By Scott Stratton
Hurt. Why say it any other way? That simple word takes on a whole new meaning in the context of this band. The group displays a rare simbiotic affiliation between words and music that expresses an astonishing musical maturity and depth of feeling.
Hurt is a band that demands attention - and they’re getting it. The last week of January saw “Rapture”, the first single from their debut album Volume 1 (Capitol Records), as the most added song on the U.S. active rock chart with 42 stations nationwide. KUPD in Phoenix had “Rapture” as their #1 most requested song on Feb. 2nd. Hurt are poised to burst out of obscurity and, in an ironic twist, one station refused to add them because they felt the band would be too big for their indie format.
And wait ‘til you see the video. Brazenly rebellious in it’s artistic scope, the guys at Cuppacoffee.com have crafted a fully animated Wall-like bit of genius that is a transcendent masterpiece. The band doesn’t even appear in it.
As a single, “Rapture” encapsulates what Hurt are about perfectly. The song, like the album, is a miniature odyssey of religeous cynicism and arrested development expressed via changing tempos, dynamic swells and sudden stops. Much of the album features string arrangements that are seemlessly woven into an unconventional rock structure. It works like a charm and you’ll be drawn in by the beauty, drama, tension and release to find yourself lost in the dark wood of vocalist/guitarist J. Loren’s musical visions. It is not a world without hope, but it is an ominous and heartbroken one born of a conservative religeous upbringing in rural Virginia - uttterly devoid of rock and roll until a chance encounter with Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” video while away from home.
All of my life I’ve tried to be like the man in the pictures with the outstretched hands... And I did the best my frail mind could. I’d trade it all for just one touch (from Volume 1’s “Dirty”).
Yet all that I am is half of what we are. Maybe some other time I’ll get it right (from “Shallow”).
And so we made our way with the mistake we made... knowing what she would do leaves me in absolute horror. She put her hand on it’s lips and gave it one last kiss (from “Rapture”)
Sugar, spice and insulin... Her silver spoon oblivion (from “Losing”).
It’s not all “woe is me”, although Loren does sing that line in “Falls Apart”. By the time you reach the playful “Danse Russe” it’s clear that some healing accompanies the hurt. The effect is much like emerging from the dark wood into a blossoming hidden meadow. J. Loren strums an acoustic here, and live, fellow guitarist Paul Spatola plays the string parts on a synth, though Loren is an adept string player.
Currently, the two are on tour in the Midwest doing interviews and live radio acoustic performances in preparation for the release of Volume 1. WEBN in Flint, Michigan has hosted artists more famous than Hurt but never before had the station seen the dozens of autograph hounds that greeted the pair. Clearly, the band is finding it’s audience.
There is talk of an opening slot for Hurt on the upcoming Staind tour. The rythym section of Josh Ansley (bass) and Evan Johns (drums) is on hold until then.
Loren: “One time we got stranded in Michigan without any food for 30 hours. Luckily, I had a flask with me. We were running off the sugar in the whiskey. It was wild. There was hardly any place open. We got stuck at the airport - stranded there. Somebody forgot to pick us up.”
All Access: “Is there an overall theme to the album?”
Josh: “My friends say the music is inspiring or uplifting. Loren says that this music will only depress you if you’ve never been left in pain. For me it’s positive. It’s not hurt = cut yourself, it’s hopeful hurt = redemption.”
All Access: “You had 8,000 cds distributed throughout the East coast with previous incarnations of the band. Is that how you got your L.A. connection?”
Loren: “We’d played a show (with a former line-up) at the New York Continental. One of the guys there was from DEGY Booking and, of course, we were small potatoes to them. The guy was ‘Man, I love this! We’ll keep in touch’ . I thought ‘Yeah, sure, whatever.’ Then out of the blue some guy calls me, Tom Lewis, and he’s just flipping out. If you’ve ever talked to Tom Lewis he’s quite an unusual persona. Over the phone, especially - to just pick up at your home number one day. (Speaking fast:) ‘Dude, I tracked you down. I’m crazy about the cd. I’ve been listening to it all week.’ And I’m like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who are you?’ He says ‘I promise you we’re going to do something, man.’ I was like ‘Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that before.’ So then I didn’t hear from Tom in like seven, eight months. I was still doing my thing which is quite discouraging ‘cause you’re going nowhere but you’re doing it anyway. Then out of the blue I get another call, ‘Sorry about that, man.’ He just picks up where he left off. So then I go to New York, met with his company (Metropolitan Hybrid) and things turn around and now we’re out here with these incredible, magnificent bastards and here we are.”
All Access: “Paul, you just flew out here from New Jersey on faith didn’t you?”
Paul: “Josh called me and told me to come out. They were checking out guitar players. A month later I didn’t hear anything and I said ‘I just gotta fly out there.’”
All Access: “I saw your first gig at The Mint. How much time did you have to prepare?”
Paul: “I flew out with the intention to be here for three days and I ended up being here for two weeks. The first day I played with them. The next day we were showcasing.”
Loren: “Tom was saying ‘Come on, he’s great. It sounds great with him,’ and I was saying ‘There’s no way in hell that we’re playing a showcase with this guy after one day. No Way In Hell.’ Tom says, ‘We’re playing the showcase,’ and...we got signed”
Evan: “We (previously) went to New York to showcase for Columbia. They weren’t interested. We talked to Interscope a little bit. Island came to see us. A few were at the S.I.R. showcase too - Universal, Virgin, Atlantic.”
Loren: “They walked away and that led to our destitution for a long time. Interestingly enough, after we got signed (to Capitol) I got several calls from the same companies - ‘Oh, well you know. We were right all over you’ - complete lies”
Evan: “As soon as we got signed it was ‘Oh, I knew you’d do it’”
Loren: “Somebody said ‘I could hear this on the radio.’ I said, ‘That’s because you did.’
(All laugh)... ’til it hurts.
Hurt’s debut album Volume 1 comes out March 21st on Capitol Records.