Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Kingo: Born in a small town in Western Maryland, grew up there aside
from a brief excursion to parts unknown when I was six or five or
Sacky: Born in the same small town. Lived there until I was old except
for one year when I went to live with my dad until such time as he
decided to smash my stereo & all my tapes & records with a hammer so I
moved back to my mother.
Fanch: Born in a small western MD town. Spent most of my years in that
town with the exception of a brief excursion to central PA. Currently
back at home in the one place, in a house a few streets down from where
I grew up.
Madhog: Born in the same place as the other guys. You can probably
smell the connection. I spent the least amount of time there compared to my
counterparts - moving around lots of places (15 addresses in my life
so far) while my dad pursued career magnificence in the tire world.
Eventually came back to that regal western MD town for awhile again. I
probably have the most wanderlust out of the rest of our group. I am always
trying to travel away to someplace silly where I can't read anything
and all the food is made of ears and lips.
Where are you located? (siblings? parents? spouses? children?)
Kingo: Currently in a state of flux, will be soon returning to the
hometown previously not-mentioned-by-name. I'm my own parents, though I do
have a wife and baby daughter and I'm not sure how I'm related to them.
I might be my daughter's granddad. I'm still talking to lawyers about
this. Strangely, I also have separate parents who aren't me, and I'm
fairly close to them.
Sacky: I live in a tiny little house over a two-car garage. One-car
garage worth is a mess. The other half is a messy studio. Sometimes I
build guitars in the non-studio half. The town where I live was flooded
sometime back to make way for a reservoir. So it's a town in name only,
since it's really just a stretch of road with a convenience store (or
three) a liquor store (or three), an Arby's and a post office. I have a
son and wife. The wife is something of a singer and an instrumentalist.
We've conned her into playing on some songs. She always wants to fix her
tuning, tho. My parents divorced back in the stone ages. I was rather
young. I've never found a way to please my father but thankfully I
somehow managed to lose the desire to even try.
Fanch: Located in city of birth, daughter and wife, parents,
grandparents, siblings and in-laws are all accounted for.
Madhog: I live smack in the middle of a state next to those other guys.
I used to live further away awhile back. I've got a woman and a little
dog that is a dogwoman. I currently have no kids, which makes me the
only guy in Halaka without spawn.
When did you start making music? Which instruments did you play
initially and where did you start to play? Give me some details!
Kingo: I'll let you know if I ever start making music or playing any
instruments. I'm more of a tinkerer than a player, and more than that I'm
an archivist or journalist, or something. I took up pretending to be a
musician late in life compared to the other guys, and I love to
surround myself with people who make me feel embarrassed to play in front of
Sacky: I wanted a keyboard one year for Christmas. I decided this about
2 weeks before Christmas and everyone had already bought me shit. They
bought me so much shit it was unbelievable. But I was still upset that
I didn't get a keyboard. Then, one day while watching the MTV I saw
Phil Collins singing about Sussudio. I decided then and there that I had
to have a guitar. A red one. I don't really know why, because that song
doesn't feature any guitar. I got a red guitar. Then I traded that in
for a white guitar. I eventually learned to play the white one. I also
like to bang on drums but I'm not much good at it. Unless I have a big
plastic cup full of tequila. Then I'm pretty good. OH! And if you
really wanna know about started... well, in fourth grade I played the
trombone. I told the guy I wanted to play the drums but he said EVERY BOY
WANTS TO PLAY THE DRUMS I NEED TROMBONER. So I did that. And I didn't like
it. But I could play the star wars theme by ear without really knowing
a fucking thing about the trombone. I wish I had a recording of it.
The next year I tried the cello since it was free and wouldn't cost my
mother any money. I stuck with that all the way through high school. I
even got the Senior Orchestra Award at graduation. Probably helped that I
was the only senior in the fucking orchestra.
Fanch: Sometime in my teen years I decided it would be good to play the
guitar, my grandmother gave me a Lyle acoustic guitar. Since then I'm
moved on to more junky brands of guitar. I've also been known to play
some bass, piano, keys, and anything that can be banged on randomly,
except the drums, I'm fucking horrible at the drums.
Madhog: Way back when I was about 10 or so I really wanted an acoustic
guitar. I got one for Christmas and then had no idea what to do with it
until I was about 13 when I started getting lesions on my hands
courtesy of Sacky, who taught me how to play a few things and tried in vain
to make me learn a bit of theory. For a long time thereafter I only
played guitar, but I held close a desire to someday learn the drums, and a
few years ago when I finally had the basement I've always wanted I was
able to buy a kit and start learning. Now I play more drums than
anything else, but I will probably always be a better guitarist than I am a
drummer, which is not really saying much since I'm not that great at
either thing. But I'm at least better than Kingo, who can't hardly tune
something without his pants coming off and half a tapedeck flying across
How did you all meet?
Sacky: I met MadHog & Fanch when they were in high school. They (or
rather, their parents) paid me money to come and teach them punk rock
songs on the guitar. I never really thought Fanch would amount to much.
Some days I think he proved me wrong. Some days I think I was right.
I met Kingo when Fanch brought me and Madhog to that shitty house in
Fanch: (Sacky is an ass. I WRITE ALL THE SONGS. They MAKES THE WHOLE
WORLD SINKS.) I came into the band sometime later than most of the other
guys or at least the other old guys, slightly after the whole
Motherload thing was done, or maybe right before, I don't really remember. Prior
to joining the band I had gotten together with a friend and recorded
some tapes on borrowed 4-track of music that had to be Halaka, only at
the time I'm not sure we knew that. What I do remember is that shortly
after recording those tapes I was playing some solo stuff at maybe some
dive hole-in-the-wall that's surely been bulldozed by now and after I
got through my set the original Madhog came up to me and asked me to do
some session work on a recording he and some friends were doing. They
soon figured out that I was completely inept as a session guitarist and
invited me to join the band full time. The other Sacky kept screaming
at me to play a triplet and I kept looking at him like he was a space
Shortly after that some guys quit the band, maybe all three of the
original members. I don't really remember much about Shank, except he was
kinda a dick. So I was left in a situation where I was hanging out with
two guys I barely knew, one of whom whose only musical talent at the
time was running loops of tape across the ceiling, and the other one who
just kinda sat holed up behind a cobbled together mixing board. So
after the original guys left, taking the Motherload thing with them, as I
think about it I think it was still Motherload when I first got
involved, although I can't be quite sure that I actually appeared on any
recordings, where was I? Yeah, so after those original guys quit I got in
touch with my friend that had made the basement tapes with me and invited
him over to the house that I guess was Lacky's or his mothers or
something. My friend he introduced himself, but the other guys would only
call him madhog so it stuck. The new madhog was a badass guitar player and
it freed me up to switch to bass, I had to rent one or something. The
new madhog, who I'm just going to call madhog from now on, put me in
touch with some guy he knew that was really a guitar player, but could
kinda also play the drums. So we drove down from the PA place to a town
right around where I grew up to pick this guy up. I was driving my old
Pontiac station wagon, so I met this guy at some flop house apartment in
a bad part of town and we loaded this beat to hell red drum kit into
the back of the wagon, two blocks from the house the wagon blew the
engine. I think it's still sitting there, we had to walk back to this guy's
apartment and get his car. He had this big ass blue van with holes in
the floor and all kinds of shit in the back. The reason I had come to
get him is he said his van would never make it to the PA place, but we
ended up having to load the drum kit into the van and take off for PA.
That was a long ass trip, we must've broken down at least 3 times on the
turnpike. Kindness of strangers you know. Anyway when we walked into
the place the guy I'd brought threw the snare drum down the steps to the
basement. * ran up the stairs screaming something about, "I can't
fucking believe somebody let Sacky back in the band." Then he saw that it
wasn't Sacky, but just like with Madhog the name kind of stuck. So there
we were, 3 guitar players, 2 of them always having to play some kind
of instrument they weren't real comfortable with, a guy named Lacky that
really didn't do much from what I could tell, and * making tape loops
that almost never worked. So that's how we started, I think.
Kingo: The original Sacky and the original Madhog knew each other in
grade school, and started a punk band called Motherload with Shank. A
friend of mine (Lacky Daisical,) drafted them to record something he was
at the time calling, I think, a "soundstallation." Which was fucking
stupid, and thank Cob he didn't decide to call the band that. Anyway, I
was usually hanging out in that place Lacky had in Pennsylvania, playing
Atari while Lacky tried to get these guys to play instruments they
didn't know how to play in the basement. I'd also occasionally record their
conversations on cassettes, and try writing about it later.
Motherload went on for awhile, and Halaka sort of grew up out of its
ashes before it was even ashes at all. Fanch and I met when Madhog and
Sacky asked him to be a part of the band (he'd played with Motherload
some at that point, I think.) I'm pretty sure that at the time they were
trying to get someone to replace them in Halaka without just outright
telling Lacky to go to hell. Just before they recruited Fanch I had
started trying to run the show while Lacky operated the recording equipment,
sort of like I was producing and Lacky was engineering. I transitioned
into being a part of the band that way: Madhog and Sacky both assumed
I was part of the project from the beginning, since I was always there
in the house somewhere, and then when Fanch came I had already been
telling people what to do for a couple of weeks.
So that's how I met Shank, Madhog, Sacky, and Fanch. Except later
Madhog and Sacky quit, and I was fucking pissed because I was halfway
through writing this book about the band that I was going to pass off as
fiction, and with no band (without those two Fanch was the only one who
could play any instruments, and we really needed some drums and keys and
shit to do what we were by that time trying to do,) I'd have to actually
invent the rest of the story. Which I didn't want to do. So I
convinced Fanch to bring in some other decent musicians, and once he'd done
that we just started calling them Sacky and Madhog. So I could finish my
book. Which, of course, I never did.
With the new Sacky and Madhog, who were friends of Fanch's from school
or his neighborhood or something, we discovered that we were really,
truly horrible at doing anything right and pretty good at doing
everything wrong. We also found that we got along well as long as we only saw
each other a couple of times a month. Over time it's become important
that we stay apart for longer periods of time. We're operating on the "two
or three times a year oughtta do it" principle now.
Madhog: Fanch really wrapped things up nicely here with big bits of
dusty-edged duck tape. I can still smell the engine burning from that old
Pontiac station wagon. The key point here really is that it's always a
blast when you have three guitarists and one guy who likes to tie his
shoes with bacon all trying to be a band whenever they meet a couple
times a year. It's kind of like translating from English into numbers.
When did Halaka come into being and how?
Sacky: Brest saw George at the Dairy Queen. The rest is history.
Fanch: I think I answered all this in the above question, I remember at
some point after the older guys left we were considering calling
ourselves The Otherloads, but we were really already Halaka by then.
Kingo: Most of this is answered in #4. Although it really depends on
who you ask - since Fanch and Sacky and Madhog all knew each other,
sometimes it seems like they created Halaka, as it is now, before they were
all in the band. I think sort of I've tried to carry on with the vision
that Lacky had for the band when he started trying to get people to
make horrible noise in his basement, when I started writing about it. The
problem is I don't really know what Lacky's vision was, or is,
anymore. If I ever did.
Also, if you ask Shank he'd tell you that when he left, shortly after
the departure of the original Madhog and Sacky, that Fanch, Lacky and I
were no longer part of the band. Shank had a big head, of course. And
he actually recorded some albums under the name Halaka there for a
Madhog: I am so confused now that I think I'll go get another Diet
Coke. I'd endorse Diet Coke if Coke gave a shit about Halaka. I think Kingo
might be on board with me there too. He's pretty much always a coke
What does the word "halaka" mean to you?
Kingo: "Halaka" represents the enormous, amorphous cloud that occupies
the margin, sometimes erasing everything, sometimes being barely
noticeable. It's all the thrift-store vinyl in boxes that used to be in the
basement but now are being stored for too-much-money-a-month while I
wait to sell my house, it's all the broken guitars I can't play, it's this
big collection of now-dirty PVC pipes, half of which are missing, it's
a box of old cassettes that I wish I had time for, it's all of the
things that are recorded and forgotten about, messages left on answering
machines for people who aren't at that number anymore, snippets of
conversation overheard at dinner when you wonder if those people know other
people can hear them, the sound of a PA heard from really far away so
you can't even figure out where the hell it is and what it'd be doing
there, a radio station that can't possibly exist that you hear in the
middle of the night when you're trying to get from somewhere to somewhere
else, and it means "buttered testacle necklace" in Hindi.
Sacky: Halaka -- What happens when a bag of idiots comes together in a
room with Sun Chips, Oatmeal Cream pies and the Model Japan. Plus
Fanch: Halaka was there before I was and will be there long after I am
gone. It's just Halaka and it will always be. I'm like a visitor in
some strange highway motel and one day I'll pass the room keys off to
someone else and let them figure out what this whole thing is about.
Madhog: Halaka is the state of mind I have when the rest of the world
falls away and our group syncs up in a way that is indescribably perfect
despite all of its warts. It's something that's on the verge of
collapsing all the time - and the tension that creates gets recycled into the
Does Halaka have a "leader" or is it ruled by majority vote?
Kingo: You would think I'd know the answer to this by now but I don't
have a clue. Halaka is ruled by minority vote?
Sacky: Here's the truest way I see it: No one can really be in charge
because no one guy owns all the stuff. There are certain "stuffs" that
have to be there for things to happen. Since nobody else can afford a
$15,000,000 guitar amp, MadHog will always be partially in charge. It's
for this reason that I built Kingo a fancy CB mic but I still retain
ownership of it - so I can have my part of the "InCharge." All that goes
out the window when we don't use any of the fancy things and we still
make a thing so I probably don't know what the fuck I'm talking about.
Fanch: We all look at each other with big shit eating grins, well I
stare at the floor, and sit in silence until someone becomes frustrated
enough to tell the rest of us what we're doing. Also the thing about the
equipment really rings true a lot of the time. I own the model Japan so
really they can't even be a band without me.
Madhog: I basically have lots of cool stuff and the best cash flow of
anyone in the band so I think that makes me the leader, but then that
pretty much disappears when I see Kingo's supple cheeks and fall in love
with his back again. Sacky has a lot of de facto power since he has the
craziest wife. Fanch wins many arguments because he is so introverted
that it verges on seeming like it's outgoing. Kingo's name begins with
king, so that's probably all you need to know, right?
How did you find DMusic and why did you choose to upload your music
and interact here?
Sacky: I think DMusic was created and sat around for a while wishing
Halaka would show up. So we did.
Kingo: In the late 90s (or was it early 00s?) I was in one of my
periods where I thought we were actually going to take over the world. Part
of my plan to do that was to post our music anywhere online that would
have us. The place that had us with the most aplomb was DMusic; for a
while there it was MP3.com, but those fuckers got greedy. Really, though,
Sacky's answer is best for this.
I started interacting when that one guy posted comments on some of our
songs before I ever knew people could post comments on songs. I can't
remember his name. OH! It's KevBrock (http://kevbrock.dmusic.net/).
Except now he's been offline for 180w 4h. I bet he'll come back now that
I've mentioned him here.
Madhog: Blame Kingo. He's Canadian.
What has been your overall experience here at DM?
Sacky: I'm still in awe that somebody spent 9,202366 days covering a
song which took me ((number of instruments) + (one time through to mix))
x (length of song) to make.
Kingo: This is tough to answer. Obviously I love the place, or I
wouldn't still be here. And there are a lot of great people here. But there's
always bad to go with the good, and it wouldn't be me if I didn't at
least mention how pissed off I still am about some shit that goes on
here, like, you know, that shit with that guy who used to date Mary Kate
or Ashley or something. Hillary Duff? I dunno, one of those girls.
Forgetting the negative, though, there's a great (though probably too
small or maybe just very fragmented) community here, and there are a lot
of people who can and do do a lot to help independent musicians who
are trying to get started. Probably the fact that we've never really been
here to try to get help or advice or... hell, I don't know why we're
here, since it isn't really helping us to take over the world... but
probably that fact is part of why I have a sort of love/hate relationship
with the place.
Why haven't we taken over the world yet?
Fanch: dmusic has been a good spot to meet some other musicians, it was
great working with apertome on the Unauthorized Business Plan album.
It's always good to hear things through a new pair of eyes.
Madhog: I'm continually amazed at how many people listen to our stuff
on DMusic and like it. I think for a long time we just all assumed that
someday our kids would find decades of our music and try to get
scholarships and shit for being so unfortunate. Now we know that everyone else
likes Cowboy DeathDisco as much as we do. We used to do that
Garageband thing but there wasn't a lot of good, original music happening there.
Dmusic is full of it, which is great. The contests are the best thing,
I think. We always try to make those work somehow, despite our
increasingly disparate schedules and expanding family waistbands.
If you each could describe yourself in 3 words, what would those
Kingo: Do Not Ingest
Sacky: Probably Just Stramby
Fanch: I am the
Madhog: Bokeh Wonder Vision
Being a fan feels more like joining a culture rather than just liking the music. There seems to be a lot more going on with the band than giving us lots of songs to listen to. Is this intentional? Is the Halaka mystique deliberately culivated?
Madhog: Like my answer to one of those other questions along these lines, Halaka to me is something of a mindset.. so the cultural metaphor probably makes some sense, although it's something we are constantly chaotically evolving. It's not as though it sprang from some example we were following. The more I think of the cultural analog the more it makes me think about what happens when I go someplace where I can't speak the language, read the signs, or figure out what I am eating. I like that feeling. It makes me feel alive to be outside of my comfort zone. A lot of songs and styles we try are way outside of what I grew up thinking was normal or acceptable. I like that feeling since it pushes back the mundane everyday shit from my headspace for a little while.
Fanch: Halaka is kind of more than a band to all of us. I really like what Madhog said about "chaotically evolving." I don't know that we're deliberate in what we do, a lot of the time the music just happens when we get into a room together. It's not always pretty, and it's not always good, but it is always Halaka and I think that's some of our appeal, I love that we can create something that upon first listen seems utterly terrible, but seems completely perfect the next day. I don't even know if that answers the question or not. I'd like a few more people to join the Halaka culture though, maybe we can sell some records and get the deal!
Aerotyre Slaunt: I think you're absolutely insightful with that question. I like to cultivate a sense of mystery and I can't deny that. To my sensibilities, if it isn't just a little bit lost down Kookypoo Street then it may as well be guest-starring on Tonight's The Night with that guy Fraser Hamwidth who does the Search For A Talent feature on Fox New's entertainment feature. Not here. In Europe. Its like that. Halaka works hard to avoid it. We have a note on the phone that if he should call, we shouldn't even pick up in case its him on the other end. We wouldn't even be interested in anything he was offering. I donít know what my answer is driving at really. I didnít understand the question if I'm totally honest.
Kingo: Do not ask questions, just eat the leaves. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtains.
Part of the reason that there seems to be more going on than just the music is that there's a lot more going on than just the music. The music is just one of our heads.
Also, we are constantly being surprised by what's happening with Halaka ourselves. This part is definitely intentional. At any given time one or more of us is probably doing something that the others don't know about, and so we are all just as surprised as any casual observer (or probably more so) at the things we hear or read or see that are produced by halaka.
Stick: You guys are dumb. Our culture is the macaroni BEEFkake.
*: Halaka has never cultivated anything. Various things come to light of their own accord. We're at least as mystified as anyone else -- perhaps more so.
Sacky: Deliberately is not something we're capable of. Seriously. I think some of us would like to be mysterious but we're just a bunch of guys just like everyone else. You know. We've toured the world and played in the worst kinds of places. We're nothing special. I've been electrocuted just like that guy in Almost Famous when the microphone was hooked up to the wrong electrical circuit and the stage was a little bit wet from all the shit Iggy Pop spilled all over it and my guitar tech was on Quaaludes so he forgot to do something - I really don't remember what, exactly. What I do remember is I had just come out of a lead break and kinda scuttled over to the microphone in my boots, trying not to slip on the slick stage-filth and right as the chorus started I did slip. And my lower lip got glued to the grille of the microphone cuz it had 115 volts going through it. I'm probably only still alive cuz I didn't have my left hand on the strings. At least that's what the doctor told me after I woke up the next day. I have no idea what that has to do with the question you asked, but I think it's a good answer.
In certain renditions of songs you've done there seems to be a reverence for carefully constructed melody and heartfelt emotion. Yet, you also seem not only comfortable with, but dedicated to, producing compositions that shatter the nerves and jar the senses. How do you reconcile those two extremes?
Fanch: This a really good question and deserves a really good answer. I don't think I'm the one to give that answer. I guess those two extremes both fall under the umbrella of Halaka. We just make the music we want to make.
Madhog: What Fanch said is right on. I'd also add that you don't need to reconcile those two extremes. I'd say that there's as much emotion and thought involved in either "style" of song we might do. Sometimes there is nothing more powerful on this earth than hitting a slightly off chord with authority because you thought the rest of the band was headed into that key with the next verse (which you are all creating on the spot).
Kingo: The real ends of the spectrum here, the extremes, are what go from "Halaka" to "reverence." If something can be revered it's ripe for being mocked, parodied, satired, and just plain old disrespected. If we make something beautiful there's got to be something ugly in it, and if we make something ugly there's got to be something beautiful in it. Halaka is a contradiction; it shouldn't be here in the first place. If Halaka is helping people to escape to somewhere, I hope it's a place to which they're unlikely to escape in any other way. And a place where music is beautiful and melody is revered is not really that place. We love melody and we love harmony and we love music but we (or I, anyway,) hate to love anything so intangible. I want to love my lamp. I want to love my drill. I want to love the thing that the poopy diapers go in. Not goddamned melody and harmony and music. So if one of us makes a beautiful melody, one of the others of us better goddamned well figure out a way to put some ugly right there with it. If that doesn't happen, it's a failure. And if you don't find the ugly right away, chances are it's just a little harder to detect in whatever particular thing you're focusing on. If you keep searching, you'll find it in there. And the other side of the coin -- if you don't find the beautiful in whatever jarring horrible noisy jagged-edge Halaka creation you're focusing on, you just gotta look harder. If you look harder and still don't find it, you're doing it wrong. We're not gonna draw you a map to find the beautiful, okay? It's... it's right, can't you just, it's right there... no, over, right... IT'S RIGHT THERE YOU'RE RIGHT ON TOP OF IT for
Mysterious F: The Sputnik Forces did use their sputnik lasers to total mind control psychics to predict one that should have began in the year 2000 AD. The Sputnik Forces always send me thoughts via their sputnik lasers to tell me that they are COMMUNISTS and they are waiting for enough of mankind to go LEFT in this current global great depression and once that happens they will automatically commence with their preplanned World War Three.
*: Reverence is overrated. We try to rely on our baser instincts -- two of those just happen to be melody and abrasive noise.
Sacky: I tend to go for a more constructed, produced kind of recording. The end result comes about because there are others who go for the opposite of that whole thing. And what we find, every time, is that you don't really meet in the middle on that sort of operation. Instead it morphs into something strange and otherworldly where the melodious "song" part of it is melted and drizzled over a guy screaming about his mother being raped by a foghorn. At least that's how it seems to me.
Aerotyre: Personally, I do it by standing half out of the room when we perform and winking alternate eyes rapidly until my cheeks hurt. Others in the band pull a kind of laughing cry face. We call it the laughycrycry and it helps us to externalize the very innermost conflict of making something sweet and delicate that's also a terrible fucking pain in the ear. One guy in the band has clothes especially made that are actually the fronts off two whole outfits stitched together. that way, it doesn't matter which way he turns because he's always facing the right way. There are other ways too. Satsuma Judo is popular with our collection of drummers, and the brass section enjoy spitting ball bearings into clay pots. This one guy fights old ladies. Its cruel but majestic and creatively he just gets it out like that.
Your music sounds incredibly organic, as if it's creation was the most natural thing in the world. Is this something you set out to achieve and does it bear any resemblance to the truth? Method or madness?
Aerotyre: It is incredibly organic and we use lots of machinery and artificial processes to achieve that. as for Method vs. Madness. I think its actually methane that gets us there. We're all very windy and bovine.
One of us even produces milk.
Madhog: The answer is Yes. I dunno if I'm giving away the family nutsack here or not, but we often record in a way that makes that kind of thing the most likely outcome. We start with big piles of lyric sheets that we've written in fragments in the past, set up all kinds of instruments, check the levels (which invariably is a nightmare and it never works so half of Kingo's shit is totally missing) and hit the record button. Then we go at it for an hour or two or three. Sometimes we assign roles to one another, for example we might prohibit sacky from playing this one thing he always tries to play. Or we might ask Fanch to do something besides stand there and look like a refugee. Or someone will ask me to be polite and I'll try to only sing nice things into the microphone. Another twist on that is the introduction of environmental variables. So we might all sit in places far from each other so we can only hear things through the headphones - doing improvisational rock songs this way is tough (try making up a rock song on the spot with a drummer and guitarist out of sight of one another and you'll see - it ain't easy). We might all sit in complete darkness, too. I like that one a lot.
Fanch: What Madhog said.
Kingo: The problem is, that's all lies. Except it's not. There is definitely that factor, but there's at least one other factor. Since we don't really let anyone take charge of the thing, the material we create is basically allowed to evolve on its own. Sometimes it's like a game of telephone -- not only in the straightforward sense described above, where one member literally doesn't know what the other is doing in a real-time, live-music situation, but also in a more long term sense. One of us might record something on tape (or, much more likely for the past few or so years, on a hard drive,) and eventually it'll end up with someone else, being used as part of something that the original creator hadn't envisioned or intended. Pieces can circulate around like that for a while, and at the end it doesn't really matter who did what. That's a bit of a method and a bit of a madness, but it feels, at least to me, very organic.
Osh-T: Since the new people have taken over it's never been the same as it used to become. I gave up and turned in my helmet whenever the other original members decided to stop doing TV and start doing bakeries.
Kingo: I have no idea who "Osh-T" is.
*: I'll leave the method versus madness question as an exercise for the reader. But you've stubbed the toe on the staircase with this question. The things we do (of which music is only one) evolve into their own being, not even under our control.
Sacky: Madness. That's our method. It pretty much involves me trying to get the technical bits all aligned and ready to go - which always takes way more time than anyone ever imagined - and then we push record. To actually measure the amount of time it takes to get ready is impossible, because it depends on one specific variable -- every time, no matter how much shit we're setting up or how many rooms I have to run wires to or how many channels I'm trying to plug into a tape machine or one of these new-fangled DAW machines -- we will be ready exactly - promptly and precisely, fifteen minutes after * has a fucking tantrum and nearly quits the band. Again. So yeah, it's natural. * is pissed about the technical nit-picking. I get pissed at * for getting pissed. So once it's set up we push record. By that time we're all so stressed about setting up that we don't even bother talking about what the fuck anybody is going to play or what we want to accomplish. We push record. And everybody scrambles to grab a guitar or a bass or some pile of electronic noise gadgets. It's either me or that other guy who always play the drums unless we have a guest drummer. That's good because the other guys, while being good at other things, really suck at the fucking drums.
Kingo: Neither you, that other guy, or a guest drummer played the drums on "Habibi Telephone." ARE YOU FORGETTING ABOUT THAT? Hmmm????
Who are your biggest influences at the moment?
Fanch: I'm really into Will Oldham at the moment, anything he does, palace bros, palace music, bonnie "prince" billy, etc. It's all really good. I've also been listening to a lot of MAgnetic Fields, Midlake, Jesu, and Neutral Milk Hotel. How much any of those artists seep over into Halaka I can't really say. Probably the biggest influence would have to be the other guys in Halaka.
Madhog: I'm really not into Will Oldham or any other pansy bullshit like that. I don't even know who that is. Is he a politician or something? Sometimes I just don't agree with Fanch about anything. But we do share a love for things that clank a lot and result in harmonies. The more time goes by the more I listen to our own stuff and other independent musicians. I have a serious metal streak too and I like Scandinavian stuff like To/Die/For and Entwine on the gothic side and In Flames or Soilwork on the beefrock side. I guess I like lots of things from that part of the world because I also really like the Cardigans (how's that for the opposite of In Flames?). Ben Folds is great. That one Uncle Tupelo record that's all acoustic stuff is awesome. I dunno. How much longer do I have to wri
Fanch: Tupelo is garbage, they couldn't hold Will Oldham's banjo. Tell the truth man - you're all about My Chemical Romance. I think the whole heavy music thing is embedded in all the Halaka guys, except maybe Kingo, he out grew that. Don't let Madhog fool you, we all listen to that Scandinavian stuff.
Kingo: I just finished reading "The Ancestor's Tale," by that one guy. That will in no way directly influence any Halaka music. I also like to read Paul Auster and Chuck Palahanukhafightclubguy, and none of that will influence anything either. A lot of our influences really are whatever the hell's going on whenever the hell we finally get to write or record something. We sang a lot about naked Iraqi pyramids for a while, and boxcutters, and Chandra Leavey. And that DC Sniper guy, who almost shot my dog.
As far as musical influences, right now I don't have any. I listen to NPR a lot, or I listen to Bill O'Reilly so I can yell at my radio. I like to listen to AM radio on a station where there aren't any clear signals coming in, especially late at night, in a car. Unfortunately that scares the shit out of the baby and my wife hates that. My tires are all fucked up so they make a lot of road noise, and I can just listen to that for a few minutes before remembering it means I need to buy new tires and getting all pissed off about how broke I am. Again.
Fanch: That's odd about the AM radio, I do that same exact thing, or at least I did when I was traveling. I'd just listen to AM radio static where the music would barely come in, but it'd be horrible mangled and then there'd be some talking in frend or chinese and more mangled music, then something about jesus or the political situation in Hartford Connecticut. A lot of times I wish I had some kinda of record feature in my car so I could record the way the AM signals change as I drive and use it for some sort of Halaka project. I'd also like to add that everyone of our songs is really about The Lord of the Rings. I also read that Chuck guy, and PK Dick, and old science fiction short stories. None of it seeps in. I'd also like to say that I'm going to answer every question 4 times.
Kingo: Now you're just ripping off my shit. See, all you guys were all like, "oh, my influences are this music and this music and blah blah," and I'm all up outside the box like I always am talking about how smart I am reading books about evolution and forgetting the names of the guys who write, wrote. Whorehouse. Pop-rocks. What else influences me is our Lord God and Savior, my wife, my daughter, homework, Mohezu, Schlab, Cob, Moses, and how you guys wouldn't be shit without me.
Madhog: I also listen to AM radio at night while driving. I'm actually telling the truth, and I wasn't gonna say it until just now when I saw how mad you got about Fanch. How's that for some margarine in your road?
Kingo: I wonder if we've ever all been listening to the exactly same not-actually-a-station AM thing at the same exactly time? Wow, too bad that question about drugs didn't make the cut, cuz I'd like to figure out what drugs I like and take some right about now.
*: There are several babies that have a lot of influence at the moment.
Mrs. Mackerel: I'd like to kill the next person I see.
Sacky: My best drum tracks have always come about with the help of Jose Cuervo. Lots of Jose Cuervo. At the moment I think I'm channeling some influence from old Duran Duran and it had to have at least some effect on me when I listened to Exodus' _Tempo of the Damned_ about fourteen times in a row while we were driving back from that disaster of a live festival in Ohio last week.
Aerotyre: Erasure, especially The Ship Of Love,. Pet Shop Boys are very big for us. Anything by Elton John. The Golden Girls theme tune is really popular on the tour bus. Priscilla Queen of the Sherbert Sponge is pretty good. Garry is a big fan of grated cheese on french fries served in a pita bread. I like that too.
How do you decide who does what within the group?
Fanch: Usually someone will step up and say "I want to play (insert instrument here)," and then the rest of us will sort of contort ourselves around that. We all have our favorite things I guess, * usually does tapes, noises, and sings, I usually play guitar or bass, sacky usually plays guitar or drums, and madhog does all of the above. We are usually pretty good about taking turns.
Madhog: I am playing drums more and more often now that I have learned those halfway decently. I still like to play guitar though and sing. I *really* like doing vocal overdubs and layering stuff. You can probably hear that on the things I've done as a solo-Halakan.
Usually the process works something like this: Kingo comes in having already decided in his head that we would do something really avant garde. Sacky arrives (two days late) with 8000 pounds of gear and some kind of crippling injury. Fanch and Madhog chat quietly about their students. We start setting things up (which takes a whole evening usually) in anticipation of a thing we call a rock pile (drums, loud guitars, kingo going crazy, etc...). Kingo lays down on the floor in frustration with the fact that nobody yet has tried to elicit from him what he has in mind. Several hours go by and then we have everything set up, which means all the mics are checked for loud shit, someone has tried the drums out (which makes Kingo leave the house, go across the street, and touch himself with leaves), etc.. It also means that Sacky has unplugged Kingo's masterfully crafted pile of electronic garbage on his mission to find the proper guitar sound. So now we're basically "ready" and Sacky asks Kingo what's wrong. Kingo mumbles something and eats two oatmeal cream pies at once. THEN we begin negotiating just what precisely we should do.
Fanch: (Laughing like and idiot at madhog's description of the process)
Kingo: There's no solo-Halakan. Goddamned garbage. Most of the time I don't think these guys are actually in the same band I'm in. You can "probably hear" that overdub vocal shit on half of the goddamned songs I try to make with a single vocal line. I go away on vacation for a week and I get back and someone put fifteen vocal tracks on top of mine.
I don't even know what the question is. Oh, I can look up at the top. Very often we don't decide; again this depends on the situation. Some songs that are originally recorded as improvisations are modified by whoever happens to have access to the master tracks and the right equipment at the time, and whoever that is can decide to do whatever he or she wants to do at the time. Except nobody else better touch my clarifone.
A very critical thing that we occasionally lose because these guys can't focus for shit is that one way we decide who does what is that we make sure most of us are doing something we don't really know how to do.
Madhog: So apparently he's in one of those moods again, where he wants to dissect everything you say while you were at work trying to avoid work and make it seem like you're against his entire existence. I've read this is the first sign of Alzheimer's. Either that or hepatitis C.. I can't recall now. Anyway, you can "probably hear" the fucking democracy sometimes too. It's like playing Jenga with the blind.
Kingo: And most of the members are missing from that account, too. The process works like what was described there about 1 time in.. seven? Eight? Nineteen? Granted for the past bunch of years there's been a pretty solid core, where those core people are there together at some time during any given session, but saying "usually the process works" in such and such a way is pretty misleading. I don't want to be confusing here. I don't want this interview to lead to any sort of misconstruation of actual facts about how we record. That thing there is probably the simplest configuration. But it becomes much more complicated deciding who does what when we've got six or seven or eight of us there. Then it can be like a physics problem -- how are we going to fit all of these instruments around the mics we have? How are we going to get someone to beat on the garbage can and not drown out the viola? How can we get everyone a vocal mic? Once we start recording, at least in the sessions where we're trying to get something down with a whole band playing together live, it's almost a non sequitur to ask how "we" "decide" anything. Stick might decide to knock over the drums and go try to take Fanch's guitar. Sacky might unplug Madhog's amp. And very often, yes, I'll cover my ears or lay on the floor or go take a shit. If I have a wireless mic I might keep that with me. Sometimes the drummers play drums, sometimes they play PVC pipe, sometimes they don't play anything. Sometimes the drummer quits the band in the middle of a session and we don't even stop recording while he packs up all his shit and leaves (well, just once, but still...) I think everyone does what they can, what they want to, what they think they need to do, until time runs out
Sacky: I don't know that anyone ever decided. No one is the decider. It's one of those things where we've ridden in so many busses, slept on so many floors and spent so much fucking time together that we just have an innate understanding of what is supposed to happen. That's the rule. Sometimes there are exceptions and someone will get a bug up their ass to play like they are the decider. They will have some big plan like, "OK, on this one I want everyone to read text out of these porno mags," or "OK, this time we're all going to play a quiet, somber, drone-y, ethereal thing." The quiet things usually last about four minutes when I'm around.
Aerotyre: We mostly just do what I tell us to do. Nobody complains much because of Mr. Bigleg. Mr. Bigleg is a horse's leg that hurts when it hits us so we all do what I say and everything is fine.
Check out Part Two of this interview for the rest of the story.