship between being SxE and the music you make?
It’s a less aggressive form of the jock bullshit from the 90’s. It’s something that’s very important to me; it’s how I’ve chosen to live my life – I’m 35 and still straight edge.
Yeah you have the X’s on your hands that the readers can’t see.
That’s like 1007 years in normal-people-life. It’s an important part of me and it’s an important part of how I write, and I’ve been going back and forth about calling both bands straight edge now. What I write about is straight edge, well some of it, and I am dyed-in-the-wool, and everyone on the records is straight edge, but none of the other guys in the [current] band are straight edge – not even close. But I don’t care.
Yeah I’ve seen that with a lot of straight edge bands who’ll have members who aren’t edge.
It’s just like, I appreciate that it can be done, but I know people can be sticklers about that sort of thing. I don’t want to… Straight edge is something that means a lot to a lot of people, and I don’t want to undercut that by doing this [without all SxE members]. It’s a weird back and forth, because people’s feelings do matter to me, and straight edge is such an important part of so many peoples’ lives, and the idea of someone going to a show, really excited about seeing a straight edge band and then they walk out and see the guitar player smoking, it’s gonna be a very confusing and irritating experience for them.
I get that. From what I’m hearing, it sounds like straight edge is part of your identity and because of that it goes into the song writing, but you don’t want to advertise your band as necessarily representative of straight edge as a concept.
Yeah, now that there are members of the band who aren’t straight edge.
Yeah that totally makes sense. You mentioned that you’re about to tour Japan early next year?
Yeah, we’re still booking dates for that. Booking outside the states post-COVID is a lot tougher than I was expecting it to be. But everything’s looking like it’s gonna be solid, so here’s to hoping that everything stays as-is. It’s in a good position right now, I just don’t want it to fuck up.
That’s great, when I was younger and in a band and thinking about touring, to me playing Japan was kind of like you’d made it in a way. Like a lofty goal but also one that’s reasonably achievable.
Yeah, I love playing Japan. It’s never not been fun, no matter how big the bands have been. I’ve been in a band that nobody gave a shit about that hit Japan and it was bizarrely rock-starry. And yeah, we have friends over there, and I just want to play shows. I just wanna play, I don’t give a fuck where. I do this to go see people and eat food. Like I haven’t taken a vacation ever. It’s always been like you work hard, then you take time off to tour, and then you get back and maybe have a day off and you go back to work. That’s been my life for a long time.
Well, that was all the questions I had. I really appreciate your time, it was an awesome show! It was really intense, enjoyed it.
Thanks, I hope I didn’t like mumble my way through this shit.
No, you sounded totally fine. Thanks again!
No worries dude, uh, just make sure you check out Canadian Highlander [an MTG format, which I did look up and am waiting on some friends to try playing with]
Most importantly, blast “Faith’s Reward” from the latest They Call Me Armageddon mixtape loud enough that your neighbors call the cops so they can jam too.
* these are all MTG card references, and I had to literally stop myself from making dozens of them