Spotlight: Hola Beach
04 Dec 2014
Fast food and haunted houses. Swapping stories with Hola Beach.
Nolan and Will, Hola Beach
I've told Will Kurzner, aka Hola Beach, that we can meet anywhere in Austin, TX to do an interview. He opts for Wendy's. Not just any Wendy's though, but the Wendy's on the University of Texas campus, which I later learn is actually one of the busiest Wendy's in the world. Will comes straight from work at the college radio station KVRX, so a campus meet up suits him best. As I arrive he is sitting at a small table in a dreamy state, next to him is his guitarist Nolan. They are both all but done with some choice picks off the shiny menu.
Outside of Wendy's, and on tape, these guys are a splash of noise with early 00s pop-nuances, a brilliant rush full of genius riffs. Their songs arrive bristled, like a thrashed out spectre of a more pop outfit. They let loose skillfully glued garage songs that are as meticulous as they are grungy. Organized noise, finished off with up close near monotone vocals. Coming to a food court near you, meet Austin's Hola Beach....
If you’re on a road, and there is every kind of fast food place on that road, which fast food establishment do you stop off at?
Will: Probably Wendy’s…
You obviously got a lot of love for Wendy’s, you must be feeling pretty good right now.
W: Yeah, I guess I’ve taken a liking to it, even if it gives me stomach aches. Something weird about it always makes me come back.
Nolan: When I used to work at Target, I would always swing by Wendy’s on my way home. You can always get a $1 cheeseburger.
So where did you guys meet for the first time?
N: There was a KVRX show at The Parish, and there was this band called The Young from Austin who played. We were all at that show.
W: Hugh was never in KVRX, but we jam at his house and he’s a cool dude.
N: Me and Will had a shoe gaze radio show for while on KVRX. Will was always really good at finding some cool Japanese stuff.
Was it love at first sight? How did you guys first bond?
N: Well, I think we both just really liked guitars. I really digged the way he played music. The music Will made when I first met him is different to Hola Beach now.
W: I made a lot more poppy surf sounding songs back then. People used to say I sounded like Cloud Nothings. Nolan was a friend that liked really loud guitar music. It worked out for the best.
Is Austin important to the band? Do you think you could be Hola Beach in another city?
W: Probably. I mean, Austin is obviously cool because there are lots of things happening here all the time; it’s pretty easy to get a show as long as you have recordings.
N: I think it could be really hard to be Hola Beach in say, Indiana for example. In Austin it is so easy to find people to play shows with, get people to come out and support you. All our friends have bands, there’s a mini scene going on.
Psychedelic music and shoe gaze also appears to be getting big again in Austin too.
N: Exactly. There’s that place Reverb Records off East 7th run by the people that organize Austin Psych Fest, it is a pretty cool place.
Do you guys have a single spot in Austin that’s really important to you?
W: Yes, it was called Merdurhaus. It’s a really important place for all our friends and us. It is where Hugh our drummer lived and where we practiced. Every band we knew practiced there. My friend Phil and I started Merdurhaus records there.
N: We’d get out of class and then we’d head to Phil’s house, which was Merdurhaus. There were parts of the house that had caved in, the floor was actually slanting and there were these two columns at the front that were lopsided. It was moving in all these different ways.
Like a Tim Burton movie.
N: Right, exactly. It was ridiculous.
Why was it called Merdurhaus?
W: Phil tells it the best, but we’ll try…it is called Merdurhaus because a murder actually occurred there about a decade ago.
N: There was this handicapped woman that lived there and taught at the university. There was this student of hers that was having a mental breakdown and then broke into her house one night. He just kept saying that he “had to get the micro-chip out”, and so he busted her head open.
Phil, the last day of Merdurhaus... by Chris Nordahl
Wow…. that is extremely scary. You guys have never gone looking for the microchip while you where there?
N: I don’t think it’s there.
W: The sad thing about Merdurhaus is that they tore it down last semester. It’s gone. If you go there now it is just flat dirt.
N: We used to have this room called the Boob Room. It was like a wood room/basement sort of thing. You could see the cracks in the foundations and the ceiling was missing in parts. Hugh put loads of cigarette ads and naked women all over the walls.
W: I didn’t like the Boob Room. I was afraid the house would fall on me.
N: We had so many good house parties there.
W: You should know that Nolan makes a mean punch.
N: Trick is to get really strong alcohol, then mix it with sprite, fruit juice and cool-aid mix.
N: I get minute-maid.
Do you guys spend more time playing with Hola Beach or mixing drinks?
N: It’s probably a fifty-fifty split.
W: It is a great punch.
What other bands in Austin do you guys dig?
W: Loafer are great. Baby Bleu is really good. Secret Daughter are brand new, watch out for those guys.
N: Institute are awesome. Check them out.
What is a record that you guys all agree on?
N: Ariel Pink’s ‘Haunted Graffiti’ would always get played at Merdurhaus. If we wanted to party, we’d put on ‘Round and Round’ and all sing-along.
W: Me and Hugh go nuts for Death Cab for Cutie, we would trade covers of Death Cab songs.
Finally, when is the perfect time to listen to Hola Beach?
W: I’m not sure, but I have a friend who said he always listened to Hola Beach when he was on the toilet. So maybe that’s our niche genre.
Hola Beach's EP is out now on Merdurhaus Records over at holabeach.bandcamp.com - the cover photo for this article was by Kayla Galang