Gabe Hascall
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Gabe Hascall

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Lost and Found"

To hear Gabe Hascall sing now—his aching, breathy verses propelled by a heart so brittle the slow syllables always risk breaking into falsetto—one would never guess that he got his start in a ska-punk band. But that band, the Impossibles, was formed when Hascall, now 31, was a junior in his Austin, Texas, high school. “Being in high school and having 1,000 people at a show is a pretty big ego boost,” he says from a couch in the back of Southeast Portland’s Muddy Waters Cafe while teenagers strum acoustic guitars at the cafe’s weekly open-mic night. “But shit, that was 13 years ago.”

He doesn’t talk about the Impossibles—who broke up seven years ago—much anymore, mostly because he’s never sure whether people will know the group. Same goes for his second collaboration with Impossibles bandmate Rory Phillips, Slowreader, though he sometimes wishes people knew about that one. “It felt like it hit a brick wall,” he says of the duo’s self-titled debut—an endearing record that mixes Phillips’ studio adventurousness with Hascall’s rich vocal harmonies. But the 2002 album is where Hascall’s discography ends.

“That’s where I sort of veered off and got real into drugs,” Hascall says. “Meth, mostly.” After the Slowreader record fizzled, Hascall moved to Los Angeles to start a new band called Record Heat. But music took a back seat to his growing vices—“we never even played a show in L.A.,” he says, though he does recall being arrested for public nudity.

After 2 1/2 years in L.A., Hascall returned to Austin in 2005 with the intent of cleaning himself up. He bottomed out instead. “I was living in my mom’s attic, drinking a lot,” he says, “trying to do myself in, but in a really chickenshit sort of way.” Highlights of his attic days include watching The Departed 75 times in one month (“In full-screen, which is weird”) and passing out under piles of fast-food trash.

It took two stints of rehab for Hascall to get clean, and in order to stay that way, he relocated to the Northeast Portland basement of notable drummer Scott McPherson (Elliott Smith, She Him), where he has been living with his cat, Ruben, for six months. Hascall works in a Southeast Portland warehouse by day, occasionally running a forklift (with mixed success, he says), and funnels his addictive behavior into recording, drinking excessive amounts of coffee and running at least four miles a day.

Sobriety has found Hascall more productive than ever. Stripped-down demos of his new songs—many of which were written, or at least conceived, during the “crazy days”—reveal tight, harmony-fueled experiments in melody. Where Slowreader sounded like Elliott Smith (“He was my hero,” Hascall admits), his new material explores airy harmonies and guitar strums more akin to those of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. And his lyrics have grown slightly psychedelic to match, though Phillips’ influence on him still comes through in the occasional turn of phrase: “Hilltops never mix with mountain tops,” “Absolutely” begins over waves of acoustic guitar. “’Cuz they’re always high and mighty.”

By the time these songs are committed to record, Hascall says, they’ll be entirely different animals. McPherson has introduced him to some of Portland’s finest musicians—a recent Artistery show featured Allen Hunter (the Eels, Kleveland), Catherine Odell (Sea Wolf) and McPherson—and Hascall says he trusts McPherson’s studio instincts almost as much as his own. “I feel comfortable turning things over to him,” he says. “And that’s huge for me.”

Hascall finds a spot on a Southeast Belmont Street corner for fresh air and silence, and a wayward open-mic kid walks by with a box of cheese pizza, offering Hascall a dry-looking slice. Between bites, Hascall talks about listening to the Power of Now on audiobook and how he’s been tackling a cover of Bad Religion’s “Skyscraper.” After the last bite, his overcaffeinated voice starts to slow. He says he’s eager to release a record, and to tour again. “I never feel more at peace than when I’m playing and in front of people,” he says. “In those moments I’m no longer a wasteoid...I didn’t die, I’m still young—relatively—and that’s…” his voice trails off. “Shit. I guess I’m kind of getting dramatic now.” - Willamette Weekly


Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...