***DEAD HOUR NOISE***
For fans of: Every Time I Die, Ken Mode, Bleeding Kansas, Von Wolfe and Converge.
Wooaaaaaah that was officially the blog's longest inactive period without counting last year's European tour. Don't worry we got lots of stuff ready, and should have 3-4 more posts by the end of July.
So without further ado, here is an awesome email interview that I conducted with the good folks at DEAD HOUR NOISE in Lansing Michigan. They released the stellar 'Sleeping Dogs' full length on cd (band) and cassette (Tomb Tree Tapes + band) that has been a staple in my house for half of the year now. Metallic, riff-heavy hardcore that fans of Every Time I Die and Botch should relish. Jam and read.
1) How did the band form?
We met at a local show our previous bands played in spring 2013. Nick and I had been playing in Croatone, a riffy instrumental prog rock thing, and Collin was fronting Reconnect, really cool sort of melodic hardcore. Later that summer Reconnect split and Collin was looking to join another band. A mutual friend of ours hit me up about the possibility of having Collin do vocals for Croatone, but at that point Croatone wasn't as active as I would have liked it to be, so I suggested starting a new project. I was looking to play more straight forward punk rock, or something along those lines. Collin expressed interest in doing something a lot heavier, "like Napalm Death meets Every Time I Die" which I ended up being way more psyched about. We talked for a few days and found a ton of common ground, we definitely had to do something. So we needed a drummer. I ran it by Nick at Croatone practice and he was all in. We immediately wrote Parasite, Sinner, and Monitor, and began rehearsing with Collin. Shortly after sharing demos of those songs online we got Seth Clickner's attention and he came over to play bass. By January 2014 we were playing shows, in April we recorded our first EP, and soon after that we picked up guitarist Cody Hobbins who had played in Reconnect with Collin. So we got rolling as a 5 piece pretty quick.
2) Why the name?
The "Dead Hour", also known as "Devil's Hour" or the "Witching Hour", is supposedly when paranormal phenomena is at it's peak and black magic is said to be most effective, between 3:00am and 4:00am. We were hanging on my front porch spit balling ideas for names after one of our first practices and Collin brought up the "Dead Hour". It sounded like a good band name so we looked it up and found somebody had already claimed it. One of the other names we were considering had "Noise" in it, can't remember what that even was, but I wondered about tacking it on the end, "Dead Hour Noise". It implies something unsettling and supernatural, we thought it was cool.
3) What were your influences when you started, and what are they now?
When we first got together I was really into Pg.99, Cursed, Dangers, Bucket Full of Teeth, Comadre, and Daughters. I just wanted to write riffs that were fast and angular but relatively easy to play live so I could throw my body around n shit. Lately I'm probably taking more influence from some of my all time favorites like Fear Before The March of Flames, Botch, The Blood Brothers, Converge, and Coalesce, trying to be a lot more mindful of how I work in dissonance and groove. We embraced our mathy side a bit on Sleeping Dogs, while it was just sort of a tendency on the first two EPs.
4) Oh damn those are a lot of sick bands. As soon as you mention Blood Brothers I automatically think lyrics, how do you generally come up with themes/ideas/patterns/etc.?
As for lyrics, they usually start off as vague, fragmented ideas that I just let spill onto the page. One thing I really like about this band is how naturally everything comes, none of us really break our backs by thinking too hard. Of course, I usually do have at least one thing in mind while I “word vomit” out of my hand onto paper. Afterwards when the instrumental aspect is written, I edit and move sections around to make it coherent and also fit into the instrumental sections. I never know what the final product actually means until it’s done. But at the end the pieces always fit together in a way that makes sense to me, and with how vague and implicative the lyrics actually are, it leaves a lot up to listener interpretation. But all of our releases are titled to reflect the reoccurring themes amongst the lyrical content of the track listing.
5) Do you feel like you have to stay grounded more playing the new material, or can you still thrash around?
Man, I like to think I still bring it, there's definitely sections I gotta dial it back though. Putting on an energetic live show is really important to us. Especially playing heavy music, it's such a key part of the catharsis, but I ain’t out there constantly swinging my guitar around and colliding with people in the pit or anything like that.
6) What are some of your favourites from the pre-Sleeping Dogs releases? Do you have any hindsight is 20/20 moments looking back now?
Parasite, Slumber, Danger Dance and Gambler are big ones. The slow riff at the end of Gambler is just so fucking dumb, I get way into that. Locusts is basically our love letter to 'Canada Songs' complete with sliding dissonance and rapid chug patters, super fun. Some of the songs we've kinda gotten away from I'm still really proud of, namely Monitor, Sinner, Pardon Me, and Dead Dreamer. Looking back, musically I don't think there's anything I wish we did differently. We just wanted to play the chaotic noisy hardcore that we love. My only regret is not doing more to get us on the road early on.
7) Has the songwriting style changed over the years? How does a DHN song usually go from nothing to a finished track?
For sure. Writing Tension, a lot was done with the three of us in the basement writing together, either from scratch or off an idea somebody brought in. As soon as we could string a few riffs together Collin would start writing lyrics and join in as we repeatedly ran it from the front, where further ideas usually sprang up. We tried to keep everything short, and for the most part didn't repeat or call back to anything a whole lot. Seth and Cody contributed on Bad Things and a portion of Sleeping Dogs, with them we started to fuck around more with actual song structure. Sometimes at the end of practice we'd try to write a song in 30 seconds, just start with a super raw idea and play what comes to mind without thinking about it too much. Those didn't always make it far, but thats how Locusts, Gambler, Performance Art is Shit, and Woodchipper Abortion came together.
Our routine is a little different now. Collin moved to Grand Rapids a couple of years ago, which is about an hour up the road from Lansing, so between two weekly practice days Nick and I spend one refining a song idea on our own before Collin gets to bite into it. Generally I'll come to practice with a handful of riffs or a partial song. Once Nick gets his hands around the pattern he'll have an idea of where to take it, or another way we can cut it up and arrange it. From there we'll bounce ideas back and forth until we have what we feel is a healthy skeleton for a song. Collin will fit lyrics and we just play it a ton and flesh it out over time, it sorta feels like it writes itself at that point. It's definitely a more open-ended method than when we started out. Often we decide we aren't satisfied and we'll overhaul whole passages or add entirely new ones. It's never truly completed until we track it in the studio.
If we don't have a good skeleton in a couple of practices we'll dump it. Sometimes we just don't know what to do with something that we're into and we'll shelve it, maybe to revisit later. The Texas Effect is an excellent example of that. Nick and I originally started writing it as a Croatone song before we started DHN in 2013. We really loved some parts but were never happy with it as a whole, by the time we dissolved Croatone it never made it off the bench. Several years later, I wanna say 2018 at the back end of writing Sleeping Dogs, we thought to take a stab at it as a DHN song and it came together with ease. Scatter was another unreleased Croatone song we gave a DHN treatment.
8) You played a show/shows with Nerver a while back, how was that?
Yeah we did ten dates with them in January, they're so fucking sweet. We had played together a few years back when they came through Ann Arbor as Celebration, which was dope, we hung out and they encouraged us to come down south. By the time we started booking a tour for the Sleeping Dogs release, they had rebranded as Nerver and were getting ready to drop Believer's Hit, so the timing was perfect for us to team up and do a run together. It was our first time being out for more than a long weekend, so they kinda showed us whats up and we played some shows that really popped off. Getting to hang and kill time with them dudes was great though. DIY touring has its peaks and valleys, but they're way more fun and way less soul crushing respectively when you're out with friends.
9) Have you been writing during COVID? If so, how?
Luckily we already had a nice jump on writing before the stay home order hit. Since then, I just have a bunch of riffs and rough song ideas that I've been nailing down on my own. We've traded a few phone videos and audio clips of things we want to work on, but we haven't put anything together as a group yet. I imagine as things start to chill, Nick and I will start meeting up to demo more songs for Collin to write to remotely for a while. Figure we aren't playing live until 2021, might as well dive right in to the next release or two.
10) Do you have any specific direction for your new material? If so, how does it differ from 'Sleeping Dogs'?
The new stuff is a little more chordy and noodly, I think we're allowing the progressive rock and post-hardcore influences to creep in a bit on the instrumental side. Still, it's not a huge departure. We'll always play blast beats, mosh riffs and shit, we're just trying to stretch what we can do as a three piece with split guitar and bass. I expect it to sound like a more tightened and focused effort than Sleeping Dogs, which was written in chunks over a fairly long period of time.
11) Once things are a bit more hospitable in general, what are the band's plans?
We were supposed to have shot a music video by now, so that will likely be the first order of business. I definitely want to book some east coast shows and hit a few of the spots we played in January again, Chicago for sure. We've also been talking to some homies in Detroit about doing a split, which at least is something we can start working on soon. Until then, we'll be making the most of our time writing and recording, it could be a lot worse.
12) Colin, what generally drives your lyrics? What do you think your next few topics will be?
I’m glad you asked. Sleeping Dogs has a few different points and feelings that were put into it. Especially since it was written over such a large timeframe. But the theme that is most prevalent in that album is breaking away from control. It talks about abusers and oppressors in all forms. Whether they be personal relationships, religious or belief driven, to systemic, and governmental and the importance of crossing the dividing line from being a victim to being your own person. I’m not sure if you’ve seen our recent merch, but the design on the back of the Sleeping Dogs hoodie is actually an upside down “Power” insignia. We could’ve just as easily titled the album “The Last Fucking Straw”.
As for my next few topics, well, there is a lot that I could write about this year. When Covid 19 came to the states, I was still within my first 90 days at my job. So when the case numbers started rising, I was straight up fired rather than laid off in the beginning of March. I’m not sure when I’ll go back to work but I’ve been quarantining alone very strictly for majority of this time. I’ve learned a lot and had a lot of realizations about a variety of things. While I am going to address some of the elephants in the room, I think I would also like to talk about things that are a little more subtle in our every day lives that we don’t realize how much they actually affect us and the futures that we’re currently driving towards personally, nationally, and as a species. But like I said before, the ideas I start with when I write aren’t always what comes out on paper, so we’ll see what comes of it.
13) Which of the shows in January were your favourite and why?
Chicago went hard. I love how enthusiastic and welcoming that scene is, anybody trying to improve DIY in their hometown needs to take notes in Chicago. DEATHRUN put together a seriously killer bill for us with .mannequins. and Democide. Nobody was familiar with the venue but it popped off, we really need to get out there more. Lawrence, Oklahoma City, and Denton were hype too. We played sort of a matinee with DSGNS and The High Price of Playing God in Austin, that bill was mean. Detroit was fucking nuts. The show was in a co-op where the ground floor is basically a vaulted VHS library chamber with a big old TV behind the drum kit. Nerver requested to play their set with Tremors on behind them, we did the same, it was sick. People were really getting down and I felt anxious for the hundreds of tapes to come avalanching off the shelves on everyone but miraculously that never happened.
14) Will the split likely be where we'll find your next material?
Oh yeah, we wanna knock that out before we dive into recording the next full length.
15) What are your favourite releases of 2020 thus far?
I've been digging Serpent Column - Endless Detainment, Thin - dawn, New Primals - Horse Girl Energy, ASK - Severed Self, the Foxgrave / Dasterds Split, and lately END - Splinters From an Ever-Changing Face. It's been a strange year but 2020 has come through with some ass beaters.