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Live & Local with Howl

Catch HOWL August 11th @ 10pm @ The Hummingbird Stage & Taproom

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HOWL, one of the newest bands in Macon, is a raw, sometimes brazenly sexual rock and roll band that gets your feet moving and your palms a little sweaty. Denny Hanson and Chris Nylund have not only created music to easily sink your fangs into, but have done so with a more simplistic approach as a two piece, crafting songs with raw emotion and alluring synchronicity. I spoke with them about their new musical project HOWL, Allen Ginsberg, and guilty pleasure songs.

You are both in other bands, what compelled you to take on another musical endeavor?
Chris: It happened organically. We felt like playing one afternoon and didn’t have practice with any of the other projects, so we got in the room and the nuts and bolts of four or five songs simply fell out of the ether. At that moment we decided we needed a name and that we needed to pursue it. We both play in several other projects, but each serves its own purpose. My role in Widow Pills is different from my role in Hank Vegas, and all of those differ from the role I play in songs that I write and perform by myself. I would also argue that outside of the obvious sonic differences of each project, each one has its own unique focus when it comes to song topics and how they are interpreted. It may sound crazy to some people to have three or four projects going on, but I feel like that’s pretty normal for creative people. We all need an outlet and it’s not always the same one.

Tell me about the dynamics of HOWL being a two piece as far as writing music.
Denny: Usually when we write a song, somebody has a riff they bring to the table. What happens next is what I like to call transcendence. Somehow, someway, without ever saying a word, we know where the other wants to go and 2 to 6 minutes later we have a song, usually in full arrangement.

Chris: The beauty is in the simplicity of our arrangement. Outside of the obvious convenience of being able to fit ourselves and our gear into a station wagon for a gig, the fact that we have drums, a single guitar and two vocals gives us a framework to work within. It’s really easy to be overwhelmed by too many choices, be it in music or trying to figure out which mustard to buy at the store, it’s quite refreshing to limit your choices in a project. Some of the best records were cut with just a few channels. Just because you can have more and do more doesn’t mean that’s always the right answer. Less can be, and often should be, more.

Does your band name have any reference to Allen Ginsberg?
Denny: It does, for sure, both the poem itself and in reference to the idea of the smoke filled, jazz soaked, sexual Beat revolution we’re trying to carry on the tradition of. Also, sex.

Chris: First of all, we spell it all caps because we’re fancy. It’s of course a head nod to Ginsberg and the beats and the traditions and proclivities therein. To me, it’s also about raw emotion. A howl can be celebratory, but it can also be full of pain. Any way it shakes out, a howl is full of passion; messy, uninhibited passion.

There is something wild and even quite carnal about your songs. Was the feeling something you wanted to reflect in your music initially, or something that happened organically?
Denny: As it should. Music to me expresses a lot of emotion. Widow Pills and Hank Vegas are definite outlets unto themselves. The stuff I write for “nomenclature.” is typically more poetic, more metaphorical, more open to interpretation – philosophical dissonance, failed relationships, music as a form of insanity. With HOWL, I really wanted a space to express my sexual self in blunt and honest terms. The music naturally perpetuates that as well. The sound to me makes me think of a hot, sticky garage. You’re sitting on the hood of a car that’s still warm while watching the sweat gather on your crush’s brow. You can smell the salt and you begin to salivate.

What is your guilty pleasure song, a song you don’t necessarily like to admit you love?
Denny: I’m not sure I have any guilty pleasure songs. Like, if I love a song, I fucking love it regardless of if it’s cool or whatever. Right now, I’m loving Judy Garland’s, “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis, Gilbert O’Sullivan’s, “Alone Again (Naturally)” and Bob Welch’s, “Sentimental Lady” featuring Christine McVie on backup vocals.

Chris: There are certainly songs that I love that the person reading this interview right now is going to judge me for. It could be, “I dig that song too! He must be great!” or “That song blows hot hairy donkey nuts. He’s an idiot!” My point: people like what they like and that’s okay.

Catch HOWL August 11th @ 10pm @ The Hummingbird Stage & Taproom

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