Thursday 17 March 2016

"Being a metal musician doesn't come with health insurance and benefits": Amped & Doomed with Jordan Cozza & Jeff Andrews (Hush.)

By:  Aaron Pickford

Often it is those bands that are unfamiliar to us, that instantly become engrained in our psyche and are the source of such overwhelming devotion.  A few years back, I found myself with the debut album “Unexist” by one such band, it was so compelling and their unbridled and malignant tone, simply crushed me.  It seems somewhat ironic given the tone of the band’s music, that the band’s moniker is simply Hush., and yet it seem wholly appropriate, just put your fingers to your lips, shush and let their music destroy you.

Fast forward to 2016, and Hush., are back with another monstrous slab, entitled “Nihil Unbound”, and it was with unashamed enthusiasm that I made it my mission to inform all those that wished to listen, that Hush., should be your new favourite band.  So forget the rest and take notice, because today, we’re getting Amped & Doomed with Hush

SL: Jordan (Bass), Jeff (Guitars) thanks for talking to us, give us an insight into the brief history of your playing career to date?

Jordan: I started playing bass when I was thirteen. My older brother and cousin were trying to start a band and they needed someone to play bass. That's how I ended up being a bass player. My parents were pretty strict Christians and really monitored what we were allowed to listen to. Because of this, my first band was a very wholesome pop punk band. It didn't take long for all of us to grow out of that style of music and go our separate ways. My second band formed when I transitioned from a private school to a public school. I met some people who had seen me play in my previous band, and shortly after, we formed an indie rock band. I played with those guys for a few years and grew a lot as a musician. I ended up parting ways with them to go in a heavier direction. By this time I was twenty one and had started playing in a sort of progressive metal band with some friends. After a show one night, my bass had gotten stolen and I needed a replacement fast. I was really broke and pretty much just drove from store to store trying to find a cheap bass. I eventually stopped by a music store a buddy of mine was working at. I told him my situation and said "dude, we've had this eight string bass sitting here forever. No one wants it because it's too big, but I'll sell it to you for next to nothing." I ended up buying it and only using four strings for a while. Eventually, I started experimenting with stringing it up different ways and trying different tunings. After months of fine tuning, I ended up with the instrument I use in HUSH.

Jeff: My first band was in high school singing for a death metal band, then I progressed to learning guitar and playing with some dudes locally in Nashville TN. Realistically the main bands I was in in Nashville were like 3 bands and I played all different instruments. From Ashes Rise, me and Dave Aitchison were in previous bands and we met Brad Boatright and formed that band out of a punk band. That went on for a bit then I parted ways and joined some cool cats in Social Animosity, which was awesome time playing black metal punk hardcore. Other than that my main band in TN was a death metal band called Denial of Grace which was with John Judkins of TITD and Rwake, and we played a lot of cool shows and had a rad time. As far as here in the North East of NY....I've played in Lariat, Held Under, Dryheave, Ironweed, ....hmmm...I think that is till my current position ...which we'll get to.

SL: Can you remember who are what inspired you to pick up the guitar, bass? Are there any bands, guitarists, bassists currently on the scene that continue to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Jordan: As I said before, my older brother kind of pushed me to start playing. Tony Iommi was always a big motivation because he was such a pioneer of heavy guitar tone. I'm always hearing bands that influence me and inspire me as well. 

Jeff: I gotta say, I grew up in the late 70's early 80's and my calling was Journey and Boston. Hearing the sounds of those bands shaped my scope of things. Not just classic rock, but pushing boundaries on guitar playing in general. I mean, Boston had 3 guitar players and Neal Schon is just amazing.  As far as now on the scene, seeing new bands do different things inspires me. Like for instance....the dudes in So Hideous, those cats just play so ferociously and keep it pretty at the same time. Love that concept. Then you got dudes in Divider and Maggot Brain doing ridiculousness to sound heavy in general. I'm inspired everyday by music. I'm a seeker of music. I love it and I will find it. Thank you bandcamp!

SL: Whilst we’re on the subject of inspiration or heroes for example, do you have 5 records that stand out as favourites, what influence did they have upon you and what is it about those record that particular resonates amongst others?  


Planes Mistaken for Stars- “Up in them Guts”

This is one of my favorite bands of all time. I got into them when I was young and listening to a lot more indie/emo type stuff. I was particularly drawn to these guys because they had a bit more of a pissed off edge, while other bands in their genre were singing songs about high school crushes. As I got older, my musical taste changed and I began getting into more aggressive styles of music. It seemed like these guys were always right on par with what I wanted to hear at the time. Their music grew more angry and depressed and that's right where I was musically as well. When "Up In Them Guts" came out, I had it on repeat for weeks. The vocals on this album sound so tortured and I just couldn't get enough of it.

Pink Floyd- “Wish You Were Here”

Of all the bands I heard early on in life, Pink Floyd sticks out as the most influential. "Wish You Were Here" is my favorite album of theirs. I guess musically the thing I took from this album was its cohesiveness. It flows in such a perfect way. Often times when I'm writing I try to write multiple songs or albums that work together as a solid piece of music. I try to envision what happened before and what will come after each track, and ultimately head towards an ending.

Zao-Liberate te ex Infernis

Growing up in a strict Christian household, my parents heavily monitored what we were listening to. Zao was one of those bands that I could get away with because they were deemed a Christian band, but they were also heavy as hell. They were actually one of the first metal bands I was heavily in to. They were also one of the most musically impactful. With 'Liberate' they reached a new level of heavy, and all I wanted to do was sit in my bedroom drawing skulls and writing sludgy metal riffs.

Cult of Luna-Somewhere Along the Highway

This is my favorite album ever written. I love it from start to finish. I was a fan of Cult of Luna since the early 2000's, but when I heard this album, it pretty much defined the type of music I wanted to play. I think it came out right around 2006 and that was the year I had to quit playing indie rock and start writing slow, heavy riffs.

From Monument to Masses- “The Impossible Leap in One Hundred Simple Steps”

When I first started collecting vinyl, I came across this album and bought it just based on the description. It was the best album I ever bought while knowing nothing about the band. The musicianship was great and I loved that it was politically driven. This album made me want to be a more diverse song writer. There were some pretty unique time signatures, compared to other things I was listening to at the time. I still add some off tempo riffs to HUSH and a lot of that is due to this band.

Jeff: I do ....don't know if they are going to seem relevant to HUSH at all....but here we go!

Journey - “Escape”

This was the record that clicked for me. I heard this and I was like ....first off.....Neal Schon's tone and heaviness in that time frame was amazing. The songs are heavy and the emotional songs are emotional. But this band is one of the bands that help shape my scope of view on music. When you l listen to it now it still holds up. For me, I think it is a super heavy record.

Boston – “Don't look Back”

This record....floored me. Guitars to sound that big and have such a depth of sound and tone. This record will always be one of my favorites. Classic rock....but in the was like olden days and they had the big huge rock sound and that allured me.  

Leaving the 70's and 80's behind....a record that shaped a good amount of my influence was. 

Neurosis-Souls at Zero

I actually got to see them in a small club in Nashville TN on that tour with Buzz-oven and it was life changing. They were so bold and loud and just amazing, it was an experience. Back then....there was no cell was all about the experience of seeing a flyer and going to shows. This record showed a new level of heaviness to me. Super melodic in parts and then parts that just crush your goddamn soul. They were definitely innovators of a new style of music. 

Cult of Luna – “The Beyond”

When I heard this record I was blown away. I got this the day it came out because I read a review about it. The songs on this record are minimal but super pissed at the same time. What intrigued me was how it was so damn heavy but somehow had this emotional side in there as well with how the riffs played into each other. This band has been one of my favorite bands since then. 

Metallica- “And Justice For All”

This was my favorite band all throughout junior high and high school. Even though there is no relevance of bass on this record, (ha-ha) the riffs on this thing were insane. I remember hearing “Dyer's Eve” and thinking this is the heaviest and fastest shit ever. I was very fortunate to have parents that let us choose what we wanted to listen to. I remember I gave my mom my allowance to pick up this record for me ....and the day she brought it home....mind was blown. I threw it on my turntable and listened to it over and over. That was good day. 

SL: Can remember your first electric guitar, bass? 

Jordan: Yeah. My first bass was a blue Ibanez Gio. My father bought it for me and I am grateful to this day. 

Jeff: I remember for Christmas in 1987 I got a knock off Gibson SG...just like Angus Young's. It was great. Kinda like the Christmas Story movie. Opened all my presents and my dad was like....”what's that over there in the corner?” Sure enough it was no damn bb gun but a guitar. Super stoked. The action was so damn high off the fret board, I could barely even play it, but I didn't care. I was officially a rock star at the point. Ha-ha

SL: What guitar(s) bass (s) are you using today and how did you gravitate towards the guitar you currently use?  

Jordan:  My primary instrument is still that same eight string bass I bought years ago. It's a Galveston and it's nothing spectacular. I also have another eight string bass that's a Maestro. They're fairly similar, but I tend to only use the Maestro on recordings or as a backup at shows. The Galveston is a bit more comfortable to play and sounds a little uglier.

Jeff:  I currently have 2 guitars that I use in HUSH. My main one is a ESP LTD 607B Stephen Carpenter Signature 7. It is a tele/baritone 7 string. This is probably my favorite guitar that I own. Super heavy and the tone is monstrous. My other guitar is LTD ESP-407 flame maple 7 string. This is my back up guitar. It plays and sounds great too. 

SL: What do you like about the guitars you currently use and has there been any specific modifications to it?  

Jordan: I took the original active pickups out of my bass and had some nice Bartolini pickups put in. I also string both instruments in a very unique way. I use mostly guitar strings, but the length of them is too short to reach the tuners. Therefore, I tie the strings together near the headstock to make them long enough. Surprisingly, this works and they stay in tune well.

Jeff: No modifications to them. The Stephen Carpenter Signature 7 has EMG's in them and makes that guitar super pissed sounding. And plus it is a baritone which helps for playing in super low tuning. 

SL: What amps and pedals do you currently use?  Do you use a combination of amps, or a full half stack? Talk us through your set up both in the studio and in the live environment?  

Jordan:  It's hard for me to even say what I'm currently using because it changes so often. I usually tend to favor amps that are very simple. The less I have to do to dial in the sound I want, the better. I like them to have one channel, be very clean and be loud enough to make a baby cry from five blocks away. If I try an amp and it doesn't make my cabs woof, I pretty much get rid of it immediately.

As far as amps, right now I have a 1973 Sunn Model T, a 1972 Orange OR120, a 70's Sound City bass 150, a 1998 Green Matamp Legend 140, a 1976 Ampeg V9 and a mid 70's Acoustic 370.  For cabs I have a 70's Orange 8x10, an Emperor 6x12 with Weber speakers, an Electric 2x15 with Eminence Kappas, a 70's Acoustic 371 1x18, a 70's Ampeg V4b 2x15 and a 70's Ampeg 8x10.  We usually use everything that's listed above live. The Model T, Matamp, OR120 and Sound City are the amps I usually rotate between. Jason, our bass player, tends to stick to the V9 and the Acoustic. I also always use the Emperor 6x12 and the Orange 8x10. The rest of the cabs we experiment with running different ways live. 

I am also a big fan of making every record unique tonally. The only consistent piece of gear I've used on every recording is the Emperor cab. It just makes any amp I run through it sound so dark. On "Unexist" I used the Matamp head through that cab and just left everything on the amp dimed, just like I play it live. On "Nihil" I used the Model T through that cab and just left the settings the way I play live as well.  I use a lot of amps and cabs, but I keep my pedal configuration very simple. I use a Voodoo Labs amp selector and some fuzz, that's it. As I said before, I like the amps to be loud, but clean. The reason for this is so that the fuzz is the only thing controlling any dirt. For the past few years, and on the last two albums, I've just used a Verellen Big Spider pedal. It's super simple and sounds really beefy. I just recently got a Redwitch Zeus fuzz as well. I can't wait to throw that into the mix.

JeffSo for Heads, I use a Marshall JMP MKII Super lead 100w. I bounce back and forth between a JCM 800 Lead Series 50w and a Peavey 5150 Original Block Letter head. For cabs, I have 2 full stacks. Normally I play the JMP through an Orange 4x12 with Electro Harmonix speakers and a Custom Mammoth 2x15 cab. The other side I use either one of the heads through a Vintage Marshall 4x12 with Celestial 65's and also through another Custom Mammoth 2x15. The Mammoth cabs are built by Tom from the band Sea of Bones out in Connecticut, who builds any kinda cab you want and they are beautiful. I had him build me a cab the size of a 4x12 but an actual 2x15 inside. He puts a lot of time and care into what he does. They are each loaded with 2 Eminence Kappa 15" speakers. They sound super ugly.

SL: Is there one pedal you could not live without and why?  

Jordan: Definitely the Voodoo Labs amp selector. Without it I could only run one amp at a time. I'd get so depressed I'd probably become a cutter and start listening to Adele

JeffThere are actually 2 pedals with this band that I couldn't survive without. 1st, I use a Fulltone OCD pedal. I do not use it for overdrive or gain actually the exact opposite. It allows me to play clean through my amps. I use it kill all the gain and the distortion coming from my amps. Having my amps dimed and no way to have a clean signal, this works pretty good. Next is a Radial Bones Twin City ABY Amp Switcher. This allows me to be able to play through both of my rigs, and it has a sweet ground control lift that helps you eliminate hum or buzz. 

SL: What are your amp/ pedal settings?

Jordan: I usually have the volume maxed on my amps. I like to use a lot of bass as well. I throw in some mids for clarity and usually am pretty light on the highs. My pedal really only has one knob and I keep that turned up pretty high also.

Jeff: The JMP is pretty much to 11 and the settings are like bass at 8 mids at 6 and highs are at 4 and volume is 8/10. The 5150 is pretty much the same setting except I have the gain on like 6 as opposed to full throttled out.  As far as pedals go I don't have any fuzz or overdrives because I get all the grit from my heads. I use a Boss RV-5 Digital Reverb that creates all the spacey atmosphere. And I use a TC Electronics Flashback Delay and Looper. I mainly use the tape setting on that pedal. That gets all the thick back in forth delay. Other than the OCD pedal for cutting the gain, that is about all I use for pedals.

SL: What tunings do you use and why, and as a result is there a specific brand / gauge of string you prefer ?    

Jordan: I'm not sure what the other guys tune to. I tune to  D, G, C, G, D, A#, A, B.  I don't know why I settled on that tuning. I guess those are just the keys most of the parts I write are in. A couple of the strings are just tuned so low that I only hit them when I just want dissonant noise.

Jeff: In HUSH we all are pretty much different tunings. Jordan's 8 string is tuned in some sort of hell tuning that sounds gnarly and gross. I tune my 7 string D to drop G. So my low string is pretty low. For strings I usually either use SIT strings 68-11's, or I pick up a pack of Ernie Ball 8 string pack and use the 64-10's. 

SL: Do you have any advice for up and coming guitars players, bands?

Jordan: Don't scoop the mids out of your sound. Synchronized stage moves, mosh calls and mixing dub step with metal are all terrible ideas. Don't do it!

Jeff: Play what you like and love. Don't try and mold your music to be successful. Play what you feel is inspiring to yourself and have fun doing it. 

SL: Do feel there are deeply help misconceptions about being in a band? 

Jordan: Yeah, that it's all fun all the time. I play music because I love it, but it definitely gets stressful sometimes. It costs money and, unless you're a pop musician with a lot of financial backing, you're probably not going to get rich doing it. When I was young, I thought all the bands I saw on tour were living the high life. I thought "man, these dudes are like my parents but just get to travel and play and then return home to their nice houses and families." I didn't realize they all had real jobs to support themselves and the band was their hobby. There are some bands who make enough money to live their lives, but being a metal musician doesn't come with health insurance and benefits.

Jeff: Well it is awesome playing with dudes you love to be around and hang with, but the other side of it when it comes to the cost of everything, it is tough. I pretty much know I'll never make a living at this, so knowing that - I just try and have a good time rocking with my dudes. It does get overwhelming at times when you have high points but the financial background stresses you out. I've been playing music in bands since like '92, it is the love and passion for playing music and creating something you believe in that makes me stick around. 

SL: Moving on a little then, what can you tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc you’re currently promoting, completed and anything else band related we should know about? 

Jordan: We just released the "Nihil Unbound" EP through a collaborative effort between Fuzz Records, Dullest Records and Silent Pendulum Records. We are currently waiting for the vinyl copies to arrive. As of right now, that album, along with our previous album "Unexist" are available on Bandcamp. 

We are playing as often as possible, but with all of our work schedules, we are usually limited to traveling on the weekends. Once we have a physical copy of the new record, we plan to do a short tour. The details of that are currently being worked out.  We are constantly writing new material and have been discussing dates/locations for our next recording. Right now there are plans for us to record a couple tracks for a split. 
We have a lot going on right now, but until more plans become finalized, there's not too much for me to tell.

Jeff: Well we just released our latest EP “Nihil Unbound” digitally and coming later to be on vinyl. But I think Jordan has already covered all the bases of what we are up too. As far as projects are concerned, I actually have another band that I devote a lot of time and energy towards. The band is called The Final Sleep. We play a progressive, melodic death metal. I play guitar and sing in this band. We are actually in the mixing stages of our record, so be on the look out for that if you are a fan of Opeth/Enslaved/Katatonia -ish type of metal. Rock!

SL: What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

Jordan: I think we are all very happy with the new record. It surpassed all of my expectations. I had to have hernia surgery that Tuesday and we went into the studio Friday. I was on a lot of pain killers and kind of grumpy the whole time we tracked it. I remember just trying to rush everything to get it done. Afterwards I looked back and thought it was going to be a disaster. Instead, it just came out more raw and depressed.  I think the mood of the band in general is good right now. We recently added Jay Tash on bass, who is one of the most positive people to be around. We also re-acquired Ryan Strainer (who was our original drummer) as our second drummer. 

Jeff: Well the new EP is really gross and dark. The vocals on this record give it such a setting of bleakness and despair. I think these are some of the best songs we've ever written and I'm super proud of it. I think we are all just super stoked on what we have created on this EP. And for me, I'm super grateful for Fuzz Records, Dullest Records and Silent Pendulum Records for helping us put this out on vinyl. Being a super fan of music and knowing my band is going to be able to be played on someone's turntable is a very humbling and rad feeling. 

SL: What are your favourite songs to play live? What is it about them that makes them so good to play live, crowd reaction, etc?  Anything from your catalogue that you wouldn’t play and why?  

Jordan:  I just love playing the heaviest songs. That's what I feel like the listener wants a lot of times as well. If someone is coming to see HUSH play, they're coming to get they're face blown off by a wall of amps.  “Eater of All Things”, “Shinda Inu No Shashin”, “Squal”l, “Waves of Exultation”. Those are the songs that make me want to bang my head.

Jeff:  For me I like the songs that create a lot of space and atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, I do like the crushing ones too. So I guess my favorite songs to play live would be “Oror”, “Eater of All Things”, “Waves of Exultation”,Squall”, “We Left Like Birds”...  A song we started playing once “Unexist” was written that we don't do anymore is “Rest/Nonexistence”. Although I really enjoyed playing this live cuz it is a beast, the crowd on the handful of times we played it did not seem so stoked on it. Ha-ha. It's just a super long drawn out song that deserves to be just listened to in solitude maybe.

SL: Who are some your favourite bands you have toured with and what has been your proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?

Jordan:  So Hideous, Divider, Hellkeeper, Bleak, Maggot Brain, Writhe, Godmaker, Burrow, Clover, Black Table, Tiger Flowers. There are so many bands from around our area that I love playing with. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but we are fortunate to be friends with so many rad people.  Probably my favorite show to date was with Conan at St. Vitus. They were ridiculously heavy and St. Vitus is my favorite venue. 

Jeff- We've played with a handful of awesome bands since we've been doing this. I think my favorite times are definitely with So Hideous and Black Table. Everyone is so down to earth and fun, we always have a good time with them. Other bands I love playing with are Clover, Divider, Maggot Brain and Hellkeeper. All those dudes are super rad and we always have a good time with them. As far as proudest moments, it was really great to share the stage with Mouth of the Architect, Rosetta, Kowloon Walled City, Downfall of Gaia and CarBomb.

SL: What can fans look forward to from you over the next 12 months? How is your schedule shaping up?

Jordan: More shows, a small tour and some new music are all in the works. Our schedule is looking pretty busy. Be on the lookout. We're planning on playing some new cities in the next year.

Jeff: Well our EP is out digitally. Vinyl to follow. Maybe a couple of splits. A possible re-recording of our 1st record featuring the 2 drummers. I'm hoping we can make a small run tour for like a week and go rock some faces off. Then maybe after all that we start the writing process for an upcoming full length. 

SL: Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us? 

1.) Playing double bass really fast doesn't make you a better drummer.
2.) Mesh shorts don't make you more hardcore.
3.) Doing the running man or the crab walk makes you look ridiculous. 
Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Jeff: Playing music is a gift in itself... that you actually have some sort of skill set to play it is a great opportunity. So be grateful if you are in a band and actually get to play shows. I am thankful that I get to play music with dudes I love and that we have a great time doing it. Now get out there and pick up our record and let us know what you think.

The End

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