Crossing The Great Expanse: a chat with Hilltop Hoods

Crossing The Great Expanse: a chat with Hilltop Hoods

For 20 years, Hilltop Hoods have reigned supreme as kings of Australian hip hop. From The Calling to The Hard Road, to State of the Art and soon The Great Expanse, the MCs have proved they’re one of a kind when it comes to slinging hits in that iconic Aussie accent.

Now one week out from the release of The Great Expanse, Hilltop Hoods find themselves on the eve of – in all likelihood – yet another chartbuster. To find out a little more about the album, their recent Restrung tour, and Suffa’s home studio, we caught up with MC Pressure for the latest.

hilltop hoods interivew happy mag the great expanse
Photo: Averie Cole

“…it’s more like a living piece of art.” Before they drop their newest album The Great Expanse, we caught up with MC Pressure of Hilltop Hoods.

HAPPY: Hey guys, how are things? What are you up to at the moment?

MC PRESSURE: Feeling great now the album has been handed in, I think it aged me a few extra years but we go there. We’ve been spending our time since then fine tuning all the new songs for our live show we are currently putting together.

HAPPY: Digging The Great Expanse’s cover art. Is there a story being told with the character on all your covers?

MC PRESSURE: The character ‘Armageddon’ that features on the covers of all our art work has been with us since day one. Every time we drop a new album he gets to go on a new adventure with us, this time through the Great Expanse.

HAPPY: Just gave the new LP a spin and the features stand out, as always. What’s your process for choosing feature artists going into a song or record?

MC PRESSURE: I guess each collab comes about in a different way. Usually they are artists we have either met along our travels at some point and vibe with or they are someone who’s dropping tunes that we are feeling. Mostly we get them to come down to the studio for a day or two and work the song with them, I much prefer being in the same place with someone when collaborating.

HAPPY: Are there more artists out there that you would still be keen to work with in future?

MC PRESSURE: So many that I can’t name yet. Working with new peoples breathes a bit of fresh air into the music. Its so great seeing how they go about their craft and it reminds me to never stop learning.

HAPPY: I’m told the Restrung Live tour was your biggest ever. Do you find a difference in the audience’s energy between the orchestra shows and more down-the-line headline sets?

MC PRESSURE: Yeah for sure, just having a 50 piece band on stage changes the energy a lot. I also feel there is a wider demographic of people that come to see that style of show, it’s as much about the spectacle as it is to see us reinvent our tunes.

HAPPY: You’ve always championed that intersection between orchestral or more classical music with hip hop. Where did that interest come from? Were you fans of that kind of music before forming Hilltop Hoods?

MC PRESSURE: I don’t think any of us grew up as orchestral fans but we love the power that an orchestra injects into the music. I think it comes from our broad love of so many genres. Growing up digging in crates and making sample-based hip hop you discover so much outside of your immediate influence, because of that we’ve always had a very eclectic soundscape.

HAPPY: I saw MC Suffa was building a studio some time ago, did that finish up? Has it served as a base for any Hilltop Hoods recordings or mostly hobby work for now?

MC PRESSURE: Suffa finished The Nest last year and did all of his vocal recordings for The Great Expanse there, it’s so much more than a hobby studio, it’s more like a living piece of art. We also still work out of Debris place Take Away Studios as well. The album was made mostly between the two.

HAPPY: Falls would have been the first opportunity you had to showcase the new album to fans. Did you try out new material, and if so how did it go down?

MC PRESSURE: We played our two latest singles Clark Griswold and Leave Me Lonely there, they went down so much better than we anticipated. But then again the whole Falls tour was so hype. We will be adding a whole lot more new material for the upcoming shows.

HAPPY: Are you planning to hit the road anytime soon?

MC PRESSURE: Yeah we are playing the Eminem tour later this month and Groovin the Moo festival in April/May. For real we cant wait!


Hilltop Hoods’ new album The Great Expanse is out Friday February 22nd. Pre-order your copy here.

Catch Hilltop Hoods touring with Eminem and on Groovin the Moo tour. A full list of tour dates can be found here.