After a quick sell-out, legendary band Hilltop Hoods have thankfully added an extra show to the Melbourne leg of ‘The Great Expanse’ world tour on August 9th. We sat down with Daniel Smith (aka Pressure) to soak up the vibe of the new album, understand what to expect from the tour and learn their strategy to electric live performances. Read on to dig into the minds of one of Australia’s most loved musical icons!
Dan, we are so excited to have you feature in this issue of Forté Magazine! After conquering the stages of Groovin The Moo and supporting the one and only Eminem live, What is the vibe in the band right now? I don’t doubt that life is super hectic for you three?
Yeah it’s hectic! But the energy is just the best vibe ever man. We’re on a bit of a career-high at the moment, to be honest, announcing our biggest world tour ever and playing some of the best venues. We are having a bit of downtime at the moment, recovering from Groovin the Moo but we couldn’t be happier! We can’t wait to get back out there and share the music with our supporters.
You are about to embark on a world tour of your latest record ‘The Great Expanse’. For those who don’t know, what story does the album tell? What is it’s vibe? and what differentiates it from what you’ve done in the past?
Well its a bit of a collective journey in the styles of songs, they are kinda different from start to finish. I think its a more modern take on ourselves without losing who we are and our sound, we definitely wanted to push this album into the future instead of repeating the past. We are still evolving as artists and just enjoying the ride of creating new music.
It is incredibly rare for an urban hip-hop group like Hilltop Hoods to stay active and relevant in the music scene for so long, and yet you guys have done it in a way that is very inspiring. What is your trick to persevering through this fast-moving and often unforgiving industry?
I think it’s all about how much you enjoy it, we still really love it and like each other haha! We spend so much time together as a band creating and sharing the music so I think its really damn important that you like and respect the people you are around.
There is no doubt in the minds of those who have seen you perform that Hilltop Hoods shows are NOT to be missed if you love a dance and a good time. What can we expect from ‘The Great Expanse’ tour? I’m guessing we won’t be able to stay still!
No, we really don’t do a slow kind of show! There is going to be a lot of energy, its a lot longer set than we’ve ever done previously. We are actually still putting the show together and discussing it because we have really only ever done an hour twenty shows or whatever, so we going to push ourselves by extending that. There will be quite a few hits from the old Hilltop Hoods music catalogue, and some obscure old stuff as well for some of our older supporters. It’s going to be a bit of old, a bit of new and everything in between.
Your music is embedded into our national consciousness and culture, in many ways you have formed the hip-hop genre here in Australia. What are your thoughts on taking the tour overseas and performing around the world? How have you found the experience in the past and what are your hopes for ‘The Great Expanse”?
Well, we’ve been touring overseas for a good decade now and we’ve finally built up the shows to do as well overseas as they do back home so we are just really excited to bring new music overseas, as we haven’t shown them any of our latest work. We get a lot of love overseas and it’s just so much fun for the band!
Originally you were stopped in Melbourne, Australia, for only one night, yet after a fast selling-out, there has been another show at Rod Laver Arena added to the agenda on August 9th. You’ve famously said in the past that the albums create themselves, but what about the shows, is there a strategy you apply to performing live?
I guess there is, when you create a new album you have to figure out how to perform those songs live. You can’t really just get up on stage and expect the music to sound the same as it does in the studio, and work energetically with the crowd. We have to really test out what songs to well live, what connects and engages the crowd most, as well as figure out how to make the songs that don’t so well work better.
Lastly, we would LOVE to know your top songs from ‘The Great Expanse’ and what you are most excited about for the upcoming tour!
Oooh that’s a hard one! Well, I’d like to clarify that I don’t listen to my own music by myself haha, that would be a form of torture! However for performing live, I love ‘Leave Me Lonely’ out of the new ones, it’s just got the best energy and an undeniable groove to it. I really love ‘Fire & Grace’, its a beautiful song about mental health and having had a lot of experience with that through the people closest to me, its very special to me. Also, I love ‘Into the Abyss’, its really different and cool. For the tour, I’m just really excited to share with our supporters the new album and have fun with them all around the world.
If you missed out on tickets to the first Melbourne show (Friday, August 9), don’t fear as tickets are still available to the second added show! This is definitely not one to sit out on! Tickets are available from Ticketek.
Written by Bella Dalrymple