Noise-punk masters Ho99o9: “The good thing with us is that we don’t give a fuck”

The formidable live band hit up UK shores once more for a recent Brooklyn Brewery-sponsored run of intimate shows. NME caught up to talk new music, and the explosion of hardcore-punk in recent months.

Anyone who’s witnessed New Jersey noise-punks Ho99o9 live can tell you they leave a lasting mark. Frenzied in the extreme, their aggro take on avant garde music is best experienced in a whites-of-the-eyes, sweat-slicked mosh-pit. They’re a band who cite the likes of hardcore punk originators Bad Brains amongst their biggest influences, and it’s not hard to see why – their anything-goes, leave-everything-on-stage attitude is up there with the greats of the genre, and, alongside bands like Code Orange and Turnstile, they’re pushing it in a bold new direction.

Now, a year on from their shape-shifting debut album ‘The United States of Ho99o9’, the duo – Eaddy and The OGM – are readying a second LP. Over in the UK for a special, intimate run of Brooklyn Brewery-sponsored dates, following some huge arena shows in the USA, NME caught up with Ho99o9 to talk new material,

NME: It’s been a while since your debut album ‘The United States Of Ho99o9’ – have you been working on new material?
Eaddy: We have actually, we are currently working on the next album – I am very excited about the next chapter. We have some really good stuff in the works, it’s also a challenge because we are touring so much. Whenever we are touring a lot, and it takes us away from the recording process,  when we’re back it takes us a little while to get back in the groove. Once we get in the grove it’s like… [clicks fingers] pretty solid.

You really have to really bed yourself into that recording mindset, then?
Eaddy: Yeah – you really, really, really zone out and cut everything off and concentrate.
The OGM: It’s just like anything else in life – you can’t just wake up and be at work directly. You have to prep yourself – stretch, coffee, give yourself half an hour, you know? [laughs] No one wants to wake up and just go to work. Get into the mind state. You have to exercise your mind, for that.

You haven’t stopped touring!
Eaddy: No, we can’t stop. We had like a little break it was like two months, when we got back from the UK. Actually we did a tour with Kate Moss and we got back at the end of  December – we had January and February off. Then in March we started back up – two months is the most we ever get off, and even then we’re actually working on the next whatever it is.
The OGM: So, basically, there’s no days off! There’s intermissions.

There was so much going on sonically on that last record – is that something you’re looking to keep exploring?
The OGM: You know, we always want to push the boundaries in anything we put on wax and tour. There are so many different ways and sounds, and different things you can make music with, instead of it sounding the way you hear it every day on the radio or from certain artists. The sky is the limit, you know?

How far do you push that when you are in the studio? Is that why you need a lot of time, so you can just tear everything apart?
Eaddy: It is easy and hard to make songs, meaning we can go into a studio and make a song right now – is it going to be the best song? Probably not. That’s our challenge – when we go in the studio, we’ll make a sound that’s cool, but how do we push that boundary in a way that people can receive it, and it can do what it needs to do, but also be pushing forward experimental-wise. We never want to conform. We want to make music that will transcend and that everyone can sing along to, but and at the same time we don’t want it to come off pop or cheesy. Those are the challenges.

You have to find that sweet spot, because it is so easy to go so avant-garde, and then it’s noise for noise’s sake.
Eaddy: Yeah, and then you start making something catchy and people are like, ‘Hmm, that’s not… you know…’
The OGM: It always works that way – you come off a certain way that the fans are used to, and then you might take a new route. Then old fans are mad because a new fan is vibing it.  The good thing with us is that we don’t give a fuck, though. [smiles] You are either without us or you’re against us.
Eaddy: Get out of here!

Obviously, you’re quite a renowned live band. Do you want the records to stand up for themselves, as their own entity?
Eaddy: That’s one of the challenges for this next record – making sure that the record can stand on its own. You know, our record is good now but I mean we want something that’s like, ‘Woah. As soon as I hear this, this shit is already explosive. Even I didn’t see them live I can already imagine that this shit is explosive’. That’s what I want.

The OGM: I want someone to hear it and say, ‘I wonder what this would sound like live.’ Because I’ve heard some bands and rappers, or certain artists, and I’m like, ‘Damn, there’s so much sounds going on that I know it’s not a guitar or a bass. I always wonder how it is going to translate to being live. That’s what makes it exciting. You hear certain tunes and certain riffs that just get you so amped you want to smash your head through a wall. That’s what I like. That’s what we want.

Are there any new bands that you’ve come across that do that for you?
Eaddy: What’s has been playing constantly in my rotation is a lot of Sepultura and Soulfly. I don’t know how I haven’t heard about them – like I’ve seen their names before, but I had just been too lazy to click their names on the computer. But I just found out about them and it makes me excited.

They have that sort of groovy, metal thing going on.
The OGM: The groove, yeah!

Eaddy: Yeah, it makes people jump and bounce and Max [Cavalerra]’s voice is just… it sounds really aggressive and that’s what get me going. That’s what’s been on my playlist.

You’re here for these four Brooklyn Sound shows – are you excited to get back to the UK crowds? How are UK crowds compared to American crowds?
Both: They’re rowdy.
The OGM: UK crowds are fucking rowdy, bro. Every time we come here…
Eaddy: I’m glad we can come here and do something cool and different and stylize it the way we want it, cos you know – we just came here and don’t wanna keep beating a fucking dead horse. So we like to come through with something different – something other people can remember and be like, ‘Oh, remember when Ho99o9 came to London in 2018? That show was nuts.’ I’m glad we can all put our heads together and make a cool unique experiment for everybody.

You’ve been doing these fucking huge, huge shows in America with Avenged Sevenfold and Prophets Of Rage. Is it nice to get back to something a little bit more… sweaty?
Eaddy: I like the small shows.  I like the big shows if the crowd’s for us, you know what I’m saying?  Once we get to the point where we can fill up our own stadium, or we can fill up our own arena, or our own O2, or whatever you wanna call it, then that’s really fun. When you play festivals and you know the people love it, that shit is fun. When you’re opening up for other bands and people are just there and it’s just a big venue, that shit is whatever.  You know what I mean? Like, it’s okay. As far as playing these smaller venues – the people that come out, and they’re hardcore fans? That shit is the best feeling ever.

Especially at a show like these where it’s a real ‘scramble for tickets’ kind of thing.
The OGM: Yeah. And like he said, with the huge venues and big crowds holding all the bigger bands, it’s just popped in my head, but people know what kind of band we are. People know what kind of music we are. People know what we stem from. And if you don’t then it’s gonna hit you real hard in the face. We were opening up for Papa Roach out here, and I remember reading a review and this was one of the shows where we were just gunning it. We always have a ‘fuck you’ attitude – hard, aggressive and just punk as fuck attitude on stage – and some dude was like, ‘These guys are, like, snobby [laughs]’ I’m like, ‘Hell yeah! The fuck you think, we gonna get up here and just let people boo us? Or we’re gonna be like a regular band?’
Eaddy: You gotta have some attitude, you know what I’m saying? You gotta have balls. Anybody that knows us, if you meet us off of the stage you know that we’re super chill and we’re down to earth ,we’re all about the vibes and shit but when we step on stage…
The OGM: We mean business.
Eaddy: We’re not fucking around.

Especially with bands like Papa Roach or Avenged – those crowds are not gonna be exposed to shit like this.
Eaddy: Of course! And they look at us like we’re the snobby ones – I’m like,  ‘Y’all are the ones that are snobby and not opening your minds to some other shit!’ Y’all only wanna hear this kind of music. Like, your favourite band is trying to expose you to something new and your still stuck in your hole like, ‘Urgh, fuck you’. That’s the problem, you know?
The OGM: All these huge bands, all these huge metal bands, pop-punk bands, all their inspiration comes from smaller bands like us. It comes from punk. It all comes from punk. I was just telling him I was recently watching a Slayer interview and they asked the dude, ‘What’s your inspirations?’ and he said, ‘When I was younger I was real into hardcore punk stuff – that always inspired me’. Metallica – they love The Misfits, they cherish The Misfits. I was just reading up on how they would like do Misfits covers, and that’s how The Misfits blew up, because they were wearing the skull shirts and everybody said, ‘What’s that band?’  It’s so crazy.
Eaddy: A lot of those bands are influenced by a lot of smaller hardcore punk bands and shit. You’ve gotta know your history!

Feels like hardcore’s having a bit of a moment – Code Orange getting nominated for a Grammy and shit like that.
Eaddy: Yeah, that was big. That’s pretty big for the culture and our kind of music. And once we saw that we were just like, ‘What?!’ If they can do that, there’s opportunity.
The OGM: And they were fuckin’ young motherfuckers too, and everybody else is like old dudes with grey hair.
Eaddy: In metal and rock and roll, only the older heads get praised. None of the younger bands ever make it to the Grammys, so when you see Code Orange doing it, I was like, ‘Woah man, you guys are fucking opening some doors.’
The OGM: Today, in 2018, what band now is going to graduate to an arena?
Eaddy: Who will allow it?
The OGM: You look at some of the old videos of like Judas Priest or Black Sabbath playing these fucking festivals- the shit is fucking crazy, there are millions of people! You wonder, ‘What the fuck, how did you get there?’ There was no internet! Shit is bugged out.

What’s next for you guys, then?
Eaddy: New record and world domination. We are on this neverending quest for world domination. We have this sword and we are taking off heads. We are like a freight train on non-stop whoever’s in the way is getting fuckin’ run over. We have to just get better at our craft – keep it creative, keep it dangerous, keep it love, keep it powerful… all those things. So, what is next? Next album and world domination. The neverending quest. Keep it tight.

Brooklyn Sound is a series of explosive one-off shows that will form short week-long tours, delivering New York and New Jersey’s finest talent to UK shores throughout 2018. Created by the team at Brooklyn Brewery, the next Brooklyn Sound tour will be announced in late June – keep an eye on the website for more details.