Interview with Mike Hochins – Guitar/Vocals with VHS and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (https://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
Mike: VHS is like the b-movie equivalent of a death metal band.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
Mike: I’m from a pretty small town called Thunder Bay that surprisingly has a very strong music scene. I guess since the town is pretty isolated there isn’t much more to do outside of playing music or drinking beer. I’ve been in bands since I was probably 15 I’d say but VHS is the first band that I’ve been in that has done anything outside of being just another local band.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
Mike: Our lord and savior Jesus Christ is my main inspiration. Only through Christ can I melt faces! That’s not true, at all! Main influences for the band are probably Kiss, Cannibal Corpse, Metallica, No Fx, Exhumed, Impetigo and Carcass. We have a pretty broad sound but those are the bands that I would say make up most of the DNA of VHS. Our songs are all movie based, mostly horror movie themed, but we have dipped our toes in other genres of movie. Our most recent album is an 80’s sword and sorcery movie themed album.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
Mike: World domination mainly. I find Pinky and the Brain to be a main inspiration but the problem is that both of those characters exist in my one brain. One craves world domination and thinks that he has all of the perfect plans to make it happen and then the other side of my brain is an idiot and gets in the way. So I guess we have to settle with the fact that we are a small band with a pretty loyal fanbase that affords us the luxury of writing silly songs about shitty movies no one cares about.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
Mike: One of my favorite sides of being in a band is the promotion side of things. I have a ton of fun putting together videos, creating content and just shooting the shit with the people that interact on our social media pages. I think the main thing holding bands back from getting any attention is just being lazy honestly. A lot of people expect big things to come to them even though they only have 3 songs and 50 followers on their Facebook page. You have to put in a lot of work to see any sort of return on this type of stuff. We’ve been lucky that we have found a record label that puts in the same effort that we do. We are very happy to be working with Sean and Wise Blood Records. So I guess the main thing I can say here to bands….don’t be lazy. Make a fucking social media post you lazy bastard!
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
Mike: I’d say that there are more bigfoot sightings in a year than there are VHS shows. We really don’t play live often and it is always a few months in between shows when we are playing live more regularly. We are planning an album release show in the next few months and have a few shows tentatively for the rest of the year but nothing is totally set in stone at the moment.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
Mike: I think music being downloaded these days is just a normal thing. I’m filling out this interview one day before the release date of our new album and it’s already up for download on torrent sites. You can’t fight the internet so you just have to hope that those people will grab a CD, record or a t-shirt or at the very least let people know about your band. We are a small band so I’m just happy people are listening honestly. Spotify is great for bands as far as reaching listeners, payout wise not so much.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
Mike: “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer. I feel like I could grow as a human being by knowing what it is like to get rich and then to lose everything. I feel like this could have helped me build more character and also could have afforded me some better dance moves!
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
Mike: I feel like we aren’t really part of the actual music industry. We are a small band and we know where we fit into all of this craziness. We have carved out our little niche and while we seem to be reaching more and more people with each album we just kind of do what we do and don’t care about fitting in. The only annoying thing I can really think of is the delay time when it comes to pressing vinyl right now. There’s been a huge resurgence of vinyl for mainstream artists in the past few years and most of the pressing plants are backed up. It has improved recently from what I can tell so hopefully it stops being an issue in the future.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
Mike: Like right at this moment? The interview of course! Outside of that we are just working on promoting our new album and trying to take it as far as we can. We are already well into the recording process of the follow up album but don’t want to lose focus on our latest album too quickly so we are taking our time.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
Mike: The two main places you can grab our music and merch are either from our Bandcamp page or from Night Shift Merch.
We are also very active on social media so you can follow the band at the following links as well and join our party!
VHS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vhsthunderbay/
VHS on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vhs_deathmetal/