And are loved for it
TheOGM (also known as Blue Face), holding a microphone and wearing a motorcycle helmet with his long dreadlocks peeking through, stood in the dark corner of The Marquis Theatre. His cohort partner in crime, Eaddy (also known as Yeti Bones), crept from that same darkness onto the stage, with their drummer Brandon Pertzborn stationed behind them. For Eaddy, in basketball shorts and a Misfits T-shirt, suave, and sinewy seemed not so much distant as he was focused—staring out into a crowd of faces most likely blinded by the stage lights. There was a gleam of raw intensity in his eyes, perhaps just as bright as the shine from theOGM’s silver front teeth.
Eaddy and theOGM are Ho99o9. They are mysterious to say the least. Their real ages and names are maintained as secrets. But who doesn’t love a little bit of mystery? Even their press-supplied biography reads as a long-winded, science-fiction, armageddon story, which sounds strange when thinking of a band bio, but it fits for Ho99o9. Born in the East Coast, Ho99o9 now operates out of the West Coast, swapping New Jersey for Los Angeles in 2014. “Then just like that, Ho99o9 vanished from the east coast, allegedly recruited into a beat laboratory in Los Angeles. They baptized in blood and emerged wrapped in a sound that had not yet been heard,” reads a segment of Ho99o9’s aforementioned manager-supplied biography. This more or less epitomizes the aesthetic, so to speak, of Ho99o9: acerbic, a bit sardonic, cynical, cavalierly clever, and cryptic.
On April 22, the band graced the Marquis with their raucous presence. The theater was filled with latex-clad goths who were obviously there to see headliner 3TEETH, and had no idea what was in store for them in the ensuing minutes. Ho99o9’s live performances have a palpable tension, one that can only be experienced from the symbiotic relationship of the band’s intensity and the audience’s craving for it. Considering the fact that the majority of the crowd was ostensibly there to see solely goth-industrial acts—not to mention that there were a few children front and center—it was interesting to see how well Ho99o9’s raw power played out.
It didn’t take long for the sea of bodies to give back the energy that Eaddy and theOGM gave out, and for them to get back what they had just given. Like any artist or performer, they give their audiences everything that they have. Their time, their energy, their passion, and a piece of themselves. And Ho99o9 lets the audience devour them.
“And now the end is near / and so I face the final curtain…” Frank Sinatra’s distinguished croon from his classic “My Way” echoes through the venue speakers, coupled with Eaddy’s megaphone blaring the sound of a police siren over Sinatra’s austere song. Sinatra is probably the last thing that would be associated with any outfit that evokes the exact opposite of the refined, haughty, white crooner, but it is that contradiction that Ho99o9 seems to thrive off of.
“I just like watching people die in horror films. I like the killer, the bad guy, the villain,” Eaddy said. Through textual conversations, the duo comes off as a bit crass and abrasive—certainly like they don’t give a fuck. But Ho99o9 is sincere enough to say “thank you” after a song or two. They project a sense of trepidation, they are drawn to imagery from horror films and violence, and their lyrics reflect on the state of society that is, much like their album title, a United States of horror. “[We’re] cut from a different cloth,” Eaddy said. “We’re inner city kids who grew up in communities infested with guns, drugs, and gangs. This is our own form of anarchy growing up.”
The typical image of the epitomization of “punk” is gangly white men in leather jackets—whitewashed. Although the origins of UK Punk stemmed from the anger that the white working class felt, punk does not belong to white people. The ethos of punk is universal, not bound by race or gender. Reggae and punk were thriving at the same time and in the same social stratas. These two genres that, at first glance, seem to be so hugely unrelated were both rooted in the rebellion of youth and social unrest. In the late 70s, Don Letts, legendary DJ and second frontman of (the vastly underrated) Basement 5, would spin reggae albums in between punk sets to ease the aggressive ambiance that punk conjures, while tuning into the thematic and musical connections between both genres. Reggae’s influence on punk is blatantly heard in The Clash’s song “Straight To Hell”—which is probably mostly recognized as the intro of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes”—with an emphasis on the distinctive backbeat and a dominant bassline. Punk music has been through many reincarnations since its heyday in 1977, revolving around unsettling society and the status quo. While also making brilliant music, Ho99o9 is no different. If anything, Ho99o9 is pure punk-rock.
Their music can be fast, neck-breakingly so, and in a split second it can distill into slow, rumbling, trap-house beats. The group is often described as punk-meets-rap, which is an apt, if not grossly bland, classification. There have been parallels drawn between the music of Ho99o9 and the experimental, drum-driven rap duo deathgrips. While there are similarities between the two, who would think differently of two bands doing vaguely similar things contemporary to each other? Just as the comparison of Richard Hell and The Voidoids with Iggy and The Stooges, or say, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, could be made.
“It’s important to make whatever type of music you feel like,” theOGM said. “Today I might wanna make a song about burning bacon, tomorrow I might wanna sing about getting my boot licked.” In this interview, the majority of their answers are sarcastic and almost guarded, but entertaining nonetheless.
Ho99o9 seems to like playing the villain,—not because they want to be villainous, but to pervert the cultural and societal stereotypes that are imposed on them. In reality, the OGM talks candidly on stage about smoking a blunt with a grin, and Eaddy, in an ironically heartwarming gesture, plucked a kid no older than 10 years old from the crowd and carried him on his own sweaty shoulders onto the stage. Ho99o9’s public image is a contradiction of themselves; the tough guys with hearts of gold. Perhaps the existence of Ho99o9 is anarchy in and of itself. Eaddy and the OGM defy the stereotypes and boundaries that society has imposed on itself. Their edges are rough but endless, and while some might attempt to put them in a neat, little box, they will just break out of it. But who doesn’t like the villian more than the hero anyway?