Interview: Horehound

Interview: Horehound

Jun 29


Horehound Band Photo

Talking The Power Of The Riff With Shy Kennedy of Horehound

As much as I love the barely tangible atmospherics of shoegaze or the cerebral meanderings of prog, I always come back to the metal church to worship at the altar of the simple, straightforward, and all powerful riff. Luckily for me (and all metal fans) there’s a few hotspots out there fostering fresh new bands out there keeping the heavy groove of doom and stoner metal alive, including in Pittsburgh, hometown of the group Horehound who have just released their debut self-titled record. It’s a thick, hard hitting lesson in all things heavy and Shy Kennedy, vocalist for the group was awesome enough to take the time recently for a few questions about the band, heavy music, and the hometown scene.


How did the band come together?

Brendan and Mike were in a band together before called Perish. They talked about doing something again and looked into Craigslist and found our former drummer Matt, and then former bassist Dave Shaw. Those guys got a few songs together and started looking for a singer, again via Craigslist. After a few auditions, they had me in and I wrote lyrics to 2 of the 3 songs and jammed out with them for a couple takes. They asked me to join the next day. Since then, we replaced Matt with JD and Dave with Wes respectively. JD and I didn’t know each other but almost began playing together about a year prior and so I reached out to him when we needed a drummer. Dave moved to Seattle for a job opportunity and Wes was a college buddy of Brendan’s who had somewhat recently moved to the Pittsburgh area. He came to most of our shows and showed interest when we were looking for a new bass player. We have had many line-up changes in such a short time and are still able to keep the writing and the shows going. Everyone plays an important role.

Anything behind the name Horehound?

Horehound is an herb and natural remedy-much like other enjoyable plants that can be medicinal. It’s often made into an old-timey candy to relieve a sore throat. My grandma used to give me them when I was a kid. I still use the stuff. I pitched the idea of the name to the guys and they liked it.

How’s the metal scene in Pittsburgh?
The metal scene specifically has had its waves over the past few decades but as of now, it’s notably one of the best cities for metal in the states. Seriously, there was a recent study and in the poll they put Pittsburgh at #3. More specifically, the underground DIY scene is very healthy. It’s a good time and we have some great local talent and have a lot of great bands come through. There are nights that I can’t even decide which show I want to go to more.

Any brethren-in-arms bands from the area you want to give a shout-out to and think deserve some listens?
Where do I begin? Carousel, Monolith Wielder, Lady Beast, CANT, Serpent Lord, Del Rios, T-Tops, Holy Rivals, Derketa, Blackfinger, OutsideInside, Argus, and our not so distant friends King Dead (East PA), Doctor Smoke(OH) and Brimstone Coven(WV). So, so many more.



You play a mix of doom and stoner metal that you all sound very comfortable with; what draws you to that hazy corner of the music spectrum?

Like most musicians in a metal subgenre, it’s cleansing of the mind to write within a darker nature. It’s an exorcism of all the negativity we all deal with as people and as artists. We all have different things we listen to but agree on this sound as a band. Individually it’s one part of who we are but as a group it’s what we become. It can be one of the heaviest of styles but there aren’t rules really. That’s important to our sound. We don’t care about the length or the tone or speed. We really aren’t just doom or stoner, we’re just more that than anything else. It’s heavy fucking rock that we dig.

The music on the debut sounds very garage-birthed, so to speak. How much comes directly from the rehearsal room just jamming as a band?

Nearly everything written comes from a jam. One of the guys might bring a riff and then it expands, but it’s not really a write and learn deal with us. Sometimes I even adlib lyrics and melodies while they’re jamming if it feels right. World to Come was written that way but with a few edits. We all really have input and often come up with ideas for another one to try. Like JD or Wes writing a riff. One of the ongoing laughs is when I raise my hand and someone automatically replies, “Yes, Shy, we can try it slower…”

The songs take a few different avenues between doom, stoner, and straight-up hard rock, but the album as a whole sounds very cohesive from start to finish. Was it a conscious effort to keep that focus for the recording or does the band pretty much have that ‘style’ locked in naturally?

We really didn’t have a concept. We wrote songs, performed them live, and received some great feedback from the audiences. We never repeated a set list before we recorded that and it was always such a high energy response-amazingly! The lyrical themes change, the tempo and keys change, and whatever you hear that is cohesive really just is each of us being comfortable with what we are doing.

How’d it go getting into the studio to record your debut as a band?

We recorded that material within 16 hours over two days (in a snowstorm on a steep hill). The guys all recorded together the first day. The next day we punched in some leads and vocals, etc. It was awesome. I only wish I could have recorded with them but it just wouldn’t work. The idea was, we wanted to sound like we do when you come to a show. Our recording engineer, Matt Schor got exactly what we wanted and made it happen. I know that we all had a great experience and all learned something through that process. I definitely had!


Horehound’s self-titled debut is out now and available digitally and physically through Bandcamp. You can follow the band on Facebook, and Twitter.