Hormones on Warren Zevon, Death From Above 1979 and Being "Consistently Erratic"
Locally-based Hormones are a familiar fixture at Bryan Street Tavern. They played the venue's Big Fucking Anniversary show a few weeks ago, and will play there again this Saturday, October 27, with The Gorehounds. They will do two sets: one with original songs and the other with songs by Death from Above 1979. We met up at Bryan Street to talk about their earliest shows, their sound, and how the band formed.
What was the first show you remember paying your own money to see?
Michael Beard (bass, vocals): I thought I was ready for this question.
Geoff Walp (guitar): The first one I saw was Stone Temple Pilots opening up for the Butthole Surfers. I was probably, like, 13, or something. One of my brother's friends took me. It was at the Fair Park coliseum. STP got really big in the middle of the tour, but they were nobodies at the beginning, so it was pretty badass. By the time they got to Dallas, they were huge on MTV and everything. It was pretty cool.
Jordan Williams (drums, vocals): I got denied from a lot of shows that I wanted to go see because I didn't have any friends who were older. I wasn't really going to let my parents take me anywhere. I just didn't want to deal with it. I didn't want to do it. It wasn't a good look for me at the time. Basically, I remember one of the really big shows I went to see was Helmet and the Melvins down at Deep Ellum Live. I took Michael and a friend of ours. That was one of my first times driving down there, so I got really lost. It was, at least, after the show was over.
Did you wear earplugs?
Williams: No! We went up front and got knocked around a little, but we had a good time. I was severely dehydrated, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. I had been building up to see them for a long time. Even to this day, I talk their heads off about Helmet, the early era of Helmet I love. And then on my sixteenth birthday, I went to see Smashing Pumpkins at Reunion Arena with Garbage. That was pretty cool. It was right after Jimmy Chamberlin got kicked out of the band.
So Matt Walker was playing with them?
What about you, Michael?
Beard: First concert I paid for was probably not that cool. I mean, it was cool at the time. It was probably with you [Geoff], like a Lollapalooza circa '94 with Green Day, Breeders, Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, P-Funk.
Sounds a lot like Taylor Young's first show.
Beard: That was probably it! We were probably at the first same shows together.
Walp: We all played in a band together when we were in sixth grade, so it would make sense.
Beard: And we all had overprotective parents that wouldn't allow us to do things we wanted to do. I didn't get to see Nirvana. I was kinda pissed about that. [Geoff] you went to, uh . . . My dad was a big Warren Zevon fan.
Walp: I didn't go to that one!
Beard: You didn't go to that? Who went with me? I don't remember. At the time, I wasn't into it because my dad thought it was cool, but it's pretty fucking awesome now. But I think I saw Warren Zevon at Caravan of Dreams in May of '98, '99, something like that. We went back to the tour bus, shook his hand, got his autograph and now it means way more than it did.
Since Hormones is considered a "punk band" . . . I think I even called y'all that. Sorry!
Williams: We don't know what to call ourselves!
I'm curious who were your gateway bands with punk or post-punk.
Beard: I think that's why we have such a hard time even classifying ourselves. What's kind of happened since we've been together, it's become a melting pot of what we all listen to, which is all different. You've already heard [Jordan] say the word Helmet ten times. That's not a band I'm huge into. That show was outstanding but I didn't listen to them that much. I was more into Pavement, early '90s indie, Built to Spill, that kind of stuff plus him plus Geoff.
Williams: Him and Geoff are more similar than I am. I think they have more shared influences.
Beard: [Jordan] was more into Death from Above 1979, which is why we're gearing up to do this for Halloween. We're gonna do Death from Above 1980. We were born two days apart in 1980. That was a band he got me into. He's more of that vein. As far as a gateway into us? I don't know how to answer the question.
Oftentimes, for a lot of people our age, when asked, "What got you into punk?" A lot of people say either Nirvana or Green Day.
Walp: We all picked up our instruments around sixth grade at the same time. I picked up a guitar and started playing power chords. That was it. That was what we all listened to back in the day. We've evolved a little bit past that, but still that's something we can agree on.
Any fond memories of seeing Radish play live around here?
Beard: Yup! Ben Kweller played with Neon Girl [Beard's old band] at the Galaxy Club and a mutual friend asked, "Would you mind if I came up and jammed with you?" So we told him the key of the song and he played piano on a few songs. We saw Radish at Trees once or twice.
What can you remember when you first played together as Hormones?
Beard: I guess Geoff is best equipped to answer this question.
Walp: It depends on if we're going off of the bio you guys fabricated or the real story. I don't want to hurt his feelings.
Beard: There's two stories.
Walp: [Jordan] and I started it. We didn't have the name Hormones, but it was kinda his idea to do a bass and drums thing. I'm not a bass player at all, but I figured I could kinda cover that up with some low end fuzz, a Big Muff. It kinda sounded cool, but I had not played in a band in a while. I was a little reluctant. I said, "We need to get Beard in the band." He and I had played in bands before. We always had a good report. We brought him into the mix. I was sort of dismissed from the band shortly after that.
Beard: He had softball, he had soccer, he was married.
Walp: I was married, that was the big point!
Beard: That was the big point.
Walp: Anyway, they formed the actual foundation of it, the start of the songs we play now. That's what we go by in our biography. I'm kind of like the Stuart Sutcliffe of Hormones, but I came back to life. And here I am. They went through a couple guitarists and called me back. I was still married, they were still nice enough to ask me back. They can probably tell you about the initial Hormones practices.
Williams: It was so bad, for me in my point of view. I was like, "Oh, I have this new song and it goes like this, 'doo-dooo-doo-doo-doo-doo'" and [Beard] is like, "Dude, what do you want me to do?" Because I didn't know how to play guitar or bass so I'd have to hum it out and literally do finger-picking exercises to try to get there. Eventually, we started collaborating.
Walp: The last EP is more collaborative because I wasn't on the first one.
Beard: We're in the midst of writing a new batch of songs. Erratic is an adjective that has been used in the past to describe us. I can see that. I get it. This next batch of songs may or may not help that. At this point, we're having fun. It is more of a collaborative effort. We're more on the same page.
Walp: We'll be consistently . . .
Beard: Yeah! We'll be consistently erratic!