Nadine Records and Accident Prone Records will be releasing Old Friend, the debut album from Hair Puller on November 16th, but we are excited to bring you an early listen right now, as well as a track by track provided by the band! You can purchase the album here.
Portland’s Hair Puller describes their history as such: “Hair Puller started with an equally pretentious and vague Craigslist ad titled “Looking for Drummer to start Post-Metal/Sludge/Shoegaze/Slowcore Band” posted late summer of 2015 by Eric Leavell. The ad was answered by Steve Seal and Ledena Mattox who were looking for a guitar player who would exclusively play “pimply James Hetfield-style” riffs. After slamming back a few Tecates, it was clear that they had found their pimply-faced unicorn. Drawing from diverse personal influences, and three main goals of writing “big dumb riffs”, “songs primarily composed of palm mutes”, and to “play like our asses are on fire”, Hair Puller was formed.”
It’s a fitting story for a band whose new album spans the spectrum between chaotic rockers, and tense dissonant sludge. If you are a fan of early Kylesa, Pissed Jeans, Circle Take the Square, Unsane, and Buzzov*en, then you might have found your pimply-faced unicorns!
TRACK BY TRACK
Eric’s dad fought in Vietnam, where he was exposed to carcinogens the military was using. He developed leukemia a few years ago. It’s infuriating to think of all the harm caused in that war, and the secrecy with which the military and VA handle these matters. While the lyrics are generally applicable, Eric wrote them to express this anger while his dad was fighting for his life.
This is our “What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes?” song, where there is an artist, musician, family member or an old friend and you realize that they are an abuser. Musically we were trying to have a goal as a group to write a song that would be considered a “barn burner” (short, very aggressive, without many parts). We also needed a caveman-style hardcore breakdown, check and check.
One of our newest songs; 2000 Doubts has, like, the tightest riffs. If you don’t get a shit eating grin playing your own music, you’re doing something wrong. If you don’t have a Dave Lombardo ride cymbal breakdown at least once in your life, you’re also doing something wrong. Lyrically, this song is a patriarchy smasher.
House and Home
House and Home is our failed romance song, and one of the first times we wanted to be conscious about who was singing certain words (like Eric not screaming “slut” at a crowd, since it was Ledena’s lyric). I was using some imagery of weddings, traditional femininity, and things that I’ve rejected in my life, but there’s still that pull to conform. At the time we were listening to a lot of the French band Love Sex Machine and wanted to be heavy and severe with our music.
We’d say this is our most rock-leaning song. We were experimenting with different drum styles and landed on something with a bit more groove than is typical for us. With a lot of our songs, we take the basic “feeling” that it gives us and center the idea of the lyrics around that. With Chores, we were paying homage to people who persevere in the face of trauma.
This was actually the first song we wrote together, it had some different iterations and was originally called “jerk” because we were trying to write music that sounded “jerk-y” or “rude” but didn’t want to sing about jerk-y or rude things. It was a bit of a Franken-song for a while. We had read an interview with Christian Lembach where he was like “don’t over edit your songs just let them be finished at a certain point”. We heeded that advice but then decided the song really needed an overhaul, so we re-worked it, trimmed the length, and changed the vocals around to fit the riffs, screaming about hating clocking in day in and day out and being weekend warriors
Every heavy band probably has its own 2016 election song, and this is ours. We wanted to tell a story about a working class uprising and burning everything the rich have to the ground. This song is all about 7th and 9th dissonances, but who cares about things like “notes” and “harmonies” in heavy music?
Lyrically this track is a big “fuck you” to fatphobia, body shame and breaking up with diet culture. To me, the most punk rock people I can think of are fat activists, writers and makers like Virgie Tovar, Chubstr, Fat Fancy store, Can We All Go in Portland, to name just a few. We’ve played this song a bunch of different ways live, mostly changing how the intro section works. We’re really happy with the trippy fade in on the recording, but don’t give us shit if we don’t duplicate it live, since we probably can’t.
By far the hardest song to play and sing at the same time. Why the fuck did we write this? It’s actually a pretty cool song, and one of the only that we were able to write vocals for during the recording process. I think we were able to explore different styles with the immediate feedback of writing and recording. Sometimes we just sing what feels natural when writing in our loud practice space, and here we were able to be very deliberate and feel that shows on this track.
Valley of Fire
Eric was deep in a Kowloon Walled City obsession and wanted to write something spooky *eyeroll*. We jokingly call this our “ballad” because of the slow-ish breakdown part way through the song, but really it’s still pretty heavy. The lyrics were directly influenced by John Williams’ excellent book, “Butcher’s Crossing.” We probably play this song the least live because it’s in a different tuning, and tuning is for losers.