A Season of Songs, day 52: T-Minus Zero

A Season of Songs is a type of Fun-A-Day project that I plan to do throughout this spring.  I’ll hit shuffle on the ol’ iPod and see what comes up.  I’ll then write a bit about that song, the band, the record, whatever.  Enjoy!

Today we have “T-Minus Zero” from His Hero is Gone off their 1996 debut 7″, “The Dead of Night in Eight Movements”, on Prank Records.

No way out no escape DOWN it’s coming
DOWN no brakes no escape from
The mortal train of humanity
No choice but to drag our feet on
The sides of the rails RIDE this
Savage BEAST to it’s death

His Hero is Gone (HHIG) is another one of those bands that I think I largely ignored just because they were so popular at the time.  In the late 90’s you couldn’t go to a hardcore show without seeing at least one HHIG t-shirt.  I didn’t pick up any of their records when they came out (and still don’t actually have any, just the mp3’s. oops!) and I think the only time I got to see them live was the 1997 “More Than Music” Festival in Columbus, OH (video here).  This group of dudes would go to to build a grassroots DIY empire of sorts with members playing in other notable punk/hc bands Deathreat, Union of Uranus, Severed Head of State and Tragedy.  His Hero Is Gone and their legacy still have a notable presence in the punk/hc scene almost 2 decades after they first began which (usually) says a lot about the quality of what they created.

The impressive thing about HHIG and their family of bands is that they’ve built this following and have had this impact without much in the way of punk rock marketing and other bullshit that we’ve seen in the punk/hc scene especially since the late 90’s on.  No street teams.  No websites.  No social media.  Largely putting out their own records and booking their own tours, they did it themselves.  They’ve built a reputation simply by putting out record after record of crushing, loud, crusty hardcore; putting on loud, intense live shows filled with biting yet simple commentary; and a couple dozen black and white shirt designs worn by thousands of punk kids.

I think I perceive HHIG as being a band that wrote songs longer than they are.  I think this is because their records have a good flow to them where the songs transition nicely and you tend to take in the record as a whole rather than seeing it simply as a collection of songs.  So it threw me off a little this morning looking at their discography and realizing most of their songs are under 2 minutes, with quite a few actually under one minute long.

“T-Minus Zero” clocks in at just 29 seconds.  Your songs can’t be too long when you are throwing eight of them on a seven-inch (especially if you want them to still sound as loud and heavy as this does). It starts off with a little drum beat on the toms (I really like the drum sound HHIG has on their records) and some feedback and launches into a dual-vocal growl-off. LOW LOW LOW GROWL. HIGH HIGH HIGH GROWL. Back and forth a couple times, a little bridge and more LOW GROWL and before you know it this song is through.  Nothing groundbreaking but done with passion, precision and given a good recording, it’s a thing of beauty to behold.

Anyway, another band I slept on when I shouldn’t have but I’m glad i’ve since given them the chance.  3/4ths of the band are in Tragedy who continue to keep the spirit of HHIG alive.  Tragedy aren’t super active but they still do tour occasionally.  I’ve had the chance to see them live a number of times and they put on a worthwhile live show.  Just be on the lookout for that one face-tattooed crust kid who’s gonna be liquored up with nothing to lose and looking to mosh harder than anyone, cuz no doubt he’ll be coming to the show.

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