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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Ripple Conversation With Hippie Death Cult


When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Eddie:
The very first one for me that left a lasting impression was prepping for an ice hockey game as a kid and someone put “Appetite For Destruction” on in the dressing room to hype us up. It was my first exposure to it and the whole vibe and sound hit me pretty hard. I instantly became obsessed. From that day forward I started growing my hair and begging my folks for a guitar. The rest is history... I’ve had many others since, but I’ll leave it here.

Ben:
So many musical epiphanies... The Cure - "Disintegration".  Faith No More - "Angel Dust". Nirvana - "Bleach". Pixies - "Surfer Rosa"... I could go on for days.

Laura:
I was fortunate enough to have a “Cool Aunt” who turned me on to rock n’ roll at a young age.  I used to love when we would drive around in her car blasting Guns N’ Roses, Appetite For Destruction.  My cousins and I would dance and head bang in the back seat and my jaw dropped when I first heard Axl say “Why Don’t You Just, Fuck off”!  I loved that feeling of freedom and raw, wild energy......something I never had experienced before when I used to just listen to Weird Al and Madonna.

Ryan:
The first epiphany I had was in regards to Neil Young. My dad listened to him a lot when I was growing up and I just didn’t get it. I even saw Neil with Blind Melon and Pearl Jam in 1994 and being 18 years old I still didn’t get it.  It wasn’t until I had lived a little bit that I began to understand the beauty in what he offers in a song.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Eddie:
For me it’s sort of a “channeling” sort of effect. There are usually two common occurrences. One is hearing parts or entire songs in my head. I will hear the entire instrumentation, no vocals. Most commonly while I am sitting quietly in meditation or just waking up. I have six different guitars hanging on the wall right next to my bed and others scattered around the house, so I’m always covered. Another is when I really just let loose on the guitar and let my soul do the talking. At that point I’m just watching it happen. From then I typically try to organize the idea and record a demo of it. I’ll play all of the instruments as I hear them and then present it to the band and singer I’m working with to further mold and finalize it.

Ben:
With vocals I like to try to respond to a riff as naturally as possible without thinking too much and find the melody, cadence, and vowel sounds before writing lyrics. Then develop and refine.

Laura:
For this first album, the songs were already written by Eddie. I did however add in some of my own parts as I got to know the songs better.  I usually like to build off the existing guitar riff and hum bass lines to discover what I think sounds good.  In the past I often got some of my best ideas when I would be halfway in and out of sleep.  I’d hear the bass line running through my dream, then jump up and record myself humming so it would be captured immediately.

Ryan:
I never have a typical place that a melody comes from. Sometimes I hear a rhythm and will structure a beat that a riff later comes to or I hear a riff and work it out on guitar or bass and then bring drums to. Occasionally I dream a song and wake up to try to catch it before it slips away.

Who has influenced you the most?

Eddie:
There’s a lot to list so I’m gonna just go with the very first guys (guitar wise) that first inspired me to play and push myself as a player back when I was 10 or 11 years old. Slash was the reason I initially started playing guitar. Tony Iommi, Randy Rhoads, Jake... Zakk, Dave Mustaine, Dimebag Darrell also stoked the fire very early on. The fact that all of those guys (that are alive) are still going strong later in life is also really inspiring to me.
 
Ben:
Mountains, adventures, animals, friends, family.

Laura:
The first female bass player that really blew me away at a live show was Corey Parks when she was in the band Nashville Pussy.  She’s even taller than I am and puts on the most insane stage performance.  I mean, the woman blows fire into the audience mid set and is a true rock n roll queen to the core. I don’t personally perform like she does, but she has always been a huge inspiration for me to keep going with the bass.

Ryan:
That’s hard to say. Early on Van Halen was the prime motivator for achieving excellence for me. I also believed that anyone could accomplish what they did. I learned along my path that only they could do it their way and I had to figure out what my way is. What’s coming up for me now is Willie Nelson and here is why. He was pretty much considered a failure when he “gave up” on Nashville and went to Austin to create music for himself. He was 42 when he released Red Headed Stranger which was his break. The lesson is create music for yourself and never give up.  Don’t listen to critics. 

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Eddie:
Inward. All of “my” best ideas and inspirations come as a by product of regular meditation practice or spending time alone. I do also enjoy improvising on the spot, jamming spontaneously and letting it all fly. A lot of times, those can produce some magic for me.

Ben:
Experiences in nature, animals, and to anyone that tries to do something well with feeling.

Laura:
Nowadays it’s so easy to watch YouTube videos of cool interviews and live footage.  Hearing about other people’s process, struggles, inspirations and vulnerabilities while also seeing their live performance serves as a huge inspiration and learning opportunity for me.  At live shows, you can find me right up front by the bass player, soaking it all up.  I love that we are all so different which is great!

Ryan:
I still look in the same places. I’ve never given up on my love for progressive hard rock. The bar was set so high with players from the 70’s and 80’s that I still am working on techniques these players had. So, as a music instructor I’ve been digging into my books and just hammering skills. I find through learning new tricks come new ideas

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

Eddie:
I think that may be only partly true in our case. Portland is a pretty amazing place that has loads of culture, music, art and nature going on. There’s a reason we all chose to live here, but at the same time I feel like we are each pretty strong willed individuals who don’t really allow outside influences to dictate who we are and what we do for the most part. One of the things I do really like and identify with is that most people here seem to be doing their music and art for the right reasons. Doing it from the heart and are not concerned with trends and fads that are going on or whether or not they will be popular. Then there is a whole cliquey, hipster type of element to the scene here to which I roll my eyes and yawn at.

Ben:
I grew up in rural Oregon and have lived in Portland on and off since the mid 90s. I have a deep connection to the NW that reflects in the music through the influence of grunge and also my connection to the landscape comes out some in the lyrics. 

Laura:
I grew up in Portland and was immersed in the rock world since I was a teenager going to underage shows.  Once I picked up the bass at age 19, I always felt encouraged and welcomed by the rock community.  What I’ve always liked about this town is that really, anything goes.  People here seem to genuinely be passionate about their music, loyal to their band, authentic and really don’t give a fuck if you don’t like it.  Most of us aren’t trying to follow some set formula for success.  We do this because we love it and we genuinely connect to our own songs.  It also helps that it rains here most of the year, so we are inside a lot writing, recording, practicing and playing shows.  The cold, dreary days help with the creative process. 

Ryan:
Well there is no way that this is not going to offend someone so to those people I say “not everything is about you”. I don’t believe that our sound comes from the city of Portland. We just happen to be here at this time. I grew up in the mountains of North Idaho in the Regan 80’s. It was a fucked up place for a sensitive kid to land.  In the middle of sawmills, social detachment and extreme prejudice. That place may have a beautiful landscape but what I was craving was social diversity, art, music, metropolis….  What I felt was disparity, intolerance, despair, disconnection.  I was angry about it, so I escaped into music.  That sets the tone for what comes out of me.  Portland is not like that at all.  It used to have this creative energy that seemed to emanate from all places at all times. We’ve tapped that out. Now there is a wave of conscience here that feels had, that feels entitled, that feels that they are owed something and that by shining a light on every persons shortcomings somehow we are proving that we are better than you. Fuck those people. I am not one of them. Portland is just where I collect my mail, for now.

Where'd the band name come from?

Eddie:
I stole it from a good friend of mine Luciano Ferrea, who had played bass in several bands with me in the past. He mentioned it one day and I instantly thought it was a great band name and thought of all kinds of mythology concepts that could be associated with it. Though I have my ideas of the meaning behind it, I want to keep it open ended and let people come up with their own reasons for being drawn to it.

Ben:

Laura:
Eddie already had the band name picked out before I joined. :)

Ryan:
Edward

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

Eddie:
Oh wow… tough to think… Maybe doing the little shred parts for Bill & Ted’s could be pretty fun. Could also see myself scoring an entire film of some sort but can’t think of a specific title..

Ben:
Anything by David Lynch, Tarantino, or Werner Herzog.

Laura:
I would be into doing the soundtrack for the movie Basket Case which is my favorite, super weird and funny horror film from the 80’s.

Ryan:
Mad Max.  The 1979 film.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Eddie:
Of off the top of my head... I’m gonna say “Halo Of Flies” by Alice Cooper. So much amazing shit going on in there, to dissect it would take at least 1000 words.

Ben:
Miles Davis - "Bitches Brew" title track. It's a 27 minute long masterpiece.

Laura:
Megadeth, Holy Wars.....because Holy Shit....that song is insane! 

Ryan:
Saints In Hell by Judas Priest of the Stained Class album. Musically it doesn’t get much better than that. Killer riffs, great rhythm section, soaring diverse vocal melody, deep lyrical content, epic battle style solo/non solo section, sick production, full story and conclusion. These are the kinds of songs that I would love to write over and over again. Perfect.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Eddie:
In most recent memory, I’d have to say the time it took me two fucking minutes, on stage in Seattle, during a song, to figure out why my guitar wasn’t making any noise. I swapped out cables, unplugged every pedal… everything. Turns out it was the guitar. When is it ever the guitar?! A first for me. Got it all sorted just in time for the guitar solo though, it was a pretty triumphant return!

Ben:
Love that movie!

Laura:
My Spinal Tap moment was when I decided to do a four day Ayurvedic cleanse that involved taking a laxative on the final day.  This was right before leaving for a mini tour.  Not good on so many levels! 

Ryan:
I was playing a big show opening for Red Fang.  Was super excited about it and right in the middle of the first song I put a hole in my LEFT bass drum.  One of the other bands brought up a double kick pedal to use.  It fell apart on me too.  Super defeating and a huge ego blow.  I guess that is my version of the Pea Pod scene during Rock N Roll Creation.  Poor Derek.

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Eddie:
I think that the four of us put a lot of work into making sure that when we come out on stage we have all guns blazing. It’s amazing experience letting your soul loose like that, and an even better one when you feel everybody’s positive energy coming back at you. It Takes you to a whole other level of existence.

Ben:
Playing live or watching a band play live can be one of the best things in life. There's usually a fair to a large amount of sweat involved.

Laura:
I still get super nervous before shows, mostly when they are spaced out a month apart but once I get out on tour and am playing nightly, I really start to find my groove.  I love the positive feedback loop of sharing my energy and passion with the audience who equally shares their energy and appreciation of the music back with me.  It’s a beautiful exchange! 

Ryan:
Each time is a really unique experience. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to have ZERO expectation of what the night might be like. I can be totally prepared and botch something big.  I can go into a show feeling very “why are we even here” and get blown away by the response of the people there.  I do my best to just enter the space with humility and determination.  Give everything that I can to the moment and not worry about wether or not someone is enjoying what we do. If I enjoy it most of the time others will too.

What makes a great song?

Eddie:
To me, how it makes you feel. I can’t say there’s a set formula as far as I’m concerned. All I know is I know it when I hear it.

Ben:
Honesty, Originality, Talent.

Laura:
If it makes you move and penetrates your soul, then its good for you! It’s an individual experience. 

Ryan:
Honesty.  If someone is following a formula I can smell that shit out. Fuck modern pop music. Everything is written by like 5 guys? Bullshit.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

Eddie:
The first one I can really remember writing all the way through was an acoustic instrumental piece. It was was something along the lines of “Blackbird” by the Beatles, or “Dee” by Randy Rhoads but nowhere near as good.

Ben:
I wrote a song called "Mushroom Julius" with some friends in high school. I'll never forget that one...

Laura:
Ha, well the FIRST song I ever wrote was when I was very young.  I was obsessed with Weird Al and basically wanted to be him.  So I would write my own parody songs, playing them on the keyboard and performing them for my family.  The first one I can think of off the top of my head was “Under The Toilet” inspired by “Under The Boardwalk”.

Ryan:
I will not. That shit was garbage. I will tell you that it made me realize that it was harder than I first thought. But I overthink things. I wish I could write like Kurt Cobain or John Lee Hooker.  Grab one fucking thought and make it your bitch.
Wouldn’t you believe it? It’s just my luck. No Recess.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Eddie:
I’m really proud of this 111 album as a whole. I put a lot of work in putting this band together and a lot of heart and soul into writing these songs, recording, producing, engineering and mixing the album. It’s been a labor of love and a touching experience having it all come to fruition and seeing the positive feedback and support we’ve been getting thus far. I’m really proud and grateful to be making music with these people.

Ben:
I'm proud of the whole album.

Laura:
I’m very proud to be in HDC and for our debut album 111.  The guys in this band are all incredible musicians and it’s really pushed me to become better myself.  I’m looking forward to what we will create next!

Ryan:
When we initially recorded the material for 111 the songs were pretty new still and so a lot of what came out was more responsive than premeditated. Some of that is really cool and it captures a vibe that we had at that time. Upon further examination down the road we could see that some of that material needed to be revisited. I think that what I was able to arrange for Unborn was pretty slick. I’m proud to have that recording out there.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Eddie:
Of this newer generation of heavy rock type stuff Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats really stands out to me. Particularly their “Blood Lust” & “Mind Control” albums. They’ve just got that “something” to me that a lot of bands are lacking these days. They’re not super complex, but I find what they do really tasteful and a lot of their tunes hit the spot for me.

Ben:
Helms Alee has been ruling me lately. So much originality, variety and depth. I also hear that NW influence in them which I am immediately drawn to.

Laura:
Lately I’ve been exploring King Gizzard and The Wizard Lizard and I’m super impressed with how many albums they have put out in such a short amount of time as well as how diverse they all are. Their upbeat stuff is super great driving music.

Ryan:
King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard is blowing my fucking mind. They keep coming out with new albums like every 6 months and they are doing it while not sticking to one particular genre. They are doing whatever the fuck they want at all times. I love it.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Eddie:
I might actually go with cassette tapes even though not listed, ha! I grew up on them and theres something cool about that sound. Its really nostalgic in a good way to me. I do enjoy all formats though.

Ben:
I appreciate the vinyl but i mostly go digital for the instant gratification and clutter reduction.

Laura:
Vinyl is beautiful and my favorite artistically but I’m always on the go, traveling, hiking, walking my dog etc, so digital is a must for me. 

Ryan:
I prefer vinyl for the sound, the feel, the look. I do love a great sounding CD though too. As long as it sounds good I don’t care where it comes from. I don’t have a CD player at home but I also don’t have a turntable in my car.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

Eddie:
Weed. Never been a big drinker…

Ben:
I appreciate a good Bourbon but I love Beer.

Laura:
I don’t drink much anymore but I’ll take a smoky, aged whiskey on the rocks that tastes like an old leather jacket sitting by a campfire with a craft beer back to wash it down. 

Ryan:
Coffee with cream and sugar. Keep em coming.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

Eddie:
Music Millennium

Ben:
Music Millennium

Laura:
Music Millennium and Second Avenue Records will have you covered!

Ryan:
Music Millennium. No question.

What's next for the band?

Eddie:
More music, more tours, more good times, more creating, more growth.

Laura:
We are already working on new songs for our second album.  We also plan to tour as much as possible and really want to get on a European tour by next year!

Ryan:
More of everything.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Eddie:
Thank you all for reading this and giving a shit about our band.\m/

Laura:
Thank you to everyone out there who has supported our band!  We love and appreciate you all!

Ryan:
Be excellent to each other.

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