Hell of Self is a hardcore band from Massachusetts/New York/New Jersey featuring current and former members of such bands as Atonement, Typecaste, and Rain of Salvation. Their self-titled EP got my attention from the first note, starting strong with chaotic and hard-hitting structure and confessional lyrics that I resonated with immediately. I spoke with vocalist Geo Hewitt and bassist Zach Stachura to learn more.
Where does the band draw the most influence from musically?
Geo Hewitt: (Foundation album) When the Smoke Clears, (Kickback album) Les 150 Passions Meurtrières, and (Buried Alive album) Death of Your Perfect World are probably the biggest inspirations as far as chord choice and drum parts.
For arrangement, I took a lot from Deftones songs, analyzing song structures and bringing certain parts back to hit harder. Artwork and horror films also play a big part. Certain images can inspire verses in my head or make me want to come up with a guitar part that would be played over whatever I’m watching. Zach and I obsess over the same types of movies and try to find shit that’s shocking with insane imagery.
Zach Stachura: Geo is really the one responsible for Hell of Self. He writes and records almost everything. Then Sean learns the drum parts and will add his own spin to everything, then we jam everything and finalize parts together. It’s great to be around someone who knows exactly what they want out of a band, both musically and visually. It’s also fulfiling to have someone who draws influence from similar exploitation film and music outside of hardcore. It all just works very naturally.
What bands were your members in before Hell of Self?
Geo Hewitt: I’ve filled in and played in a few local bands before when I first moved to the states, but technically this is my first real band that I’ve written the music for and played/recorded on. Sean was in Dealbreaker, played bass in Vein, and plays drums in Typecaste. TJ played in Atonement, and currently plays in Rain of Salvation and Adrenaline.
Zach Stachura: Atonement, Guilt Ritual, and currently Rain of Salvation.
Geo, I loved the emotional focus of the EP’s lyrical content. Tell me about the inspiration for these songs.
Geo Hewitt: Thank you, I appreciate that. For me, the main focus of the band is writing about extreme anxiety and emotional issues that I can’t control. Most of the time I find myself expecting the next thing in my life to fall apart and waiting for loved ones to give up on me. Ending my life is something that is constantly on my mind, especially in a manic state.
I’ll usually try to write lyrics as a coping mechanism to calm myself down, so they initially start out pretty chaotic and may even just be keywords or phrases depicting actions that I want to do to myself in that moment.
Then, later on, in a more “sober” state of mind, I’ll reign it in and try to make it more coherent. The goal isn’t so much to tell a story and be very literal with the lyrics, it’s more so just wanting to convey emotion, and trying to paint a picture of what’s going on inside my head. There’s a lot of different concepts I want to write about at some point, but this is the main topic that affects me daily.
You guys recently opened a portion of the Summer of Fear tour with Vatican, Typecaste, and Life’s Question. What was it like touring with those bands, and what were your favorite shows from that run?
Geo Hewitt: Yes, every date that we got to play on Summer of Fear was so much fun. We never expected the reaction or thought anyone would care when we put the EP out back in April. Being able to hang out with and play with some of our best friends every night was unreal. Vatican is incredibly tight and the nicest people, and Typecaste is one of my favorite bands to watch live. Toronto was insane cause the venue was an old movie theater where they had a compilation of gore and horror images looping on a projector above us while we played the set. This was my first time in Canada, and I’m beyond thankful for the experience. Big thanks to State of Mind for making that happen.
Zach Stachura: It was extremely fun to be on the road with our friends. Being able to see Typecaste and Vatican every night was awesome. Two bands with a ton of energy and great stage presence. Like Geo, it was also my first time in Canada. I think my favorite set on the run was at Gold Sounds in Brooklyn. We were all setting up and there didn’t seem to be many people there and then right before the first band went on a bunch of kids showed up out of nowhere and went off.
What are your upcoming shows and tour plans?
Geo Hewitt: Our next show is October 10th with Draw the Line, Kharma, and Reserving Dirtnaps in Amityville, NY. We have a few plans in the works as far as 2020 shows and tours, but the main focus right now is writing the next release.
Tell us about that!
Geo Hewitt: Currently writing! The process is essentially writing “skeletons” of songs and then throwing away ideas that aren’t as good or that are too repetitive, and expanding on ideas that are the better ones. The quality control definitely makes it take longer than just writing a song and putting it out. We already play one of the new songs live and so far it’s my favorite one of the whole set
What other bands in your region do you recommend readers check out?
Geo Hewitt: Hangman, Typecaste, Rain of Salvation, Dilate, Blood Tithe, Buried Dreams, Adrenaline, and Soldier of God.
Zach Stachura: Soul Blind, Age of Apocalypse, Maniac, Dilate, Mourned, Ryan Patrick White, and Hangman.
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