With just over a month until Hits & Pits Festival kicks off for 2014, we sat down with Ben Murray of Heartsounds to talk about the upcoming tour, Internal Eyes and being a musician in the Bay Area.

By Adam Smith

You released your last album, Internal Eyes, last October. How has the reception been?
It’s been amazing!  Our fans really seem to like the album, and it seems as if it’s turning some new people on to our band as well, which is great! We tried to push ourselves as hard as possible with these new songs, without really changing our general style, which I think our fans appreciate. We still sound like the same band, but the songwriting is just a bit more evolved and memorable.

Your sound is equally melodic and downright fast. Do you find this allows you to fit in on bills that other punk groups wouldn’t?
Honestly, I feel like it’s the other way around! There are so many bands doing the mid-tempo sing along-y kind of punk, that we sometimes feel a bit out-of-place on those bills. I mean, it’s always a good time playing with other bands, and I guess we might stand out a bit which isn’t a bad thing, but playing faster punk these days doesn’t seem as popular [laughs]. We don’t care either way, we love playing fast and especially love playing with fast bands.

You’re heading to Australia in May with Strung Out, Face to Face and some other punk legends for the Hits and Pits Festival. What advice would you give to people going to the gigs?
Get ready to party with us! It’s going to be such an amazing lineup every night. We’re so excited! Also, get there on the early side, as I think we’re playing 2nd every night.

How have the crowds responded to you overseas, and do you have a preferred country or state to play in?
We’ve been to Europe, the UK, and Japan in terms of the overseas visits. All of those places were amazing to us, but I’d have to say – so far – our two favourite countries to play in were Japan and Mexico. Those trips were both SO fun. I’m sure Australia will blow us away too. We couldn’t be more stoked!

The San Francisco Bay Area is almost synonymous with thrash and two of your members were previously in the metal band Light This City.  Does heavier music still influence Heartsounds, and at what point did punk rock enter your life?
Laura and I both started Light This City when we were 14 and 15 years old, and we did that band for 7 years. We were both actually into punk before we got heavily into metal, but we still listen to heavier stuff all the time! I just saw Carcass last night and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I’d say I listen to heavy music about 50% of the time, and a lot of punk the other half of the time.
I think you can hear a bit of the heavy-influence in Heartsounds, at least with some of the riffs maybe. I love when people can get into heavy music as well as more melodic punk, etc. They are both such amazing styles of music and actually have a lot in common. I wish more people were into both.

Alongside No Trigger and A Wilhelm Scream, you’ve helped to bring fast, technical pop-punk to a new generation of people. Do you think the genre will grow even more popular in years to come?
Oh man, that’s quite the compliment! We love both of those bands. I think there are a handful of bands doing this style really well these days, and people seem to love it from what I can tell. It might not be as popular as say, bullshit fashion-y metalcore garbage or really cheesy pop punk that 15-year-old girls love, but it’s got quite the dedicated fan-base on its own, which it makes it that much more special. I can only hope that it continues to grow! It’s definitely my favourite genre ever.

Is there a record in particular that influenced your band’s sound the most?
That’s a tough question, so I’ll choose 3 [laughs]. Strung Out’s ‘Element of Sonic Defiance’, Propagandhi’s ‘Supporting Caste’, and A Wilhelm Scream’s ‘Ruiner’.

Are there any up-and-coming bands you’re fans of at the moment?
Lots actually! All the bands on Creator-Destructor Records are amazing (Anchors, Cleave, The Mighty Fine, Mute, Enabler, etc). There is also this band from San Jose, CA called POINT OF VIEW that have been blowing my mind the past few months. That band is SO good.

Internal Eyes came out through your own label, Creator-Destructor records.  Do you have any plans to release more albums through the label?
I’m putting out the new ENABLER record on May 27th which absolutely crushes. Highly recommended for fans of apocalyptic d-beat thrash [laughs]. There are definitely plans for a few more releases in the next few months, but nothing I can reveal just yet! We’re always staying busy with the label though, it’s such a blast putting out records by awesome bands.

What are the band’s plans for the rest of the year? Are there any specific countries you’re aiming to tour?
We definitely want to get back to Japan, maybe Eastern Canada, maybe do a proper West Coast tour, and who knows what else.  Getting back to Europe would be great as well if we can pull that off. We’ll see!

Many thanks to Ben for taking the time to chat to us. You can check out Heartsounds as part of Hits & Pits Festival 2014:

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