HELLS Guitarist on What Pisses Him Off, The Philly Scene, ‘Paradise’ EP

This is the kind of hardcore noise punk you listen to when you want to set a trash can on fire and throw it through a window while your best friend spray paints his mohawk green and your girlfriend slams some dude’s head into a wall like “Mike” does in SLC Punk. This is HELLS from Philly and they’ve just released their EP Paradise. And this is what their guitarist Brad Wallace, who also recorded the band’s debut, had to say about it.

How are you feeling about the new EP?

I’m feeling really good about it. I think we really took our time with the songs. We wanted something really raw and really gritty and not overthought. We like things to be unique so we put our own stamp on it.

You did the recording for it, so what were some of the deliberate choices you made in terms of how you wanted it to sound?

A lot of that comes when we’re writing the songs and I definitely feel like talking to Steve (DiCicco), our drummer, I’m always on him to make sure the parts he’s playing are really deliberate and he can hit them as hard as he can possibly play the drums, to the point that when we were recording it I was surprised at how much more sound he was getting out of his snare drum. At least one of the songs, when we went to overdub the guitars, I was just like, “We’ve never played this song this fast at practice, ever”. It was kind of hard to play it (laughs). Other than that, trying to make it feel like we’re just playing in a room. At least the energy. And I think other than that just try to make the guitars as gnarly as possible. Just be willing to take them a little farther and that much more in your face.

Do we get the kind of vibe from this EP that we would get at a live show from you guys?

Yeah, I think so. I think the live show actually does still have a little more energy to it. You have Larry (Ragone, vocals) sprawling around the room and doing whatever he does. So I think it’s indicative of whatever you can expect from us. We’re looking to play close to Philly – Baltimore, NYC. There’s an awesome band here called Black Urn that plays doom metal that we’re hoping to do some dates with out of town. They’re really young and really excited so we’re trying to do some dates with them in September.

How is the local scene in Philly in terms of hardcore and metal?

I think it’s really strong right now. There’s so many bands and I see a good portion of them come to the recording studio I work at. I really hope some of them get the attention they deserved. Like I mentioned, Black Urn is an awesome doom metal band, Disappearances is a straightforward hardcore band, this band I’ve worked with called Dirt Queen that I think’s great that I think people should listen to. But it’s endless. Larry, the singer of our band’s other band Psychic Teens is awesome and deserves more recognition for the record they’ve made. There’s a million bands here that are really great. Ladder Devils is another great one. Legendery Divorce is an awesome band. Itarya’s got an awesome voice and awesome stage presence. I just hope people outside of Philadelphia end up hearing these bands and getting to see them.

MORE: WOMEN OF HARDCORE – ITARYA LEO OF LEGENDARY DIVORCE

“We are interested in drawing contradictions.”

hells paradise

I’ve found, talking to a lot of bands, that local scenes are starting to really thrive a lot, especially New York, Philly…

Yeah, there’s a funny thing that happens too that sometimes we have better attendance at shows where they’re all local bands than when we open for touring bands just because people are excited for their friend’s bands that are playing here.

I think it’s a really awesome turn of events in the scene because for so long people were saying that local was dying out and I think we’ve been seeing a resurgence in support for local music.

Yeah, I think that’s true and I think there’s still a little bit of hesitation. You know, packaged tours that don’t have any local support on them, and that was kind of killing local stuff a little bit and hopefully that’s turning around. But when I see how many people come out to a local bands show it makes me see how many people still have a desire for that and probably there should be more local support on touring packages.

You guys obviously sound pissed off and in your face. What are you most pissed about right now?

It does piss me off with regards to the current political situation where everyone just retreats to their own corner and doesn’t take the time to listen or find a way to compromise or think reasonably or rationally. Everyone just listens to the propaganda that their side puts out and nothing’s ever gonna change if everyone just runs to their corners and defends their opinions by any means necessary. I think more people are engaged which is a good thing overall but the kind of engagement could be improved.

Obviously there’s an opposition between your band name and the EP title. So why did you choose to name the EP Paradise?

We are interested in drawing contradictions. There’s a lot of power in contradiction and everyone has it within them. At the same time, we named our band Hells because sometimes life feels that way. There’s this strive for paradise but many people still feel like they’re living in hell and sometimes those things feed into each other. It’s like how do you get there? What path are you gonna take when you seek what’s best for you?

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