It’s 2022. There’s a lot of crazy, terrifying shit going on these days. Some might argue the dystopian future from sci-fi stories of the past has all but arrived. It seems more fitting that an avantgarde punk-meets-rap duo like Ho99o9 would emerge with a blistering soundtrack for our 21st century apocalypse, in the form of their new album, Skin, which dropped in March on DTA records and are hitting the road for heavy touring in spring and summer.
For the past ten years, Ho99o9 have blazed a mind-bending trail of musical chaos all their own. The brainchild of theOGM and Eaddy, Ho99o9’s diabolical mixture of hardcore punk, hip-hop, industrial and heavy metal, has turned heads and earned acclaim from some of the biggest names in the extreme music world, while their firebrand live performances have made jaws drop and converted non-believers in droves. TheOGM and Eaddy seem to thrive on flipping preconceived notions on their heads and materializing the impossible, so it should come as no surprise that this unyielding duo made one of the most insane albums of the year with one of the biggest pop-punk icons of all time… Blink-182 drum phenom, Travis Barker.
“People know Travis [Barker] for the pop punk drums,” theOGM declares, “they never heard him do a blast beat, but he loves this type of music. Travis listens to heavy music. He’s not a new kid on the block, he been around.”
“Being in the studio with Barker, it was a good vibe,” Eaddy says. “We all three bounced ideas off each other and just pieced it together.”
The Ho99o9 boys first met Barker when they performed at his famed MUSINK festival in Costa Mesa, CA, back in 2019. TheOGM explains that initially, “we started working on a few songs, but it wasn’t to make an album. We just wanted to make a few beats and get a couple songs but then 2020 happened. There was no touring, no shows, nobody was doing shit. We all had time to just link up more and work on songs. Over time we had this body of work and realized we had 12 songs and decided to just make an LP.” And what an LP it is.
Skin is an insane, genre shattering voyage through the clusterfuck of 21st century existence. It’s savagely heavy, weird, ugly and surprisingly catchy at the same time. The Ho99o9 team effortlessly switch between brutal metallic riffs, hip-hop beats, and trippy electronic madness throughout the album and sometimes, even within the songs themselves.
“It’s not really that complicated to us,” Eaddy says proudly of Ho99o9’s eclectic, chameleon like approach to song writing. “We listen to all types of music. Of course, we have different inspirations and things we gather from in general, but I wanna say it’s easy to us.” TheOGM adds, “Every record we go into making, sonically we know it’s gonna be hard. That’s what Ho99o9 is about. For this record it was about balancing that. Most of it is high energy but it was about having little moments in there that felt like you had a breather,” he says. “It was about challenging ourselves to do that instead of just going balls to the wall. Not 30 minutes of pure bang your fucking head. I don’t listen to music like that. I listen to music in waves.”
Like waves crashing along the shore, the songs and energy on Skin rise and fall, some more violently than others. “SLO BREAD” is a laid-back, hip-hop vibe fest featuring a stellar performance from Bun B of famed Texas rap duo UGK. “PROTECT MY BITCH PT. 2” is a pummeling electronica nightmare, while “LOWER THAN SCUM” is a frantic grindcore track that channels the spirit of Napalm Death with ferocious one foot blast beats. “I asked Barker on a whim,” Eaddy says, “‘Yo, could you do the double kick drum on this one?’ and he’s like, ‘Nah I don’t do that. I do it another way’ then he just does it with one foot.”
Travis Barker plays drums on every one of Skin‘s songs. “Even the trap shit that sounds like it’s programmed,” theOGM adds, “he’s actually playing it.”
“BITE MY FACE” is another skull crushing epic on Skin that features a standout guest appearance from legendary Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor. “His wife was a fan of ours cause she was into the track we did with The Prodigy,” Eaddy reveals. “His wife and a mutual friend was telling him about us and he dug through our whole discography.” This eventually led to Eaddy performing alongside the Slipknot screamer at one of Taylor’s solo gigs in Hollywood back in 2019, and his vicious guest spot on Ho99o9’s “BITE MY FACE” and its accompanying music video.
“The crazy thing is we told him just do the hooks on the first half. I didn’t tell him to do the yell,” Eaddy shares. “He laced it up and when he sent it back, I was like, ‘this is some fucking Iowa [Slipknot’s iconic 2001 album] shit!’ Once it came around to make the video I was like, dude please you gotta be in it. I was a little hesitant and reluctant to ask him to wear his mask because he’s never worn his mask in any other collab videos. But I’m like fuck it, what do I got to lose? We got the dude from Slipknot on the track anyways, might as well go the full 100 yards. Ain’t no half-steppin‘. He was like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s get weird. Let’s take it there.”
With big time guest features, dizzying music videos, and near-universal acclaim as one of the most captivating groups of their generation, it might be easy to forget that there’s a message behind Ho99o9’s bombastic audio/visual assault. Skin‘s closing song “DEAD OR ASLEEP?” is a poignant look at the horrors of modern America that was briefly broadcast around the world in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. “There’s a psycho with a badge. You don’t believe me till I’m dead. When the war’s over, pay my debts. Send me off with no regrets” they say.
“There was a lot going on in 2020 for everybody. People out of jobs, people at home. It wasn’t just touring; nobody was making money. There was also beauty in that, in not touring,” theOGM explains. “We were going so hard for so long, those five, six years straight touring, sometimes you don’t stop to smell the roses. Even though there was lots of fucked up shit going on in the world, you can still go outside and get some sun. Like damn I need to figure out a way to survive regardless what’s going on. That didn’t stop us from making music, it didn’t stop us from staying healthy. It was just like being aware. I think a lot of people learned from it but yeah, it’s back to nothing. People are turning up, back to the bars, back at the club, back to doing drugs, back doing what they was doing. Our job is to always be that voice,” he says proudly. “Hip hop, hardcore always been that. We gonna turn up with you, but we gonna always say that not just when it’s trendy. Motherfuckers only do that shit when it’s trendy but it’s still going on as we speak. This reminds people what is going on in society. In our communities anyways. Maybe not for everyone else, but in the Black community, that type of shit is still going down.”
Watch the video for “BITE MY FACE” here:
Photo courtesy of Ho99o9