kane hodder
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kane hodder

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Aug
08
kane hodder @ The Viaduct

Tacoma, Washington, USA

Tacoma, Washington, USA

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Kane Hodder is a band named after the stunt-actor who played machete-wielding maniac Jason Voorhees in four installments of the Friday the 13th series. This is, believe it or not, the least strange thing about them.

The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless, the debut LP from this energetic clan of indie scream-punks (and follow-up to March's EP A Frank Exploration Of Voyeurism & Violence), is a true oddity; the group turns genre convention completely on its head and the result is nothing short of immediately intriguing. Unique albums do not necessarily constitute good albums, though, and even a sound that defies definition requires some redeeming value above and beyond "Hey, this s*** is weird." Kane Hodder makes its mark for sure, but is it justified?

First things first: One cannot even begin to classify Heartless. It's a punk rock record -- that is, until the instrumentation of Charley Potter, Eric Christianson, Jeremy White, and Nick Cates dissolves into a hardcore cacophony of metal sensibilities. It's a scream record... again, only until adept vocalist Andrew Moore switches over into a trilling, occasionally falsetto, emo croon. And so it is that Heartless alternates between these dichotomies -- sometimes several times during the course of a single song -- and you'll find yourself struggling just to keep up, let alone file it under a genre buzzword.

Heartless offers 11 tracks. I hesitate to call them "songs," as such a label usually implies some sort of formal structure. Kane Hodder has about as much respect for formal structure as children in a day-care center that just cut costs by replacing their milk with Jolt Cola. Forget everything you know about verses and choruses -- you won't find 'em here. Each song reads like a stream-of-consciousness prose paragraph and the instrumentation follows suit, switching melody, rhythm, and meter at its seemingly-possessed whim. One is reminded of Green Day's "Jesus Of Suburbia," a nine-minute song composed of five independent segments... except with Kane Hodder, every song is like that, and they're one-third as long.

So it's an album without a genre, the lead singer has two voices, and you get 30 or 40 songs spread out over 11 tracks. Does it work? For the most part, yes. It's the remarkably unique stylings of Heartless that will
suck you in, but it's the quality of the music that will keep you listening. "Last of the Anti-Fascist Warriors," with its rolling-guitar opening, begins a four-track suite of raw energy in which everything blends into a 12-minute wall of sound. Some segments find the guitar line missing a bar, sending that portion of the song into a daring-but-controlled careen. Other moments see miniature solos thrown up into the air. If nothing else, Kane Hodder keeps you on your toes.
Unfortunately, this buildup of energy is starkly disrupted by "Heaven Help Me! I Love a Psychotic!," a pure emo song that runs about three minutes too long. "A Machine in the World of Man" restores this energy, and it's only a matter of time before you're hurled into the album's most interesting track, "You Sign Your Crimes with a Silver Bullet." While more controlled than the remainder of the album, "Bullet" boasts a sound that is completely beyond description. It's the highest point of the album and three-minutes-43-seconds of proof that Kane Hodder deserves your attention.

As with the first four tracks of Heartless, the latter five tracks (beginning with "Bullet") blend into each other, imbuing the record with a "full-circle" aesthetic. "Attack on Tir Asleen" and the instrumental
"Child of Prophecy" are unremarkable affairs, but
"Crushing Everything in Sight" is the album's mostbalanced mix of punk energy and emo restraint. Finally, "Assault at First Light" finishes Heartless in the spirit of all the best songs that had come before: wild, unrestrained, and loud.

With only one completely wasted track and just two or three more "meh" songs, the lone remaining weak link of Heartless is in its lyrics. Worry not -- the song titles have nothing to do with their content, so when
you see a track named "I Think Patrick Swayze is Sexy," there's no need to fear an impotent stab at comedy. But while the lyrics are certainly far from bad and even have their own (rare) epiphany-like moments of poetic genius,
they were evidently bought from the same Psychotic Killer Emo Lyrics Supercenter all too many bands seem to be shopping at nowadays. At their worst, the lyrics come off as bargain-priced closeout "me-too" pubescent pap
("When that bile burns your teeth / You'll know you really are in love / And it's still the acid with the lethal tongue-kiss that gets you off completely"... what?), but usually, they merely hold up. It's disappointing
to hear lyrics so standard set against music so fantastical.

And it is in this fantastical music that The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless finds its real value. It's less an album than a trip into uncharted territory, but it - IGN Music


Juxtapose your face and get into Kane Hodder. And do it now. Or something. Kane Hodder are your typical screamo band and The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless bears many of the genre's ear marks: oh-so-tourmented lyrics, fast guitars, fast drums, lack of fast women and topped off with a throttled series of yelps, yells and howls. Oh yeah, and a few shrieks and bellows too. The artwork is dark, the themes are darker but wait just a cotton-flicking minute. There ARE ingredients here that make Kane Hodder seem kinda goofy from the onset. Let's start with the song titles: "Too Much Eddie Kendricks, Not Enough David Ruffin", "Heaven Help Me! I Love a Psychotic!" and the heartfelt ode to celebrity copulation, "I Think Patrick Swayze is Sexy"Ö yeah. Then, there's the vocalist's tendency to throw his octave into Justin Hawkins territoryóslimy but sweet! Making heads and/or tails of this mess is a chore in itself but honestly, it's kinda endearing in some weirdo backwards headspace. Give Kane Hodder credit for wearing their hearts on their sleeves and then having those shirts laundered. Is The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless a raised fist or a sarcastic "metal eagle"? Beats me; give it a listen and you decide. - SoulShine Reviews


Inside the Bremerton all-ages venue Coffee Oasis, the ceiling is low, the stage is small, and the sound is shoddy. But with only seconds to go before Kane Hodder take the stage, none of those flaws seem to matter to the 200-plus kids packed inside.

The crowd cheers as the overhead lights are switched off, and with a fantastic balance of studied control and reckless abandon, drummer Charley Potter pounds out the intro to "Aboard the Leper Colony," a five-minute expedition through blazing fury and upbeat pop that boldly redraws the lines between rock and hardcore. A rhythmic guitar riff kicks in, singer Andrew Moore beguilingly struts to the edge of the stage warning, "I'm gonna give it to ya/bang, bang, bang, bang!" and the throng of teens gathered around plunge toward him in an urgent dance fit as the music explodes around his words.

The Bremerton five-piece has been playing to the same hometown crowd since their late-2002 inception, but local kids haven't grown tired of the band. Fans show up in hoards to support their hometown heroes, with upwards of 500 kids filling up venues, especially if Seattle artists like Schoolyard Heroes, Blue Sky Mile, or the Divorce make the trek across Puget Sound to round out the bill. But there's no mistake about it, the highlight for a lot of these kids is always Kane Hodder, a fact validated by the passionate audience response at every show. This particular evening is no exception.

Thirty minutes into Hodder's set, everyone in the room is soaked with sweat but all bodies appear to be intact. The band charges into "The Last of the Anti-Fascist Warriors," and fueled by the surrounding chaos, guitarists Jeremy White and Eric Christianson and bassist Nick Cates thrash around the stage, tearing through the song's climax with ardor and precision.

As they near the end, Andrew falls to the floor, knocking off his glasses and lapsing into his infamous rock-fueled convulsions. Dozens of kids pile the stage around him. The set is over and with the final notes still ringing from the guitars, the room fills with a flood of satisfied cheers. Andrew picks the microphone up off the floor and says breathlessly to anyone still unclear as to what they'd just witnessed, "Thank you; we're Kane Hodder."

* * *

"Eric, have you seen the new Premier Magazine?"

Back at the practice space, things are a lot calmer. The focus shifts from generating a wild and wicked performance to more important matters... like Star Wars.

"No, why?" Eric answers Andy while packing up his guitar.

"They listed the top 100 movie characters of all time; guess where Darth Vader was on the list?"

"Where?"

"85."

"What?!"

This is what life is really like with Kane Hodder. Though onstage the boys may take on the persona of Bremerton rock gods, they're actually five awkward twentysomethings who still have concern for things like Darth Vader's placement on an entertainment rag's priority list.

"We're not that cool," Andrew admits with a laugh, "and we don't try to be cooler than we are. We know we're not."

For example, they're named after the stuntman made famous for playing Jason in a number of the Friday the 13th horror movies. And while their songs aren't about films like Gummo, Heathers, and Willow, the lyrics are loosely based on them (and nothing's funnier than seeing piles of kids screaming "Madmartigan"--the Val Kilmer character from Willow--as though their lives depend on it).

But that's part of Kane Hodder's charm.

In an age when mainstream music has become a gutless industry full of disingenuous cookie-cutter acts trying to cash in, it's heartening to discover artists still making ballsy, earnest music regardless of what they'll receive in return.

Individually, Kane Hodder may seem like your average music dorks, but together, they're far from ordinary. Some could even call what they do incendiary, creating a genre-defying rock/pop/hardcore hybrid that's untouched by anything else, and is getting fervent attention from radio tastemakers from here to New York. And they started it all out in one of the unlikeliest of nonmusic meccas: Bremerton, WA.

* * *

When traveling from Seattle, the 70-or-so-mile drive to Bremerton can feel like an eternity. Highway 16, which takes you west into Kitsap County via Southbound I-5, offers very few attractions. There's a cemetery, a women's correctional facility, and the road sign wisely advising drivers not to pick up hitchhikers. Or you can take the hour-long ferry ride across the Sound, where you'll rely on views of sunbathing sea lions and Bainbridge Island mansions to pass the time.

No matter how you travel, downtown Bremerton offers more of the same small-town blandness--the naval base, the ferry dock, and a smattering of modest businesses. It's no wonder that for years Bremerton teens have had to rely on themselves for entertainment. The result is a tight-knit music community, sprouting local bands and enthusiastic musi - The Stranger


Seriously, most bands hate to be pigeonholed, and those that don't are not to be trusted. The local boys that staff Kane Hodder furrow brows and roll eyes when faced with the question of how best to categorize the sounds they make. Punk? Metal? The dreaded faux-genre "screamo"?

"I'm at a complete loss for words when somebody asks what the band sounds like," says bassist Aaron Yost. "Um, lollipop hardcore? I don't know."

"It's definitely random," agrees frontman Andrew Moore, "but Kane Hodder has always been random."

The Kane Hodder formula is like a decade in a blender, a sour mash of teenage hardcore, brutal death metal, fleeting dashes of radio-friendly pop, and if Moore is to be believed, bits of bossa nova and latin lounge sounds. The ingredients never mix completely, each element wars with the next in a jarring, yet invigorating jumble, and that's why the concoction remains fresh. But theirs is an all-ages drink. "We don't do the bar thing," says Moore. "If we ever play a 21-and-over show, it's gotta be something important, like one time we got to open up for Harvey Danger, so then we'll make an excuse. We would never play a 21-and-up show headlining in Bremerton. Our fan base just isn't that."

Each member of Kane Hodder hails from Kitsap County, born and bred in tiny burgs where the Do-It-Yourself approach isn't just a philosophy, but a necessity. As a result, the band loves taking its rock to the outskirts. "We feel connected to the smaller towns because we come from that," says Moore. "We know how hard it is to get music there." But playing all-ages gigs in the sticks isn't always a utopian dream. "The last two local shows we've played have been shut down early," says guitarist Jerome Sauer. "The last one was cops, the one before that we just ran out of time. Because in Bremerton there's no real venue right now, so we've been playing all these Legion halls." (See photos from their May 4 show at the Crystal Grange in Brownsville.)

Since 2002, Kane Hodder has made a lot of noise, building a wildly enthusiastic base of fans, releasing a pair of records (Frank Exploration of Voyeurism and Violence and The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless) and touring the country, but the past months found the band in the throes of growing pains. "It's been a fun-slash-frustrating, trying but ultimately rewarding year," says Moore. Breaking in two new members, parting ways with their label Fueled By Ramen, writing material for a new album and preparing the long journey between demo sessions and seeking a new company to release the record -- it's a lot of stress for a young band, but when the rewards include a tour of Japan, any obstacle can be overcome.

Moore waxes ecstatic over the overseas jaunt. "Talk about hospitable to the max," he says. "Everybody we stayed with and played with, sightsaw with -- is that a word, sightsaw? They were all incredibly nice and would do anything for us." When one of the Japanese bands they played with came to the States for their own tour, Kane Hodder got to reconnect with their friends from Nippon. "We hung out with them and they brought us presents. It's a big part of their culture, we got presents when we were over there, we got presents over here." Moore laughs at his own American crassness. "We didn't get them anything."

As for new material, fans can expect plenty of fresh Kane Hodder songs to greet them at shows in the months ahead, as the band tweaks and perfects the numbers onstage. Like any band, old favorites tend to elicit a stronger response, and when said response is frantic dancefloor mayhem, such a dichotomy can be used to tactical advantage. "Lately we've been going old song, new song, old song, new song and that seems to keep people happy," says Moore. "Whenever we need to cool people down, we'll play a new one. It happened at the last Bremerton show, where we were being pushed further and further back by the crowd, so we had to play a new song to cool the kids off." Article Manager module by by George! Software. - the545.com


Discography

"A Frank Exploration of Voyeurism and Violence" - EP released on Cowboy vs Sailor/Suburban Home Records (2003). Lead off track was theme song used on MTV's Homewreckers.
"The Pleasure to Remain so Heartless" - LP on Fueled by Ramen (2005)
"Through the Blood Channels, We Raise our Sails" Digital EP (2008)

Photos

Bio

Kane Hodder is back. Many thought they were dead. And they very well should have been. In the three years since the release of the dynamic full-length The Pleasure To Remain So Heartless, the band has face obstacle after obstacle, not the least of which have been parting ways with record label Fueled By Ramen and losing two of the original members to other ambitions. But here they are, back with a digital EP, infectiously titled Through The Bloody Channels, We Raise Our Sails that digs deeper into their collective musical influences and redraws the blueprints on how songs can be written.

In the days since the last release, the band acquired bassist Aaron Yost and guitarist Jerome Sauer, toured with upstart bands such Alessana, Love Hate Hero and Bless The Fall and when not on the road, wrote diligently accumulating upwards of 17 new songs. “There’s been a real positive shift in the song writing process,” remarks frontman Andrew Moore. “We acquired two very strong songwriters in Aaron and Jerome and its been great to have people you can rely on when the writing hits a wall. Before, the bulk of the song writing was on my shoulders which could get daunting at times but now its become a much more collective process with all five of us (guitarist Eric Christianson and drummer Charley Potter bring the other two) bouncing ideas off of one another and giving advice to each other when we’re stuck. Many more possibilities are being heard and explored than we’ve ever done before. It’s been exciting.”

Where The Pleasure drew mostly from indie rock, classic rock and hardcore, this new EP takes that foundation and builds upon it drawing upon a vast array of musical genres including soul, lounge, salsa, disco, and surf. “It doesn’t sound like it should work,” laughs Jerome, “but when you hear the songs and how everything has flowed together, it’s pretty mind-boggling.”

But these are not just five songs that have no reason or purpose, with no connection. Each song follows a broader lyrical concept. The songs tell tales of exploitation and segregation. Of arrogance and greed. And ultimately of justice. “One of the basic tenets that all the songs share is the idea that the plight of the oppressed is soon cast onto the oppressor,” says Andrew. “Many of the songs deal with the exploited and the down-trodden and the segregated standing up and saying ‘Enough!’ The funny thing about the elite is that they are in fact the minority, and if everyone and everything they were exploiting rose up, it would really be no contest.” Indeed, the songs tell tales of rivers flooding and laying waste to the cities that take from them, a civilization that becomes addicted to literally injecting gold into their veins, a flesh-eating bacteria that turns on its creator, of colonialists riding comets from planet to planet infecting the natives and of prisoners turning the tables on their torturers. It is a brutal metaphor of past and current world events alike and reminds us that no empire, no matter how strong they are, has the power or the foresight to last forever and sooner or later, everything returns to balance. “It was once said that,” muses Andrew, “that if mankind were to simply disappear, than the planet would return to perfect equilibrium, but if something such as insects or bacteria vanished, the planet would descend into chaos. The idea of our dominion over the planet, in my opinion, is somewhat delusional and exaggerated. We try to take control of things we have no comprehension of and we rely on so many invisible things for our livelihood. That is one of the themes of this EP: what if everything around us, the flora, the fauna and the like, one day decided that we needed to go.” Which is an idea expressed brilliantly in the artwork that accompanies the EP. A hunter is taking aim at a herd of deer that stand majestically high on a ledge, but before he can fire, the herd calls upon the power of the planet to rain death down upon him, cleaving his weapon in two.

But the band also stresses that not all is lost. That we should be dancing and rejoicing and reveling, letting every evil being with an oppressive heart that we cannot be crushed or owned. Says Andrew: “I like the credo of fearing no person. That no matter what they have done, you never give them the satisfaction of your fear and you never allow anger to grab a hold of you because by doing so, you give them dominion over you. I’d rather dance and sing and be shot for it, than to be alive without them.”

The five songs on the EP are what the band feels as the best of their plethora of new songs. They careen from genre to genre without warning and remain as anthemic as ever. “When the pleasure came out, I often found myself saying that I hoped our next effort would be the next logical extension of that,” says Andrew. “I truly feel like we have achieved that.”