Loving HELLA by Daniel O'Brien-Bravi

The seventh installment in the tribute to Hella is written by Daniel O'Brien-Bravi. He has been creating music for fifteen years and currently plays bass in the groups Pluvial and Gallons. He also has a solo project called That Instrument. Daniel's love and knowledge of music are incalculable. To find out more about him, check his tumblr site and Pluvial on facebook.

"I’d finally found what I’d been looking for. I was working at a well-respected record store at the time when “Hold your horse is,” opened my eyes. Hella, which now personifies a type of music, a permanent timeline marker, and a lifestyle, was one of forks in roads. “Hold your horse is” would mean nothing to me, were it not for these forked roads.

I was raised playing classical music as a symphonically-trained trumpet player. It was a challenge to memorize and play concertos, with all of their energy and detail. This interest, this unwavering discipline within music and its structure, is integral to any subsequent interest I could have in music. The aggression that such tedium and proficiency conjured was also integral. I would search for these beloved aspects of classical music in contemporary bands for years. As a result of [what we know consider] math rock being a subgenre of a subgenre at the time, I had no idea where to look for it, let alone know that it existed. I found small amounts of solace in technical metal bands, which lacked the melodic aspect of classical music that I yearned for. It then occurred to me that what I was searching for was widely to be considered more experimental. So, digging into experimental music led me down fork after fork in the roads of genres of music. I knew what I was looking for, I knew that when I heard it, I would be able to finally exhale.

Eventually I found myself working at the aforementioned record store. We did our ordering through a distributor whose system automatically recommended bands based on what we had been ordering. Hella popped up as one of these recommendations, and there were two titles available. “Hold your horse is,” and “The devil isn’t red.” I’d heard this band mentioned by friends, and they weren’t fond of it. “Too electronic,” they’d say, or “they’re too weird.” I decided to look into them myself, and I usually did this via Youtube. There were several live videos available, none of which were anything close to “too electronic” or “weird.” I was starting to think I had the wrong band, or more importantly, the wrong friends. Using the track listing for “Hold your horse is,” I started searching youtube for song titles, quickly realizing that something significant was happening. Video after video of these two men went by in a blur, every one depicting musicianship that absolutely defines tenacity and discipline. My heart was racing, but ever the skeptical one, I thought that perhaps their live show was some shredfest-showoff-wankery that couldn’t possibly by composed, recorded, and replayed the same way every time. I ordered a copy of “Hold your horse is” at that moment. When it arrived the next day, I unwrapped it and put it on over the store speakers. I hadn’t been able to find any videos of the opener, “The D. Elkan,” so I had no idea what to expect. Lo and behold, it was... electronic. It was entirely electronic. What a let down, I thought. As I stood there, reading the rest of the song titles, trying to figure out if I’d been watching videos of a couple of unsigned pranksters who maybe covered a whole album of Hella’s electronic ditties, “biblical violence” unleashed some violence of biblical proportions upon my ears. I finally exhaled. I finally found what I’d been looking for in music. It wasn’t like starting a new chapter of music, nor was it like starting a whole new book. It was like discovering that books EXIST, books FULL of chapters. It was profound in a way that hasn’t been rivaled since. Needless to say, “Hold your horse is” was played on repeat for the rest of the day, and most of each shift for the next several weeks. Essentially, until I knew it note for note, or as well as Zach and Spencer."


Loving HELLA by Nick Reinhart

Submission number five is written by Nick Reinhart. He is a massively talented guitarist/vocalist/effects guru, who plays guitar and sings in Tera Melos and bygones. Tera Melos will be doing six west coast shows in april with the recently reunited fIREHOSE, then play in basically every part of Europe from late april to late june. Their follow up to the brilliant LP, Patagonian Rats, is due next year via Sargent House. For more about Tera Melos, check f'book and the twit-thing.

"i first saw hella in 2001. a friend of mine had told me about this band, crime in choir, and how they had a really awesome drummer. we were both really into electronic music and had heard that crime in choir had a similar vibe, but with all live instrumentation. i remember scoffing at my friend trying to describe how the drummer played. i thought "there's no way someone could play like that." they were playing in placerville at a coffee shop. i don't think i'd ever been to placerville at that point, but i recall the drive really sucking and feeling carsick going through a bunch of windy back roads. we got to the venue and heard that crime in choir wasn't playing for some reason. that was a bummer, but then we found out some other band with the drummer from CIC was playing. ok fair enough. stood around for a bit. i think pocket for corduroy played that night as well (very rad band). the band that played instead of CIC was called Hella. they set up, started playing and i think my face must have gone white. it was definitely one of the coolest things i'd ever seen. they were selling a junky demo cd-r, which years later i found out was called Leather diamond. it had 3 songs on it and they sold it in a blue, handmade sleeve with a kinkos sticker on it that just said "hella." each disc had an individually hand drawn face. i definitely listened to that thing a million times. it was one of my very first, if not thee first, exposure to super outside the box music done with real instruments (non-electronic music). i think at that point i may had already gotten into fugazi which would probably qualify as the only other radically different thing i'd heard outside punk music.

anyways, the three songs on the demo would later be re-recorded the next year with a bunch of other awesome songs that became "hold your horse is." so while the quintessential hella record wouldn't come out until a year later, i had already had my mind ripped apart by a preview of what was yet to come."


Loving HELLA by Aaron Ross

This fourth piece is from Aaron Ross of California. Any fan of Hella should know him as the vocalist and co-lyricist for the album There's No 666 in Outer Space. Aaron has a plethora of solo albums and is one half of Amaranth with Spencer Seim. The duo will be releasing their second album, The Beast of Both Worlds, later this year.

"the first time i heard hella was.. i don't know what year it was...but it was when they first started out cause they were selling burned cds that had a few rough cuts from hold your horse is...the show was at center of the arts in grass valley ca...they totaly blew my mind that night..and also i rememember some pretty epic shows in sacto at the capitol garage... one especialy with deerhoof..anyways this was all in the time when hold your horse is came out...so when it came out i was fully stoked! it's probabaly still my favorite record of theirs although i do love the double album."


Loving HELLA by Derek Gaines

Entry number three is a brief statement from Derek Gaines. He has been in countless projects over the years, such as Jelly Button and Thirsty Herds, and currently plays guitar in the group Jerkagram. 

"you know i dont even know what to say about this album. i suck grammatically and i feel weird talking about music as a spectacle but this album did change how i viewed and listened to music for the better. i wouldn't even be able to describe how this album made me felt. it was so long ago. i just know my brain melted and still melts listening to it now."


Loving HELLA by John Clardy

The second installment of this tribute to Hella comes from John Clardy. He is an extremely creative and accomplished musician, having performed in various groups, and currently plays drums in Tera Melos. The band is working on a follow up to the outstanding Patagonian Rats and will undertake an extensive tour of Europe beginning mid-April and ending in late June, with a few US shows beforehand. Find out more through facebook or twitter.

"My freshman year of college was what I imagine is common for a lot of people.  I spent most nights of the week holed up in the painted cinderblock blandness of my dorm room, being generally miserable.  I had hardly made any friends save for a few that lived down the hall, but no one that I hung out with with any regularity.  In November 2002, my friend Dave, who was my spanish teacher in high school and the same guy that had told me about Lightning Bolt, told me that there was an even crazier band that I needed to check out called Hella, and that their drummer was the best.  They were playing at the venue that is the heart of Denton, TX: Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, in a week or so.
The night of their show rolled around, but I decided that, not even knowing how to get to Rubber Gloves from campus, I would just blow it off.  A month or so later I was home for the holidays and started looking around on the net for information on Hella after Dave had told me "Hella was amazing, he's the fastest, tightest drummer I've ever seen, and they play incredibly together.  At one point the guitarist's amp cutout; they both just looked at each other, and jumped back in perfectly synchronized!"  I ended up on the old 5RC website and found the free mp3 download for "Cafeteria Bananas" and probably ended up listening to it three times in a row right off the bat.  I'd heard some things before it that were similar, but this was definitely something new.  I knew that it was something important, and a few weeks later I finally ordered "Hold Your Horse Is" through the 5rc/kill rock stars website.  

It was a crazy experience.  I listened to it as I was driving up to Denton from my parents house in the suburbs and could barely believe/didn't know what to make of what I was hearing.  I knew it was going to take me a lot of listens to really get into the vibe of what was going on.  Even just the tones on the record were foreign in an enchanting kinda way.  There was a great blend of intensity peppered with a sense of mischievous humor, a kind of playfulness that made it easier to navigate through what could at times be a very dense, undulating and sputtery cloud.  

My initial Hella indoctrination has to onclude the first time I saw Hella live.  They came back to Rubber Gloves a few months later on March 17, 2003 (there is a pretty popular video on youtube of them playing "Biblical Violence" from this show, you can almost see me at the very beginning), nearly a year to the date of the album's release.  I'd been the Rubber Gloves a few times by now and got there right around the time doors opened, and just sat there in my car listening to the end of "Led Zeppelin II".  I remember thinking something along the lines of "Kinda funny that I'm listening to one of the most influential drummers ever, and I think I'm about to witness another in that line..."   I saw their van pull up and as Zach got out I introduced myself and, being the young drum dork that I was, asked him what kind of bass drum pedal he used.  "It's a... Tama Iron Cobra" but this was what I really wanted to know:  "Double or single?"  "It's a single pedal."  Now I knew he was truly the best.  

When Hella took the stage and was like nothing else, just a beautifully intense synergy of these two brilliant musicians, shattering what I thought was possible with music right in front of me.  As I watched Zach relentlessly pummel his drum set, I felt like I was watching the realization of the path I'd been on with drums, from the classic rock players I grew up on through the punk drummers through the prog guys to the jazzers, this playing was the next level in the instruments' evolution in my mind.  I remember thinking "This guy has either studied through every rudiment and drum book a thousand times over, or he's never taken a lesson in his life; I can't wait to ask him" and it was the latter; which was also a great inspiration to me as well, because I never studied drums in the academic sense either.  I was now fully immersed, seeing that these two guys weren't just about playing gnarly music but that it was more like getting to see inside their brains and watching them function, there was no pretense, this is just part of how they live and breathe. 

This was exactly what I had been looking for as a musician, I was beginning to grow out of my phase of fast punk music as being the greatest, and this was the future for me.

"Hold Your Horse Is" opened the portal to a musical dimension that I had been seeking out and set me on the path to work harder than ever at pushing my limits as a musician.  They set a new standard for combining superb musicianship with creativity and using all of it to create new sounds.  I listened to Hella constantly for years thereafter and even now they are a band that is in consistent rotation in my musical diet.  The world that it opened to me through other music past and present that I learned about thereafter was all encompassing and its difficult for me to imagine what life would be like without it.  Both Zach and Spencer have shaped my perception and appreciation of music in ways that I really can't overstate. It's something that has been a massive inspiration and something I can always go back to that is both comfortingly familiar and yet something I can hear and feel new things in each time.  I've been friends with both of them for 9 years now but there is still the the young 18 year old in me that is still picking his jaw up off the floor, and I can always think back and feel parts of that initial jolt to my system that came from their art.

Definitely one of the most life changing records I have ever heard."


Loving HELLA by Seb Tull

The first entry in the series of Hella tributes is from Seb Tull, hailing from Australia. He is currently in a band called Control and is a massive fan of Hella and all related projects.

"Hold Your Horse Is was the world’s launch pad into the world of Zach Hill and Spencer Seim. I heard these guys through a friend, who knew I am a huge Lightning Bolt fan and sent me the live Biblical Violence video. It completely blew my mind and I soon picked up this album. It hooked and dragged me in, in a way that only the best do.

Since then I’ve researched, purchased, attended shows and been addicted to these guys in all their many forms/projects ever since. To me it’s not just Hella, Zach and Spencer have a whole dimension beyond this band which is filtered more directly into what we all know and love as Hella.

This album is extremely important in showing what they are capable of and why you should give them the time to appreciate them. Hella have redeveloped, redesigned and reformulated their work ever since, even Tripper which was stripped back doesn’t quite have the same intensity, sincerity and beauty of this album. This will always be Hella’s finest work to me but that doesn’t mean to say that any of their other work less special. Hold Your Horse Is, is their starting point and what happened since has been a twisting and schisming, intriguing and delightful path.

Zach in particular (as I’m a drummer) really speaks to me, not only through his natural playing exuberance but through his ideals and personality. Since reading interviews about him, I feel a kindred spirit in his unrelenting desire to serve his musical passion and soul, to serve his music and transcend into his instrument.

He truly has inspired me when I was losing faith in good music. I owe a lot to him for inspiring me to really believe that – shit! I can do what I feel is right in music, I can truly express myself and not question it or given reason to it. This for me represents a real artist and one explained by in Wassily Kandinsky’s “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”.

But back more on topic! this album will forever be important to me and many others who see its beauty. To me it’s as important as Nevermind by Nirvana, which got to me when I was very young and got me into music.

The truly sincere, expressionistic exuberance of feeling in this album, really catches me and drags me in. It will forever be a major influence on my personality, work ethic and artistic outlook."


Loving HELLA

It has been ten years since the first Hella release!!

Hold Your Horse Is was distributed via 5 Rue Christine and Frenetic Records on March 19, 2002. This recording is one of the true masterpieces in human history. Preceding HYHI was a demo, Leather Diamond, and many live performances. With the release of their debut record, Hella became established as a monumental force in recorded and live music. After a lull of almost five years, last year brought their fifteenth release, Tripper, with hopefully many more to follow.

To honor Hella's indescribably phenomenal music and to show appreciation for the incomparable people known as Spencer Seim and Zach Hill (collectively, Dan Elkan, Jonathan Hischke, Aaron Ross, Josh Hill, Carson McWhirter and Joe Meade), I have asked some fans of the band to share their thoughts. I initially requested a description of their first time hearing Hold Your Horse Is and let the respondents improvise from there. During each day this week, I will post one or two of these missives.

Hella is THE BEST.


Death Grips remix Björk

Björk will be releasing an eight part remix series for her latest album, Biophilia. Beginning April 2, remixes by a different artist or group will be released every two weeks via One Little Indian. One of these artists is Death Grips but the date of their release is currently unknown. All parts of the series will have 12", CD, digital and limited edition deluxe versions.

Vooredoms play two shows at ATP!!

This weekend is All Tomorrow's Parties curated by Jeff Mangum which takes place at Butlins Holiday Centre in Minehead, UK. Vooredoms have been chosen to perform at the festival and they will be doing two sets over two days. They are scheduled to play at 2:45pm on March 10 and 3:00pm on March 11. This is one of the most incredible groups in history, do anything you can to witness them.