Soaked in bleach
“It’s a mixture of really weird hardcore music, like the Melvins and Flipper, and then I also love pop,” said guitarist-singer-songwriter Oliver Hull when describing the sound of his band, Corner/Store. “I listen to Taylor Swift, and I listen to top 40. I like good songwriting and catchy hooks. … It’s that combination of crazy hardcore punk and pop music.”
That combination—noisy, fuzzed-out punk guitars accompanying catchy vocal melodies—is a winning formula. And it was the winning formula for one of the most critically and commercially successful rock bands of all time, Nirvana. And Nirvana is indeed the most readily apparent reference point and audible influence on Corner/Store’s sound. The Corner/Store song “Proxy” could pass as a cut from Nirvana’s album Bleach.
“We get that a lot,” Hull said. “I’d like to think we’re going away from that, but I love Nirvana.”
And the Nirvana sound is fertile ground. There are a lot of gradations between pure hardcore punk noise and straight ahead pop, and Corner/Store, like Nirvana before them, are able to cover a lot of different bases, mixing up tempos and textures to evoke a variety of emotions.
In addition to Hull, Corner/Store consists of dynamic drummer Derek Todd and bassist Brandon Martin, who has only been playing with the band for a few weeks, although you wouldn’t know it just from hearing him play with them.
Before Corner/Store, Hull led a band called the Tides, which he started in 2013 not long after moving to Reno from Los Angeles. Over the Tides’ couple of years of existence, the lineup changed several times and the band never really stabilized.
The Tides was more of a solo project for Hull, where he wrote and demonstrated all the parts.
“Now it’s more of a collective thing where everybody is putting in their input, which is working out,” he said.
After innumerable lineup changes, drummer Todd helped bring some stability to Hull’s songwriting.
“The first time we jammed, I knew we had something,” said Todd.
Something that Hull said really helped his songwriting was a 60-day sentence he served at the Washoe County Detention Facility on Parr Boulevard. He was arrested after a DUI accident.
“I was drinking a lot at the time,” he said. “I was working at the Silver Legacy and was just out of control. I got in a bad wreck and broke my neck—what’s called a hangman’s fracture. … I have three screws actually in my neck.”
He said going to jail was stressful. The guards and other inmates called him “Malfoy” because of his bleached blond hair. But it was also a chance for him to reinvent himself.
“I actually got a lot of writing done in there,” Hull said. “I learned that I could write songs in my head without even having an instrument, which was amazing. … Writing songs in jail without a guitar, the melodies had to come into my head, and they had to be good enough for me to remember all the way through that sentence ’til I got out. So I knew this was catchy, this is good. If it didn’t stick in my head, then it didn’t stay.”
He wrote songs like “Out of Touch,” a mid-tempo rocker with a memorable vocal line: “I’m out of touch, out of luck, out of line again, dressed in cuffs.”
And then, not long after getting out of jail, he decided it was time to rename his band.
“We changed it because there’s been bands called the Tides,” he said. “There are bands right now called the Tides, and I wanted something different.”