Yesterday I got a call from my pal Adam Starr, a VP of marketing at Caroline. Adam was a big Crass fan when he was young, and the whole ethos behind what they did and their style of anarcho activism was very appealing to him and to his credit, he’s remained a vegan to this day. (I was lucky enough to see Crass live—one of their final shows—when I was 18 and I always hold this over him. I’m bragging about it right now, in fact.) When he called me up raving about a new band he was working with, Ho99o9 (“Horror”), he described their music as “hardcore meets hip-hop” (which made me wince, I must admit, fearing the worst of what those words conjure up) and then he said that one of them has a Crass tattoo and that they seemed to be heavily influenced by Crass in various ways.
At that point my interest was definitely piqued and I said “Yeah, I wanna hear this.” Ho99o9 didn’t disappoint. Just the opposite. Blunt to the head (interpret that however you wish) and with a multi-layered message of militant resistance to the shitshow of current American life. Thought-provoking, and very cool, but also unabashedly fun and notably creative.
Ho99o9—theOGM (Jean) and Yeti Bones (Eaddy)—seem to have an innate understanding of punk iconography and why logos and imagery is so important for fans to connect with a band’s message on an emotional level. The visual side of their image feels fresh and authentic and they look like very modern rockstars. The sound of their new album United States of Horror (via their own Toys Have Powers imprint distributed by Caroline) puts me in mind of the Boredoms, Skinny Puppy or Brainiac at their most abrasive and yes, Bad Brains, although I hasten to add that I say this because both bands are bone-crushingly intense, not because of anything necessarily “Afro punk” related, although there is that, too, naturally.
I asked a few question of Ho99o9’s Yeti via email.
Dangerous Minds: During Occupy Wall St. there were so many people asking who “the Bob Dylan of Occupy” was going to be, or at least expecting some new sort of protest music to arrive, but that kind of thing can’t be forced. Now with Trump that same question is getting asked and along come you guys with a new single (and video) that feels like it speaks for a lot of people and channels the angry energy that people are feeling in 2017. Congrats, that ain’t easy to do.
Yeti: It’s not easy to do…. correct, but at the same time it’s not that difficult to do either: Speak your mind, heart, use your voice for what you believe in and how you express your feelings, whether that be something positive or negative. Our music is emotional, dark, chaotic, abrasive, fun, uplifting, and straightforward.
So tell me, how do two young black guys from NJ gravitate towards Crass of all freaking bands?!?
Yeti: Crass’ message was very strong, for a cause, for a fight and they stuck to it, meant what they said and said what they meant. Not your average punk band talking about beer, girls or doing drugs—anybody could talk about that—but what are you doing to better your community, youth and way of life?
What are some of the other influences—musical or otherwise—on what you do?
Yeti: Influences come from all angles, places, emotions and shapes besides music. Walking through Skid Row in downtown LA influences me, seeing over populated starving homeless people for blocks strikes a chord in me, reality stomping its foot on my head. Death influences me, we’re all going to die one day, everybody who reads this is one day going to be buried, only thing that matters is can I smoke a joint in heaven when I’m there?
What’s upcoming for Ho99o9?
Yeti: HORROR WORLD EXTERMINATION! Our first album United States of Horror comes out on May 5th then it’s the bullet train destroying any and everything in sight, bringing people of all ages, gender and color together to have the best time of their lives and spazz the fuck out. U.S. tour in May continuing into Europe/UK in June, July & August. TV? Stay tuned.
Below, the video for “United States of Horror”: