Hilltop Hoods | Vertigo Interviews

Rhece Anthony

 

Iconic Aussie hip-hop legends Hilltop Hoods have kept fans captivated for more than twenty years, and there’s no signs of them slowing down.

This August, the Hoods embark on another world tour, with dates in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, and Perth.

The tour is in support of their latest full-length release, The Great Expanse, which broke ARIA chart records in February as their fifth consecutive number one album. 

Vertigo spoke to MC Suffa to find out what’s been happening in the world of one of Australia’s most enduring hip-hop acts.

 

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You guys are pretty much as popular now as you’ve ever been, what do you think has allowed you to keep that momentum?

When we recorded our first EP we had little to no idea what we were doing.

We’ve been pretty lucky in a lot of aspects of our career. We’ve been lucky when it comes to the timing of what we’ve done, we’ve been lucky that we’ve had good people around us, and that these people have come into our lives. We’ve been fortunate enough that people that people have loved our music. We’ve been lucky to have that audience. To me a lot of it is luck. There’s a lot of hard work and everything else behind it, but there’s a lot of luck and good timing and good people as well. 

 

So The Great Expanse achieved no.1 on the Aria charts, and that’s the fifth consecutive album from you guys do to so. How does it feel knowing you’re one of the few Aussie artists to achieve this?

We never take anything for granted. It was a really big moment for the people that are on our team as well—the management and the label—they all worked really hard on the record and they all work hard to make these sorts of things happen. 

 It was really rewarding, not just for us but for our team as well.

 

Did you guys have anything in mind going into recording The Great Expanse?

Our goal is always to try and outdo our last record, lyrically and sonically. Me and Pete can get pretty competitive lyrically, which is great. We’ve always bounced off each other. That energy has materialised on these tracks. We’re kinda going for each other, trying to out-rhyme each other.

We didn’t have a specific theme or a common thread, this is basically a compilation of our favourite tracks we’ve made in the last two years. That’s sort of why we landed on the title The Great Expanse because it’s such an eclectic mix of tracks.

 

What did you get up to in the interim between your last two albums?

We did a bit of touring. We went to the States, we went to Europe. But I had two little girls in that three years… so we were busy. 

 

Has becoming a father changed the way you’ve approached music and the Hilltop Hoods?

It definitely changed how much time I’ve had for making music. I’m a very involved father so you’re either spending time with the kids or you’re exhausted because they kept you up all night or whatever. You’ve gotta become better at time management, and making time for music. 

They both love music and that’s fun. There’s a track about missing our daughters on the album called ‘Here Without You’, and my two-year-old who’s about to turn three understands that that’s about her and makes us play it to her all the time in the car. Which is cute but can be quite embarrassing when you get caught at a set of traffic lights with someone who’s familiar with the Hoods and you’re listening to your own music. 

 

What was it like playing the Rapture Tour alongside Eminem?

It was great. He’s still the best rapper on the planet. The performance, the show they put on, not just his personal performance but the production and everything else is just insane. From the pyros to the bands to the visuals, it’s just such a great show. It’s definitely the best stadium hip-hop show I’ve ever seen. 

 

Is there many differences between playing Internationally and playing in Australia?

There’s always a bit of a ‘Hilltop!’ chant before our gigs, so it’s funny hearing that in all the different accents. That always gives us a reminder that you’re not in Kansas anymore. 

Once you’re in a club with a sound system and a crowd, it’s a very similar feeling wherever you go. There’s that familiarity with the music. Man, Europeans just don’t know about air-conditioning, at all. They’re so used to being cold that they think any form of hot is good. So some of their clubs are a nightmare to play. 

 

Do you get a bit of home-town pride at all playing in Adelaide? 

Definitely. It’s got the biggest guest list of the whole tour, we get to have  all our family and friends there. Now we get to have the kids to come to the shows, even though my daughters aren’t really impressed. Especially when we play the Entertainment Centre here, and I’ve grown up seeing shows there—I saw Beastie Boys there. It’s nice to be in those venues.

 

I noticed there’s a lot of up and coming Aussie artists on the support list for the tour, as well as features on the album. Is this something you guys do intentionally?

We always like to try and give a platform to up and coming artists we think deserve to be heard. Whether that’s through giving them support spots for shows, supporting them through the H to H Initiative, or in other ways mentoring them. That’s something we’re always passionate about for sure. Shadows coming on this tour, he’s got so much potential, and he’s mad young, he’s definitely one to watch out for. 

 

What’s in mind for the Great Expanse Tour?

We’re trying do the biggest shows we can do. We’re going for the biggest production, we’ve got a lot of surprise guests and surprises in general. Basically, we’re trying to out-do our last tour. 

 

Is it at all daunting doing these large international tours, or do you think it’s second nature at this point in your career? 

The sheer number of days is a bit daunting. But we love touring, so even though it can be daunting we always look for it. We’ve still got a passion for it, still get excited for it.