Monday, August 10, 2020

DJ Interviews: The Hikkomori Pact

Hey there folks Its DJ Dizzy here & I had the esteemed pleasure of interviewing Jeremiah Boothe of The Hikkomori Pact band as he had a lot to say on the musical scene

How'd you get started in music?


I grew up in a small town with people that had a very narrow view of the world and everyone shared the same opinions and beliefs, anyone that questioned those ideologies was ridiculed until they agreed.  So it's fair to say that I never fit in very well.  For me Music was a different perspective, different world views, it's what showed me that there was a different/better way, at first as just a listener. Music helped me steel my will to resist the indoctrination I constantly faced.  Writing journals, poems, and lyrics, as terrible as they were at first, became a way for me to process through the conflict and figure out what kind of person I wanted to be.  At age 12 I got my first guitar and that journey continued.  Music has always been a very important part of my life, it has shaped me and helped me process through things that I might have otherwise just suppressed for the sake of my own sanity.  Now here I am at 40 years old and music is very much the same,  I've grown immensely as a person, my ability to articulate my thoughts and to even analyze conflicting views and the psychology behind those views has come a long way, I'm also the best version of myself now as a musician as a result of decades of struggling through the many challenges I face.  Still, I have a long way to go and as long as I draw breath I will continue to push forward, breaking old biases that I forgot to reevaluate, putting my own ego on blast, and improving my craft.


Who are your inspirations or influences?


Far too many to count.  At 40 years old I've had several different era's of music, each era often filled with many dozens if not hundreds of bands/artists each bringing a different influence.


Some of the most prominent of those influences are Mike Patton, Maynard James Keenan, Jon Crosby, Chris Cornell, Josh Homme, Sting, Kurt Cobain, Steve Vai, etc...  These days I'm spending more time connecting with and finding influence from other indie artists, people that have the same goals as me who are at some point in their journey to create and grow as artists.  Some are absolutely amazing, and some are not quite as far along as others but I find inspiration in someone putting their best effort forward, falling short, and trying again.  I encourage that.  The person behind the music and the effort they're putting forth is far more important than the end result of the song.  I would much rather listen to a bad song that someone dumped every ounce of their soul into than a perfect song that 50 top level producers all put 1% into and barely gave it a second thought.  The realness of that struggle shines through and that's what speaks to me these days.  I've heard ukulele songs that were played out of time with lot's of missed notes and out of tune vocals that brought me to tears and listened to far too many hit songs that were perfect in every way that made me feel absolutely nothing.


What advice would you offer aspiring performers?


Align yourself with people that share similar goals.  One of the worst things you can do to yourself is spend years putting all your energy into a band/music project with people that have opposing goals or at least just don’t have any musical goals.  Whatever those goals are, if it’s just playing live and drinking beer just for the joy of it or to turn it into a living.  Also be honest about your goals up front and make sure everyone you work with is being honest about theirs.  Avoid people with ego’s that outweigh their skills and ability.  It’s fine working with someone that’s not up to par if they’re willing to put in the work to improve but don’t waste time on someone that’s mediocre and not willing to grow as a musician because they feel like they already know it all.  Practice a lot, to the point where you can stop thinking about what you’re doing and carry on a conversation without making a mistake, this will go a long way toward combatting stage fright the first time you step in front of an audience.  Don’t worry about going out with a full band/full set right away.  Take it one song at a time until you feel comfortable, enjoy the praise you get from performing one song well and use that energy to add more songs to your repertoire.  Expect to have performances/crowd reactions that will haunt you for the rest of your life but fight the urge to quit.  In some of my earlier shows my band was so bad that we performed a single show and couldn’t look each other in the eyes for months after because we were so embarrassed, this was compounded by the unrealistic ego’s and perception we had of our abilities in practice, in our own little bubble.  I quit music completely for a few years because of a performance like this, I wish I hadn't.  Don’t let the reactions of others crush your belief in your own music, if you can listen back to recordings of whatever you’re doing and feel the emotion you put into it then you’re on the right track, don’t let narrow minded people that only listen to 2 bands tell you that your music sucks, and if they do just smile and carry on with what you were going to do anyway, they aren't paying your bills, you owe them nothing of yourself, especially not control over your feelings or the direction you’re going.  With that said, listen to the people that genuinely care about you, sometimes people close to you will tell you the hard truth that you don’t want to hear, listen to those people.  It can be hard to figure out who they are sometimes but at some point in life you’ll develop the ability to determine who’s just being negative for their own sake and who’s giving you helpful advice.


How do you set yourself apart from other bands or singers?


I do it by not trying to do it.  When I write, I don't write from any particular influence from another band or a specific sound.  I clear my mind and focus entirely on whatever enigma is currently swirling around in my brain.  I often write about things that have been rubbing me the wrong way, things that have been stuck in my head.  I think about the people involved, the psychology behind certain actions and thoughts.  I think about what I would say if I was talking to someone that would listen instead of arguing with a wall, if I could give them my best answer, or make my best argument, I feel out the different emotions that such conversations bring and then I start strumming chords, playing notes on my guitar or a keyboard, banging out the rhythm to my frustrations, and from there a song begins to form.  I don't write for anything other than my own sanity.  I want others to enjoy my music and connect with me, some people have, more people eventually will, but I'll never be able to truly speak to someone’s soul/psyche if I water down my music to make it more palatable for the masses.  I hope that while being as musically and lyrically honest as possible that other people can relate and maybe something I say will help them deal with their own troubles, maybe give them a new perspective on something they've been stuck on for a while.  I don't really do happy.  Happy is for day to day life and interactions with people I care about, my music is for the problems that many of us face that are often daunting if not impossible to unpack.  I hope that for someone out there, I'm that friendly hand on the shoulder in the dark, I'm there too but we don't have to face it alone.  Sometimes just having that can be enough to help someone find a strength they didn't know they had.  The darkness is much less scary when you're not alone.  I’m not sure any of this sets me apart really, but this is how I approach it and I’ve been often told I don’t sound like anyone else, so probably?


Any new gigs or albums in the future


I have no plans of playing gigs anytime soon, I'm not ruling it out as a possibility, and every so often I do an open mic night at a coffee house.  I've played hundreds of full band live shows in this area and surrounding areas, it's just a whole lot of effort and time to spend more money than I make to play to maybe 60-100 people, which is the crowd built up after a good 8 years of non-stop gigging.  I appreciate the fans I've made locally but I enjoy my time in isolation wrestling with my own neurosis and the results that come from it.  This also goes back to finding musicians with the same goals.  If I found a group of people that were aligned with what I wanted to accomplish, locally, then I'd give it a shot but people can be flakey and the bands that are serious tend to only play covers or original music I'm not into at all.  The twitter indie community has given me a way to expand and move forward with none of the draw backs.  There's many thousands of people throughout the world sprinting down the same path to nowhere that I'm on and I've found a few that I really hit it off with and collaborated with.  People that have pushed me to new levels and I'm now a part of some songs that leave my mouth agape in awe, like I can't believe I got to be a part of the creation of something so powerful. 


There are definitely albums in the future, right now I'm focusing primarily on singles and collaborations but I do have several full lengths that have been slowly coming together over the past 20 years and keep changing and evolving along with me. I plan to drop my next single soon, at least as soon as I stop nitpicking over the last few lines of lyrics and bounce it one last time.

Special thanks to him for doing this interview & I wish him & his band lots of luck & success. So until then I'll catch you on The Flipside! Stay Awesome & rock n roll!

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