SPRUCE STAGE 09.10.22
Help is the frenzied sound of a broken and collapsing society.
In a world beset with anti-human reactions to daily struggles, Help responds with ways to dismantle evil machines and systems: Remove fear from decision making. Act in defiant joy. Refuse to dominate others. Do not hoard the gifts of the universe. The future is uncertain. Ends don’t justify means. Solidarity now. “If Ram Dass says: Be Here Now, I say Class War Now,” says drummer Bim Ditson, “Because ‘here’ is becoming more and more unlivable with every millionaire, much less billionaire.“
“Meditation is cool though, actually.” He adds.
It is this pro-human mindset that brought Help band-mates Ryan Neighbors (Guitar/vocals), Boone Howard (bass vocals), and Bim Ditson (drums) together. All three had spent the last decade or so in other, perhaps more restrained, bands. Ditson with grinding indie rockers And And And, Neighbors with alt-pop dynamos Portugal. The Man and with his electronic project Hustle and Drone, Boone Howard with his band of the same name and the psych-leaning The We Shared Milk. With Help, they are retrieving punk roots each member had put down in their teens. They are ripping the seams back open to see what’s really inside. “Everyone is angry,” says Neighbors, “Make some art about it.”
So they did. The trio holed up for two blood-soaked days at The Map Room studio in their hometown of Portland, OR with producer Sonny DiPerri (Portugal. The Man, Animal Collective, Protomartyr, Emma Ruth Rundle) whose unblinking production captures the band’s urgency without taming their ferocity. The resulting EP is a mere six songs but each one cuts like a power-saw with the safety off. Bruised and gnarled there’s an unfiltered sense of humanity, pain, solidarity, and even optimism. This is the plain justice of anarchy. The recordings come with a layer of sweat and volume that hammers the point deeper, and there’s a bent-nail feeling that’s just as good onstage. “Playing live in this band is a revelation…” Howard says, “[I’m] used to fronting bands of my own, I’m learning how rewarding it is to sit back and complement these other guys whether accenting the kick and snare while locking in with Bim or just solidifying the melodic structure of the songs through Ryan’s completely unhinged guitar playing.”
Help refuses to bow to a world where the counterculture has been nullified by corporatism and surveillance capitalism. “Now is the time for a sound saying: ‘Fuck this shit!’” Neighbors insists, “When The Donald became POTUS I heard a few people say; at least we will get some good punk rock records coming out. Well, I haven’t heard one yet, so here is ours.” Help is the band Portland needs right now. Fuck it, it’s the band the whole world could use a heavy dose of if we want to climb out of the dark ages of greed and into the next century of mutual aid and collaborative self-directed communities of creativity.