artist interview

What Music Means To Me: Jimmy Lo Fi

Photographer: Rachel Malvich

Photographer: Rachel Malvich

Jimmy Wilkens of The Sonder Bombs & Jimmy Lo Fi (as well as countless other music endeavors like Drag Daze & The Scuzzballs) is making his second appearance with The Hook Journal! The first being a gig back in Philadelphia, and now to share his thoughts on what music means to him!

Check it out below!

“It's hard to describe what music means to me because music is so abstract. I can't explain why myself, and thousands of other people, are willing to risk their health & financial livelihood all over 12 notes rearranged in different-yet-sometimes-the-same pattern. But for me, it's the only way I've ever truly been able to express myself. I tried drawing, I tried writing, but none of it stuck the way music did. Music allows me to connect with other people, to learn new perspectives, to discover things I like and don't like about people in a safe, constructive way. It also helps me make friends as an adult. I'm not in college anymore but I'm still in a community where I get to meet new people all of the time and that's pretty cool. Also, it's such a weird feeling listening to a song all the time and then meeting the creators of that song. You feel like you know them, but in reality you don't. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on the circumstance, but it's an amazing feeling when you meet that person and then end up being really good friends.

Music also means I get to help others.

Playing in The Sonder Bombs has been wonderful because the songs we put out have connected with people in ways that words alone may or may not have. Willow & I started this band a little over 3 years ago and it has grown beyond something we ever thought it would, and having people come up to us after shows to tell us how a song of ours has helped them through something, it's incredible. Willow is a superb songwriter and the excitement I feel when she says "I have a new song" cannot be contained because it means I get to find a way to add a piece of myself to it and then ultimately share it with others.

I guess all of this can be summed into on statement: Music means to me that you'll never be alone.

A local artist I've really be into lately is Teamonade. They just dropped an EP, THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING and they have this song "Wreck" that literally wrecks me. The lyric " much has changed in the worst way" has me doubled over because it had effectively ripped my guts straight from my body."

You can check out Teamonade down below & stay tuned for more artists as we delve into What Music Means To Me!

What Music Means To Me: Mochi Robinson


One of The Hook’s most favorite music makers, Mochi Robinson, delighted us when he agreed to participate in our What Music Means To Me Series. The experimental artist has been one of our favorite to review, to talk about, and for almost four months stayed as our featured album!

Here’s what Mochi had to say about music’s impact on himself & growing up!

Mochi Robinson (Artist/Musician):

”Music wasn’t something I always had, it was something I had to find. But, once it gripped its teeth into me, I haven’t been able to look the other way.

Music has been a source of identity for me since middle school. As an interracial kid, growing up in a predominantly white area, I was able to shed the burden of trying to identify myself through race from music. It gave me an identity as an artist, and as a creative, which has been empowering ever since. Painting landscapes with sound, and being able to connect to so many people globally through one common denominator have been the most powerful tools given to me.

On the other hand, listening to music has become a tool to either narrate my own adventure, or to help sort through thoughts, always cathartic along the way. When the wintertime blues hit, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago will always make its way to the top for a melancholic morning. Or if I need summertime energy, Kendrick Lamar’s to pimp a butterfly has the hits that slap and bring energy to the forefront. There seem to be songs and albums that surpass being songs, and remain in your life forever and never being obsolete however many times you listen, usually always because of its nostalgic connection. I.e songs your parents played growing up, first car mixed CD, Etc.

Recently, I’ve been able to add a good friend, Sam Bekt, to that list of songs. In his new record Selfie, the second song, “Switzerland,” is an absolute bop that brings a sense familiarity for me. Would absolutely recommend listening to the whole record, each track feels like its own character.”

What Music Means To Me: Dustin Schumacher

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Dustin Schumacher is a force to be reckoned with - a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, the Pennsylvania native has been bringing back emotion into the local rock scene with his ongoing project, Inner Temple (one of our faves, tbh).

Dustin Schumacher (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

Music to me means no fear. For an instance, I am immortal. The world’s harm can no longer burden me. The dirt beneath my feet can no longer bury me. I’m as alive as I was when I left the womb. Music is the air in my lungs and the armor clenched tightly around my skin.

I feel like we’re too often surrounded by fashion trends that come and go, family and friends that don’t reach out, and toxic romantic relationships that are anything but fluid. One thing always stays constant and that’s musical release and energy. Too many people are afraid to be real with themselves and to others. Music demands you to be real. It holds you down on the floor and begs you to be completely naked and bare for it. It wants to see every inch of you from the inside out and then go back inside again. It wants to learn your deepest secrets that no one knows. It wants you in every definition and in every language, shape, and form. Music wants your emotional honesty and it can easily tell deceit.

The best songs we’ve heard are filled with singers who had tears in their eyes while reciting their poetic freedom and whose voices cracked and shattered from the emotional strain of hitting their highest note possible until their vocal chords ripped apart like a sharp knife through a tightly wound ball of yarn. Some call that imperfection. I call it human.

Dustin is currently hype on Wilkes Barre, PA natives, Toothless & their most recent EP from 2018, RED. Check out the EP streaming below!

What Music Means To Me: Blake Horner

Photographer Credit: Original Photographer   (Plz contact us)

Photographer Credit: Original Photographer (Plz contact us)

Rich People is just one aspect of Blake Horner - a human being, a poet, a band member, a partner, a son and the first contributor for this month’s community out reach. Following up on a post we released last week called “What Music Means To Me,” we have set out to hear from contributors, friends, peers, colleagues from fans, to music makers, to visual artists, to writers, to people with opinions on things that seem important - and we asked them “What does music mean to you?”

Seems like a big question - but, we left it open for their interpretation, abstract or concrete, based in an art form or reality, using words or not, we just wanted to know. More importantly, we wanted to create the sense that, in all of our individual journeys, standpoints, behind a pen, or a microphone, or a stage, or a camera, the experiences we share give us commonality, hope, community - and, we can’t forget that.

Blake was one of our first respondents to the community effort - and, with his knowledge, basis, and general artistry, it’s sure to be an empowering read. Feel inspired, feel connected, feel like sticking it out - just one more day; but, first check it out below!

Blake Horner (Rich People/Poet/Artist):

”What does music mean to me? This is something I ask myself every single day. Something that I base every single move I make off of.

I made the firm decision when I was 17, (I’m 24 now), that I was going to do whatever it takes to make this my plan. I currently play in a band called Rich People, out of the Greater Philadelphia Area, that has been together since 2015. The process for anything worthwhile is draining, almost defeating at times. I do my best to keep a positive mindset about things. My mind is very business-oriented and I always try to find new ways of reinvigorating/reinforcing the concrete plans and goals I create both for myself, as well as group efforts that often span quite some time. If you haven’t yet decided on your concrete plans, think of what you want to do and how you can accomplish them. If something doesn’t currently exist for you to be a part of, or if nothing really feels like home, create it and figure out how you can collaborate with others and grow something substantial.

To be straightforward, you will just have to figure a lot of things out on your own; it’s definitely beneficial to ask friends for help, but at the end of the day, you should just go out there and fall on your face one thousand times. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of Rich People. We are four fully-committed friends who are constantly learning so much together. Throughout all of our hardships, there have been continuous victories that are only beginning to compound and unravel.

Although the journey can be so push/pull at times, the kind words from friends, family, and so many strangers, all make it worth the fight.”

Blake is currently listening to “Penny” by The Insides, a Philadelphia local - and you can check out “Penny” down below!

5 Stupid Questions With Durian

Ben Wood is the drummer of New Jersey Grind fiends Durian and formerly of Chainsaw To The Face, check out our five stupid questions with him below!

Gene: First of all, why do you feel the need to comment on literally every status I make? Why do you have to troll me like that?
Ben: Just think of it more as a rites of passage. I only troll the people that I love the most (except for Jack). But really, most of the time I am just trying to have fun and make light of things considering we live in the trump-era. Real life is too depressing most of the time. 

Gene: Your band is named after a stinky fruit from South America. How does your music reflect that?
Ben: Well, I wish I could say that we smell as bad as the Durian fruit, but we all shower at least once a day. Honestly, coming up with a band name is the worst fucking part of being in a band, so when John pitched the idea of being called Durian we all just agreed, because fuck it. I've had a running joke that Burton loves Durians and eats them with everything for at least 5 years now, so it works. 

Gene: You have a side project that is doing a split release with my comedy (Patton Oswalt did the same thing with the Melvins in the early 2000s). Which of my jokes is your favorite and why is it all of them?
Ben: We want to do something where you deliver a joke and before you give the punchline some feedback goes off and we blast through a song that just makes fun of you. Do this and repeat for about 10 minutes and you have our split. 

Gene: How would you describe your drumming style? It’s very technical yet very punk influenced at the same time. How do you incorporate both influences?  
Ben: I have been fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with great people who also happen to be great drummers. When I first started out with cttf, I got to see some of my (still to this day) favorite drummers play and would try and copy at least a little bit of what they were doing. The best part about the grind and power violence scene is that mostly every drummer I have been in contact with have been cool as hell and super humble and always willing to talk and provide pointers on anything. Shoutout to Chris from DOC, Jake from Triac and Joe from doomsday machine schematic for always being cool. They are among my personal inspirations. 

Gene: Last year our bands toured together and you made us go to “Biscuitville” in North Carolina which could only be described as a poor man’s “Roy Rogers”. This is not a question really, I just want to give you an opportunity to personally apologize for that. I think you are being way too hard on Biscuitville.
Ben: Yeah they sucked, but it was a great bonding experience to share shitty dried up biscuits with you, Jack and Michael.

As always, thanks for reading, and check out Durian's social media below!

Durian: Bandcamp

5 Stupid Questions With Xibalba

Xibalba are a sludgy Death/Doom/Hardcore outfit from Pomona, California. We asked Brian Ortiz 5 stupid questions, so check it out!

Gene: In Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, there is a character named “Sebulba” which kind of rhymes with the name of your band. Was this intentional?
Brian: No, not at all. He lost a race against a little ass boy, no way we'd name ourselves after a loser like that. 

Gene: Yo, have you heard of this band, Bolt Thrower? They’re pretty sick.
Brian: We've been blessed enough in our lives to have heard this great band. I even saw them once and orgasmed a few times from the pleasurable heaviness.

Gene: Half of you guys are straight edge yet your band still has the reputation for getting drunk and showing up late to your own shows. Is this sort of dichotomy a reflection on the duality of mankind?
Brian: Straightedge? None of us are straightedge, hence why we get fucked up and show up late. You're throwing all these big words at me like dichotomy and I don't understand it, so I'm gonna take that as disrespect... watch your mouth. 

Gene: I saw you guys perform at Kung Fu Necktie in Philly this past Winter and honestly it sort of re-established my faith in Hardcore. Your singer seemed very passionate about the music and the scene yet also very humble and down to earth. How do these ideas translate into your band’s philosophy?
Brian: We're all about family and friends. We also just wanna party, play and get fucked up with our family and friends. We love what we do baby. 

Gene: Are those your skis? Both of them?
Brian: No it's a cardigan but thanks! Yea! Killer boots man! Well...see ya later!

For more on Xibalba and what they're wearing, check out their social media below!

Xibalba: Bandcamp

5 Stupid Questions With Ground

Mike Mayo plays guitar for South jersey Fake/Grind band Ground. He is a former member of legendary slam metal outfit Waking The Cadaver. Below you can check out our 5 stupid question interview to learn everything you don't care about!

Gene: Alright, I’ve known you personally for like 3 years so I gotta ask: how do you pronounce your last name? Is it Mayo as in mayonnaise? Or is it “My-oh” as in “My oh my there are a lot of birds out this morning?”
Mike: It's Mayo like the white shit you put on the sandwich. Fuck miracle whip.

Gene: You are a registered nurse? Or you’re studying to be one? I can’t remember. How much of that involves inserting things into people’s butts?
Mike: Im a tech, which is like a nurse except I'm not allowed to insert anything in anyone's butt, and I make less than half of what they make. I am studying to become an RN, so in about one year I'll legally be able to administer medication rectally. I can't wait. 

Gene: Rumor has it you moonlight as an rapper/hip hopper. How much would you say you are inspired by Vanilla Ice?
Mike: Vanilla Ice not so much, but all my friends love rap so there has always been an influence of rap on me. I like to rap for fun but it's not very good.

Gene: For real, I don’t hear a lot of modern metal/hardcore bands do the whole open note breakdown thing, just the monochromatic stuff that sounds lame in my opinion. I think that’s partially what makes Ground so fucking heavy. What are your thoughts?
Mike: Thanks! I wanted Ground to be every fat hardcore crowdkiller's favorite grindcore band when we started. I think we are doing a pretty decent job at pissing off the purists and quite frankly, that's the best part about false grind.

Gene: Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?Mike: No, but Jessica Rabbit could totally get it.

Ground: Bandcamp // Facebook // YouTube

5 Stupid Questions With Fuck The Facts

Melanie Mongeon does vocals for Ottawa’s Fuck The Facts, one of the world’s premiere Grindcore bands. Check out our 5 stupid questions interview down below!

Gene: I gotta ask, what is with the name? What did the facts ever do to you? Why are you angry at them? LMAO BET YOU’VE NEVER BEEN ASKED THIS BEFORE!
Melanie: Topon is the one that picked the band name when the band was still only his solo project. It is a song title from a John Zorn recording. For him, the name reflected a certain freedom in music styles he wanted to have with that new project. As for the facts in general, i like them and we need them. With the general overload of information and disinformation we are surrounded by in the various media forms, they are sometimes hard to find!  
Gene: Your band’s early material used Mullets as one of it’s central thematic devices. If you had to make your next album about a particular haircut, which one would it be?
Melanie: Still a mullet. Seriously, it is hard to beat. But if really have to pick another one, i guess it could be faux hawk. Someone needs to start a band called faux hawk. I googled quicky and found a Fauxhawk band.. too late for me I guess!

You guys have free health care in Canada. Do you find that this makes you more reckless with your personal health? Do you get on a motorcycle and are just like “I don’t need a fuckin’ helmet, I got socialized health coverage, HIGH FIVE!”?I
Melanie: I can only speak for myself, I will keep on my helmet when on my bike. Free healthcare, I don't think it makes us more or less reckless and I personally prefer being safe. On the other hand I have always wondered, why are some people not wearing helmets on motorcycles in certain US states. As a Canadian, it blows my mind.
Gene: Full Disclosure: Fuck The Facts is one of my favorite bands and “Disgorge Mexico” is one of my all time favorite albums. What was the inspiration for that album, both musically and lyrically?
Melanie: Thanks! For the music, Topon and Vil wrote it together, and I added lyrics after it. It was just the 3 of us from the writing process to the studio. The artwork relates the tale of a travel from the canadian border to the mexican border.  
Gene: The only time I went to Canada I went to the Perkins in Niagra (Perkins is the Canadien version of Dennys). Have you been to that Perkins? If so, what is your favorite dish?
Melanie: Never been to Perkins, but we also have Denny's here. I went once to Denny's when i was younger and could barely speak english (i'm francophone). Back then, I figured that it was what the English Canadians liked to eat : just alright overpriced food. I haven't been since. But i have been to Waffle House in the US... nothing memorable there, but price was more in my touring budget then at Denny's.

Fuck The Facts: Bandcamp // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram