Few questions to Joshua “Josh the Boss” Cole, guitar player for Hellevate.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Hellevate without using the usual Metal “labels”?
Joshua “Josh the Boss” Cole (guitar): My name is Joshua Cole, I go by the stage name “Josh the Boss”, and I play guitar for the band Hellevate. We’re a band who like to shuffle around genres a bit, but are primarily focused on writing mean riffs and catchy metal songs. Without any Metal labels, that would be how I’d describe our music. We’re all kind of riff snobs, and at heart I’m the kind of guy who likes hooks and catchy melodies. If a song of ours doesn’t have something that sticks with you, we didn’t do our job well enough.
The Purpose is Cruelty, your new EP, is just out. How do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Josh the Boss: We’re very happy with it. It’s been a bit of a laborious process getting it done and out. We started recording it in 2019, but COVID + lineup changes delayed its completion. The form it’s in now is very different from the form it started out as then, but I honestly think it’s better for it. Rarely do you get the chance to look back on a release with the objectivity time gives you and actually fix things without having to do something controversial like a rerecording or remix. Just due to it being an EP and us sort of picking songs at random for it, it’s a bit less varied than we normally have. It’s the most consistently straight thrash metal thing we’ve ever done, and while that was fun, we want to focus on adding more sounds and textures into our next release. It’s definitely not gonna be some wildly different thing, still definitely rooted in Old-School stuff, but we want to stretch our creative legs a bit more on the next one.
How would you sum The Purpose is Cruelty up in only three words?
Josh the Boss: Fast, heavy, but catchy. These are some of the fastest songs we’ve ever recorded. (No) Further Action is Required and Dagon, especially. It’s very aggressive, but with melody laced in to give it that much more punch.
How did you deal with the composition process for this album? Did you notice some changes between this record and your previous release?
Josh the Boss: This thing was initially meant to be a stopgap to have something out before our next album! We had no idea when we started recording what would happen a few months later. The title track wasn’t initially meant to be on it, nor were Dagon and (No) Further Action is Required, and Buried Under Mistakes had a different set of lyrics when it was first recorded. It was an incredibly fluid process and to be honest, a bit out of logistical necessity as opposed to creative desire. It was quite a lot of work and we weren’t really actively paying attention to the changes we were making as we were making them. Our last release, Weapons Against Their Will, didn’t have that, and we’d probably like to go back to how we composed that album. We’re very happy with The Purpose is Cruelty; it did a lot for us to get our bearings back after the very rough go COVID gave everyone, and it also let us test our new limits creatively. It was very important data for us!
To me, your melting of Thrash/Speed and Power Metal is quite unusual, how do you deal with all your influences to create a balanced output?
Josh the Boss: You know, with how close Thrash and Power Metal are in the family tree in Metal, I’ve always found it weird that more people haven’t attempted to combine the two. It is indeed kind of difficult to pull off. If you don’t do it right you’ll be accused of being indecisive or being unable to establish a consistent tone. But at the end of the day, we all love Power Metal and USPM just as much as we do thrash and more extreme genres, and again, being as big of sticklers for songwriting as we are, it’s inevitable we draw from that sound.
In our attempts to meld these sounds, I think the key is operating on a spectrum as opposed to flipping the switch back and forth between “Power Metal” and “Thrash Metal”. Being fluid with your riff writing and being able to transition into one from another as opposed to being all thrash and then BAM, power metal chorus! Vocals are a big part of this, you’ve got to have a guy who can do both. My biggest inspiration for this is Peavy Wagner of Rage; that guy can handle aggressive riffs just as well as layered, harmonized choruses. Obviously, I don’t sing in the band, Rob does, but it’s the blueprint for when I write songs. He similarly has a voice that can handle both with little change in approach, so all we have to do is set him up for success with our riffs and songwriting. We’ve been hacking away at this approach for years so we’ve been able to see what does and does not work, and over time you get better at doing it in a way that feels natural.
Maybe you have a favorite song on this album? Or the one you just can’t wait to play on stage?
Josh the Boss: It changes all the time. The Purpose is Cruelty was built to be played live and is a lot of fun, and Dagon is also a great time live. We’ve been playing Buried Under Mistakes live in some form for a few years now, and honestly, its new form has breathed new life into it for us. Die or Be Killed is a monster track too. But right now I think it’s gotta be (No) Further Action is Required. We poured a lot into that song and it really feels special to us. The few times we’ve been able to play it live it got a fantastic reaction, even from those who had yet to hear the recording.
Do you already have some plans for the band’s future?
Josh the Boss: Right now we’re promoting this EP really hard. We’re booking a ton of shows to try to make up for lost time because of COVID. We’re gonna try to go to as many places as will take us over 2023. We already have a few festivals lined up, and we’re looking to book elsewhere too. We also intend to dive right into composing our next release. We already have a few songs lined up for it and we want to get rolling immediately. It’s gonna be everything this EP is but more, and better. We’re excited for it.
Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Josh the Boss: We had the idea of bringing in a guitarist to do a guest solo on this EP which just didn’t work out due to timing. It’s still something we’d love to do. Exodus and Heathen are two of my favorite bands and I’d love to get one of those guys to throw down some shred or something on one of our songs. Maybe someone else for guest vocals? I can’t think of anyone specific at the moment, but I’m always down to something like that. It’s a lot of fun!
With which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Hellevate and three other bands!
Josh the Boss: If you were to ask us individually, you’d get 5 different answers, but since you asked me, I’m gonna say I’d love to be on a tour with Exodus, Rage, and Heathen. That is a bill made specifically for me. We’d also do pretty well on a bill like that, in fairness!
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Josh the Boss: Thanks for having me, and thanks everyone for checking out The Purpose is Cruelty! The response has been amazing! You can check it out on any streaming service available or download it at hellevate.bandcamp.com! You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hellevate, on Instagram at https://instagram.com/hellevatekills, and on TikTok at https://www.tiktok.com/@hellevatekills! We’ll be playing anywhere and everywhere that will have us, check us out if you can! Stay heavy!