Considering 93% of bands break up before releasing their second records,(1) Master Manipulator, the sophomore album from Denver-based Native Daughters, is in many respects a substantial feat. As the inspirational metal-oriented fucking rock group (2) has carved off a coalition of fans from indie, metal, punk, and every background in between, it has weathered the storms that usually decimate other purveyors of music. (3) Perhaps these gentlemen (4) owe their longevity as a group to their decade-plus stints in the Denver music scene (5) and have grown to understand what a pain in the ass it is to start a new band from scratch. Or maybe they’re just a bunch of lifers who do it because they have to. (6) Either way, Denver’s pretty damn lucky to have an inspirational metal-oriented fucking rock group like Native Daughters who has released not just one, but two LPs of sweet fucking tunes. Recently, we spoke with guitarist Justin Hackl (7) about getting out aggression, not writing lyrics, and fucking kids these days.
(1) This statistic is made up.
(2) Since the band’s members scoff at classification, this is what they get. I hope they fucking like it.
(3) i.e. egos, jobs, babies.
(4) Nary a daughter in the band, native or otherwise.
(5) See: Qualm, Mustangs and Madras, and Only Thunder to name but three.
(6) Poor Bastards.
(7) Through his agent, who’s kind of a dick.
I once heard a fellow say the following: “[Native Daughters] is too metal for the indie kids and too indie for the metal kids.” How does that make you feel inside?
First off, unless it’s my kid or my close friends and families’ kids, I don’t care what they think or feel about our band. In fact my daughter hates my band. Except the song “Goodnight Little B” because she knows I wrote it for her. I’m too smart for the stupid kids and too stupid for the smart kids. But this has nothing to do with the band. I like my band mates. I like the songs we write. If no one else does, then good for them. I don’t do this for any other reason but to have fun and get out a little aggression.
Since you all were in punk or post-hardcore bands for years, what gave you the gall to start playing metal?
Are we really a metal band? I mean, we tune our guitars pretty low but, metal? Westword said we were Denver’s “Best hard rock band” and we found that silly too.
Genres are limiting, aren’t they? Once you start throwing around labels, you run the risk of over-simplifying complexities and placing limitations on people and bands. But enough philosophizing… Forming a band without a vocalist is a great way to eliminate the excess ego that a singer often brings to the band. Considering you were a singer in several groups, do you find that your sense of extreme self-importance has diminished now that you’ve picked up the axe and put down the microphone?
I am definitely less important. No one cares about anyone but stupid Colin and Tom on the drums. I do not miss having to write more awful lyrics and pretend that I care about what I’m singing about. Most of my lyrics were of heartbreak and alcohol and drug use. WOW! So original and cool! Just kidding. They sucked.
They didn’t suck, my friend. That said, I’m not here to build up your ego… So, what is it like playing with two drummers? Is that a pain in the ass or what?
Tom can play guitar. He is not your “traditional” drummer. Colin is enough of a pain in the ass that he makes up for it. I mean, I love the guy—he’s a super solid drummer—but he acts like a drummer. We take about as much time as it takes other bands to do vocals to get the two drums synced up correctly. The pain in the ass part is loading and unloading two full bands worth of gear to every show. It sucks. It’s worth it. But wait, is it? Maybe.
Since everyone already has Native Daughter’s first record, give a few reasons why people should part with their hard-earned money to buy the new one.
Because it’s been 3 years since the first one and we are very proud of it. But steal it digitally for all I care. Sailor Records will probably care. If you really like it, then buy the vinyl. Also, since you claim everyone has the first our first album, shouldn’t we all have like a million dollars? Can I have a million dollars now? Please?
If I had a million dollars, I would not give it to you; I’d take it to Vegas and spend it all in a weekend (I would invite you on the trip, if that makes you feel any better)… Anyway, the new record will be on vinyl. Why would you want to release physical media in the age of The Spotify, The Pandora, and The YouTubes?
I use Spotify all the time, but buy the vinyl because it’s fucking sweet. Especially the artwork, blown up all big-like. iTunes won’t carry our album with the vinyl art work so we had to change it, because there is a naked woman on the front cover. Stupid.
That is stupid. What makes you super fucking proud about the new record?
Working with Dave Ottero at Flatline Audio was a treat. My whole life I’ve wanted to be on an album where the guitars sound heavy as hell, and he was able to capture that. But most importantly he was able to capture the sound of two drums. He is a drummer himself and was really good about pushing different beats to justify even having two kits. Also, just being able to do a second album is a big accomplishment for me. Every band I’ve been in since 2002 put out one album then broke up.
That sounds all too familiar, my friend. So how do you feel about native sons?
That’s not even a real thing. How can I feel about something that’s not real? You probably think the earth is round and not flat. You probably think eskimos are real too. Sitting all high on your pedal stool [sic].
You got me. In fact, I’ve never been so accurately stereotyped in my life… Name an ideal lineup for a show that you’d like your band to play. (Since this is hypothetical, feel free to include bands that are no longer active, or even bands that have yet to form.)
Steely Dan, Thin Lizzy, Taylor Swift featuring Native Daughters.
Nice. Since I’ve never done it myself, I have to ask: What is it like playing in a band people actually want to see?
Ahhhhh buddy. I like Joy Subtraction. You need a hug?
Yes. Yes, I do. Thank you for asking… So, aside from “Burn it to the fucking ground,” do you have any advice for today’s youth?
You kids with your loud music, and your Dan Fogelberg, your Zima, hula hoops, and Pac-Man video games—don’t you see? People today have attention spans that can only be measured in nanoseconds.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you sir for this amazing interview. You rule.
While that’s very nice and all, I beg to differ. It is you, Justin Hackl, who in fact rules.