Howlies | June 10, 2010 | Kobo | Columbus, OH
photos by Jen Killius
The evening preceding this interview I was in Cleveland, OH interviewing Chaz of Toro y Moi. Text messages kept buzzing in with comments on how I was “missing the funnest show everrrrr!” Most of my music loving friends were gathered at Carabar watching the Howlies tear up the stage. Waves of jealousy tried to wash over the thrill of seeing Caribou on stage for the first time.
The next day, my phone buzzed again. This time the text read: Howlies are playing tomorrow at Kobo with us. Got you an interview with them.
Wait… What?! I had not gotten home until 4am, worked a full 8 hour day at 9am, and now I was about to dive blindly into the rabble-rousing world of the Howlies?
OK! Why not?!
There is no way I could have imagined the wild stories that they would tell me. I had 30 minutes of interview footage, and Kristi kindly tackled the transcription. I know I probably mis-tagged some names on some of these lines, so prepare yourselves. Shit’s about to get crazy.
KP: So, the show last night at Carabar. I kind of want to hear a description of it so I can live vicariously through you guys for a little while.
Justin: Wild animal sex.
Aaron: It was sort of like the first time you ever see two wild yaks having sex together.
KP: That’s what Carabar was like?!
Matt: I think yak is the right word.
Aaron: A lot of yakking.
KP: Yakking as in talking, or yakking as in throwing up?
Matt: Yakking as in throwing up.
Aaron: Yeah. With the sex, which was kind of cool.
Matt: There was a moment where everybody took their shirts off and danced around.
Brandon: Yeah, all the dudes took their shirts off.
KP: Wait, the band guys? Or like the dudes in the crowd?
Aaron: No, every dude in the bar.
Matt: It wasn’t while we were playing; it was after they closed. And there was like 25 people in the bar.
Aaron: Do you know Ron?
Aaron: Well, Ron runs Carabar with his wife Cara, hence the name Carabar. And he’s got a big, big belly. And I think he’s just proud to show it off. So at one point, he was just like, “Shirts off, motherfuckers!”
Justin: He doesn’t really have a big belly
Aaron: He’s a little round. It’s proud. I’m not knocking it.
Brandon: If I saw Ron, I wouldn’t say that guy has a big belly.
Justin: Disregard that. If Ron reads this and hears it, that line should be attributed to Aaron Wood.
Aaron: I’ll take it.
KP: So when I transcribe this entire paragraph…
Matt: What I would like is if you could do each of us in a different font. I want mine to be like the old-timey Western.
KP: Like the Old English shit?
Matt: No, not Old English, more like Frontier-style. Like Frontierland, Disney World?
KP: If I could, if I knew how to do HTML that well, I totally would, but I don’t. I totally don’t.
Matt: That’s cool. I’ll settle for Times New Roman.
KP: You’ll be in italics. You might be in italics.
Matt:I want left-leaning italics there, not right-leaning italics. So, what you have to do is type the type the words backwards and invert it. Like photocopy it.
Aaron: I would like all my texts bold.
KP: That’s way too complicated.
KP: You guys are really demanding for how your interview’s going to be transcribed.
Matt: What’s the guarantee for this interview?
Justin: Next question! [laughter]
KP: That’s such an asshole thing to say! [Laughter]
Aaron: How much money are we getting for this?
KP: You get some major boostage. You’re gonna become superstars.
Matt: I like boostage.
Matt: Can we get some bustlift?
KP: I knew it, I knew it was going to go that way! — So, how far into the tour are you guys?
Justin: Eleven days?
KP: You’re pretty fresh on the tour.
Justin: Well, we only have a couple days left.
Matt: It’s actually a short two-week tour, so we’re almost done.
Aaron: It’s a shorty
Justin: And then we’re home for ten days, two weeks, or something, and then we go back out.
KP: So, how often do you guys tour?
Justin: Well, we were touring pretty much nonstop and since the beginning of this year, we’ve been just doing little weekend tours. We’re working on our record so we’re not touring so much right now. We did Southeast in February and then East Coast and a little Midwest on this one.
Aaron: We played at SxSW.
Matt: That was fun. SXSW is huge, it was really good for us.
Katie: Yeah, tell me about SXSW.
Justin: Not even a broken bone, like half a broken bone.
KP: Do you guys break bones often?
Justin: No, we just had a little tussle. Me and Brandon had a little tussle.
Brandon: We had a little rumble and I broke my finger.
[We all inspect Brandon’s crooked finger.]
Justin: You see what happens when you go to a music festival that allows you to drink free beer all day for a week straight?
KP: Broken fingers.
Justin: And also, let’s not forget, I got a scratch on my glasses too.[laughter]
KP: You know, actually, with white toothpaste, you can buff out scratches on CDs and stuff. It might work on your glasses.
Justin: I’m going to give these to you, Brandon, and see if you can work on them.
KP: How long have you guys been together as a whole? Is this all original members?
Aaron: Yeah. We started in the summer of 2007. Some of us have been friends for a long time.
Brandon: All of us have been friends for a long time.
Justin: Yeah, we’ve all been friends for a long time.
KP: Like how long?
Justin: Well, I’ve known Brandon ever since. And I’ve known Aaron since I was 15.
Aaron: Yeah, I used to think that Justin was a total douche bag.
Justin: Now he *knows*.
Aaron: And my opinion has not changed. Now I know he’s a total douche bag.
Justin: Aaron moved to Florida from upstate New York and everybody was like, “Whothe fuck is this guy and why is he talking to me like he’s a New York City cab driver?”[laughter] And yet, he was a pretty damn good drummer, so we were like, “I guess we’re going to put up with this.” The first day I met him, we were going to rehearse at our church youth group rec room — this is where our band rehearsed, right? And we all had to get in Brandon’s pick-up truck. There’s like four of us, and I have to sit on Aaron’s lap. And it’s totally uncomfortable and I’m trying to hover and he’s like, “Could you please stop flexing your butt muscles?”
KP: So, when you introduced the band as some Christian group before you played, that wasn’t so far off from where it started from.
Justin: Well, yeah, me and Brandon were church boys, but they figured out pretty quick that we’re not rehearsing the Lord’s music.[laughter] As soon as Aaron got there, they really figured it out. The first day, he’s setting up his drums like, “What the fuck?! What the fuck is this?!” and my youth minister comes up like, “You know we’re in a place of worship.”
Aaron: We are a Christian group, but it’s a cult that was developed by my friend Christian. It’s a cult of Christians? His religion dictates such that you should play music everyday and drink a lot and tour.
KP: Sounds like a great cult to me.
Justin: It’s pretty fun.
Matt: Yeah, you’ve gotta give 10% though, that’s what sucks.
Aaron: The great thing is, you don’t have to drink the kool-aid.
Matt: Actually, you have to sell your soul, too.
Justin: I worship the devil. I don’t know what they’re talking about. Justin. Satanic. If you’re looking for a little sound-byte quote, “I worship the devil” would be my recommendation.
KP: I love taking sound bytes out of interviews.
Matt: How about, “Hey, so you’re the pope, you shave ‘em.”[laughter]
KP: This whole interview might be a whole giant sound clip. No transcribing, no fonts, just a giant sound clip.
Aaron: That is the single funniest thing I’ve heard. Matt is incredibly hysterical. He’s got one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever heard in my entire life.
Justin: Next question.
Aaron: Yeah, this isn’t really an interview. What’s going on here?
Justin: Hey! We’re jowlin’. We’re just jowlin’!
KP: I like conversational.
Justin: Can I ask you a question? What is your favorite color?
KP: My favorite color? Green.
Justin: Nice, that’s his favorite color.
Aaron: What color?
Aaron: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.
KP: Yeah, you did.
Aaron: Yeah, I did. I wanted to psych you out. Psych!
Matt: So now what’s your favorite color besides green?
KP: Red. Obviously. (I dorkily hold up my red interview moleskine.)
Aaron: Red is tasty. Marinara sauce, BBQ sauce, ketchup, blood.
Matt: What about purple?
KP: My roommate… I had two years with a roommate who was obsessed with purple. Her entire bathroom was purple, her room was purple, so…
Justin: My favorite colors are deep purple, mellow yellow — it’s a tie between deep purple, mellow yellow, and shocking blue. And green jelly, the band! Remember that — the song?
Justin: We’re playing a show with them, actually.
Aaron: Yeah, that’s show we’re opening up for the Rolling Stones, right? It’s Green Jelly, then us, then Rolling Stones, Radiohead, then — The Beatles. Minus the dead ones.
Justin: No, they’re digging them up. They’re digging up the dead Beatles and they’re just going to put them onstage.
Aaron: Have you been to Strawberry Fields in New York?
KP: No, I have not. I’ve been to Abbey Road, though. In London.Everybody graffitis everything on Abbey Road. Like, “I love you, John!”
Matt: The thing about Strawberry Fields that pissed me off was that it’s a tourist trap. All it was, was like selling John Lennon memorabilia.
Justin: You should check out Ground Zero.
KP: I want to go.
Justin: They’ve got commemorative box cutters down there.
Aaron: Hey, too soon. Too late. Too awesome!
Matt: Remember the one about 9/11?
Matt: I thought you’d never forget.
Justin: Could you try to maintain your journalistic integrity, please?
KP: Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen on this interview. It’s already gone to the wayside. So, tell me about the new album.
Justin: It’s called Howlies Drop the Deuces! We’re recording it five different ways and we’re going to decide what way we like best and then put that out.
KP: Sounds really complicated. And sounds expensive too.
Brandon: Oh, it’s not expensive. We just borrow stuff and don’t give it back.
KP: Like your wig?
Brandon: It was an art pile.
Justin: It was art objects piled together in an art pile to make an art pile.
Aaron: Filled with lice!
Justin: Artistic lice-ense
KP: So what’s the difference going to be between the previous album and this new one? Are you going about it a different way?
Justin: There’s going to be different songs.
Matt: I think it’s going to have a different title!
Justin: The first record was recorded in four days and this album, we’ve been working on it for over four months now, so I would say it’s going to take longer. [Laughter] Looking like it’s going to take longer. And because of that, perhaps more thought out. I think the songwriting is stronger.
Matt: I think the bass-playing is a lot better.
Justin: Sounds better too, because the first album, we didn’t have a bass amp. We flew out to California and we didn’t bring any of our own gear. So I think this one sounds maybe more like what we sounds like live because we’re playing with our own shit. Yeah. I’d say it’s better. Probably going to be less songs, higher quality, it’s going to cost more, it’s going to make you as a listener feel more, and therefore you’re going to want to give us more money for it. So, it’s a value, really.
Aaron: We’re starting the bidding at $10.
Justin: Yeah, we’re going to do the Radiohead thing. Pay what you want, but if you don’t pay high enough, the screen is going to say, “WRONG.”
(Jason, from The Spruce Campbells, announces he sold merch for the Howlies)
Justin: One of these lost graduates who don’t know what to do with their life offered to be our merch girl. I said, alright, meet us in Pensacola, Florida at the Handlebar, July 2nd, 7pm. You’re hired. And she seemed like she’s into it.
KP: What if she shows up? What are you going to do?
Justin: Let her sell merch. And probably gangbang her. [laughter] I’m joking, of course. We all have girlfriends. (leans into microphone) And we love you. We love you, ladies.
KP: HAH! I’ll make sure that comes across sincerely.
Brandon: We picked up a couple girls in Boston and let them ride with us for about 10 minutes, then they got really annoying and we kicked them out of the van.
Justin: They were like, “Why are you listening to this 60s music? This is your parents’ music! Can you put on some 90s music? This fucking sucks!”
KP: I would’ve shoved them out of the van too.
Justin: She also said she hated live bands. Who do you think you’re riding with, you know?
KP: So they pretty much screwed themselves.
Justin: Yeah. Well, they were just drunk girls that were walking by while we were loading out the show and they just got into our van. And we got into our van and drove off and then it was like, oh, who are you? And what do you want from us? And apparently they wanted to give Aaron a handjob, but he wouldn’t let them.
KP: That’s the craziest story I’ve ever heard.
Justin: Oh, and they had a flask of Jameson and we drank it all for them.
Matt: Those girls didn’t see us play, they just walked up to the van and they’re like, let’s get in this van. I go up to the van and I’m like “Hey, what are you guys doing?” Because they’re trying to open the side door and they’re like, “Oh, we’re getting in the van.” And I thought, like, Aaron had talked to them or something, I’m like, oh, alright, so they get in the van. So, they climb in the fucking van and nobody knows who they are. So the one girl’s like, “Oh my God, it’s a band van!” And we’re like, “Yeah, who are you?” And she had the shrillest voice.
KP: What the did she expect? You guys have a trailer or do you not?
Matt: No, so we’re playing… what were we playing?
Justin: It was the mixtape. Like Diana Ross or some shit like that.
Matt: Yeah, it was a lot of Motown stuff. And she starts freaking out. “Oh my God! This is the music my parents listen to! Blahblahblahblahblah” And then, “Change the channel!” She was a huge Hanson fan.
Justin: Yeah, she wanted to hear Hanson. And then she heard that we played a show with Taylor Hanson and she was so into it all of a sudden. ”Oh my God, you guys are big time if you played a show with Taylor Hanson!”
Matt: These chicks were crazy. So they got out of the car at one point and then they got back in the car and finally we arrive at our destination, and then she’s saying something and Brandon’s like, “Jesus Christ, man, your voice is so shrill.” So, she’s like, “Forget it! We’re going to get out of here!” She just fucking — they ran away and what was awesome was that it immediately started to rain as soon as they walked outside.
Justin: They got out of the van one time and then got back in.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. And then at the end, they got out because of the shrill voice comment. It was pretty funny.
Justin: We refused to change the music and that’s why they got out. She was like, “Pull the car over right now.” She’s like, “I hate live music.”
Aaron: I rarely ever honestly get annoyed by females because I’m completely enamored with the whole female deal. But them — that was the most annoying shit I’ve experienced in a long time.
KP: I mean, chicks get in your van, what are they going to expect?
Matt: I hope they expect to be put on the internet, ‘cause that’s what’s going to happen.
Justin: We filmed the whole thing, by the way. We had the video camera going. Blur out their faces for the viewers.
KP: So, where were you and where did you drop them? Was it a good couple hundred miles?
Justin: No, we were going back to the dude’s house that we were staying with.
Brandon: Which was not very far away but the main road that we needed to take over this bridge was detoured, so it was a pain in the ass to get there. We kept doing circles. We have a GPS, so we were just following it and it was telling us to turn around and we ended up going back to the same places. So, they started getting like, “What the fuck? Where are you guys going?“ and trying to give us directions but her voice was so terrible, I didn’t want to listen to her. It was just like, shut the fuck up. And then they started to complain and I was like, “I don’t even know who you are.”
Matt: We show up in this neighborhood and they’re like, “Oh my God, this is West End! Oh, we can’t be here! Turn the car around!”
Brandon: I guess an old boyfriend used to live somewhere in the area.
KP: So, it wasn’t dangerous? It wasn’t a dangerous area?
Matt: She didn’t want to get the heebie-jeebies by being in the same in the same parking lot as the place where her ex-boyfriend lived or some bullshit. I mean, some girly shit.
Justin: They did have a bottle of Jameson. And we drank it all.
Aaron: That was the redeeming quality of that whole thing.
Matt: The girl, she gave me the bottle, and I was looking at her and I was just like, “I’m going to drink this, give me one second.” And she’s like, “Drink it, hurry up!” I’m just like, “Give me one second.” She’s like, “Give me back that bottle!” I was like, “I’m going to drink it, one second.” She’s like, “Give me the bottle back!”
Justin: And when I say that one of them tried unsuccessfully to give him a handjob, I didn’t see that happen. I just heard, “Don’t touch me. Nonono. MOVE. Don’t touch me.”
Aaron: It was kind of weird. She just kept grabbing my pants and I was just like, “No, don’t do that.” But she wouldn’t stop doing it. Which is kind of not cool because I wasn’t trying to get all up with her. But I did drink all of her Jameson, maybe that had something to do with it.
KP: You think they ever figured out who you guys were?
Matt: No, they had no clue. They walked out into the rain and were never seen again.
KP: Is that the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you guys on tour?
Aaron: No, no, no. That’s pretty tame.
KP: Pretty mild? Tell me something a couple degrees above that.
Justin: Like, I got cut by a girl once.
KP: Like, knifed?!
KP: Some random chick?!!
Justin: No, it wasn’t random. I was hanging out at a bar with her. And she just had this knife hanging around her neck. And all of a sudden, I felt sharp pain in my arm, and I look down, and she was like trying to dig a little cut into me. She was super-attractive, and I was trying to see what happened. And, they all show up. I was trying to get away from them with this girl. I was trying to get away with them, and they all show up like five minutes later with this dude Kody, who’s like this friend …
Matt: He’s our friend who has basically just limitless money. He’s the money man.
Justin: He’s an Italian baron. So, he’s sitting there watching this girl cut me with a knife like, what are you doing? And I was trying to go along with it, but it hurt. And then I look over at her arm and she’s got all these cuts on it too and she’s like, “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Matt: She has her modeling portfolio, which is basically a bunch of polaroids of her nude.
Aaron: And she just brings it around with her. She’s like, “Yeah, look at my pictures.” And I’m like thumbing through them and the third picture of her is full-frontal, like titties and everything. And I’m like, okay, great. I can’t look at this anymore.
KP: That’s weird. That’s really weird.
Matt: We came across her in Brooklyn and somebody was trying to film a video with her or something like that. He started talking to her and they exchanged bracelets or necklaces or something like that.
Justin: No, we both had voodoo skull bracelets. And we traded.
Matt: So, funny shit. All that shit happens and we go back to New York, months later. And we’re at the Mercury Lounge. And he called her to invite her out to the show. She comes up to me while I’m setting up and she looks at me and she goes, ‘Are you Justin?’ So then she’s there and she fucking starts asking people for their IDs. She was like, “You look too young.” And she was like, dead-serious.
Justin: Like standing next to the stage. Not even at the door or anything. She was standing next to the stage while we were playing, going around to girls trying to get their IDs. She’s crazy. But see, I hung out with her that whole night after the cutting thing. And we went to bar after bar, cab ride after cab ride, went to some restaurant at 3am and had a fucking Mexican dinner and like twelve margaritas between us. I mean, I was just like spending all this money. And she took me to some place and we were dancing and then I went—
Brandon: She took you to the bank is what happened.
Justin: She took me to the fucking bank. [laughter] And we got back to her apartment at the end of the night and she had started talking in a fake British accent
KP: Sounds like you pick the winners.
Matt: Met this girl in Baltimore that took us back to her house, and the other band, the Barberries, who are this crazy fucking punk band.
Aaron: You really going to tell this fucking story?
Matt: It’s a good story. Talking about crazy. She hates her fucking roommates. That’s why she invited us, didn’t tell her roommates. And it’s like this two-bedroom apartment that nobody can fit in. And there’s like eight dudes just crashed out. Everywhere in the house there are shelves with… you know what Warhammer is? Shelves of Warhammer. Like $40,000 of Warhammer shit. Just like bookshelves of that shit. And they have full-on dioramas. The whole place. People sleeping under that. So, a lot of crazy shit went on that night and she ended up having sex with one of the dudes from the Barberries in a room with me and another guy that were sleeping on an air mattress.
Justin: It’s like dudes jacking off dudes and girls jacking off girls.They were cutting each other… And they had Warhammer involved!
Matt: She had cuts like every single part of her body, there were lines like scars. Like lacerations. She wakes up, goes to work, leaves us there. I wake up first, everybody’s hungover, whatever. I’m like, I’m going to get in the shower first because there’s eight dudes here I get in the shower, I get out of the shower. Fucking open the door. Soon as I open the door, the roommate opens the door. She looks around, sees all these fuckers. ”Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my apartment?” And I’m like, “Hey man, that girl who lives here said we could stay.” And she’s like, “Oh my God, that fucking bitch!” and then starts banging on her door.
Justin: Oh yeah, she reamed her out in front of us all.
Brandon: We went to after hours club one time at Jimmy Valentine’s in DC that was pretty cool. It was a lesbian/prostitute hangout. And real low-key, like you gotta know someone to get in there. And the guy that runs the bar is not taking shit from anybody. And he is playing this music that Aaron just decides he doesn’t like. And Aaron is fucking shithoused. And he just climbs up on the bar and is trying to reach over to the CD player. And the bartender’s on the other side of the bar watching him like, “I’m trying to decide if I’m going to kill you or not.” And I’m like, “Get down, *get down.*” Another ten seconds and that guy was about to go fucking apeshit.
Matt: We ended up spending the night with this chick who met Brandon and was totally into Brandon. Brandon got us a ride home. She was loaded. Loaded. Had this fucking awesome penthouse. First, she busted out a bottle of Maker’s Mark or whatever and we started drinking. Afterwards, where we slept. I remember we took all these pictures. And we didn’t even know about it. The next day, or maybe a couple days later, I’m looking through my phone, like holy shit… it was around Christmas time, we had taken Christmas lights and wrapped our heads in Christmas lights and taken all these pictures.
Brandon: I don’t remember that part of the night at all except through the pictures.
Aaron: It wasn’t regular Maker’s Mark too; it was some really expensive shit. And that was really awesome
Justin: D.C. is blacklisted for us now.
Aaron: We’re never going to go back to D.C.
Aaron: We just haven’t had a good show yet.
Justin: We’re waiting for our presidential summons
Aaron: If Obama wants us to play, we’ll play.