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The first things you notice are the drums. Zach Hill unleashes a thundering stampede of beats that simultaneously keep the time and pummel it into so much playdoh. But this is no mere display of percussive virtuosity. Spencer Seim weaves pulsing, melodic guitar lines that push the collective sounds into cohesive songs that astonish you with their technical intensity AND stick in your head after its all over, even without vocals (Hella is all instrumental). In little over a year, Hella have exploded out of Sacramento onto the underground West Coast scene and are signed to the Kill Rock Stars subsidiary label, 5 Rue Christine (5RC). 5RC released their debut album, Hold Your Horse Is, earlier this year and now, a brand-new 7 showcases a looser, playful Hella. With the drums not as pulverizing and the guitar lines not so hyperactive, the new release is an excellent complement to the album and the live show.

PERSONNEL:

Spencer Seim guitar

Zach Hill drums

 

So you guys were in a band called Legs on Earth?

Zach: Yeah. Legs on Earth was more like Devo, Talking Heads kind of thing.

Spencer: Its weird. Back then when we were making it, we didnt think it was pop-punk or anything but now looking back, those songs were straight up pop.

Zach: But it was pop in the way Devo or Oingo Boingo was pop, you know? We were little kids then.

 

How old are you guys now?

Zach: 22.

Spencer: 21.

 

(To Zach) The whole Roger Daltry thing doesnt bother you at all? (Zachs new hairdo bears a slight resemblance to the former Who singer).

Zach: No. Im a fan of the Who. I dont care.

Spencer: Besides, in a bit, hell have the ponytail length.

Zach: Then itll be a mullet.

 

I kinda noticed that the new songs sound a little more.

Zach: Mullet-core?

 

Ha, yeah, mullet core

Zach: Classic rock?

 

I was thinking more metalthey sound harder.

Spencer: The weird thing is they sound more rock-oriented but theyre more complex.

Zach: Theyre actually delicate songs. They come off as more abrasive but theyre held together really delicately. We have some songs that we havent played yet that sound more like the older stuff.

Spencer: Ha, that older stuff we wrote a year and a half ago.

Zach: Our next record is gonna sound a lot different because were evolving, you know?

Spencer: The first record, those were the first songs we ever wrote. The new 7 is a good example of us sounding a little different.

 

I just read an article about you guys in the SF Guardian that labeled you as brutal prog.

Zach: Thats the Flying Luttenbachers motto.

 

Yeah, they were mentioned too. Brutal prog, is that a good description of you?

Spencer: No, I dont think so. But people have to generalize. Thats just how people are.

Zach: I dont think there is a good description for it. If the people who are playing it cant come up with one, then how can writers? But we dont think about it.

 

Ive even heard someone describe you as sounding like Primus (Zach actually plays with Les Claypool).

Zach: I dont know. I dont hear any sort of resemblance to Primus.

Spencer: Yeah, sometimes people who arent in this scene and dont understand it as much are going to make a generalization to whatever theyve heard.

I saw you guys at the Oops! Tour at Gilman (with Lightning Bolt, the Locust, Arab on Radar) and was riding back with a friend of Zachs. I mentioned that I could see where Hella might have been influenced by Lightning Bolt. He adamantly denied it and said that both he and Zach listened to Lightning Bolt for the first time together well after Hella had formed.

Spencer: Wed written over half our songs by the first time I heard Lighting Bolt. I thought it was pretty cool but then I saw them live; they were awesome.

Zach: Theyre amazing and theyre good friends of ours. I love those guys and we complement each other well but I mean, were both duos and were both really intense and thats about all I see, you know. I think both bands see it that way.

 

For me, it was the drums.

Spencer: See, the drums are 100% totally opposite. Theyre fast but theyre different.

Zach: Two completely different players.

Spencer: And the same thing with the guitars. Hes playing a bass with tons of effects and what were doing is oriented towards the guitar. All I have is clean and distortion. So Lightning Bolt is more like electricity and a thundering kind of thing and we doI dont know what we do.

 

I wanted to ask about your name. You must get a lot of comments about it.

Zach: We thought it was funny. We were just joking around and thought no one would name a band Hella because everyone makes fun of that word.

Spencer: Thats whats funny about it. Its this highly obnoxious piece of slang thats particular to Northern California and Im sure people who see it think you gotta be retarded to name your band that.

Zach: Once people see us, I dont think it matters what the band name is. Its a silly name because it basically shows how silly having to name your band is anyway.

(To Spencer) So tell me about this other band youre in, the Advantage. Its video game music faithfully recreated?

Spencer: Yes. I mean, the two guitars and bass are exactly as it is in the games. The drums, some of the songs dont have drums but we put drums in there because we thought it would sound good. We played our first show recently and it went really well.

 

RELEASES: Full length Hold Your Horse Is, s/t 7 (both on 5RC)

 

WEBSITE: www.hellaband.com

 



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