Finding an old-style, working class rock and roll band around the legendary venues of Hollywood has been an increasingly difficult thing ever since the city sold its soul to pop music and pay-to-play booking operations. Yet, in the midst of all that money grabbing greed, one band stays true to its belief that the spirit of rock music runs deeper than the excess that is worshiped all around them. They call themselves Hillbilly Herald.
For closing in on a decade, Hillbilly Herald has been showing other bands around them what hard work truly means. The band plays as often as they can, ensuring that their name is frequently associated with only the best of the old guard of Hollywood clubs, and a few up-and-coming ones, they make sure they’re getting themselves into studios with some of the best and brightest hard rock producers the city has to offer, and, as often as possible, tour the country to ensure their name becomes known far and wide. Recently, CULTURE got the opportunity to catch up with the Hillbilly Herald’s founder and frontman, Jimmy Herald and their drummer, Louis “Seabiscuit” Riel, to hear all about the band’s current endeavors, their upcoming new album releases, and, of course, their love of cannabis.
“I mean, recreational marijuana, just like alcohol, needs to be regulated, but if it’s going to bring in the tax dollars let’s do it! What’s the problem?”
Hillbilly Herald has been busy in the last year. Catch us up—what have you all been up to?
Jimmy Herald: Sure, no problem! Well, we had a whole record ready to go, and then we met up with Michael Licata, who’s our new management, and he introduced us to Jacob Bunson and Jay Ruston. So, we decided to put that record aside and go in with those two and make more of a heavier rock and roll record, similar to earlier Hillbilly Herald. The other record, which we’d made with Keith Olsen, was more of a classic ‘70s vibe and was more for our pleasure. We were on a different trip at the time, but our management put us back on track, gave us advice on what to focus on and we got together with Jacob Bunson and wrote some new stuff. Also, we re-recorded two older tracks, “Sucker Punch” and “Greedy Me,” so now they’ll both have that Jay Ruston touch on them.
Can you tell us a bit about what the process was like working with Jacob and Jay? Did you all sit down and discuss what direction you all wanted to go in and how you wanted things to sound?
Herald: I think on this one, we just kind of listened and took directions. We had a meeting with them before we ever went in to record, and we told them, “We’re just here to listen.”
Louis Riel: Yeah, we let them commandeer the whole operation so to speak.
Herald: They took a look at our weaknesses and our strengths and then figured out what we were going to do. They urged me to be more melodic, my vocals have been more influenced by early AC/DC, so they wrote me more melodic vocals. So, it was a learning experience for me.
Are you guys excited for the potential for more cannabis legalization bills that may make it onto our ballots in November?
Herald: Yeah! Think of all the people whom it’s going to benefit who need it, in addition to all of the tax money it will bring in that will benefit the schools and other projects. I mean, recreational marijuana, just like alcohol, needs to be regulated, but if it’s going to bring in the tax dollars let’s do it! What’s the problem?
Is cannabis helpful to you in your day-to-day life?
Herald: You know, I like to come home, smoke a joint and listen to records. It allows my mind to take whatever was going on in my day, set it aside, and focus. I even like to use it before I do CorePower Yoga, and I’ll have a better time because I’m no longer thinking about all of the other things going on, and instead I’m able to concentrate. It allows me to focus on one thing, instead of having my brain think about a million different things. So I use it for that, and for stress because it allows me to relax.
Besides the new records, is there anything else that Hillbilly Herald is up to in the immediate future?
Herald: We’ve been trying to do more live stuff and we’ve actually found a new home in L.A. We were with the Viper Room for a long time, but it was time to move on and move in a different direction and we found Lucky Strike Live. They’re super in touch with social media, promoting new bands, and putting together great lineups. So we’ve got a Monday residency there starting June 13, and we’ll have some special, big name guests joining us to surprise everyone over the course of the dates.
Every Monday Night @ Lucky Strike Live in Hollywood