The War Inside My Head: An Interview With Hissing

If you are of the special breed of people that finds peace in organized chaos, then odds are that you might have encountered the shrapnel clanking from the riff-and-manic-energy conglomerate that is Hissing. One of the most consistently unique and unabashedly violent acts in underground metal today, the Seattle-based beast releases album after album of what feels like pure anarchy. It, however, isn't. It's orchestrated pure anarchy, the kind of that feels like it is unfurling in time like a capsized bag of rocks when it really is a kind of weird symphony.

So, now that they have another piece of buzzing insanity coming out – Hypervirulence Architecture, out July 15 via Profound Lore – I thought it perhaps worthy to dig deep into the bag of influences that makes this beast tick (or tock, whichever), hence the nice interview with the band's three members below. Enjoy reading, and enjoy listening.

As always, check out our various interview projects and other cool shit. And if you'd like to keep abreast of the latest, most pressing developments follow us wherever we may roam (TwitterFacebookInstagramSpotify and now also a tape-per-day series on TIK TOK!), and listen to our shitty podcast (YouTubeSpotifyApple), and to check out our amazing compilation albumsYou can support our unholy work here (Patreon), if you feel like it. Early access to our bigger projects, weekly exclusive recommendations and playlists, and that wonderful feeling that you're encouraging a life-consuming habit. On to Hissing.


What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?

Joe: We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll by Black Sabbath. I bought it from a Fred Meyer on Aurora Ave when I was maybe 10 or so. It's a compilation album so it kind of wired the track order for a lot of Sabbath tracks the wrong way in my mind for a while. 

Zach: Big Black – Pig Pile, local record store. I was 15 and had heard MP3s of their studio records online, but the live album was all they had for sale. I ended up enjoying the live versions of those songs on Pig Pile a lot more.

Sam: Eiffel65Europop from my local record shop.

What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?

Joe: There were a lot of records in my home growing up. I would say the Beatles were the most heavily played. Along with Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones, Gil Scott-Heron, The Smiths, Digable Planets, Alice Cooper, John Fahey.

Zach: For reasons relating to my parents' work, I spent some time in my childhood in West Africa and absorbed a lot of the music from there. Off the top of my head I heard a lot of Ali Farka Toure – Red/Green and Talking Timbuktu, Toumani Diabate – Djelika, as well as some of the more produced Malian stuff like Salif Keita – Amen

Sam: Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club and Ry Cooder; Steely DanPretzel Logic; The Residents – Duck Stab

What albums taught you the most about the technical aspect of making music?

Joe: No specific album. Recording and producing earlier Hissing material, as well as other projects, revealed the difficulty in the process of achieving the sound you desire. This desire is formed by all your listening experience. The albums I enjoy most are a bit Lo-fi or a blend of production approaches. 

Zach: I would agree with Joe, I didn't really think critically about the technical aspects of music until I started making it myself.

Sam: I can't say I honestly know a lot about the technical aspects of music-making. When it comes to drumming there are certain artists who make the drums "talk" and I'm still looking for my voice. Records with a very cleanly defined vision and well-executed intentional production/feel that left an impression on me include Bäbi by Milford Graves, The Work Which Transforms God by Blut Aus Nord, and Take Refuge in Clean Living by Grails, and just about everything from Antediluvian and Irkallian Oracle.

What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?

Joe: This Heat – Deceit or maybe Faust – The Faust Tapes. Both of these were years ago because my listening habits have slowed to a crawl. 

Zach : Last year Sam showed me OksennusPaholaisten yö, and I'd never heard anything like it before. All of his other stuff is absolutely insane too. Also, Diapsiquir – Virus STN, it's like later Dodheimsgard with a screaming infant as a vocalist.

Sam: Teitanblood – Death.

What album relaxes you or centers you the most?

Joe: The Necks – Unfold has been played a lot in the past five years. 

Zach: Current 93 – Soft Black Stars. I don't usually like "earnest" "emotional" music unless it sounds like it was made by an acid casualty. Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports is another go-to.

Sam: Pat Metheny – Bright Size Life.

What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?

Zach: For metal, Aosoth's IV: Arrow In Heart and Plebeian Grandstand's Rien Ne Suffit. Also have been really into Peter Gabriel's third album lately. The production it sounds like he took all the background textural noises from a traditional 80s radio record and made an entire record out of just those sounds. Plus the lyrics are about home invasion, addiction, political assassinations, torture and interrogation.

Sam: Sons of Kemet – Black to the Future; Antediluvian – The Divine Punishment

What album is grossly underrated?

Sam: Old Nick – A New Generation of Vampiric Conspiracies.

Zach: Anything by Fleurety

What album would you recommend from your local scene?

Sam: Lots of well-publicized and very good death and black metal from Seattle so I guess I'd invite people to listen to Geist & the Sacred Ensemble for something a little different.

Zach: My friend Anne just released a dark folk record that she's been working on for years, called Ancient Tomes Vol 1: Mother Of Light, under the name Serpentent. The production is massive and beautiful and it features some great local guest musicians, like Dylan from Bell Witch on bass. Highly recommended.