The rock band Hell & Hollar was the winner of Making Music’s most recent Community Video people’s choice competition. Their video for the song “Showdown” received three times as many votes as the runner-up.
Hell & Hollar is a rock band from South Florida featuring Blake Burns on guitar and vocals, Nate Largent on drums, Johnny Dusko on bass, and Ian Pattison on guitar. Their influences range from blues to psychadelic to heavy stoner rock; but they listen to everything and anything. They describe their music as, “just straight-up rock n’ roll,” Dusko said. “We fit in with any other band we play with, whether it’s singer/songwriter, punk, raggae, metal, and we usually get a pretty good reception. A lot of rock today is in a specific genre — we don’t do that.”
Hell & Hollar formed in 2015 when Dusko and Burns met in a music store. Dusko was behind the counter at Guitar Center and he and Burns started talking one day and just hit it off. “We vibed a bit,” Dusko said; and they started jamming together. “It’s funny how it happened so easily,” Burns said. Largent and Pattison then filled out the band, and the four just gelled. “It’s a really great situation where we all just get along and have fun,” Burns said.
They recorded their debut EP, 422, in 2018 in Nashville, which was released in December that year, followed by a tour last summer throughout the Midwest and the East Coast. The addition of Pattison as a second guitar allowed Burns to focus more on his vocals and helped the band’s sound mature, Burns said.
Since the end of their 2019 tour, the boys of Hell & Hollar have been working on new material. Burns and Dusko are the two main songwriters, although they approach it different ways. Dusko will map out the entire song and have the complete idea ready before he brings it to the rest of the band, while Burns will have an idea and the guys will just “jam on it and turn it into a song,” Dusko said.
Interestingly, their hit song from 422, “Showdown,” which was also their first music video and their winning entry in the Making Music Community Video competition, was not a complete song when they were recording their album in Nashville. “Literally it was a riff idea with no chorus and three verses,” Burns said. “So I wrote something down and we recorded it.”
“It’s got a little more country rock vibe in it than the rest of our songs,” Dusko added. “We had a lot of energy behind it.” And when the EP was done, that was the song that just seemed to “jump off the plate” more than the rest, as far as which song would be their first release, Burns said.
For the past three months, with the coronavirus quarantine shutting down the entire music industry, Hell & Hollar have been on a break. Burns said he did some studio upgrades, and he and Dusko have never stopped working on new song ideas. In late May, the band was able to start practicing again. They have three new songs ready to record and a new video — totally animated — for a song called “Siberian Hunter” coming up. “We’ve been working on that video a lot during quarantine,” Burns said. “We’re now seeing clips of it, but we don’t have a date yet for when it will be finished.”
The band had a summer tour set for this year, but, like all summer music tours, theirs is currently on hold, and they have no major shows planned until 2021, Burns said. With the coronavirus quarantines starting to lift around the country, however,
Hell & Hollar may be able to play some gigs soon, maybe even a university tour, Burns said. “For now, we’re focusing on new music and writing,” he said.
If you haven’t seen Hell & Hollar’s video for “Showdown,” check it out here.