HELL SHOVEL
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HELL SHOVEL

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Hell Shovel is a new project from Jeff Clarke and Dox Grillo, a couple of Montreal underground scensters that have ties to the groups Demon’s Claw and Red Mass, both of which have made significant inroads into the Art for Spastics/In The Red nexus of weirdo garage punk. On Sonar Elastici, il pianeta si risveglia, the duo’s debut LP, they don’t stray too far from the sound you’d expect from groups of this lineage. Indeed, there are traces of garage fuzz and psychedelic embellishments spread over this one-sided offering, and these guys prove that they can pen garage-pop perfection on a track like “Blow Holes and Q-tips”. There are, however, some subtle differences elsewhere in terms of tempo and mood, with the remaining tracks favoring a more slowed down thump and spacey atmospherics. In simple terms: it’s more of the Spacemen 3 and less of The Seeds. But what the hell (shovel), we’re only talking about a handful of songs, so it’ll be interesting to see how this project develops. I know I’ll be checking back in on ’em. It’s another keeper from label upstart, Sound of Cobra. - Foxy Digitalis


Hellshovel are Montreal’s addition/response to the recent wave of psych rockers issuing records like its the end of the world. Most LPs from the neuvo-psych scene are fantastic, but more than a few of those bands borrow too much from each other and lack originality. Hellshovel, however, have found a way to integrate some divergent wild influences in their debut album, Hated by the Sun, and it’s some of the best druggy twangy stomping garage psych you can find in your local record shop.

The rockabilly/outlaw country vibe of their acid-burnt psych is mostly what sets Hellshovel apart from the crowd. This is no surprise, as the band is comprised of Cramps and Gun Club loving members Jeff Clarke and Dox Grillo of Demon’s Claws, as well as Hasil Adkins admirer Bloodshot Bill of Tandoori Knights and Ding Dongs. Johnny Cash never drank cough syrup and played a set with the Seeds, but if he did it would’ve sounded like Hellshovel. Songs like “Ivan’s Hammer” or “Lion in a Zoo” are fuzz-warped Stones tributes or more psychedelic Black Lips outtakes. ”Whoever Took Me Here Will Have to Bring Me Home” is the drunken jam session that Roky Erickson, Michael Yonkers and the Gories never had.

Fans of lo-fi pysch, especially those who love Birds of Maya and Cosmonauts, will love Hellshovel’s Hated by the Sun. It’s another killer release from Slovenly Records, and you’ll wanna buy it after you listen to “Whoever Brought Me Here…”. - GET BENT


I used to really love noise-rock and all that aggressive, abrasive stuff. I still do, but I think I’ve cooled off to it, just out of the sheer number of faceless, crash-and-bash ‘lo-fi garage’ bands that seem to love distortion and noise mostly because it’s a good way to hide a lack of ideas. I mention this because it’s bands like Montreal’s Hellshovel that prove that music need not pummel you into submission to engage you as a listener. Hellshovel’s brand of easy-going psychedelia is an ideal soundtrack for a sunny day, with or without the aid of certain controlled substances.

What immediately jumps out on the opener, “Ivan’s Hammer” is the vocals – obscure, but thankfully not by a fuzzbox. Instead, they opt for a phaser, giving the vox a blurry, underwater quality. The music rolls along pleasantly to compensate – it’s NUGGETS, but lost down an psychedelic rabbit hole. In a way, it also reminds me of a tamer BLACK LIPS (I said ‘lo-fi garage,’ it was only a matter of time before they got dragged in). Each one of these tracks sounds like some deeper-than-deep cut, dug out of an old acid casualty’s basement, by some hopelessly obscure band – it’s pretty fucking cool. Hellshovel manage to replicate the 60's in a way that feels neither ironic nor hipper-than-thou, nor self-conscious hero worship. It’s organic and natural, which lifts this record above scores of slavish flower-power imitators.

“Summer’s Over” strikes me as the kind of song that actually earns its title – the chorus, phased, and otherwise fucked-with guitars actually seem to bring out the last warm days of September. Other highlights include the next track, “Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home” – the vocal manipulation here is excellent, bringing Hellshovel’s true-blue psych colors to the forefront. The record’s good – I keep waiting for it to burst into some freakbeat meltdown, and it almost does on “Snowflakes in Russia,” but mostly it’s content to relax in the sun. I’ll be keeping this one on board, because I respect Hellshovel. They’ve managed to take a familiar formula and do it well – in my book, that’s more compelling than any number of distortion pedals. - Wax Trash


Canadian bumpkin punks HELLSHOVEL (aka Hell Shovel) play the Trickster Keller for a special show that we should probably be keeping a bit secret, but how could we ever keep a secret from you. Trust-Trust relationship like what we’ve got. Led by Demon’s Claws frontman Jeff Clarke and featuring Dox Grillo sharing the strings / vox duties with Bloodshot Bill (TANDOORI NIGHTS / DING DONGS / LEGEND) who makes an effortless transition on the drums from his [un]usual wild man rockabilly fare. Their latest LP, "Hated By The Sun" is the self-proclaimed sound of Johnny Cash drowning in a pool of cough syrup, a gooey reminder of the most irradiated moments of Demon’s Claws poisonous choo-choo train shamble. - Blitz Gigs


Ok. So I listened to Hell Shovel’s Sonar elastici, il pianeta si risveglia* and thought, “Hey, did I forget that I dropped acid and my ears are on fire?” As it turns out, it was only Hell Shovel’s corrosive psych rock burning a hole in my mind. Wowzers.

Hell Shovel is the warped mind childe of Demon’s Claws lead warbler Jeff Clarke and Dox Grillo (also of Demon’s Claws); an insane blend of Arthur Brown psych terror, giallo-esque soundtrack creepiness, and 60’s fuzzed-out awesome.

The first track is speaky Animals/Arthur Brown psych jam; ‘nuff said. “Polar Magnetics”: whoa, not sure what happened, but the tape goes all backwards and stuff. Killer freak-out, man. I really dig “Fed to the Cat”. Coulda been the scene track for a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western duel, or 70’s creepo psycho killer hitchhiking through the desert. “Blow Holes and Q-Tips” is a straight up 60’s rocker; fuzzed up, raved out, fuck yeah!

I missed these weirdos live at a Gonerfest after party; I am an idiot. Don’t be a dumbass, too; go see em’, and get the EP at Sound of Cobra (if the site doesn’t blow up your web browser).

*I have no idea what this means. Hey, how ‘bout you Google translate? Huh. This is what ya get: Sonar Rubber bands, the planet is awakening. I still have no idea what’s up with this. - GET BENT


After a shitty summer, we’re finally back with a new flipzine… just in time for a cold snowy winter! In this one, Bob goes to Calgary’s SLED ISLAND FESTIVAL and hangs out with HELL SHOVEL (Jeff from Demon’s Claws, Dale from Chocolat, and Bloodshot Bill), our Indian Wars friend and cover model Fraser hips us to poster artist BEN LYON, GIGI FRENCH/GISELLE NUMBA ONE schools us on white magic and Red Mass, TOPLESS MONGOS draw us a NÜ SENSAE comic interview, and tonnes more including TY SEGALL, PAT METEOR, PERSIAN CLAWS, JOHANNAH JØRGENSEN, THE GRANNY SMITHS, KIRK SPECIAL, BLUE SUNSHINE PSYCHOTRONIC FILM CENTRE, AND STORYTIME WITH JEFF CLARKE!

Plus MZ VOL. 9 **, a 26 song CD COMP that kicks off with all the best Vancouver garage bands: SHIMMERING STARS, RICHARD CATWRANGLEUR, INDIAN WARS, THE SPREADS, BABES ON THE BEACH, YUNG MUMS, and THE GRANNY SMITHS. Plus RED MASS, HELL SHOVEL, and more.

(see Photos for Mongrel Zine Spread with interview and photos)
- MONGREL ZINE


Discography

As HELLSHOVEL:

—"HATED BY THE SUN"
12" LP (Slovenly Recordings), 2012

— "VOYAGER 8: Acid Baby Jesus and HellShovel Present"
10" EP (Slovenly Recordings), 2012

— "AUTO-PILOT"
7" (Goodbye Boozy Records), 2012

— “SONAR ELASTICI, IL PIANETA SI RISVEGLIA”
12” EP (Sound Of Cobra), 2011

— “SUMMER’S OVER”
7” (GPR001), 2011

— “BRIMSTONE HELL/HELLSHOVEL SPLIT”
7” (Certified PR Records), 2010

— "HELLSHOVEL"
7” (Telephone Explosion), 2009

— "ALREADY GONE"
7" (Telephone Explosion Records), 2009

As Demon's Claws:

— "Lost in The Desert Part Deux"
12" (Telephone Explosion Records), 2011

— "The Defrosting of..."
12" (In The Red), 2010

— "Lazerbeams / Trip to the Clinic"
7" (Savage Records), 2010

— "Lost in the Desert"
12" (Telephone Explosion Records), 2009

— "Weird Ways"
7" (Rob's House Records), 2009

— "Fucked Up on Ketamine / Always Be My Friend"
7" (Rob's House Records), 2008

— "Satan's Little Pig"
12" (In The Red), 2007

— "Black Lips / Demon's Claws: What To Do / Factory Girl"
7" (Norton Records), 2007

— "The Old Outlaw"
7" (Profet Record), 2007

— "Live in Branch Spring, Texas"
12" (Hook or Crook Records), 2005

— "Demon's Claws"
12" (P. Trash Records), 2005

— "Tomcat"
7" (Perpetrator Records), 2005

— "Demon's Claws"
7" (P. Trash Records), 2004

Photos

Bio

HELL SHOVEL is... an insane blend of Arthur Brown psych terror, giallo-esque soundtrack creepiness, and 60’s fuzzed-out awesome. With tunes that coulda been the scene track for a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western duel, or 70’s creepo psycho killer hitchhiking through the desert mixed with straight up 60’s rocker fuzz. HELL SHOVEL features Jeff Clarke of the famed Demon's Claws and touts members that have played in the likes of King Khan and the Shrines, Bloodshot Bill, and CPC Gangbangs (of the Mark Sultan-fame).

With the sound of Johnny Cash drowning in a pool of cough syrup, HELL SHOVEL is a a gooey reminder of the most irradiated moments of Demon’s Claws poisonous choo-choo train shamble.

HELL SHOVEL was originally a song on a Demon's Claws single, released in 2004 on Perpetrator Records. Later it became a recording project started by Jeff Clarke, intended to make soundtrack instrumental music. Then in 2008 it became a touring act in Italy with guest musicians from Italy’s Movie Star Junkies and France’s Jack of Heart.
After a period of inactivity Hellshovel reformed in 2009 in Montreal with Dale MacDonald, and pooling together they released several 7inch singles on several different record labels, and then left for Europe on the first tour with the Feeling of Love. From this point on, its been back and forth between Montreal and Europe.