By Kellen Brent Pierce
On Saturday, The Hoons will return to Alaska to take the stage at Koot’s. This will be the first Alaska show for The Hoons in 3 years, nearly 15 years since the band got their start, practicing after-hours in a tanning salon near Raspberry Road and Jewel Lake. “We sucked — really bad — for a long time,” says frontman Sean Howland. “We weren’t very good musicians but we were fun and rowdy.”
While the metalcore fans at the time were slow to warm to the band, they found an early fan in Bitoz Cafe owner Al Sacata. “Albert saw something in us and just kept having us back,” Howland recalls. “We had a persona which was ‘We’re gonna have fun and we don’t give a fuck what you think’ and it worked and people came around to us, eventually.”
After developing a following that ultimately led to sold-out local shows, Howland says the band re-focused their ambition after a meeting with an industry representative. Back in 2011, Family Tree Presents worked with 94.7 The End (R.I.P.) to showcase ten local bands for record label reps from Atlantic, Fearless, and EMI. When those reps recommended that the “label-ready” Hoons move somewhere easier for touring with bigger bands, the band quickly packed their bags.
Naturally, they followed the footsteps of successful Alaska bands 36 Crazyfists and Portugal. The Man, relocating to Portland, Oregon. In 2012, they released Terra Incognito, an opus produced in part by Alaska-born, Brooklyn-based Erik Braund, formerly of Matt Hopper’s Roman Candles. In 2014, they released their self-titled follow-up and in 2019, the nine-song LP simply titled V.
After eight years in Portland, the landscape has dramatically changed, both literally and culturally. The welcoming neighborhood venues of the past have fallen, one by one being replaced by luxury condominiums. Meanwhile culturally, the city wasn’t exactly welcoming to new talent. “We got down here, ready to go and so excited, and it’s just such a big clique,” Howland says. “If you’re not out there networking and sucking balls all the time, nobody gives a shit.”
Now 35 years old, with his oldest now in high school, Howland says he doesn’t have the time to schmooze. “We’re out there just having fun now. I just like making music.” That overall attitude, he says, has changed the way The Hoons have approached their songwriting. With less focus on grooming a band image, The Hoons now write what they feel like writing — a heavy song, a ballad, whatever. In Howland’s words, “We just don’t give a shit”, which sounds a lot like the attitude that The Hoons brought to the stage at Bitoz all those years ago. More than anything, The Hoons are here to get rowdy and have fun.
This time around, the band will share the stage with White Knife Study, an Alaska band supergroup featuring members of The Hoons and Kill Tango. That project boasts an album produced by Casey Bates, a Seattle-based producer for recent albums from Portugal. The Man, Pierce The Veil, A Skylit Drive, and a long laundry list of other young recognizable acts.
Full line-up: The Hoons, White Knife Study, Bad Friday Saturday, 9pm, Koot’s, $15, 21+