American duo on playing live, Iggy Pop, and their skull collection...

Ho99o9 are fast developing a reputation for their electric live show as well as their brand of Afro-punk, occupying a space somewhere in between The Stooges and Death Grips.

Clash sat down with theOGM and Eaddy after their Rough Trade show to chew the fat, covering yeti bones, being fierce and getting eaten by sharks.

We did squeeze in time to talk about music as well...

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That was extraordinary, how was it for you?

theOGM: It was fun, kinda interesting. We’ve never played in a record store. I think people were afraid to move, maybe because they’ve never seen a show in a record store.

Maybe that’s just Londoners being reserved? Being reserved is like a national sport here.

theOGM: No, we’ve had some great shows here, I think it’s just the concept of being in a record store. We’ve played loads of shows in London at the 100 club, Birthdays, Electrowerkz, the Old Blue Last, Moth Club and on Monday we played the Sebright Arms. That shit was mental, so hot and sweaty, it was complete chaos.

New album ‘United States of Horror’ is out now - what’s it all about?

theOGM: You can interpret it however you want, there’s many messages in there. To make a long story short - be bold and be fierce. Don’t be one track minded. We come from communities where they only listen to rap. Nobody listens to hardcore or Prince or Iggy Pop. Whether you’re a gangbanger, a skater, a student or a father it’s all about the music - it brings everyone together.

Eaddy: We did it mostly in LA and a bit in New York. We’re always creating new music and always working in the studio so it was just a question of getting the right songs together and releasing it at the right time. It was also about making sure we had the right team and the right structure for this release as it was our first album.

So are you both from Los Angeles?

TheOGM: No, we’re from New Jersey. We live in L.A but we’re from New Jersey. L.A is just a platform for us to be heard. There ain’t no platform in New Jersey. Nobody’s looking to NJ for the next big thing. We have to work twice as hard to get heard. We thought ‘why can’t we make it? Why aren’t we getting it (attention), is it because we’re from New Jersey? Moving to LA just gave us a better foundation to grow. To get to the next level you need to in Chicago, NYC or LA.

How did Ho99o9 come to be?

TheOGM: We didn’t grow up together or anything, we just met through mutual friends and started going to parties and shit. Doing young teenage shit and getting into trouble. We were friends for three or four years before we actually started making music. I was always rapping but he (Eaddy) was always in the crowd.

Watching from the stage did you ever think ‘I’m going to be that guy (up on stage)?

Eaddy: No, I’d just go to shows ready to mosh!

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The phrase ‘Yeti Bones’ follows you around. Please enlighten us…

Eaddy: I’ve had that Instagram name forever, I started it when I used to be really into skating. There was this skater from the UK, his name was Craig Questions. He was this snotty, raw motherfucker with tattoos. He had these videos called Yeti. It was just him and his boys doing all these gnarly ass tricks in these abandoned places doing these fucked up things. They’d be getting drunk and be like ‘YETI’.

I get inspiration from that shit. So I made my Instagram name Yeti 999. At shows people would be like ‘hey Yeti’ and I wouldn’t get it to begin with. Eventually I’d be like ‘oh yeah, that’s me’. The bones comes from us being a band. We’re bone collectors. We collect the skulls as we go…

You’ve got a collection of bones?

Eaddy: Not real ones, but as far as shows go, we’ve got a lot. I’ve definitely stepped on some heads. There was a guy tonight who said he got his ribs broken at our last show. So there you go, a bone for the pile! You know how it is, sometimes shit gets a bit out of hand.

So he doesn’t hold a grudge?

theOGM: No, he loves it!

Going back to the album, is there a political edge to it (given the title)?

theOGM: It’s not necessarily political, but we touch on subjects like government and politics but we’re just humans, two young African-Americans. We’ve had our own issues with racial profiling from the police. We have other friends who have gone through other similar things. My parents are foreign you know, they’re from Haiti.

We’ve got this whole issue with them (the government) blocking people from coming in. That’s fucked up to me. I’m not trying to run for any kind of office, I don’t even know how to run my own shit. We’ve all got our own problems, but when people come to these shows, that’s when they can let out all their frustrations. It’s a cathartic experience.

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How does Iggy Pop feature in your music-making?

Eaddy: I love Iggy Pop. I knew his name but I never really knew who he was. Then a friend was playing the Stooges in the car one time and I thought ‘woah, what is this?’. Then I realised Iggy Pop was the genesis of punk. I gave him a spin and listened to all his records and looked into him more. He’s a great performer, a madman, the original dude.

theOGM: We actually just saw him in his own restaurant in LA, sitting there outside with his top off as usual. People have compared you to a load of different artists and you’ve been mentioned in the same breath as Death Grips, so we got thinking.

Given the choice who would you like to work with?

theOGM: Right now we’re still trying to deliver our own sound. We don’t want to be compared to other artists at the moment. We’re just gonna keep hitting people with Ho99o9 until they get it. Collaborations can be draining and I don’t want to just find someone and be like ‘fuck it, they’re cool, let’s do something with them’. There’s some good producers out there though, maybe I’d work with a cool producer. Mike Dean’s good, and…that white dude, big beard, bald head... Rick Rubin - I’d love to meet and work with that dude.

What scares you?

Eaddy: Good question. Going underwater with fucking creatures. And going to jail. They’re the two things that scare me. I just don’t want to be eaten by a shark. Nothing else scares me... just nothing that’s agonising pain.

theOGM: I’m also scared of prison, but I don’t want to get eaten by rats and ticks and shit. If I was in the forest and not well equipped I’d get mangled by a bear. I’m just afraid of wild animals and stuff I don’t know about.

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'United States Of Horror' is out now.

Words: Milo Wasserman

Catch Ho99o9 at the following shows:

June
19 Dublin Workmans Club
20 Manchester Rebellion
21 London Underworld

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