An Exclusive and extended Hastings 3000 interview
By Bill Schuneman
Introducing Hastings 3000, a DIY solo conceptual music and visual rock n’ roll performance by Joe Hastings from Minneapolis, aka the “One-man-band”. Deconstructing the “traditional” rock band, Hastings 3000 often plays a stripped down, partially homemade drum kit using both feet while hitting the electric guitar with a pencil, and vocalizing socially and political conscious lyrics.
A recurring theme for Hastings 3000 is the gas mask, which hints at humankind’s loss of respect for air, food, water, fire, and earth. Sometimes wearing elaborate costumes, such as over the top businessman suits, usually signifying the hypocritical aspect of excess, human consumption, and extreme capitalism.
Live performances have been known to include hologram projections and twenty or more military uniformed people onstage doing choreographed movements set to experimental soundscapes with projected images.
Stylistically, Hastings 3000 pushes for a balance of originality playing around fifty instruments live and in the studio. Since 2010 he’s impressively written, recorded and produced over 500 songs. (Hastings3000)
Torched Magazine is pleased with having had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Joe from Hastings 3000 to get the scoop on his newest release ‘Invasive Species’. This exclusive and extended interview was conducted by Bill Schuneman.
TM – How would you describe Hastings 3000.
Joe – Hastings 3000 is a conceptual art rock show that came out of the ashes of my old band called the Fuck Knights. We toured extensively and were very hungry in the underground garage surf rock world. There was extreme tension in the band and 3000 became a one man band project that played in refutation of (a full band) with one person doing the thing that three or four weirdo’s were trying to do.
TM – I’ve seen video and you’re on stage playing drums and guitar and singing..
Joe – I was trying to make a beat with me feet and play guitar and sing like the Ramones and Pink Floyd had a test-tube alien baby
TM – So, what are your influences, what is it that you listen to that you are like O.K, this is firing my creative spark
Joe – Chuck Berry, Link Wray, Amy Winehouse, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I don’t know if you have heard of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, he is a Pakistani Singer, an Urdu Sufi Qawwali who did improvisational singing, he was like 350 pounds and Jolly. His most important album to me was called “Intoxicated Heart” (or Mustt Mustt) it has a lot to do with free thought, free will, free zone, love and respecting people, loving life and not having concrete niches and socializations that many people succumb to. I believe in his kind of Sufi way. He was breaking down the barriers created by people who were using religion and culture to hurt others or to stifle or tribalize against each other, I think he was a person who brought people together, but I don’t know because I never met him.
TM – How do you approach song writing? Is it something you pull out of the air or do you have a more structured process?
Joe – Some songs take me 10 years or more and some songs I can write in 5-10 minutes.
I find that many of my more interesting songs (for me) are from dreams that I’ve had where I wake up in the middle of the night, or in the morning and I’ll record it onto a voice memo, I’ll even write “Taken from a dream on September 17th of 2016” or such. In fact I was working on a song the other day where I want back and was listening to a song that came from a dream and I’m like, “I have lots of ideas with this one”, and so, if it’s a lyric or a hook on bass or a drum beat, or a tone or a texture or melody, it usually starts with one thing where I record that bit. Because of the way I record it (initially), I capture the moment of its conception, I’m able to go back even years later and remember my place of consciousness (and thought) at that time to develop the ideas that came from it.
TM – I noticed that your first album seemed to be harder, a little bit edgier where your second is more psychedelic. And I’m wondering if there’s something that drove that change or was it just natural progression.
Joe – “A New Monster” is the introduction of the monster. The newest record “Invasive Species” is that character becoming part of this species that is invasive on the earth, and degrading culture, air, food, water, spirit, and the human species and whether this character is a part of it or not. He is in essence partially human or is an Alien trying to fit into it. So the psychedelic (futuristic dream-like) aspect is either of an insidious nature, or a positive one.
TM – That makes me think, since you have a story arc going from the first album to the second, do you have direction to the third?
Joe – The first one is introducing the character this questionable hero/anti-hero or evil who knows right. the next one is part of the species talking about humans as a whole. And the next one I’ve got partly recorded, I think 80 songs and what I’m going to do is piece together a concept that is an evolution from the one to the all. It has something to do with the microscope to the telescope at least that concept of looking inwards to outwards. At least that’s where it’s at right now. I have a story its just a matter of how do you give glimpses to that story, how to present it the right way.
TM – On your new album do you have a favorite track?
Joe – “In the Midst of Darkness” which is the first track. I was hired to do this James Bond style Theme for a fashion show a couple of years ago and I wrote the song for the fashion show and for some reason I still like listening to it, I find it to be a cool track. Its got Ghandi doing a little saying. Which I think is awesome.
TM – I caught an interview with you online where you talked about recording your second album in Africa, did You?
Joe – Yes, on Invasive Species I recorded in Marrakech, Morocco.
TM – Did something in particular draw you to that part of the world or was it just the wish to discover the world.
Joe – (Yes, I’ve been drawn to the sands of northern Africa and oceans of the Pacific as long as I can remember). I recorded (parts of) Invasive Species in Marrakech, Puerto Viejo Costa Rica, United States, London England, France, Belgium, and Germany, I might even have a bit in Japan from my last tour. While I was traveling I was trying to catch the sounds of the culture the People, Animals, the sounds, how things work, and also some music to add to layering into the concept of The Invasive Species. All humans are hard, especially what you call “first world nations” where they (should be referred to as) “first world industrialized nations” where Industry is really the antithesis of (pure and untainted, or untouched) Air Food Water and Spirit really. When you build a building, you are actually deconstructing what was already there, using those materials for something new but also a harsh thing to be a part of. There are a lot of people out there who consider themselves land developers (whom are actually) opposed to land—destroyers is what they are, “for the sake of the human race” (is often how they justify things like, genetically modified foods, or destroying the earth by doing mass land development “for more people to live,!” but really they are doing it for more money in their pockets and has nothing to do with supporting positive human/earth balance) and that’s maybe the concept that was brought together in (the new album) this softer psychedelic philosophical aspect. The psychedelic feel was kind of a symptom of the philosophical approach, when you have a philosophical idea you don’t want to bash it into peoples brains, you want to introduce it in a more gentle way and psychedelic music can be gentler to the pallet so to speak.
TM – When you record do you record everything yourself, is it basically you in your studio space, or are there others?
Joe – (Yes,) It was me in my little studio after I did the recording in the different countries, I then went back to my studio along with Albatross studios in South Minneapolis where we recorded “Living the Dream”, which for me will hopefully be one of the next videos. It’s an ironic twist on the catch phrase “living the dream”. That idea that people who are the poorest (most oppressed) people having the best time, there’s many aspects of Living the dream that I really like. (Along with the ironic image of the rich young person who consumes and destroys everything around them– having to wear a gas mask without realizing that their actions are the reason their life is compromised).
TM – And you are self produced?
Joe – Yes, all self produced, all DIY. All the record label stuff and publishing stuff I own (or run) all of it. I wouldn’t call it owning, I’m the guy that just created it. I find that for me and a number of people I’ve bean talking to that are engineers on the DIY level and we are all going back to 4 track cassettes because the sonic quality is incredibly warm and its very different then the digital recording. On “Invasive Species” I recorded a number of the tracks on the 4 track, and 2″ tape at Albatross studios in Minneapolis with Mike Wisti. “Invasive Species: Second Wave” I recorded on a 4 track cassette (I think it was a) Tascam 246. People go out and spend thousands getting a mac computer and Logic or pro-tools or what ever and there are other people making 4 track recordings that sound amazing. I think there’s a really cool learning process for many young musicians to rediscover old technologies which is what this album is all about, its kind of a 60’s sci-fi movie soundtrack, that harkens back to that age of actual drawings and illustrations and the recordings really exist instead of representation data.
TM – For your first music video you picked “Invasive Species Second Wave” and it surprised me after listening to your album it seems to me there are other songs that are more accessible then this one and I’m wondering what drove the choice for the video
Joe – That was because the director Patrick Pierson who is one of my dearest and funniest friends. He actually picked a different song on the album that he wanted to do initially (but) he didn’t like the final version of it. So we worked on Invasive Species: The Second Wave and he did a really cool visual concept. We worked on developing and shooting the concept together to bring it to what it is now. It’s an unlikely choice for a single, but maybe that’s what made it more interesting for us to release. It’s not commercial at all, its not “going to sell,” but it’s what weirdo’s like us love.
TM – So for your music video it seems both of them were shot in Vegas
Joe – No, only “The Invasive Species: The Second Wave”, “Speed of Light” was in the Badlands, Wall, South Dakota.
TM – It felt very southwest to me, I was wondering if you had a connection to that area or if there was a reason to shoot in that area
Joe – I went to Las Vegas (at least) 5 times to film this music video. For many years I was obsessed with the evolution of mankind and that humankind might have had Alien genealogy to it. Outside of Las Vegas is Area 51 which I visited a number of times to see what it was all about. I wrote songs and albums about it, in fact my old band released an album called “Extraterrestrial Highway” which was a supposed soundtrack of a drive to the area (the gas station) from Rachel Nevada out to actual area 51 which was about a 40 minute drive and there used to be a gas station there I think it’s still there in ruins. The idea was you listen to the record on the trip and it will prepare you for your experiences at Area 51 along the extraterrestrial Highway, Highway 375 Nevada.
TM – So Hastings 3000 is a one man band but I also know that you’ve been out on the road with support of other musicians.
Joe – I went into the newest record, “Invasive Species”, thinking I’m going to do a caveman type more aggressive one man live recording– kind of an ancient dinosaur feel, but I ended up coming out where I literally recorded 200-300 tracks per song with little clips and sound bytes from around the world. I realized there was no way I could reproduce it live. So I formed a 9-piece band for my last show, with Horns, and backup singers, auxiliary percussion, and drums and bass of course.
TM – And you primarily play guitar and sing, or do you do the Phil Collins thing and bounce around from instrument to instrument.
Joe – No, I like the idea of having a fast paced show like the Ramones where you finish one song and count 1,2,3,4 and you start the next song. When you switch instruments there is a lag time and I don’t like dead time, I don’t like dead time at all so I play guitar and sing fast.
TM – Do you have a favorite song when you play live?
Joe – One of my favorite songs to play live is “Ça Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand originally released by Elton Motello called Jet Boy Jet Girl, but Plastic Bertrand (which was a Belgian artist who sang it in loose street French). Ça plane pour moi loosely translates as crazy life for me. For me it’s just an amazing song it’s a quintessential rock song, it’s (sometimes) a part of my live set and I released it on my first Album “A New Monster”.
TM – I was going to ask if you do any covers, but clearly you do, do you do any others?
Joe – Every once in a while I play Ghost Rider by Suicide which was a New York Electro post or pre punk new band. I would guess mid 70’s. Suicide is an awesome band. My friend Chris Cunningham who lives in Minneapolis used to play in his band called James White and the Blacks, also the Contortions out of New York, he brought me in to do this parade (playing live on a float down the streets of St. Paul) and he wanted me to do that song and ever since it became an obsession.
TM – Do you have a favorite album of the year for 2017?
Joe – I don’t know if it was released this past year but I was listening to it this past year (2017), Leonard Cohen’s last record “You Want it Darker” It’s an amazing record. Anything Leonard Cohen did was amazing.
TM – Thanks
Joe – Thank you.
Hastings 3000 Album can be purchased through the Hastings 3000 website hastings3000.com or other online sources, but I always recommend purchasing direct from the artist as then the artist gets 100% of the purchase.
April 6 – James Ballentine “Uptown” VFW Post #246 , Minneapolis
April 28 – Silver Dome Ballroom – Neillsville, WI
July 13 – Rock! Away! Festival 2018 – NYC
Sept 29 – Grumpy’s – Minneapolis