Let’s Party Hats! Hats! Hats! just self-released their Pain Hurts EP, a 13-minute collection of distorted madness, exacted aggression, and almost-discernable samples. The band is made up of three musicians familiar to many of those on campus who make music and attend many concerts: Adam Johnson ’14 (vocals/guitar), Sean Winnik ’14 (vocals/ saxophone/guitar), and Nate Repasz ’14 (vocal/ drums). The group has become a staple on campus this year, performing at The Mash, Art House, and soon Eclectic, where they’re performing this Thursday with Diarrhea Planet.
The first time I saw Let’s Party Hats! Hats! Hats! was last fall in the WestCo Café, opening for Connecticut sludge band Burrows and a Boston Power Violence group called Curmudgeon. There were fewer than ten Wesleyan students in the audience, which largely consisted of the non-Wesleyan hardcore bands and their friends. When Let’s Party Hats! Hats! Hats! took stage, I was floored by the power of their sound, so loud and confrontational that standing still seemed almost a crime. In their 10-minute continuous performance, their sound spanned many bodies of categorization, ranging from the aggressive distortion and chaos of black metal to slower, playful invokations of prog rock, and melodic interludes reminiscent of the boundless temperament of The Minutemen.
In my very humble opinion, there is no band more fun to watch on campus than Let’s Party Hats! Hats! Hats! They steer so clear of playing to the audience that it works to their advantage. Those brave enough to stay past the first minute of a Let’s Party Hats! Hats! Hats! show will stay for the whole thing and inevitably break a sweat. Adam is prone to taking his shirt off and breaking his guitar strings. Nate plays the drums so hard he could fly away (or hurt himself/ others/ the drum set) while wearing his signature Yale Bulldogs hockey jersey. Sean blasts noise out of his saxophone only to let it drop away from his mouth , setting the instrument aside for an interlude of semi-frightening screaming. The whole thing is completely absurd in the best possible way, and they always seem to sound good.
I caught up with the band in the first week of school, after they had moved out of Beta, where they had been living and recording music over the summer. I wanted to learn more about the making of Pain Hurts EP and their process as a band in general.
AW: How do you feel about being part of the hardcore “scene” at Wesleyan?
SW: One thing I’ve noticed about hardcore shows on campus is that when you go to those shows, you see more people smiling than at any other kind of show. There’s something exhilarating about the music. It doesn’t have to be aggressive.
AJ: Even people that don’t normally enjoy this type of music end up enjoying the shows and they say it to us after we play. Hardcore’s a very vague thing. When I use the term I’m thinking of anything that’s descended from the late punk and early hardcore movement with bands like Minor Threat. I’m usually just talking about music that feels too loud for this day and age.
NR: I definitely don’t think we’re as hardcore as the majority of hardcore bands that come to play on campus, which are super genre specific.
AW: How did you decide you were going to make an EP?
NR: We decided we were going to release an EP fairly late in the summer.
SW: We recorded it in three or four days. The thing is, we’ve always had these sets that are ten or fifteen minutes long of solid music, without much differentiation between songs. Our live set was always changing, so we never really knew what songs to put on it, but this summer we realized these are the songs that would work well together, in the ether.
AJ: We came up with the first song on the EP, “Get a Real Job” three days before we recorded it. We added a quiet section to the front if it and threw some samples in from living at Beta.
AW: What is your songwriting process like?
NR: It’s mainly riff based. Occasionally I will come up with a drum but first but usually it’s just a guitar riff.
SW: We will all come in with ideas and then just try to fill them out. These songs are very much written in the communal sense.
NR: The sections of “Pain Hurts” we did separately and pasted them together. The main feature in the song is this pyramid structure.
AJ: It is this eight-note riff that we break down seven, six, five, four, three, two, three, all the way back up to eight. That’s why we call it the pyramid. Then there’s the “Pain Hurts” section, which is a combination of a five-beat phrase and the eight-note riff, and we go back and forth between those.
SW: With “Get a Real Job” we wrote the guitar parts at the same time, so they fit together better.
NR: We try to prioritize energy first and also be thought provoking structurally…and sometimes impenetrable.
Listen to Pain Hurts EP below: