In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for quite some time, the name Kevin Hufnagel should stir some excitement when heard. The man has been a guitar god for many bands — Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, Sabbath Assembly and Vaura just to name a few — for awhile now and those only scratch the surface of what he’s done and been involved with. Obviously, any mention of new work from Kevin is highly anticipated and his latest solo effort, Messages To the Past, is a love letter for us listeners and fans as to just how damn talented he is. Our very own Chris Voss recently offered up a full review, which you can read here so don’t miss that complete rundown and don’t miss his very enthusiastic answers to our Profile questions and some important news below. Don’t forget to hit the links and support Messages To the Past if you haven’t already done so. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
My mother played guitar, so there was always one lying around the house. Around that same time I was exposed to heavy metal through the older kids on my school bus. I was also watching a lot of MTV and tuning into the metal college radio station WSOU (I was living in northern NJ at this time). This was all back in the 80’s.
As for “success,” I don’t remember ever wondering if I would one day be “famous” or not while I was learning my instrument. I just wanted to get to a skill level where I could play what I was hearing in my head and express the things I was feeling inside through music and with my own hands. With that said, I’m more than happy with where I am at currently. I still feel my work is continuing to improve. I’ve also gotten to experience a lot of the world through traveling far and wide with my bands. None of that would’ve been possible had I not started playing guitar and stuck with it.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
I don’t know if this is considering debasing myself, but when Dysrhythmia was in the early stages and had pressed our 2nd self-released album (‘No Interference’), I sent out copies to big magazines like Modern Drummer, Alternative Press and whatnot, with cryptic postcards that just said “Listen” with no other information. It got reviewed in both those magazines along with a bunch of others.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
Hmm… some good things happening in metal right now… Better albums covers again. The 90’s and early 2000’s were such a rough time on the eyes for album art in metal. Bad photoshopped graphics ruined everything. It’s cool to see actual paintings coming back to grace album covers again.
Bad things… I’m not a fan of the sterile and over compressed production of most modern metal records, where all the drums are sound replaced and quantized and the vocals pitch-corrected. It creates a very flat sound and pretty much strips the music of all emotion for me.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
I have many feelings and opinions on what’s going on in the world right now and am pretty disgusted with the current state of our country, but I mainly keep these thoughts and opinions contained to private discussions among friends. Being that most of the music I write is instrumental, there are no lyrics and thus no political messages I’m looking to convey. To be honest, I want my music to be a momentary escape for people from the harsh reality we’re living in now.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
It’s hard to remember who was the first. It’s all a blur of 80’s hard rock/pop metal. I was hearing all this stuff for the first time around the 3rd grade. I think my family might have been slightly skeptical at first. My mom would buy me metal cassettes for Christmas but then would want to read the lyrics. I remember one time I had a W.A.S.P. and an Iron Maiden cassette with me and my Mom was more interested in seeing what the Iron Maiden lyrics were all about. I think this was because the album cover looked more threatening. Lucky for me because the W.A.S.P. lyrics were way more inappropriate for a kid than the history lessons Iron Maiden were singing about. Ha.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Listen to an album more than once before reviewing it.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
My only goal is to stay productive and keep moving forward creatively.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
My listening habits have definitely changed in more recent years. I used to listen to and buy so much more music. These days I spend much more time listening to my own works-in-progress and less time listening to other people’s music. However, I will say the upcoming record by Zevious called ‘Lowlands’ completely rules, and I’ve recently been jamming Drab Majesty’s ‘The Demonstration’ and lots of Robert Rich’s ambient works.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
My new solo album ‘Messages to the Past’ is out now. I will be doing a solo tour in late Sept/Oct throughout the eastern half of the US. Dysrhythmia is currently writing a new record. Sabbath Assembly hits the studio in August for our next one. Vaura is supposed to be mixing our next record in August, and Gorguts is expected to regroup in the Fall and see what the next step is.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Kevin for his time!