For a song
There are bands that put on great live shows, bands that might leave audiences members in awe at their energy, their enthusiasm, or their technical virtuosity. Fans might exclaim aloud, “What a great band!” or praise an individual performer: “What a great drummer!” or “What a great guitar player!” or “What a great frontman!”
Hate Recorder is not one of those bands. This is not to say that they’re not good performers or able instrumentalists. In fact, each of the three members, drummer Troy Elizares, bassist John Benson, and singer-guitarist Tim Blake, are accomplished players and veterans of great bands from the local scene, like Short Hair, Manacle and the Juvinals.
But instead of reacting to the band’s overall performance, or the chops of any one musician, listeners will likely exclaim to themselves, again and again during a Hate Recorder set: “What a great song!”
The same could be said of each of the songs on the band’s new EP. Each has a distinct mood, and each rocks in a different way, with an actual dynamic range, full of rhythmic and tonal shifts that belie the cohesive songwriting. Direct influences might be difficult to peg—although the great ’90s band Jawbreaker is an audible influence in the way that both bands marry punk, post-punk and hardcore sounds to mature, personal and literate lyrics.
Flinching at the Square Waves, the band’s four song EP is the first of a planned four-part series. Every EP in the series will be produced by the same producer, Tim Green of Louder Studios. (Green was also the guitarist in the great national bands Nation of Ulysses and The Fucking Champs.) Each EP will also feature artwork by Reno sculptor Anthony Arevalo.
“We want to write some good songs and record them well,” said Blake. This might seem like an obvious goal, but it’s a surprisingly rare sentiment among many local bands. “It seems like they’re more showing off their chops than trying to write good songs. I’d rather write good songs.”
Blake has spent much of the last decade playing supporting roles in various bands, like the aggressive Priscilla Ford or the dreamy Southpaw Stranger. In some ways, Hate Recorder is a throwback to his band The Victims of Sacco-Vanzetti, a mainstay group around the Reno music scene in the early- and mid-2000s. Blake sang and played guitar in that band as well, and it took a similarly song-oriented approach to hardcore and post-hardcore music. But Hate Recorder is even more mature.
“It’s a little more grown-up, which is good because I’m 10 years older,” he said. “If we went the other way, then we’d have a problem.”
But Hate Recorder isn’t defined by any particular sound.
“We’re not going for a particular sound,” said Blake. “It took us awhile to get up and running because we didn’t really know—we knew we wanted to play together, which I think is way more important. We all three like each other and liked playing with one another. It works well, but there were probably four or five almost-songs that were just jettisoned before we found something that kind of clicked and then we just veered in that direction. And we’re still veering.”