Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hustler White, the band

What we were:

Hustler White was a short lived no wave band from Portland, Oregon. We existed 2004-2006. The civil war in Iraq had turned the #24hournewscycle into a charnel house of daily horror, and fear and boredom was in the air. I (Adam) and Meghan’s band Hux fell apart over a disagreement so petty and alien to me now that I have a shortness of breath thinking back on it. Musically it was for the better, as Hux a blink and you missed it blur of yelling, equipment abuse and bodily harm yielded Hustler White and the discombobulated improv trio Yuma Nora, both better musical products. Meghan and I joined up with Nick from the shaman/math/punk unit Alarmist that Hux shared many bill
s with. Nick was going to play guitar (he played drums in Alarmist), Meghan was going to learn drums, I was going to learn bass, and my girlfriend and now wife Mariel was going to sing (me, her, and Meghan had fled the corrupt, gothic, decaying and beautiful city of Chicago for the mellowness of Portland for reasons of boredom, rebirth, and restlessness.). My bass playing lasted one practice and we shortly got Daniel to fill out the sound on keyboard while me and Mariel sang/shouted/mumbled on top. We never discussed what type of music we planned on making but it developed organically and fit in with bands that were touring at that time or playing around Portland (Erase Errata, Sick Lipstick, and Sleetmute Nightmute for example), an underground that valued theatricality, noise, and fun over slickness and commerciality. Yes we were named after that Bruce Labruce movie, which if people don’t know is artsy gay porn.

What we sounded like:

We never got compared to a band I hated, which was a small moment of pride for me. Deerhoof, Melt Banana, Lake of Dracula, Numbers, No New York era DNA, Roxy Music, and the Boredoms were the names I heard. A homeless guy yelled into our practice space that we sounded like The Residents once also. This might have been a combination of a flashback and Nick’s Residents bumper sticker though.While I couldn’t claim parity with any of these legends, I feel no shame in having these names dropped. Daniel and Nick used too many pedals for us to sound like true member of the No Wave cabal and our songs were filled with more change ups. But piercing and jagged guitar, primitive drumming (which I mean as a complement), swooping and throbbing keyboards, with Mariel singing and me shouting and chanting was our sound. We incorporated bits of skronky improv, drone, psychedelic, stoner metal and hardcore into our songs. We sang lyrics about kidnapping, cannibalism, opium wars; genocide of the Native Americans, sexually transmitted diseases, cheerleaders and other such topics, but for some reason got a reputation as a party band (people will dance to anything). Mainly because we played a lot of house shows and warehouses and if we got drunk enough did some really dumb classic rock covers.

What we did:

We toured California twice, once with Seattle’s Mikaela’s Fiend (and Oakland’s Battleship on a couple dates) and the other time with Portland’s Wet Confetti. We played shows with Silver Daggers, Death Sentence Panda!, The Dead Science, Danava, Mika Miko, Business Lady,The Planet The, Pterodactyl, Abe Vigoda, Numbers, Get Hustle, Wives (pre No Age), Bad Dudes, Gang Wizard, Battleship, Wrangler Brutes, Glass Candy, Johnny x and the Groadies, King Cobra/twin, Sexy Prison, a Tom Waits impersonator, a Jewel impersonator that may have been being held against her will in a scary house in Long Beach, Channels 3& 4, a goth band that took an hour to set up, a massive festival in Davis with lots of bands, the Yeah Fest! In Olympia, Dreamcatcher fest in the middle of the scary Columbia River Gorge wilderness (mountain lion sightings and farmers firing guns at trespassers were reported) where we played in a copse of trees, and with many other bands that have vanished to time.
We played Arcata, California twice! Both shows were fun but Arcata is a truly weird town (Hux and Alarmist played a legendarily terrible show there).
We put out a tape split with Influx a Vancouver BC noise trio which featured Erin and Nick who went on to form the great Shearing Pinx (if you love Sonic Youth, Dead C, Harry Pussy, and Sleetmute Nightmute, but don’t know this band you are missing out. They once covered a Hustler White song!) Then we put out a seven inch with San Diego’s Business Lady. Our only other releases were tour cdrs. We recorded some more professional recordings but they never saw the light of day (supposedly for a split with Mikaela’s Fiend).

What happened?

Nick became a member of legendary noise/psych/postrock/improve collective Jackie O Motherfucker and never had much time for Hustler White after that. Meghan and Daniel performed around town in side project Mecon, Me and Mariel were starting on our path towards completing and finishing degrees. The Daniel started doing solo shows as Bird Costumes and Meghan started her now famous solo project U.S. Girls. Meghan and Nick also performed in the briefly existing Silver Crème, before Nick concentrated on Eternal Tapestry with Dewey from Plankton Wat. Meghan after finishing art school moved to Philadelphia.

Sparsely distributed recordings and brief period of shows in DIY space mostly left little behind but memories for the scarce few who were there. The legacy of Hustler White is mostly a poorly remembered footnote to other projects and bands. Daniel toured and recorded in last lineup of Subarachnoid Space the psych space metal behemoth (check out their record Eight Bells). Eternal Tapestry went on to be, if not the most famous, one of the better bands of the recent psych/krautrock revival putting out records on the revived Thrill Jockey label. Their records and live show are excellent trafficking in burnt earth psychedelic in the vein of Parson Sound, Algarnas Tradgard, Terry Riley, Les Razilles Denudes, and Neu (some Grateful Dead was sneaking in when I last saw them). U.S. Girls, which one of the few musical acts to be compared to both Phil Spector and the Conet Project, has earned some fame and great reviews. I recommend all her records and videos. Catch her live if you can.
What to do with this space?

Going to try and put some photos and maybe music up here soon. Feel free to share memories, flyers, any recordings I don’t have, photos, playlists, reviews, and anything else. Put it in the comments or contact me and I will work on getting it up. This spot exists to provide a record for this band. Obviously we were just one little band, but we had fun doing it and I think our music was actually great. Until I get music up here feel free to contact me for an old fashioned cdr.


  1. My first thought is your memory is great. My second question is, what is wrong with my memory?! Oh yeah, it's been 10 years, I went to grad school, and had a baby.

  2. Also you never mentioned what Adam and Mariel did! Some might be interested. Mariel took that poetic rage about "kidnapping, cannibalism, opium wars; genocide of the Native Americans, sexually transmitted diseases, cheerleaders and other such topics" - topics such as human trafficking and current wars - and turned it outwards toward a career in social work. Not art, but creativity in another fashion. Adam graduated with a bachelor's in english and creative writing, which he now pursues daily and with others in workshop. Adam and Mariel were married in 2007, with all of the band and other former music scene folks present, as well as their dear friends, and then in 2012 had a son, Gareth, whom they current sing and dance with every night.