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Detroit, Michigan, United States
I'm a punk rock guru from Detroit. Part skinhead, part crusty, part metalhead, part hardcore kid, part party kid, 100% punk rocker.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hellmouth interview from March 2010

Interview with Hellmouth, March 2010

1. Who is Hellmouth, members wise, and what history do you have?

Jeff: The line up since the beginning has been Jay, Alex, Justin and myself. The band is basically a collective of 4 people who have a like-minded theory about life, people, music and presentation. We’ve all been in numerous bands over the years and our history is deep-rooted in the Detroit hardcore, punk and metal scene.

2. What is Hellmouth? How did you arrive at the name?

Jeff: A hellmouth is basically a gateway to hell. There are many artistic portrayals of the “hellmouth” as a huge, demonic mouth eating people. I just thought it was a cool sounding name for a band. It fits us.

Alex: If Bosch or Bruegel were painting a Hellmouth, it was an image borne of Catholic dogma in the 16th century. It lives in a different context circa 2010. Now I think Hellmouth is Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Now I think Hellmouth is inside the minds of Jeff, Jay, Justin and me. To be honest, Bosch's Hellmouth was imaginary, and ours is anything but. So I think the real Hellmouth is right here, right now.

3. What kind of philosophy does Hellmouth espouse?

Alex: If Hellmouth espoused a philosophy then it wouldn't be dogmatic. It is what it is. Hellmouth is routed in reality and Hellmouth is routed in the present. The past and future are literally figments of our imagination. Hellmouth is freedom. Fuck fatalism. Do what thou wilt shall be the law of the land.

4. With your recent jet in local popularity, do you look at Hellmouth as more of a frame of mind rather than just four guys playing music?

Jay: The people who embrace us have the same ideals and are no different than us. So yes a frame of mind; the music is secondary. D.E.W.N.

Alex: I hope it’s more than music. If people can feel what we feel or get a glimpse into where we're coming from then I think a connection is being made. I think it's bigger than 4 old fuckers thrashing around on stage.

5. What are your inspirations musically and personally?

Jeff: I like music that moves me emotionally and makes me want to be creative. Personally, my own anger and disdain with so many things in the world inspire me to write and play.

Alex: Hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, sensing something for the first time is inspirational.

Jay: I'm very content to know other people feel the same disgust, anger, frustration etc.. about the state of the world and humanity. At this moment, now, I'm driven by the people. D.E.W.N.

6. How long did it take you to write and record your first demo?

Jeff: Not very long at all. I don’t remember the specific time, but it really felt like we went in to record soon after the band was formed.

Jay: I had some songs for a few years and this vision, but couldn’t find anybody like minded. When the 4 of us finally formed it was an explosion. The Order D.E.W.N.

7. How did that recording make its way to Ferret?

Jeff: Oddly enough, we owe credit to Myspace. Within 2 weeks of posting our page and the demo songs, someone in the Ferret office stumbled onto us and passed it along to the owner Carl. He contacted us and told us that we played the type of music he grew up listening to. The rest is history. We have nothing but great things to say about the label and the people involved.

8. Around when did “Destroy Everything” make its way to being released?

Jeff: January of 2009.

9. Who does most of the art/design work for Hellmouth?

Alex: I try and execute the majority of the visuals. We've collaborated with a couple artists and illustrators we identify with for some work, but I try to be the glue that holds the identity together. Hellmouth isn't music to me, it's holistic art.

10. What current projects are you undertaking at the moment? I’ve heard talk of a few splits.

Alex: We recorded for a split with Explode and Make Up (from Chicago). The cover art has been printed but I don't know when the vinyl's gonna be done. We recorded for a split with Embrace the Kill, In Defence and Mouth Sewn Shut. I'm working on the art for that right now. We also recorded some covers for a split with Wreak Havoc but the harddrive crashed so I don't know if those songs are going to be salvaged. We have a bunch of shit in the hopper, but it's all at the mercy of the labels.

Jay: A very dear and close friend of mine, Jeff Dean, is in the band Explode And Make Up from Chicago with Dennis who sang for 88 Fingers Louie. It's SICK! Jeff is one of my best friends we thought it would be cool to do a split together. How cool is that! D.E.W.N.

11. When would you anticipate seeing your next full-length released?

Alex: Late summer. Andrei Bouzikov is already painting the cover.

12. How do you feel about some of the crowds at your shows?

Jeff: For being the size band we are (which isn’t very big) we have some of the most dedicated and crazy people that come out and destroy with us.

Alex: Hellmouth shows are getting pretty fucking gnarly. Lansing loses their shit every time. Detroit never lets us down. Never. We have some real dedicated cult members. True blood.

13. What do you think about the current Detroit punk scene? How do you think you’ve helped/changed it?

Jay: I really feel the efforts of this band, as far as putting shows on and trying to be the glue and foundation for Detroit, are working. Jeff putting out records, us bringing in out of state bands, us trying to set up a network and introducing people to each other has payed off. I see so much potential in the Detroit scene that it almost warms my heart. Almost. D.E.W.N.

Jeff: To me it felt like the punk, hardcore and metal as a community disappeared for a while. There really hasn’t been a unified scene since the mid 90s. I think a resurgence is starting. I’m starting to see good bands, reliable record labels and venues, and new media outlets (zines, websites). It’s these things that are bringing people back and bringing new kids in.

14. How do you feel the scene has “gone soft”? What can be done to change this mentality?

Jay: You have to survive the Detroit scene. If you do and you still want to be a part? You must love it and want to live it. No fly by night, halfsteppers wanted here, just lifers. D.E.W.N.

Jeff: When I said it has “gone soft,” I’m comparing the scene to back when I started to see shows in the mid 80s. When I went to see shows, it felt like all hell could have broken loose at any time. It was like a test of guts to be involved in the action. That’s the feeling we want to create with our live shows. It doesn’t mean we want people fighting or any of that bullshit…in fact, if you start a fight at one of our shows, you’re going to have to deal with us because we won’t put up with it. We have an old school mentality. We want circle pits, stage dives, arm in arm sing-alongs, head banging, front of the stage pile-ons….none of this pansy ass Warped Tour crowd surfing, hi-fiving the band garbage. I want a kid who is timid about being involved at a show to join all the other lunatics in front and after the show think to himself, “Wow….I survived and had a great time! I want to do that again!”

Alex: Jeff summed it up. It needs an air of violence. A feeling of “holy fuck, I just managed to survive. How did a riot NOT break out? Fuck!” And sometimes a riot does break out. We want everyone to go home in one piece, but to feel like for 30 minutes it was a fine line between safety and a prison riot.

15. Any favorite active band in the area other than yourselves?

Alex: I fucking love the Nightbringer recording. Beast in the Field are so goddamn heavy live. YOTP are almost TOO heavy live. Those guys make everyone else sound like pussies after they play. Devastating. I dig Easy Action.

Jeff: I’m just gonna name my top five right now…Year Of The Pig, U.D.I., No Grave Like The Sea, Nightbringer, and Beast In The Field.

16. What do you think was your best (or worst) show and why?

Alex: All our Lansing shows have been exceptional. Mayhem show was awesome. Casualties show at the 'Stick was almost sold out and that was fucking unreal. We've slayed some sick shows out of state, too, but our best reception is always on home soil.

Jeff: We’ve been lucky to have very few of what we’d consider bad shows.

17. Where can you pick up Hellmouth merch?

Alex: Merchnow, our myspace site has links. At shows. At Flipside Records in Clawson and Record Time In Roseville.

18. Are there any good sources of information about Detroit hardcore? If so, what are they?

Jeff: Detroit Area Hardcore Blog, MI Hardcore Myspace, Bottom of the Barrel radio show, Detroit Punk Preservation Myspace.

Alex: http://detroithc.blogspot.com/

19. What would you say/do with someone with a passing interest in punk rock to get to participate more?

Jay: Get to know your local scene, people, places, bands, collectives, houses etc... once you do you will know where to go from there. D.E.W.N.

Alex: They shouldn't need prodding. You're either in or you're out.

20. Anything you want the hardcore public to know that we didn’t cover?

Jay: I don't consider us a hardcore band. I love HC but we mix everything up and it's more than a band or music. It's a Cult. D.E.W.N.

Jeff: We hate a lot of things, but we probably don’t hate you, so people shouldn’t feel intimidated to come up and talk to us at shows. We’re no different from the people in the audience.

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