By Tiina Liimu
VANCOUVER — Slaying demons with the power of Texas punk rock, members of Hex Dispensers have joined forces in the studio for the recording of their third album. “There’s a lot more cathartic exorcism in the newer songs,” explains Alex Cuervo, guitarist and vocalist. The compounded energies of Alyse Mervosh on drums, Rebecca Whitley on lead guitar and Drew Schmitz have shaped songs into a material state. They will be touring these, along a with a classic Hex Dispenser set, laying a trail of ectoplasm all the way up the Pacific Coast.
With each new project the stage is set to confront a bit more depth. “The earlier stuff was just stories about ideas or themes that interested me, and I’m still drawing from the same places aesthetically, but I’m more emotionally connected to the newer lyrics,” he says. Hex Dispenser songs have always told a bit of a story, but then again doesn’t every phantasmal entity of their right mind carry a respectable narrative?
“To me, each song was like an episode of an anthology show like The Outer Limits or the Twilight Zone,” explains the vocalist, and “for a variety of reasons, the current batch of songs are a lot more personal and cathartic though. Overtly, in a couple songs, and more metaphorically in others: anxiety, difficulty relating to others, bad memories, frustration with the current events, existential crisis, and that kind of stuff. There’s still the spooky sci-fi themes running through everything, but I guess I had a lot more psychic baggage to unload this time around.”
Fresh from the studio they just finished tracking their album, with a title that was yet to be named at the time of this discussion. “We recorded at Cool Devices just outside of Ft. Worth Texas with Mark Ryan and Jeff Burke (of the Marked Men/ Radioactivity) at the controls. We still need to mix it, but it will be out later this year on Alien Snatch! Records from Berlin, Germany,” says Cuervo.
Cuervo, also noted that the timing of this tour and the recording was more coincidental than intentional. “Well, we had booked an almost identical trip back in November of 2013, but had to cancel because Rebecca had to have surgery. She’s all-better now, so we’re finally getting around to making up the dates,” says the guitarist-vocalist.
Since their last LP they have been putting singles and there was shift in the lineup. “Well, the configuration is that same as the last full-length, but the players are different – so it’s affected the sound, but not overtly. It’s still the same kind of music as far as I’m concerned. I really like the way this line-up sounds – I’m very happy with how the new recordings came out,” he confirms.
To paint a picture as to how the Hex Dispensers began, the three original members – Alyse, Tom and Alex – had all been playing in This Damn Town, but wanted to keep playing together after the band broke up. “Alyse and I also did a recording project called the Brotherhood of Electricity with our previous bass player Dave. A couple of those songs ended up being reworked as Hex Dispensers songs on Winchester Mystery House,” he details further.
In the good spirit of DIY and inventiveness these projects extend further than a one-sided participation, as Cuervo also has another instrumental music project called Espectrostatic, which he describes as “filmic electronic music.” From this came a few solo singles and the song “Hate Face” was later reworked as a Hex Dispensers song. Aside from the music he has designed the LP covers himself and will be designing the new one with some help from Drew, who incidentally is also a designer. There is another pool of talent behind the artwork on the singles such as the visual contributions by: David Wallin, Dave Bessenhoffer, and Karl Hebert.
With the timing of this tour, the audience gets an advance hit of the future Hex Dispenser album. If not by psychokinesis, keep that antennae propped for the release date of their 2015 album. If you’re lucky they’ll have some new shirts with them too, and you can work them in as you sweat out your poltergeists in a pogo on that dance floor.
Hex Dispensers perform at the Cobalt on February 27.BC, British Columbia, Hex Dispensers, The Cobalt