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Interview: Brendan Frey of Hostile Array

This past March, brothers Brendan and Garrison Frey, Hector Fernandez, Fredy Menjivar and Andrew Markle continued their journey under the name Hostile Array. The Maryland metalcore quintet had previously built a following while called My Ransomed Soul. Their 2015 sophomore album, Trilateral, reached especial acclaim for its straightforward progressions, grim vocals, and politically-charged lyrical leanings. Now, the revamped Hostile Array has expanded to include greater focus on melody and supplemental clean singing—heaviness and insight intact—with their new single, “Devoid.”

I caught up with Brendan to discuss the band’s stylistic and thematic expounding, his current societal views, as well as how their newfound dynamic will carry them in the months—and possibly, years—to come.

ME: Let’s start from the beginning, when you were known as My Ransomed Soul. How did you initially develop your sound as a band?

Brendan: Back when we first started, it was kind of just trial and error. Our musical tastes had changed so much over time. We formed the band when I was about 13 years old. At that point, our music was very underdeveloped (laughs)! We weren’t skilled in our instrumentation or anything like that, but it grew as our influences and styles changed. Eventually, we made a conscious decision to switch things over.

ME: You began using the name Hostile Array for this project back in March. Nowadays, what can you assess about how much you’ve grown, both as a unit, and individually?

Brendan: I’d say that, for my brother and I, who’d started playing music about 10 years ago, we’d definitely solidified our writing style and technique. As far as the rest of the band goes, we’ve been playing with this lineup since 2015 and seeing the progress and how we’ve been able to mesh in these two years has been pretty awesome. We’ve played with a lot of different people over the years, but it’s been cool to be in something like this where you actually click with everyone.

ME: On Facebook, I found that not all of your fans were kept up to speed about the change. From what I gather, you’d run into some difficulties updating the page with the new name?

Brendan: It was a long, obnoxious process, really. From my experience, Facebook support is a little lacking (laughs), in the sense that they are very unresponsive. We’d submitted for a name change on our Facebook page. Several times, they just kept denying it, saying it wasn’t “similar enough” and I’m like, “No, we know what our page is; we just want to change it.” On other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, never had a problem – instant change. But Facebook took, I’d like to say, two to three months.

After filing an appeal with them and messaging back and forth, they automatically changed it out of nowhere. We basically gave up, and ended up creating a new page and everything. I actually just finished merging the two pages into one. It was a headache but I’m glad that it allowed us to access our old fan base.

ME: Were a majority of the fans receptive and understanding of the change, or had it taken some time for them to process?

Brendan: There’s been positive feedback for the most part. I know that some people still prefer the older sound we had which was a little bit more aggressive and straightforward in a metalcore sense. Then again, they have only heard one song out of what I think is much more diverse material overall, so we’ll see how more people react the further it goes. I can say that the first song we released is different than anything we’ve ever done. It’s a mixed reception, but for the most part, positive.

ME: Let’s talk about that song, “Devoid.” Before we get into it, did you find this song to be an extension of the new band name?

Brendan: Honestly, this song title was one we were struggling with for a little bit. We’d had all this music written and everything pretty much recorded but didn’t have any song titles. We kind of bounced names back and forth, and then I figured the title “Devoid” lines up with the theme. It’s a very somber mood throughout the entire song. It centers on people overseas dealing with wars – like the Middle East – and how they’re devoid of hope and freedom that we experience here.

ME: Something that resonates with me immediately is the stylistic elements in the song. Normally you’re known for a more extreme, metalcore sound, but now, you’re more so experimenting with clean vocals and different chord sequences. Do you like the sound you have now?

Brendan: Definitely. This is probably a little bit more along the lines of what I’ve always wanted to be creating. We’ve pulled a lot of influences from bands that we grew up with during the writing and recording, as well as making the final decision where the music goes. We listen to stuff like Underoath and Norma Jean – bands that we grew up feeding off of. I think this is more of the stuff we wanted to do and never attempted to in a sense.

ME: The song was inspired by the hypocrisy in more conservative Christian circles. As a Christian myself, too, what do you think makes their presence larger over people like you and me?

Brendan: That’s something that you see in the media, more often than not. You hear about the negative side rather than the good. It seems like the negative groups have a louder voice only because we give them that; we [inadvertently] give them the coverage. With the negativity among conservative Christian circles, their bad reputation ruins it for the rest. I know many people that claim their Christian faith and are the most loving and respectful people. At the same time, there are those of the exact same faith that are hateful, and, in my opinion, not understanding the teachings that Jesus was putting forward. They hold onto these black and white morals where it just seems completely off from what we think it’s supposed to be.

ME: Do you find that these distortions of faith center on God-fearing, rather than God-loving?

Brendan: Yeah. With the idea of God-fearing, I guess these people feel the need to instill fear in someone to get them to believe, rather than the positive experiences they’ve had. I think fear never convinces anyone of anything long term. Fear is one of the things people use as a motivator, but it’s just a short means to them in that sense.

ME: It’s almost like because of the societal distortions, especially in 2017, we’re policed for having any sort of beliefs, or any expression in general. And it’s not so much oppression from government as it is our own people. That’s what makes us devoid.

Brendan: For sure. It’s one of those things where I’d like to change the perspective that people have as someone who is a Christian myself. I feel like the loud voices you hear are the ones that always seem to have this aggressive stance. There are civilians in these areas, and a lot of people that don’t have a voice because our media is one-sided when it comes to an international perspective. They dehumanize these people, but we try to give them a voice, and I think it’s not done nearly enough.

ME: To expound on these sentiments, you did a music video for the song by working with Ian Bell. In what ways did his style deviate from how other music videos are presented?

Brendan: I think Ian has a kind of raw artistic expression. I have known him for a while. Actually, a number of guys in the band have been familiar with his work and have known him personally. When I was trying to think what we can do with this video, and who can deliver the concept the way we want to, I thought of Ian. His photography and work with videos seem to fit the aesthetic we wanted, so it was a no-brainer. He was easygoing and extremely patient to work with.

ME: The mixes for your new album were recently returned to you, and for that, you’d worked with Chris Galvez, who did Trilateral, is that right?

Brendan: Yeah. We first met Chris back in 2012, when we were working on our first My Ransomed Soul album through Red Cord Records. He was still new to the recording game as their in-house engineer and we just hit it off and developed a relationship. When we left the label, we kept in contact enough to do the last album with him. Since then, every time we’ve gone into the studio, we’ve always gotten a better product than last time. It’s nice to be able to work with someone who understands where you’re trying to go – almost like having a sixth member in the band. He’s involved with the writing process as well, and believes in our material as much as we do.

ME: Ideally, what do you look for in a mix?

Brendan: For our own music, we wanted to do more of a clear, crisp, straightforward mix. The stuff that we’ve been doing with Hostile Array is a little bit different, just with the style and everything. It’s trying to get a mix that feels appropriate. I know that this mix is a lot more bass driven, and changed how we worked with the tones of the bass and guitar. But I felt that this mix was the closest we can get in our mind what we thought it should sound like for this style.

ME: Did the mastering process go pretty much the same way?

Brendan: Yeah. Actually, Chris not only did the mixing but the mastering as well. For each track he mixed, he was mastering them as he presented them to us. It’s a seamless process in that sense.

ME: Based on the overall turnout, do you feel Hostile Array would be the name to stick to?

Brendan: Definitely. This is still fairly new for us especially with the old days up in the air, but we’re feeling pretty confident. This is something that we’re trying to put a lot of effort into, so I think this is the direction that we plan to go in for a while.

ME: Lastly, anything you’d like to say to your fans?

Brendan: Thank you to everyone who’s been following us and keeping up with the new stuff. We’re hoping to release a new song and video. I’m not 100 percent sure of the release date, but the video’s already been shot, and being edited now. We hope to have it out very soon.

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About Jake Kussmaul

I come from a family who is passionate about all things music. I learned to sing at an early age, and by 13, had my very own Fender Strat guitar. I tried my hardest at learning all that I could. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I had to teach myself an adaptive playing style. I learned to write and record my own music, despite these difficulties. In college, I started making great use of my writing abilities by reviewing music, as well as copy editing. I guess it’s best to stick with what you know, while welcoming a fair challenge at the same time.

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