Harsh, abrupt glitches of thundering humming and car factory rhythms or long and droning soundscapes of evil and bad trips, Hair Police are masters of both. Their albums like Blow Out Your Blood, Obedience Cuts, more recent offerings like Constantly Terrified and Drawn Dead plus splits with Viki and Dead Machines are punishing, brain-bashing concrete banging slabs that can either be long and painful or ADD-short painful. But we all know the pain that comes with enjoying quality noise is a good one. I spoke with Mike Connelly (who’s currently replacing Aaron Dilloway in Wolf Eyes) about the finer points of enjoing noise, his thoughts on rock n’ roll and the new punk.
Mike Connelly (Hair Police): I am Mike Connelly and I play guitar, tapes and vocals in Hair Police.
Could you give us a little history of Hair Police?
Hair Police started in 2001, it was 5 of us at that time, we were all in different bands, and one day decided to combine them all together and make one; we have since slimed down to 3 members: Myself, Tervor Tremaine and Robert Beatty.
What makes Hair Police stand out from other bands doing what you do, in your opinion?
Fuck...can’t really answer that one without sounding weird, huh?
Do you consider what you're playing as "rock n' roll"?
Nah...i wouldn’t say that. There is certainly rock elements and energy, but when i think of rock n’ roll I think of the Cramps and AC/DC, not really us. But you can call us whatever, i don't mind.
Do you think your albums or releases are conceptual pieces?
No, not really. i mean, like any album, a lot of thought goes into the order and flow of the thing, but thats just basic shit. No, we dont really have overriding conceptual agendas.
What impresses me a lot about your music is how you can play very short and consistent stuff or longer, looser pieces; do you have to change gears, physically and/or mentally, to do so or does it come naturally?
Recently, we have been doing only songs off Constantly Terrified which are all pretty long; I think its just because we’re more patient these days. Before, we were spazzes, we just wanted to freak out, I think we could balance the two nicely nowadays, so we'll see. We haven't talked about doing shorter songs again, but who knows.
What aspect of noise do you find the most fascinating?
I know this may be like "duh!!", but for me the whole fucking sound of it is what gets me. To throw on Macronympha Pittsburgh, PA and just lay on the couch and let the thing slam into your brain and take over for the duration--there's really is nothing like it.
How important is the specific gear you use in your music?
Robert is the main gear modifier in the band. I’m too stupid.
You're a very physical band onstage, are you playing angry music?
No, I never think of the music we play as angry. I think the whole thing is just a fucking insane gathering, so everyone can just flip out; get what you want out of it. Maybe you want it to be angry, thats cool; it’s release, however you want it to be. Anger, sexual, or just plain drunken release, that’s all fine with us.
Do you have many cases of people not "getting it"? like hearing them say stuff like "this is the worst music i've ever heard!"?
Sure, but i could really give a shit.
Would you ever work melody into your music, even as an experiment?
No, not in Hair Police. Trevor and Robert are both very interested in melody in compostion, and they have another band Eyes And Arms Of Smoke that partly explores that. I love music with melody, but not for me to play. I have zero interest in that.
How important is improvisation to you?
Very important, and it can be very killer as long as the people playing are fucking in tune with each other, you know. You have to be comfortable and listen to everyone else. That is why i hate sets when people who have never played or talked get together and have a big ol' freak out jam. That to me is very boring...i'd rather it be people who are really fucking listening, not just freaking out. The Carlos Giffoni Death Unit at No Fun this year was a very good big ol' jam thing. But i've seen pleny of that shit go awry, all in the name of improv.
If someone wants to get into your music, but they're totally unprepared for it, what are the artists and records you recommend to listen so they understand where you're coming from?
Nothing that we checked up pre-Hair Police up until now is really any easier! When we started, we were really into bands like Macro, Prick Decay, To Live and Shave in LA, shit like that. Now we still like all those bands, but throw in some Prurient, Pengo, C Spencer Yeh, Corsano/Flahery, Sick Llama and we're pretty good. There's a million more bands of course.
Spin did an article about "noise punk" and you were in it, how do you think it came out to be? do you think the bands covered in it are really THE bands, all contemporaries? have you seen a backlash or a boost in sales/concert attendance?
I don’t think that article did a damn thing, I forgot about it until now actually! They listed a lot of bands that are definitely down, but some I had never heard of, like Mars Volta?! Who are these people? But i dont really thing people got into the music through that article. Maybe though, who am i to say?. The article itself was pretty funny i thought.
Is there really a noise movement or does the media, meaning the internet, make it out to be more than it really is?
I always say its just a huge fucking crew of friends who are into and play fucked up music, It’s really great. Every state, every country you go to, you can find a few of these freaks hiding somewhere. I was talking to a dude who used to tour manage a huge modern "hardcore" band, and he was saying how noise now is so much like early days of hardcore. Friends setting up shows, letting anyone stay at your house 'cause you know those people are gonna respect it and shit. He says "hardcore" now is a rock star jock infested scene. The noise scene is just a lot of people who wanna get together, get messed up and check out some fucked up tunes. That rules.
Do you think noise or whatever you want to call it that you do is really the new punk?
I would never make such a statement, but i do see what we are doing to be very related to early 80’s hardcore, much more than any current "punk" bands. Our approach, attitude, they way we do things are very much in line with all the early hardcore shit. But really, isn’t like Green Day the new punk??!! I think Gwen Stephani is the real new NEW punk.
How important is playing shows for you?
Extremely, though HP have been on a little show break, due to me being in Wolf Eyes now and Trevor and Rob working really hard on Eyes And Arms Of Smoke, who are so great. You gotta hear them. Playing live is the best part of being in a band i think.
What can we expect from your live shows? Ever had any weird/funny/great experience while playing?
Every show is a great experience, or that’s the goal at least. The best one recently was our set at the 2005 No Fun. The thing turned into such a fucking riot. So many people came up to me after the set showing me their injuries...it was great! The whole crowd was onstage by the end of the set. Truly what I love to see happen live. People just let go and flipped out...fucking brilliant.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would that be?
We've gotten to collab with a lot of great people, with HP and for me with Wolf Eyes... i am talking to Joe from Macronympha about jamming with him, which obvoiusly excites me to no end. We love playing with other people...what’s better than making fucked up music with your friends?
Do you think that somewhere along the line in time, this kind of music you play will crossover to the mainstream?
Fuck...i can’t imagine it, but why the fuck not? This is the music that i love to hear and play, why shouldn’t a million people feel the same way? oh yeah...because those people are fucking lame.
What have you been listening to lately?
Dude, i listen to so much shit, i can barely think on it. Actually, i listened to Donovan a lot yesterday. And i also listened to Big Joey, MSBR (RIP), Music Emporium, Christopher "What'cha Gonna Do?", Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center LP, the new Caroliner LP, All of Thus, a lot of black metal too like Watain, Black Witchery, Xasthur. And a shitload more LPs I cant think of at this time.
What's next for you?
Wolf Eyes is hitting the road for a while in Sept/Oct, then Hair Police will record a record for Eclipse Records and do some shows in the area. Right now, i am going to the pool 'cause its fucking hot.