It’s not always easy to get recognition as an independent artist. This is something Ben Pooley, bass player for Sydney band Hyrule Mafia knows all too well.
The band has existed in some form or another for quite some time. Ben tells me he has been playing with guitarist Ivan for over six years. Having hooked up with singer Michael at SAE between recording demos, the trio went through two drummers before recruiting Marc.
“He’s brilliant. He’s classically trained in jazz and a lot of south American drums, heaps of different shit.”
“Travis Barker is very influential on his style, but saying that he also listens to Sparta and the Mars Volta. He did a Mars Volta song for his HSC.”
I ask Ben how he would describe the bands sound. He says they have “a big fat sound, kind of like that Limp Bizkit fuck off sound” but their influences are varied. Blending “the calmness of what Muse does with their acoustics” with Nine Inch Nails influenced samples, they’ve earned a reputation for their electro sound, but that was never the intention.
“We never wanted to be an electro band. We just wrote music that had electronic sounds in it, it’s not our focus. Our focus was never to write electro music to be cool. We just wrote it because it sounded cool. At the moment we’re starting to push away from it a little, but then again we could come back to it tomorrow and do more electro stuff.”
“We play music that we want to listen to.”
With four musicians in the band, I wonder aloud how they write their songs. Ben assures me it has always been a collaborative effort. He has “never believed in having a dictatorship band. You write as a whole and you get a sound that everybody’s happy with. If you have one person dictating then you lose friendships quickly.”
The results are passionate, but there aren’t necessarily any hidden messages in their songs. The process has a strange way of reflecting reality, however. Ben describes how they seem to relate to “whatever issues you come to face with your day to day life.”
“We don’t try and put messages in songs or anything but I find that even if you don’t intend to put something in a song, you always find that in the end something comes out of it. I’ve noticed that recently with some of the songs I’ve written.”
Hyrule have played “heaps of places, pretty much everywhere in Sydney but Blink and Oxford Arts Factory.” Their next show will be at Thrash in the 11th April. Having had some trouble booking gigs lately, Ben is understandably cynical about the live music scene.
“You have to have an association with someone to get somewhere in the music industry. I don’t like it, I’d rather just do everything myself but as a little band you just can’t.”
“It’s all based on your Myspace. It’s all about how many plays you have, how many friends you’ve got and who writes your comments. They don’t care about how good your music is.”
Before I leave, I have to ask him if their name is a reference to The Legend of Zelda. Turns out it is. The band were originally called Art of Invasion, but changed it due to a “different musical direction, different ideas and a different way of wanting to present the band.”
I’m a sucker for pop culture references.