Statusfear Media & Hester Prynne present:
Dancing With The Devil: An Interview With Lance Rollins
A StatusfearMusic.com Exclusive
Hester Prynne are back with a vengeance and have just unleashed their long-awaited new album Black Heart Market upon the world in July. We had a chance to discuss the album, the state of the band, and what makes them tick, with candid frontman Lance Rollins.
How did you come to the decision that the time is now to make this new album?
It was honestly a combination of several aspects. Primarily it boiled down to the endless encouragement from our fans, and the countless hours that Matt and I spent writing music together over the course of the last couple of years. However, what really got things moving full-steam was a conversation I had with our producer/long time friend Josh Schroeder on what was going to be our final tour a couple years back; where we were discussing the future/end of the band itself, and he kept pushing me on to do a Kickstarter and at least give it one last studio go to give back to the fans, as well as allow us to share our musical expression with the world one last time. We agreed that it was only right, as our first album was a mere fraction of anything of what we wanted to be remembered by. So, we launched the Kickstarter late last year, and here we are today.
The music industry can be a nightmare for so many bands, and you’ve been through it all. You’ve recently adopted the slogan “Fuck Your Label”. How different is your approach this time around as a completely independent band?
The music industry is completely fucked, on all fronts. Since our label experience we have learned infinitely more than we ever wished to know about the industry and just how fucking criminal it is. Our approach is now centered entirely where it should be, through the support of our fan base. That, and of course, our desire to push through the adversity that is, being without any outside financial/promotional support, i.e.; a label. Our new-found mission is to help lead the way for every underground band out there who has been beat down by the facade that you can’t be successful on your own, or that you can’t be recognized on the same level as the “big name” bands. We just want to help make it apparent that just because you haven’t sold your soul, doesn’t mean you can’t still express it on the level you wish to. Now, I’m not saying that we have necessarily reached our every dream or desire with this, and I’m certainly not saying that every successful band out there has done that, for I know several personally who have made a name for themselves, and are on labels; but to those of those who are offended by what I’m saying, those are the exact people I’m speaking to and standing against. Therefore, our slogan, “fuck your label”, doesn’t necessarily call out every single label out there, just the ones who are more concerned with their own well being than that of of the artists/image they’re putting out into the music community. However, I do believe it makes up a majority of the bullshit out there anymore, so yeah…fuck your label.
With a lot of time between albums, and so much happening that can affect the content of the album, what can your fans expect from “Black Heart Market”?
Our fans can expect one thing above all on this new effort, and that is artistic progression. We have grown as people over the years, we have progressed as musicians, and we wanted this album to reflect that entirely. I hate when a band releases four albums over the course of four years, all of which sound like a mere extension of the one released prior to the last. To me, that’s just rushing it for the fear of not being able to stay relevant over the course of those years. I feel if you truly made something worth a fan’s attention, it will remain in their heart and mind for as long as it takes to create something else extraordinary. Real fans are just that; REAL people. People who understand that we’re not fucking robots, we’re not fucking millionaires, and we’re not going to put something out just because we’re expected to, if it’s not something we don’t believe in. Take our case for example, we were out of the studio for four years, and never missed a beat with our fans. That’s entirely because, to them, we created something new, something original. Something unlike everything else they had since forgotten from years before. To me, that’s what true artistry enables. I mean, think of how many albums have come out over the years, and those of which you have listened to a few times, and left behind in your mind, all the while, still jamming shit that came out when you were a kid, simply because it was actually memorable. That’s what we want to accomplish with anything and everything we do. Love it or hate it, you’re gonna fucking remember it.
Hester Prynne has a very loyal fan-base, and the connection with them is very personal, and it goes both ways. How have you developed that, and maintained it over the time period where there was no touring or new music to promote?
I think the biggest difference between our band and 90% of every other moderately recognized band out there is, in fact, the personal connection with our fan base. People act like they don’t “have time” to interact with their fans, whether at home or on tour, and I think that’s complete fucking bullshit. It’s just a lame-brain excuse to put off the people who made you who you are. I work 50 hours a week, and spend the rest of my time at home writing, hanging out with my dog, and doing the day to day shit you have to do to be a productive member of society, and STILL I make time to sit down, go to both my personal/our band’s Facebook page, check my email, and spend a little time each day replying to our fans with REAL responses. Sometimes they may be fairly similar responses, sure, but that’s only because sometimes their queries are typical as well. However, that doesn’t mean that every single individual that writes me or has something to say, isn’t replied to on a personal level, with my utmost intent and respect to their interest. Hell, even the haters get my attention, because almost every single time they say something stupid, I get the satisfaction out of ridiculing them with intelligence, which is something most people who take the time out of their day to spread hate to someone they don’t even know, ever have. So to all the haters; keep it up, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you intend to by bringing that shit my way. If anything, you’re only helping fuel my intellectual ego by allowing me the chance to embarrass your dumb asses in front of thousands of people who equally view you as I do – a pathetic fool. As I’ve always said – when it comes to opinions of music, or art of any form for that matter; to each their own. Although, when it comes to putting your opinion out into the world when it wasn’t asked for, you’re just a critic…and you know what I call critics? Jealous mother fuckers who couldn’t live-out their own dreams. Honestly, who else who actually take the time to sit back and pick apart things they don’t like about other people’s successes? Just think about it.
A lot of casual music fans don’t truly understand the dynamic of a band… five guys spending months in a van making next to nothing and barely eating or showering. Real life is put on hold. What makes it worth it?
I think I can speak for everyone in the band by saying the experience itself makes it all worth it. Much like life – in any aspect, the bad times you face only make the good times that much more cherished/appreciated. For every time we’ve been broke down, starving, or wanting to be home and never play music again due to all the bullshit; was a time where we connected with someone who truly felt alive through experiencing our music or performance. That is a feeling that cannot be equaled by anything I’ve felt on this earth. Sharing your love with anyone, in any form, is what life is all about for myself personally. Music just so happens to be the biggest way we’ve ever been able to share that love, and I don’t think anything worth having in this life isn’t worth a little bit of suffering for.
As you’ve spent a lot of time on the road, you’ve encountered just about every situation one can imagine. Everyone loves a great tour story. We all have some we share, and some never to be spoken of again. What’s the craziest tour story you’re wiling to share?
There are fans in every state who could probably share some of those stories with you as well (or better) than I could, and I think that in itself, makes for a good story. The fact that we have done crazy shit with the people that love our music in nearly every city we’ve played, truly speaks volumes by itself. Nevertheless, I can tell you one story that is fairly non-incriminating…One time in Vegas, Matt and I went out after a show earlier that night (to which tranny was actually at), and went out on the strip for literally the entire night into the morning. Of course, being absolutely fucking hammered, decided it best to avoid sleep and make our rounds to every pool we could find before calling it a night (day?). I ended up front flipping off this shed thing into a shallow ass pool at one point and actually got kicked out of our own hotel’s pool. Fortunately they had three levels of pools, so we just made our way up to the top floor, eventually ending up in a hot tub. It just so happens that I was so fucked up that I passed out in the hot tub and ended up going deaf in one ear for nearly a week, while having to still play shows the following days after. I remember the first show was in San Jose, California, and the entire day I couldn’t even balance myself. I can tell you this much, playing a show while deaf (especially several in a row), is one of the hardest, most irritating things I’ve ever done in my life. I remember riding to our next show in Bakersfield, California and the entire way there I was miserable and literally bleeding out of my ear drum…and yet, we still kept rolling, I still played the shows, and kids still thought we killed it. As far as the rest of the stories I could offer, but don’t feel at liberty to mention on a public forum… let’s just say they involve things that you would probably find in a Motley Crue biography.
It’s not been a secret that there’s a dark side to Hester Prynne. What are some of the issues and demons the band has faced, and how have you maintained to keep things reigned in as a band?
In most lights, we are certainly far from the kind of people a girl would want to bring home to mom, and not necessarily due to the fact we’re “bad” people, because I couldn’t honesty say that any of us are. We’re all actually fairly solid dudes when it comes to respecting people and treating others kindly. However, when it comes to personal care, we have neglected and mis-treated ourselves a million times over. We’ve all been through hell and back, and for most of us – still residing there. We all were born with good hearts and over time, through our experiences, developed very afflicted minds. Unfortunately earthly aspects have taken their tolls on us, and for the first time in any interview, I’m openly admitting the broad spectrum of exactly what that has been. We’ve dealt with every kind of hell from depression, tragic relationships, legal woes, and perhaps the most loathsome and embarrassing to admit; drug addiction. However, I will never say there is no hope for us to find a brighter future, because we have never given up on striving towards that, but at the same time, I can’t say that we haven’t made seeing that day a struggle through our own decisions, as well as the black rain cloud that has seemingly followed us all for as long as we can remember….but then again, I think that’s what makes us who we are. Our struggle, in a sense; has defined us, both personally, and musically. Just remember kids, karma’s a vindictive bitch, and she never forgets her paybacks.
Define Hester Prynne and the band’s place in music.
We are the black sheep of the metal world.
The new album “Black Heart Market”, what does that album title entail? What’s the meaning behind it?
The name “Black Heart Market” is what I view the world we live in today as. Simply stated, as I explained to my friend Robert Borbas when discussing ideas for the artwork on our new album, I see it as “one hand passing it’s torment down to another”. The Black Heart Market is what we’ve come to know as life, and the ever-lasting longing to escape that perception and reality.
Interpret this however you’d like: Where does it all come from?
Our hearts, our souls, and of course, our inspirations…including every single person reading this.
As a thank you to longtime fans, as well as first-time listeners, we’re offering a free download of Hester Prynne’s new song “Dancing With The Devil In Pale Moonlight” at the player below. If you enjoy the song, pick up their new album Black Heart Market here.
Grab the free download from the player at the top of the site, or visit our Bandcamp site here: