THE HU Talk Rumble Of Thunder, Hunnu Rock, Covering METALLICA - "It Was Just A Humbling Moment"
October 2, 2022, 12 months ago
“Hunnu rock”. A genre unfamiliar to most has been picking up steam in the last 5 years due to the emergence of Mongolia’s The Hu. Blending heavy metal/hard rock with traditional Mongolian throat singing and instrumentation, their videos for “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem” amassed over 100 million views online. Their unique approach to music caught the eyes of Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix and Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale and they have performed at major music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. In addition to that, they had the honor to compose and record music for the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. That’s been a lot of meat to chew for a band that released their debut full-length in 2019.
Hunnu rock is inspired by the Hunnu, or The Huns as us westerners know them. Focusing on themes of their culture and being one with the nature and earth, The Hu hones on bringing in listeners with heavy, catchy music that corresponds with positive, uplifting, and informative messaging. Their new album, Rumble Of Thunder, out now through Better Noise Music, stretches their musical juices further with a more hard rock sound tightened behind the Mongolian instrumentation. The Hu is currently on a major U.S. tour supporting Megadeth and Five Finger Death Punch. Throat singer, jaw harp, and flute player Jaya spoke (through interpreter Osko) with BraveWords about Rumble Of Thunder, hunnu rock, covering Metallica, the band’s themes, and their future plans.
BraveWords: How’s the response been to Rumble Of Thunder? How is the band liking and feeling about it?
Jaya: “It’s been just like we expected and it’s reaching the audience really well. The feedback from the listeners has been so positive. So hearing all these nice things and words from the people is just an amazing experience for us. And we’re so happy with that.”
BraveWords: Please explain the theme and inspiration behind the album. I’m getting themes about nature, spirituality with the earth and pride in Mongolian culture.
Jaya: “So like our previous album, we have the same message of sharing the teachings of our ancestors and the good things that they have done so far. We had to talk about it because we as a people stopped loving our environment and the nature of a human being. These positive messages have to be spread all the time because it needs to be there. We have to start lobbying for what we have before it’s gone for our future generations. So to spread the message, we try to do it through music because everyone likes music. We thought it was the best way to approach things.”
BraveWords: How was the recording for the album? I saw a press release stated it was a “lengthy process.”
Jaya: “On this second album, we used some of the songs that weren’t included on our first album. Songs like ‘Bii Biyelgee’, ‘Black Thunder’, and also ‘This Is Mongol’ [we’re already done] and we actually also used these songs in our previous tours. So you could say basically like part of the second album was already in progress. With the last couple years because of the pandemic, like everyone else, we were in a difficult situations, but we used those times in a positive way. We used it to work on our second album, so the process wasn’t that long, but it was pretty long if that makes sense.”
BraveWords: I get what you’re saying. Was it a conscious decision to add a more hard rock sound to the songs? Is it challenging mixing the traditional instrumentation with metal and hard rock components?
Jaya: “The idea came about 10 years ago by our producer Daca. He had this idea, he was consuming all these things and working on it for a long time. His main concept was basically connecting the east to the west. So connecting Western music to our traditional instruments in our culture. Based on many years of experience, he came up with this hunnu rock genre and it’s like a totally new genre, you know? You could basically say that he had the blueprint ready. He had the plans and probably that’s why we’ve had success so far.”
BraveWords: Where did that idea of “hunnu rock” come from and have you seen a growing interest in Mongolian culture due to the popularity of your music?
Jaya: “The instruments we use like morin khurr and throat singing is so traditional and has a rich history to it. So people from a different country were already on it in the past. They’ve been doing research on it, like looking through how things works, such things like that. With us coming up as hunnu rock; we have helped boost it a lot. It helped them realize it had to be on a world stage, be in the mainstream.”
BraveWords: What was the idea behind releasing the music video for “Black Thunder” in two parts?
Jaya: “Well first, this track is not that short. Most people can only concentrate around like three to four minutes without getting bored so we had this idea of splitting it in two so people could enjoy it more. And after the release of the first part, people were asking, ‘when will part two come out?’ So at the same time, we were excited to get it released and done because the feedback was so positive. We put so much work on this track because it is the heart and soul of the album. During the shooting process, we had combat training because we had to act as a warrior in the music video. It’s basically a mini-movie. We are trying to be more cinematic. We wanted to make our listeners experience the history of our ancestors. We wanted to make them feel like they are inside the history, you know? During those times, we were told, ‘hey guys, like what is this? Is this a movie? Because we usually do this much work only for a movie, but doing it for a music video is wild.’ We put a lot of hard work and sweat into it.”
BraveWords: Any tracks that stand out as personal favorites?
Jaya: “First of all, I love all our tracks because we put our heart and soul into each and every one of these songs. If I have to choose one, I would choose ‘Mother Nature’ because I represent the Wind Warrior from our band. This track suits me the most. If you look from the name, it has ‘mother’ in it. Basically, the main message that we try to give from this song is we have to love our environment just like our birth mother. It’s a really special song that holds a special place in my heart.”
BraveWords: I love the cover you guys did of Metallica’s “Sad But True”. How much of an influence are they to you?
Jaya: “That was really important for us because we had been on the road for like three to four years, so you could say we were a baby at that point. So covering songs from Metallica was just an amazing experience. We were honored to cover legendary Metallica songs and like our band member Enkush, he likes to say, ‘these guys are the professors in our industry.’ That’s just how amazing it is. Covering their songs in our hunnu rock genre, playing with our cultural instruments is just a new thing. From our side, we think that we got this chance of putting their song in a different level by mixing our genre with their songs. It was just a humbling moment. We also got our feedback from Metallica saying, ‘oh, we’ve seen your cover of ‘Sad But True’ and it was so amazing.’ So hearing that from a legendary band is just a humbling experience.”
BraveWords: What does the future hold for The Hu? More live shows? Already planning the follow-up to Rumble Of Thunder?
Jaya: “A lot of things are waiting for us in the near future, but this year is ending with tours and stuff like that. After this, we are planning to go to Europe for a tour and that’s how this year is going to end. Our new album is just out and we are planning a lot of promotional work on it. Maybe after this, we will probably move on to our third album, but there are a lot of things coming out soon, but we have to keep it secret at the moment!”
BraveWords: Anything at all you’d like to add about the band, the album, or anything at all?
Jaya: “For our listeners and supporters, thank you so much for your support and getting our energy and spreading our message. Thank you so much because this thing we are doing, it has two sides and without your support, it is so meaningless. Also, if you are having difficult times and going through things in your life, I would suggest you to please listen to our music so we can reach you and help you through our music.”