Seattle duo, and “Hair, Teeth & Volume” pioneers Hobosexual have brought rock n roll back to Seattle, 1 riff at a time with their massive sophomore effort LP, Hobosexual II.
Recently voted “Seattle’s Best Rock Band 2014” (Seattle Weekly), and having drawn record crowds to their stages at both the nationally renowned 2014 Sasquatch and Bumbershoot Music Festivals, the band is currently riding a flaming-lazer-riff-dragon across the United States, spreading the Hobo good times and enjoying a single malt scotch or 2 along the way.
We caught up with the duo in the Wallingford branch of Molly Moon's Ice Cream Parlour, I went for a melted chocolate and salted caramel scoop in a waffle cone, the dynamic duo were debating on whether to go for the Earl Grey or the Stumptown Coffee flavour, come on folks, who makes ice cream that tastes like tea and coffee, I can understand coffee flavour but tea??? Anyway, whilst they were waiting for whatever strange concoction they had dreamt up, I chatted to them about beards, BMX's and insulin pumps, here's how we got on....
Hold on, you’re collectively known as Hobosexual, please, please explain how you came about this name? Is there something you wish to share with the group?
Hobosexual seems to mean a lot of different things to different people. We actually started in a basement in 2009 with no real prospects of playing anywhere beyond the shag carpet confines, but word got out about the band and from there, the name went from being something my buddy Matt said about me, (something like "Harwood, you Hobosexual motherfucker with your retirement clothing attire, dainty 2 ice cube scotch, and subscription to Monocle World...") to being a namesake for fighting poverty, "the man", etc.
Other idiots who can't put 2 words together tend to mis inturpret the meaning completely, and still other, even bigger idiots not only mis inturpret it, but manage to wrap their latent homophobia (a root word which has nothing to do with Hobo) up in it. These are also the same morons that think yelling "Skynard!" at a rock show is novel.
Honestly, the name was conceived with no lofty ambitions beyond the fact Matt said it, scotch came out my nose, and yeah, we ran with it.
You both have fine beards, what is it about beards that have grown on people? Is there a certain method to keeping the beard safe?
The Pacific Northwest is rampant with beards right now. It's a truly concerning and horrifying meta trend. In fact, and to 1 up the fixie brocyclists, Jeff conceals a second beard under his primary beard in case of inadvertant confrontations. He also uses it to store malay weapons and food.
The exponential rise in beard popularity has also been proven by medically trained and accredited scientist-doctors to be a direct byproduct of the rising popularity of Hobosexual. In fact, before Hobosexual formed in 2009, facial hair simply did not exist.
‘BMX’ has been made in to a music video, which is off ‘Hobosexual 2’, why did you choose that song to release? Who directed this and was that ‘the’ deloreon?
We were actually approached by an old music acquaintance, Brian Stabile, who is currently in film school. He wanted to do something "high energy" for a class project and asked for a copy of our record. He took a listen and liked BMX a lot, and so he just ran with it and produced a video around the song.
My buddy Patrick Maruska provided his real, actual, fully restored Delorean for the shoot.
Would you rather live with a dog that sings lullabies or a gorilla that can do sign language? Explain your answer
I've personally seen and owned 4 lullaby singing dogs, and a cat who did a dead on Tom Jones. I'd have to go with the gorilla sign language thing. When dogs hit those high A flats, it tends to be unbearable on the old tinnitus.
Who came up with the designs for your two records? Who is the character on Hobosexual 1?
Jon Smith (A local artist) did Hobo 1. He actually copped the Hobo guy out of an old Russian protest periodical from like 60 years ago if I'm not mistaken.
Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration in Portland hand painted the album art to Hobo 2. I actually conceptualized the album cover art and we did a photo shoot with Kara (model friend of ours,...same one who acted the part of the Heroine in the video for BMX) in order to give Adam a character, angle, lighting, theme and template to work with.
He then hand painted/illustrated the entire thing and added his own touches, like the skull piles and other riders.
Have you had one of those Spinal Tap moments? If so, care to share?
Actually yeah. This last summer at the airport on the way to a showcase in LA, I had a classic TSA cucumber incident...except instead of a cucumber tucked in my pants, they found my insulin pump. I tried to explain it wasn't a bomb and that I'd been type 1 diabetic since the age of 15, but somehow the TSA agent insisted he'd found "explosive residue" on the housing after a pat down and swab test. I was then taken to a private pat down room and was searched and interrogated. About 25 minutes later, they let me go, my dignity still slightly intacto.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
I actually get this question a lot. I'm currently of the opinion, there just isn't one. Different days/times seem to call up different records for me. I absolutely envy, and keep going back to, the production Mutt Lange did for AC/DC on Highway to Hell, Back in Black, and For Those About to Rock, but I also love some of the headroom to infinity on those old blues records like the original Monoural version of John Lee Hooker's "It Serve You Right to Suffer" or Freddy King's "Gettin' Ready." The guitar and bass tones on Buddy Guy's 1989 effort "Sweet Tea" is the absolute tits as well.
First guitar riff and drum solo you heard, that still up to this day gives you that ‘funny feeling’ when you hear it?
For me, hearing that intro to "Givin' the Dog A Bone" by AC/DC at around age 13, on volume level 12, on my Sony cassette Walkman was probably my first mainline jolt of pure, unfiltered crack cocaine as electricity.
For Jeff, it was KISS's "100,000 Years" off specifically, "KISS Alive."
What Christmas song would you like to play live and/or record, why would you choose that?
My fav we've covered thus far was Pearl Bailey's "Five Pound Box of Money."
How about covering Little Drummer boy? Who would be Bowie and who would be Crosby?
for that we'd probably just Voltron into "CrosBow"...an invincible, 8 foot Hobot with a cape and 4 arms. "CrosBow" would totally make the baby Jesus cry, but isn't that the entire point of Rock N Roll?
Tell me a fascinating fact about you or one of your band members?
Jeff actually learned to play the drums in secret as a kid. His dad was a drummer and he was so intimidated by him that he would sneak self taught practice sessions in on his dad's kit when his parents were out, learning off old Zeppelin, Beatles and Sabbath records. Then one day, his parents are listening to Zeppelin and Jeff starts playing along. Needless to say, his folks were pretty flabbergasted.
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (only living members please)
I'd get my buddy Scott Teske on bass, but I'd make him grow out his hair and beard until he looked like a wookie cousin, then I'd get my other buddy Rachel Fergusen on lead vocals. Jeff'd play drums and I'd play rhythm guitar, but the kicker would be we'd have Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog on Keys and Bowie on French Horn. Every now and again, Bowie and Triumph would have to totally get into it onstage, before Triumph eventually bit off Bowie's right (prop) hand and Bowie finally ripped Triumph off the hidden puppeteer's hand...then the puppeteer's exposed free hand would join Bowie's remaining left hand on the keys in a blood spattered lefty/righty keyboard rendition of "Heart and Soul."
Hailing from Seattle, a town with an extensive history of producing some of the words greatest rock bands, how has the music scene changed since the late 80s early 90s?
Well, i was like 11 in the early 90s, but Jeff was a teenager and remembers the "buzz" around Seattle everyone talks about. Seeing Nirvana put on football helmets and get into intermittent head butt competitions with one another while playing to 60 people, watching Chris Cornell and Soundgarden destroy the Off Ramp Cafe almost weekly...all before they and so many others broke to multi platinum accord. ...it was nuts.
We've been damn lucky in this town due to a few amazing people at the top of the local scene who have firmly believed in what we're doing for several years. With that said it is a very different town than it was even 5 years ago.
We've been very, very...dare I say unusually lucky in the midst of all this and have managed to carve our own very distinctive path, playing a lotta really incredible shows. As a band, we've chosen to favor more of a "living on our own terms and in our own world" kinda approach over the corporate "synergy" approach of a lotta other bands and promoters.
Jeff and I are personally more concerned these days with carving out a tiny legacy for Hobo and its fans at this juncture (as miniscule and unimportant as that may ultimately be) than hanging with the cool kids.
I don't care if ultimately it affects 3 kids total, I just care that it's done in a way we're proud to say we were part of in this band, at this time.
This approach has also worked for us because Jeff and I are weirdos (mostly me...Jeff's actually more of a lurker).
We have a lotta great, fairly unique content based ideas...from specific album approaches; (Hobosexual II (2013) was actually a retro-futuristic sci fi concept album with a downloadable story line embedded as a PDF), to our own custom line of Action Figures.
Which classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
"Born on a Bayou" by CCR. Why? I love singing like John Fogerty...it's super liberating. You should definitely try it someday...but you really gotta go for it. I also can't stop thinking about the super badass bow and arrow slinging Wilford (Diabeetus) Brimley limping out of that burning warehouse with Van Damme as the song blares over the credits to Hard Target everytime I sing it.
First gig you ever went to and the most recent you have been to?
The first gig I ever did was a rap I composed in 6th grade for the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. It did not go well.
My last gig was with Hobo for The Jameson Bartenders Ball. It went slightly better.
Where did you record Hobosexual 1 and Hobosexual 2, what made you choose that studio?
Hobo 1 was done in a friend's living room, engineered by Brian Brown. Brian's a whiz with a very distinctive sound, and I learned a ton working with him.
Hobo 2, we shopped over 20 studios until we found The Kill Room and Ben Jenkins. 2 diamonds in the rough. We had an amazing experience with Jenkins.
Name three people (alive, dead or fictional) that you would like as dinner party guests?
1. Peter Falk
2. Dave Grohl
3. Bill Murray
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Zig Zags outta LA are pretty rad live.
Also, The Spinning Whips (outta Seattle) are pretty great. Their next album (which i've heard early mixes on) is absolutely incredible.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
What are you doing for Christmas and New Years, and what are your plans for 2015?
We are playing main support to Red Fang right after New Years for "Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival." Then we have a coupla tentative shows in LA , a mini tour with Sir Mix A Lot's protege, Ayron Jones, we're gonna try and get a day or 2 to connect and record with Alain Johannes down in LA at his pad (Queens of the Stoneage/Them Crooked Vultures) and we have a few PDX engagements in the works. We're also working on another music video for "A Motherf#%kin' Song About Robots."
Oh, I actually almost forgot, but we're also releasing our 2nd Series of pre packaged action figures just in time for the holidays and you can see posts and updates on that on our Fbook page www.facebook.com/Hobomusic or Twitter @hobosexualmusic.
Any attempts to come to the UK?
If somebody wants to front the bill to fly us out there, put us up at some decent clubs and backline our shit, hells yeah. The UK RULES and we would love an opportunity to tour there.
The guys decided that tea flavour ice cream was about as tasty as week old toe cheese so they opted instead for a more seasonal flavour, Eggnog with a scoop of cinnamon too.....you can't win, anyway, whilst they were chowing down on their luxury seasonal ice creams, we threw in a few quickfire questions to get them thinking again....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Zions Gate or Easy Street Records?
Easy Street Records
Drum machine or the real deal?
Mac or PC?
Taco or Clam Chowder?
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
David Lee Roth
CD or Vinyl?
Car or Motorbike?
The Moore Theatre or The Key Arena?
Acoustic or electric?
Mother Love Bone or Pearl Jam?
Mother Love Bone
Shower or Bath?
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino?
Pacino all damn day.
God or Google?
We'd like to thank the guys for taking time out of the hectic schedules to pop down to Molly Moon's for the interview and we wish them both a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2015 and hope to see them on UK soil in the future.
Interview by Mark Wincott