What’s a Hyrrokkin?

Yellow Springs’ Hyrrokkin at Canal Public House

By Katie Christoff

Photo: Brett Nagafuchi, Edward Ricart and Paul Larkowski of Hyrrokkin; photo: Edward Ricart

Avant-rock trio Hyrrokkin is all about contrast.

And that’s no surprise, given its members’ backgrounds. The Yellow Springs-based band, playing at Canal Public House in Dayton on Friday, Oct. 10, comes from diverse musical backgrounds. Drummer Brett Nagafuchi, guitarist Edward Ricart and bassist Paul Larkowski played in various other bands before forming Hyrrokkin in 2011, and they continue to experiment with a variety of genres.

“We’re really loud,” guitarist Edward Ricart said. “Technically speaking, the songs are long, the instruments generally play in different overlapping time signatures, and the melodies and harmonies are dissonant. We also stick contrasting things together, to ramp up the intensity and dissonance, and we stray from the typical dichotomy of quiet/loud, or noisy/pretty.”

Their sound has been influenced by bands on Dischord Records, Touch & Go, SST and other independent record labels that aren’t around anymore, Ricart said. He said they’re all big fans of Sun Ra Arkestra, so much so that the name Hyrrokkin was inspired by Sun Ra’s record label, Saturn. Hyrrokkin is the name of one of Saturn’s moons, and Sun Ra was actually from Saturn, Ricart said.

“Hyrrokkin seemed to be a nice parallel, a tributary satellite to the massive presence that is Sun Ra in our lives,” Ricart said.

Hyrrokkin may have only been born three years ago, but Ricart, Nagafuchi and Larkowski have been in the business much longer than that. Ricart said he met his current bandmates 10 years ago in Boston when they were sharing a practice space, and they’ve all played in a bunch of different bands since then.

Nagafuchi and Larkowski have known each other even longer still. They met in daycare when they were just two years old, according to Ricart, and they started playing music together in middle school.

“One of their earliest, most popular bands was called Holstered,” he said. “They were basically a crusty, metallic hardcore band with sludge/doom breakdowns.”

The band that really brought the current-members of Hyrrokkin together, though, was local quartet Kuan. The three began making music together when Ricart filled in as the bassist for Kuan and went on tour with Nagafuchi and Larkowski for a month. Less than a year later, Ricart said he packed his record collection and instruments into a U-Haul and left Washington, D.C. to start Hyrrokkin with them.

“It was the best decision of my life,” Ricart said. “I basically slept on a couch in the practice space for the first couple months, and we played music all the time.”

It’s safe to say the beginning of Hyrrokkin was a whirlwind for everyone involved.

“We recorded a debut EP called Astrionics right in our space about five weeks after forming,” Ricart said. “About a week later, we went out on our first coast-to-coast national tour as Hyrrokkin, packing in close to 35 shows in 30 days, or something like that.”

After the nationwide tour, the band recorded its first LP, later titled Pristine Origin, at Seizures Palace in Brooklyn. They released it on Chicago’s Sick Room Records in 2013, but Ricart had also formed his own record label, New Atlantis Records, by then.

“I started New Atlantis, quite simply, as a vehicle for documenting music I really enjoy listening to, that doesn’t seem to fit in elsewhere,” Ricart said. “There are so many great bands out there, but over the last few years, while lots of great new stuff has been happening, most of the established labels I love have gone under.”

Just like Hyrrokkin itself, the artists on New Atlantis span a variety of genres.

“The music on the label runs the gamut from math rock and post-metal to free jazz, noise and so on,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to put out some of my favorite music.”

On Sept. 23, Ricart’s label was able to put out some more of his favorite music: his own. Hyrrokkin just released a 7” on New Atlantis, and Ricart said they have even more in the works.

“We also have a split in the works with Coverband, featuring dual drummers Greg Saunier (of Deerhoof) and noted Daytonian Matt Schulz (of Enon, Holy Fuck),” he said. “We also have another 7” on the way with another of our favorite bands, Bellini, and should have news on that soon.”

“Life is busy,” he added.

Hyrrokkin’s set at Canal Public House will consist of three songs from Pristine Origin and two new ones, according to Ricart. He said they’re still ironing out the kinks on most of their new music before bringing it out live.

“It is very possible we’ll finally let loose with another couple songs,” Ricart offered – hope that local fans will be able to hear some new music live.

Hyrrokkin will share the stage in Dayton with Kisser and Thollem McDonas, who also has two records out on Ricart’s label. McDonas will play a duo set with Nagafuchi, keeping the spirit of contrast alive. After all, Hyrrokkin was born out of contrast and collaboration, and their music continues to reflect it.

Hyrrokkin will perform at Canal Public House, 308 E. First St., with Kisser and Thollem McDonas on Friday, Oct. 10. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5. For more information, please visit newatlantisrecords.com or newatlantisrecords.bandcamp.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Katie Christoff at KatieChristoff@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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