Sunny South Florida beckons today, as Blake and Johnny from Hell & Hollar rise to the challenge of our BotD questions…
Blake Burns: I was born and raised here in Palm Beach, Florida.
Johnny Dusko: I play bass in the group, and I’m from the Jersey shore.
How did you meet?
Blake: I met Johnny at Guitar Center.
Johnny: I work at a guitar shop, that’s where I met Blake, I sold him a Fuzzface pedal and exchanged numbers when I told him I played bass.
How long have you been playing as an artist?
Blake: H&H has been in existence for about 5 years now.
Johnny: I joined the band in the summer of 2015.
Who are your influences?
Blake: So many to name them all. But to name a couple I will say that Joshua Homme of QOTSA has always had a big impact on me. Whether it’s with Queens or Them Crooked Vultures.
Johnny: My influences are all over the place, but lately Frank Zappa has been a huge influence on me.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Blake: We are a flat out rock band. But we don’t have any walls or barriers keeping us in this one thing. We like to cross genres and mix things up. But at our core our sound is rock. So that bleeds through no matter what we work on.
Johnny: We play rock music, period. I feel like we live in an era of niche-genres within rock music, and I don’t think we really fit into that kind of thing. We just kind of do our thing.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Blake: I don’t. Whatever inspires me will get worked on and have a chance of becoming a final song. It could be anything.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Blake: Our show is a high energy loud rock show. We have played up around 30 or so since day one. Being an original act in an area that mainly caters to cover bands due to tourism isn’t easy. But this past year we have started to get out of town and play shows in Austin TX and New Orleans. Now we are about to head out on tour and play TN, WI, IA, NC and GA.
Johnny: I couldn’t really tell you, my eyes are usually closed most of the time! I’ve thought to myself, maybe I should be making more eye contact with the audience, but I’ve gotten so many compliments on my trance-like state on stage, I just go with it now.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Blake: The wildest thing I have done is probably throw a guitar across the stage at the end of the show. But I don’t do that very often anymore.
Johnny: We played a show at Vintage Tap in Delray, and they had a screen behind us showing old cartoons, I, of course, had my eyes closed for a bit, and when I looked up, I saw the crowd that was there a minute ago, was totally gone. I turned around to see they switched the cartoons out for a feed to the security camera that showed a fight being broken up outside the bar.
Blake: Oh yeah! I forgot about that!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Blake: I play a Lust For Tone custom built JM series that I and Greg at LFT made together when I was working with him building. I mainly play Lust For Tone guitars. My amp is a Germino Deluxe Tweed that we modded by putting and Eminence EJ40 speaker in it and changed the power tube. I have a pretty extensive board that has pedals from companies like Echopark, Boss, Strymond, JHS, Way Huge, Empress, MXR, Fulltone, and Fuchs. I also use a One Control Iguana Tail to control it all. Helps when you have to sing while playing to not have to tap dance at the same time!
Johnny: I play an Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray 4H bass thru a Darkglass Electronics Alpha-Omega 900 bass amplifier.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Johnny: The new video for “Showdown”, from our 442 EP
Blake: We are about to head out on our Why The Hell Not Summer Tour. We will be in Johnson City TN on June 26th at The Hideaway, Summerfest in Milwaukee WI on the Uline Warehouse Stage June 28th, Fairfield IA on June 29th at The Depot Brewery, Raleigh NC at The Pour House July 2nd, Mountain Freedom Festival in Andrews NC on July 3rd, Atlanta GA at Smith’s Old Bar July 4th, and Lake Worth FL at Mathews Brewing Company Aug 30th. We also just released our debut music video for our single Showdown. So check that out as well. You can find it on our Youtube and Facebook.
What are your plans for the rest of 2019/2020?
Johnny: Recording our next single, finish writing the next album, and lots of shows, including Summerfest.
Blake: The summer tour, then we have some stuff in the works we are waiting to announce, which will be soon. We are also working on a full-length LP sometime next year and will be releasing singles and videos leading up to that. We are going to start doing a seasonal podcast I believe also. So stay tuned for that. Other than that more touring.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Blake: I would absolutely love to open for Clutch, and it would be rad to have our friends Forebode from Austin, TX opening.
Johnny: There’s a band from my hometown in Jersey that was a big influence on me growing up, The Parlor Mob. I think it would be really cool to do a show with them at some point. Their guitarist, Paul, also has his own band called Gods. Both are really cool, so check them out if you haven’t heard them!
What is your dream venue to play?
Blake: Probably Red Rock’s. But The Fillmore at The Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami is right up there with it I think. But that’s because I have seen so many amazing shows there and it’s such an amazing venue.
Johnny: Amphitheatre of Pompeii would be crazy, the only bands to play there are Pink Floyd and King Crimson.
If you could borrow a guitar from a favorite guitarist to play who’s guitar would you borrow?
Blake: Oh god that’s a tough question. I could literally give you a list! But if I had to just say one. It would be Joshua Homme’s The Crow that was made for him by Echopark. That is one sexy guitar.
Johnny: I’ve always wanted to play John Wetton’s old 1961 Fender Precision bass. R.I.P. John!