Search The Line of Best Fit
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Ho99o9 The Line of Best Fit Image by Rory James roryjamesphoto 12

Ho99o9 don’t give a f*ck about backlash

30 May 2019, 08:30
Original Photography by Rory James

“I love it when the freaks come out!” smirks Eaddy, one half of Ho99o9.

He’s referring to the fans he’s seen at their shows over the last few weeks: “People wear crazy shit. There was a dude that came to a show in a full on orange suit in San Francisco. It was like, a material orange suit and it covered his whole body. You couldn’t even see his face. Some people wear motorcycle helmets, ski masks, there was even one gig where someone was holding up a fake baby”. “I see a motherfucker with a plastic bag mask once!” laughs bandmate TheOGM.

Imagine being so into a band you willingly risk suffocation by plastic bag? That’s the kind of dedication the current Ho99o9 fanbase bestow upon them, but it hasn’t always been this way. The New Jersey via LA punk/rap duo who formed in 2012 have had their fair share of tough crowds, especially when performing on bills with headliners like Dillinger Escape Plan, Papa Roach and Avenged Sevenfold. “If we were some kind of pop act or if we were super sensitive then we would be hurt. But our hurt is the kind of hurt that’s like ‘fuck it, we’re fucking melting faces’” explains Eaddy, before TheOGM laughs adding, “We still be hurting a little bit! I’ll be hurting when we play to crowds of over 500 people and they just stand there looking at us, and I’m like 'okay, you motherfuckers not gonna move? I’m just gonna scream even more!'

“My thing is, when you go to a show if you don’t like it, go get a drink, go out for a smoke, and just come back. That’s what I do, I watch two or three songs and if I don’t like it, I just go and chill out”.

Fortunately, there’s no danger of a mixed reaction from the crowd at Ho99o9’s headline gig at London's Garage later that evening. The pair - joined live by phenomenal drummer Brandon Pertzborn - have unsurprisingly sold out the venue, so it’s going to be a real Ho99o9 show - plastic bags and all.

Hardcore fans of the band understand that Ho99o9’s gigs are not exclusively about the music (described as “Deathkult”), they’re equally about the spectacle. Combining hip-hop verses with visceral punk choruses and candid anti-establishment lyrics; Eaddy and TheOGM have been known to spark up joints mid-song, strip naked, and launch themselves from stages, ceilings and balconies. Eaddy in particular has a penchant for nudity, having recently bared all at their show in Berlin.

“I go on [stage] with an open mindset," he tells me. "Each show is different. It depends on the crowd, the place, the venue, the energy, me, the kinda surrounding. I’m not gonna get naked at no Download Festival or some sponsored gig, you know? The crazy thing is a lot of people don’t know that we’re not an overnight hit, I’ve been getting naked since the beginning of this band. We played backyards, we played houses, we played basements, garages...the scummiest dirtiest basements that you can imagine. Basements you wouldn’t want to set your fucking toe on. So we’re just rooted that way.

“The Berlin show was sold out, we were in Berlin - it’s the place where everything goes down. It’s x-rated. People are really open and free. I’m open, I’m an open book. I’m comfortable with my sexuality, so I give the people what they fucking want!” The pair laugh, as the TheOGM adds, “I just looked over, and once I saw that shit unbuckled and his shoes were off, I was like “this is it…”

After a recent tour in Europe and across the UK, the duo are back in London touring their new EP Cyber Cop [Unauthorized MP3.] Last time they played in town, it was at the Dr Martens boot room, and their faces were plastered across Camden and central London on billboards and tube station walls as part of the brand’s “worn differently” campaign. “It’s weird because as an artist that’s kind of what - I don’t wanna say strive for - but you do kind of strive for success and want more people to know about you," TheOGM explains. 'You wanna be heard and seen. But when we finally saw our faces all over the place, I was like 'woah, this is super weird'. When we went in to the subway, that shit was weird, [the posters] were plastered through the whole thing! I was down for it, but I’m kind of like an introverted extrovert so I’m like “ahhh!”

“We do actually wear Dr Martens though, so that made it better” adds Eaddy. I really like the culture of London, I like the people, the accent and the way everybody talks. I like the music history too. It’s so different from America, a lot of my favourite bands and musicians are from the UK”. When asked about his anticipations for their headline gig (which is just a few hours away) he calmly replies “Let’s see. Hopefully I can get into some trouble”.

There’s every chance this “trouble” could be documented on the web, as the band’s new EP is a riotous exploration centred around the theme, “is it safe to internet”. The pair discuss the differences between their new release, and their 2017 debut album United States Of Ho99o9, with TheOGM offering his thoughts first: “With USH it was like our stamp basically. It was like 'this is our sound, this is what we’re doing.' Now, with the EP it’s kinda like people already know who we are, and almost in a way they know what to expect, but they also don’t know what to expect.

"The album was more about politics, and this [EP] is kind of the politics of the internet I guess, It’s such a crazy thing that we’re all connected to our phones, our computers, like even this interview now [gestures towards smart phone], it’s everywhere. We’re literally all a part of it. It’s kinda like the feeling when you’re scrolling through your Twitter or Insta and you see stuff in your feed, so the songs [on the EP] kinda represent things like that. That feeling when you’re like “this is happening, this is happening, this is happening, woah, fuck! I don’t even know what I’m looking at or listening too!” so that’s kinda the concept”.

Eaddy elaborates: “It still has a message though. USH was our upbringing and how we got to where we are in the world today, and this is a similar kind of topic, but it’s in digital form. I just think that the internet can make or break you, and it tells the truth but also tells lies at the same time. I could go into more details with that but basically…someone can photoshop your face anywhere. There are memes…” he looks towards his bandmate and they both laugh.

“It’s funny seeing those things but also I guess somebody could get hurt by that” continuesTheOGM. “Nobody knows you, and you can put your song on the net, and then get a million views but then you say one wrong word or some shit and they will tear you down to pieces. It’s a tricky place”.

Do they each have a favourite track on the EP? “Lil Booth produced 'Forest Fires'" says TheOGM. "That shit is menacing. ‘Punk Police is for the people who are like, 'ohhh this [music] isn’t punk enough'".

Eaddy explains further: “We don’t get it too often, because motherfuckers know the deal. It’s just the few who stumble upon us without knowing who we are, or doing their homework, so at first glance they see something we do and they’re like “woah, this isn’t that” and we’re just like “relax man….”

Ho99o9 seem to have a knack for not letting people antagonise or dictate to them, and a knack for booking equally controversial support bands on their own tours that fuel their antagonist’s petty fires. Last time they played Camden’s Electric Ballroom, they brought LA band Kate Mo$$ with them. Their mixture of nudity, vomiting, and abrasive noise rock divided Ho99o9’s fans. “I remember that night man,” laughs TheOGM. “We picked them because we’re actually friends. We know them from home [LA]. They’re dope, we like what they do. We were aware that it would be a little weird and that some people wouldn’t understand it, but at the end of the day - it’s art. You go to a museum or a gallery and you see a painting on the wall - it might just be somebody who’s splattered black paint [on a canvas], but to somebody else it’s like “WOAH!” you know what I mean? It’s about perspective”.

It’s Ho99o9’s unique perspective that led them to Plack Blague, the band who are supporting them at The Garage. “We previously toured America with an industrial band called 3TEETH” explains Eaddy, “Plack Blague were connected and we found out about them that way. We watched their videos and their Instagram and we were like, 'this is right up our ally.'. You see bands touring all the time and they bring very similar supports bands with them, or a band that’s within the same genre as them.

"We like to go far leftfield, because we want to keep it unique. Plack Blague is some hardcore fucking leather-Daddy shit! They’re fully gimp masked and they’re playing hard rave industrial techno. It’s just fucking tight as shit. A regular rapper or whatever wouldn’t even think about putting someone like Plack Blague on the stage because they’d be afraid of the backlash”.

Speaking of backlash prompts Eaddy to share a recent memory: “We were recently having dinner with somebody - an older fella - about how Black Flag played his high school at lunchtime in California, and everybody hated it. They were throwing food and Henry Rollins was just antagonising everybody, picking up the food and eating it while he was performing. That’s punk as fuck. So you know - whatever - there’s always somebody in the crowd, whether it’s just one or another twenty people - somebody’s gonna be like, 'that shit was the fucking greatest thing I’ve ever seen'."

Ho99o9 fans are certainly a living testament to that last sentence. Look on any one of the band’s social media platforms and you’ll see dozens of photos documenting the madness that ensues when they enter a Ho99o9 mosh pit. Some fans can take things a little too far though. “Let’s talk about a recent lady in France,” says Eaddy. “I felt like she was gonna unravel my pants”. TheOGM laughs as he remembers this particular fan: “She was literally on the stage from the time shit started. She was holding on to his body, and we just felt a little like, 'okay, you’ve been up here for too long.'. We could see her in the crowd too, doing the most insane dancing. Then when the show was over, we were out by the merch saying hello and taking pictures, and I saw her coming and I was like, 'ohh shit!' and she came over and started kissing us and yeah - it’s weird when some people are a little too extra like that.

"There’s a way to communicate if you like me, you know what I’m saying? It’s definitely not like that!”

The subject changes from intense fans to intense memories of touring with Marilyn Manson and most recently, The Prodigy. TheOGM happily reflects on the time they spent on the road with Manson: “The tour we did with Manson was tight. That shit was actually really really good for support, like usually we go in to those bigger support slots and fans are really fickle. They’re like 'I’m here to see this person, and that’s who I care about, I don’t care about the opener.'

"But Manson’s crowd were great, they fucked with us hard, really hard. Those were all in the South as well - Florida, Memphis & Alabama - and then we did The Prodigy tour right after that”.

“That was amazing, to play arenas like that. It was like a rave every night, a party every night. Now thinking back on it - obviously Keith is no longer with us - it’s like damn, we were one of the last bands to tour with them and we recorded a song with them that’s on their record. That’s fucking special. Very special. To be able to play those kinds of shows always kind of fucks me up in the head because I don’t really know how to categorise our sound, so to be able to play with acts like Manson & The Prodigy is insane”.

In the middle of their set later that evening, Ho99o9 dedicate a medley of Prodigy songs to the band’s late frontman Keith Flint. Naturally, it’s well received by the loyal London crowd who throw themselves around the mosh full pelt and reciprocate the love with chants of “Keith! Keith! Keith!”

New music is now the topic of conversation, as TheOGM reveals there is a second part to the Cyper Cop EP that has yet to see the light of day: “I’ve actually been arguing with my manager because Part 2 is supposed to come out in May. So we’re sitting on this new stuff - a really strong seven songs - and after that we’re going to put out an album but probably not until 2020”.

“Just know that Cyper Cop 2 is coming” adds Eaddy, “That shit is heavy”.

The pair have spoken so highly of all the bands they’ve shared stages with, it seems only fair to offer them the to opportunity to praise some of their current favourite music. TheOGM is quick to mention two artists: “ScHoolBoy Q just dropped their album (CRASHTALK), so I’ve been fucking loving that. I love gangster rap. Then one of my homies just dropped an EP too, his name is Hoddy The Young Jedi, and his EP is called ROT. That shit is nice, very nice. That’s what I’m bumming right now”.

It’s clear from their own music and the music of the bands they choose to share stages with, that Ho99o9 don’t give a fuck about backlash. Whether they’re being antagonised or actively antagonising, they remain the inimitable sound of the outsider, the sound of a counter-culture coming at you wide-eyed and open-mouthed. From the underground basements of the US to arena stages across the globe; their raw and obvious talent is in no danger of burning out (only of suffocation by plastic bag).

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