“If I expose myself to you am I going to get convicted in New Jersey?” yells Eaddy, lead singer of Ho99o9 on their track Hated in Amerika. Whilst we can’t vouch for New jersey, we can safety say, after seeing Ho99o9 rip up Islington’s Electrowerkz for their inaugural UK gig that yes there was nudity, and no, the boys in blue were not present.
Both members of the duo – The OGM and Eaddy – opted for interesting wardrobe choices (or not as the case was for the latter), Eaddy bollock naked, The OGM dressed for the occasion in a wedding dress. Members of London’s Grime elite stood at the back of the venue to witness Ho99o9’s first UK gig and an already formed cult fan base revelled in the chaos; flailing limbs, colliding bodies, frenzied movements. Ho99o9 have arrived in the UK and they made it loud and clear they weren’t just here on their summer hols.
Ho99o9 put on the loudest decimal smashing show you will ever attend, with the rowdiest mosh pit formations; advice tip #1. wear your toughest leather. Uncompromising, confrontational and abrasive, censorship factors 0% in the world of Ho99o9. Lyrics burst out like water through a cracked dam with subject matter ranging from drugs, sex and necrophilia to their own views of authority – ‘Fuck your politics/This is the apocalypse’ goes the howling refrain in Da Blue Nigga From Hellboy, the lead single from their Mutant Freakz EP.
Former Factory Records boss Tony Wilson once explained Joy Division’s genius in one nifty sound-bite. “Punk enabled you to say ‘fuck you’, but it couldn’t go any further, it was a single, venomous, two-syllable phrase of anger. Sooner or later, someone was going to want to say more; someone was going to want to say, ‘I’m fucked.’” Ho99o9 are that ‘someone’, with their blend of disparate influences, hardcore thrash punk and Hip Hop electronics, they wreck any pigeonholing preconceptions in a similar vein to Death Grips’ subversive hardcore aesthetic, yet with the added snarling influence of Punk’s finest: Black Flag, Minor Threat and Bad Brains.
Ho99o9 prove that Punk is far from being dead, it’s simply evolved, and these two New Jersey insurgents represent this better than anyone. See it to believe it.
Alex James Taylor: So how did you guys first meet?
The OGM: This guy right here? Mutual friends man, he went to high school with a couple of my close homies now and we just linked up and were going to underground New York parties, turning up on some young thirsty shit.
AJT: And did you start making music together straight away?
The OGM: Oh no man, we were homies for a couple of years, three or four, maybe more.
Eaddy: I never made music, I just went to shows and raged. I appreciated music but never made music.
AJT: So what first made you start making your own music?
Eaddy: Shit, it was just in me.
The OGM: I was already making music and our first thing we wanted to work on was, he illustrates these really tight drawings so we were going to do something where he did all the artwork originally and I would do the music and then it turned to, “Shit, you can jump on a track and do some shit”, and it was so tight. From there we thought “Fuck it, let’s do this.”
AJT: Yeah, and when you started making music together did you have the same sound you have now?
The OGM: Yeah, rap is pretty much the base of what we do and that’s where we come from. But we started blending in Punk stuff because he’s heavily into Punk music so once I got him involved it was inevitable that those two things would mash up.
AJT: Which Punk bands did you grow up on?
Eaddy: I didn’t really grow up on Punk, I grew up on hardcore rap and hip ‘n’ hop, Onyx, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man, Wu-Tang, I didn’t get into Punk until High School, that’s when I started finding out about Bad Brains and Minor Threat, going to shows in New York. As a kid I didn’t know anything about that, all I knew was within my neighbourhood, playing with kids outside, my mother didn’t have any money to send me to this place like “Check out this show”. We were too busy trying to pay bills, keep the lights on and the water hot.
The OGM: Plus we weren’t hanging out with any kids who were going to those kind of shows, in order to do those things you have to be exposed to it.
Eaddy: We hung out in urban communities, there wasn’t any Punk. There was mainly black kids and drug dealers.
The OGM: Gangbangers
Eaddy: Kids in gangs, if I said, “Hey, check this band out” they’d look at me like I’m fucking crazy. You know?
AJT: Yeah, do they get it now, after hearing your music?
The OGM: Some do, we’re in a time when people are getting exposed to a lot of stuff but some people are so closed into their neighbourhood or town they don’t want to even hear about new shit.
AJT: So at your gigs what does the audience typically look like, is it a mix between Punk and Rap kids?
The OGM: Yeah, a mixture of everybody, weirdos Hip Hop heads, Punk heads.
Eaddy: Freaks, a whole bunch of people just coming together.
AJT: Where did the name come from?
Eaddy: It actually came from our first track Bone Collector, the instrumental itself was called Ho99o9 and we were dabbling with a few names before and that song was such a strong lift off for us, we’d perform that song and it was the one that would hit everytime. Plus we wanted to go with something that you could Google and find us.
AJT: And 999 is a recurring motif, what’s the meaning behind it?
Eaddy: Basically no religion, no masters, pretty straight down the middle, no sides. Plus it’s a flip on the 666, the satanic thing, that became very popular around where we are, that shit became popular and we just hate trends, trying to fit in and be cool.
The OGM: Yeah we hate that shit, that’s what the 9’s are, no trying to fit in to anybody’s style, we’re just us. We’re just doing what we do, we’re doing what we like, you can either like it or not.
AJT: Alongside your latest release you made a zine to go with it, the photographer in there was by both of you?
The OGM: Yeah there was some stuff in there that we took and then there were things from shows and the guy we work with on the zine, Bryan Turcotte, he also takes some really tight shots.
AJT: Cool, I guess that comes from the whole Punk DIY influence?
Eaddy: Yeah totally.
AJT: You played at SXSW and are booked for Leeds/Reading festival in summer, how does it differ doing festival sets as opposed to intimate gigs?
The OGM: We enjoy doing festivals because you get to reach a bigger crowd but it’s definitely a little weird for us because we’re used to smaller venues. We like interacting with the crowd, we like the crowd being in our faces. When you do big festivals the stage is huge and there’s barriers blocking you from the people, you can’t really grab them, you can’t feel that.
Eaddy: Yeah, we’re getting used to it though, it’s still tight, both are dope it’s just you have to adapt a little.
AJT: How was SXSW?
Eaddy: It was so sick, overwhelming, there’s a lot of people there. It seems like a huge block party that never ends, door to door all week, time after time, from morning ’till night, it’s just ongoing.
AJT: Sounds amazing, who did you check out?
The OGM: We checked out nobody
Eaddy: I like that chick Zoe Kravitz, Lenny Kravitz’s daughter, she’s tight.
AJT: I heard Bill Murray was there checking out bands, he might have been at yours…
The OGM: [laughing] Oh shit, that would be tight! We love Murray!
AJT: Your new video for P.O.W. (Prisoners of War)’ / ‘No Regrets is a grindhouse style double video. Are you big into your horror grindhouse films?
Eaddy: Oh yeah dude I’m into all that stuff man, Deathproof (Tarantino’s 2007 Grindhouse film) is like such a tight ass movie
AJT: Totally, Deathproof is so underrated, it’s probably my favourite Tarantino film.
Eaddy: It’s so tight, Kurt Russell in that shit, he’s psycho [laughing]
AJT: Yeah, that car is so badass too.
The OGM: Yeah man, I need that ride
AJT: So finally, what can we expect from tonight’s gig?
The OGM: What can they expect Eaddy?
Eaddy: This building might no longer be here after we hit off. Atomic bomb.