>> Brad: HELLS has been a band for about 2 years. We started out of the ashes of Steve (DiCicco, drums) and I's previous band HEATHEN REIGN. Scott (Signorino, bass) was set to join HEATHEN REIGN anyway, and then we needed a new singer as well. Larry (Ragone, vocals) and I had talked about starting a project a couple of times so he came into sing and HELLS was born. Ever since then we just try and write songs that are heavy, intense, and interesting to us.
>> 2.Recently you have released an ep, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording?
>> Brad: I hope that the musical sound on "Paradise" comes off as powerful, violent, immediate, yet very deliberate. We spend a lot of time writing the songs, tightening our playing, and honing in our sounds. Hopefully that all comes across in the recording.
>> 3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
>> Larry: I definitely use HELLS as an outlet for frustration and anger. The day to day chaos and societal mindfuck gets to me and usually I just joke with friends and use humor to express myself. But with HELLS - I get to scream my head off and use more blunt tactics to get the point across.
>> 4.Both the band name and album title where written in runes, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this topic?
>> Larry: When first introducing the visual aesthetic of the band, I was drawn to runic symbolism as the name HELLS has both a very literal connotation as well as a more loose interpretation of the many hells one experiences in their lifetime (or sometimes just within a day!) By using the runes, I feel that it added some mystery to the name and origin of the band. With Hells and Paradise, there is certainly a paradox between those two words, the runes helped to, at least, visually connect them.
>> 5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Hells'?
>> Brad: I'd like to think it is pretty open ended, and in some ways is just pluralizing a scary word that rarely is. On the other hand many of us experience many tiny hells everyday, whether it is having to answer to a boss, talking to some asshole on the train, seeing Pro-Donald Trump graffiti near our practice space, or having to put together IKEA furniture.
>> 6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
>> Brad: We just played with DEATH INDEX at an awesome art space in Philadelphia. Loved the space and loved the bands. I think it was one of our tightest performances as well.
>> Hopefully our stage performance is both intense and entertaining. Every show is just a reaction to the environment it's being played in.
>> Larry: Agreed, that DEATH INDEX show was great. I think as we move forward, our performance certainly improves. With so many people giving our stuff a listen, it certainly helps our energy when people know the stuff and are singing or thrashing around.
>> 7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
>> Brad: We are always down to play local shows with interesting bands or at interesting places. Hoping to get out of town soon to support this E.P.
>> 8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of hardcore?
>> Brad: Very good. Some of our older bands have toured Europe in the past, so their is already a built in interest. Specifically we've gotten a lot of orders and downloads from Russia, Germany, and Slovenia.
>> Larry: Punk and hardcore has such along-reaching appeal - i'm definitely not surprised that our stuff is well received there. In rest of the world vs. the US, it seems that there is less pretension and attention to a scene food chain, so a band like us who aren't hitched to a hype machine or "cool" label can get attention based on the music we are putting out there. It's very flattering.
>> 9.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
>> Larry: I sing and play guitar in PSYCHIC TEENS. We just released a new album called "Nerve". I met Brad a few years back when he recorded some material for our previous album which led to friendship and my eventual inclusion in HELLS.
>> Brad: Scott has a more indie sounding project called SOLD that will hopefully release an E.P. later this year that I recorded.
>> 10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
>> Brad: I think we are always striving to write better songs, and write cohesive records that also have some unique qualities. The gravitational pull of homogeny is strong these days, but I think we are all very much comfortable with HELLS being whatever kind of songs we feel like writing at the time. "Night Creeps" is a song on "Paradise" that I don't think we every planned on writing, and felt a little outside the box for us at the time, but now it's one of my favorite songs, and I hope we keep the creative doors open so more songs can happen in the way that one did.
>> 11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
>> Brad: Converge and Cursed always come to mind as influences because their records come off as very intense and visceral. That comes from a long tradition of other bands I love like Born Against, Man is the Bastard, and Crass. Some band I've really enjoyed lately are METZ, BLACK BREATH, PROTOMARTYR and TRAP THEM.
>> Larry: Agreed - Cursed is an obvious touchstone. They left such a mark on modern hardcore but yet are so underrated. But it's nearly impossible for me to get my voice sounding as robust and savage as Chris Colohan so I go to different influences for vocals. Mark E. Smith (THE FALL), Dave E. (electric eels), and William Bennett / Philip Best (WHITEHOUSE) influence what I do in HELLS.
>> 12.What are some of your non musical interests?
>> Brad: Typical late 30's neo-yuppie stuff like food, drink, and fantasy basketball. Really though, I'm obsessed with recording music these days, as much as I am with playing it, so I spend a lot of time working on mixes for bands I've recorded and trying to do the absolutely best I can with it.
>> 13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
>> Brad: Last night I was getting drunk and decided to watch a show about HELL that was being hosted by Danny Trejo on the National Geographic Channel. The show was unwatchable but it did have just enough relevant content to make me realize that I'll be thinking about HELL for the rest of my life.