While it feels like 100 gecs became an overnight sensation during lockdown, the hyperpop wizards’ mainstream infiltration was actually a long time coming. Having first met at a rodeo during their high school days before then reconnecting at a house party a few years later, it wasn’t until 2015 that producers and vocalists Laura Les and Dylan Brady officially joined forces to form one of this generation’s most polarising groups.
Their eponymous debut EP sounded like little else when it arrived in 2016, but it was their self-released 2019 debut album ‘1000 gecs’ — a 23-minute, genre-busting 10-track record that topped many end-of-year lists — that instigated the formation of their cult-like online fanbase. Commended for its chaotic yet catchy fusion of past and present maximalist sounds — including chiptune, emo, nu-metal, dubstep, ska and screamo — the album earned 100 gecs a major label record deal. July 2020 then saw the release of ‘1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues’, a remix record which brought together a host of names from disparate scenes (including Charli XCX, Fall Out Boy and Rico Nasty) and further silenced the sceptics who had dismissed the Missouri duo as an ironic meme band.
Having gone on to support Brockhampton after graduating from playing virtual gigs on Minecraft, 100 gecs are now gearing up for the release of their much-hyped second album ‘10,000 gecs’. By steering towards alt-rock and early-noughties pop-punk, standout single ‘Hollywood Baby’ alone promises an arena-sized evolution — though, as with all things 100 gecs, it may be wise to just expect the unexpected with this latest offering.
To celebrate the new album, here are 10 key — and suitably bonkers — tracks that help tell 100 gecs’ story so far.
A whirlwind five-track treasure trove, 100 gecs’ self-titled debut EP landed while the band were an unknown quantity. Very little of the record sounded familiar upon its release — except, perhaps, PC Music’s equally divisive yet innovative offerings. With its piano-led opening conjuring a false sense of security, the deconstructed EDM euphoria of ‘gum’ provided a thrilling introduction to the pair’s challenging yet cathartic world of sound.
‘money machine’ (2019)
This speaker-shattering highlight from their debut album ‘1000 gecs’ demonstrated the duo’s long-standing love for sonic collisions. Combining Sleigh Bells-referencing guitars with Les’ trash-talk flow (“Hey you little piss baby / You think you’re so fucking cool? You think you’re so fucking tough? / You talk a lotta big game for someone with such a small truck!”), ‘money machine’ became one of the first hyperpop songs to cross over commercially.
‘ringtone (remix)’ w/ Charli XCX, Rico Nasty and Kero Kero Bonito (2020)
By the start of the current decade, hyperpop was fast becoming a catch-all term for anything that sounded slightly left-of-centre or didn’t fit into an industry-designated box — and 100 gecs had been anointed as unintended pioneers of the sound. July 2020’s ‘1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues’ unsurprisingly packed in a number of scene guests, including Hannah Diamond and A.G. Cook, but it was the triple-threat of Charli XCX, Rico Nasty and Kero Kero Bonito that elevated ‘ringtone’ to the next level.
‘hand crushed by a mallet (Remix)’ w/ Fall Out Boy, Craig Owens and Nicole Dollanganger (2020)
Pop-punk and heavy rock have long been ingredients of the 100 gecs sonic blueprint, so recruiting Fall Out Boy and former Chiodos frontman Craig Owens (along with Canadian artist Nicole Dollanganger) for a remix of ‘hand crushed by a mallet’ made perfect sense. Hearing FOB frontman Patrick Stump in particular sing over a typically fist-pumping 100 gecs track delivered the ultimate mid-2000s throwback for their nostalgia-loving fans.
‘LONELY MACHINES’ w/ 3OH!3 (2020)
In late 2020, this cross-decade collaboration that very, very few people saw coming resulted in a merging of two not-so-separate worlds. Much like 100 gecs, 3OH!3 — who hadn’t released any new music in the four years leading up to ‘LONELY MACHINES’ — have long been known for making loud, distorted music that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The end result here? A parallel universe in which 3OH!3’s 2008 single ‘Don’t Trust Me’ and gecs’ ‘745 sticky’ coexist in perfect harmony.
‘sympathy 4 the grinch’ (2020)
100 gecs’ Christmas song — or anti-Christmas song, in this case — is a chant-heavy ska lament that rattles along with traditional jingle bells while showcasing the duo’s sharp storytelling skills. Sharing vocal duties, the pair depict an unfortunate someone who unwisely tries to steal Santa’s sack: “Wanted some speakers, Xbox and t-shirts / I’ve been good like every single day / Looked under my tree, my box was empty / Santa made an enemy that day (what the fuck?)”. ‘Silent Night’, this isn’t.
Linkin Park – ‘One Step Closer (100 gecs Reanimation)’ (2021)
Released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Linkin Park’s 2000 debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’, 100 gecs’ ‘reanimation’ of that record’s screamo standout utilised their typically maximalist approach. Interweaving the key elements of hyperpop with the emo-rock of the original certainly met Mike Shinoda’s brief. “I wanted to let innovative artists flip the songs in ways nobody expected,” he later said of the remix. “I think 100 gecs did exactly that.”
An early signifier that the 100 gecs sound was beginning to transcend hyperpop, the pair’s tongue-in-cheek 2021 thrasher ‘mememe’ was a highlight of their moshpit-heavy Coachella debut the following year. This early taste of their then-unannounced second album was evidence of a new alternative era for the band, leading to them being chosen by both Nine Inch Nails and My Chemical Romance as support acts on their respective tours in 2022.
‘Torture Me’ w/ Skrillex (2022)
A criminally short track at just one minute, 53 seconds long, this collaboration with Skrillex was particularly meaningful for Les and Brady. In a recent interview with Alternative Press, the duo shared how Skrillex’s 2010 single ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’ transformed what they thought of music: “Sometimes you just want to fucking bang your head to something,” Les said. “It takes you out of yourself for a minute.” The pair’s music certainly has the same effect here: this restless dubstep spiral, taken from their surprise three-track EP ‘Snake Eyes’, is further proof of that.
‘Hollywood Baby’ (2023)
A live fan favourite since late 2021, the explosive ‘Hollywood Baby’ careers towards a Warped Tour-referencing pop-punk sound. Aided by Josh Freese (who has performed with Blink-182, Weezer and Paramore) on drums, ‘Hollywood Baby’ is a stadium-sized headbanger and has sparked suitably feverish excitement ahead of the arrival of ‘10,000 gecs’.
100 gecs’ new album ‘10,000 gecs’ will be released on March 17