“It took a girl breaking up with me to really take the rock n roll, because I wanted to scream at her, so I took a rap and mixed it with rock and screamed on it and gave it to her. That’s what started my whole rock adventure…”
Hyro Da Hero is a rapper from Houston, Texas (now based in L.A) who is shaking things up particularly in the rap/hip hop communities with his explosive, raw fusion of rap and rock. Sure, some of you might be asking what’s “rock” go to do with it, but maybe that was the question hordes of rock fans in the UK asked initially? This year he performed not once or twice, but three times at Download Festival and was recently ranked in Kerrang Magazine’s Top 50 Greatest Rockstars in the world today.
With the UK well and truly on the way to being conquered, now it’s Australia’s turn. Hyro’s debut album Birth.School.Work.Death has just been released on 3Wise Records/Sony Music Australia and whilst there are no definite plans just yet, Hyro has Australia in his sights for some touring action.
We recently chatted to Hyro about the evolution from his rap beginnings in Houston, Texas and acceptance within the hip hop and rock communities.
Hyro, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. So where in the world do we find you today?
I am in Los Angeles, just got off of a tour, working out and trying to get my body right and doing that whole thing.
Before we chat a bit more about your album, first off I have a few questions about your musical evolution. What was your first musical love, hip-hop or rock?
Well my first love was hip-hop music when I heard Tupac Shakur start rapping, that just started me up. All that emotion he had, just screaming through the mic and all that stuff just started me up and got me interested in making this music and being innovative and being myself.
And what about the rock music influence, when and how did that come?
Well I had been into rock ‘n’ roll like Bad Brains and Fishbone and stuff like that because I like to see other brothers doing something innovative and different so I dabbed in that for a bit. But it took a girl breaking up with me to really take the rock n roll, because I wanted to scream at her, so I took a rap and mixed it with rock and screamed on it and gave it to her. That’s what started my whole rock adventure and digging into the crate and looking for new rock music and different things like that.
So was that the trigger when you said to yourself I want to make music such as you now do?
Yeah that was the trigger point for the rock and rap and when I knew I was onto something.
How widely do your rock music influences extend?
I mean almost anything great, I like Fugazi, Bad Brains, Gorilla Biscuits, Fishbone I love them and Rancid was cool, back in the day. I just dig around, some stuff you might find and you can tell the corny from the cool you know. When you grow up in Texas and you put on the radio, that’s your first introduction to rock right there, what’s playing on the radio. So you’ve got to dig in and look for the real stuff!
You originated from Houston, Texas and are now based in LA, how much of your childhood experiences growing up in Houston comes through in your songs?
Oh yeah! I grew up in a rough area in Houston, Texas and you know how that whole story, you know how rap goes. Well I just motivated myself to do better. I see the problems that go on from where I came from and I want to be a voice for that and help out in any way I can. I feel like me putting that emotion out there and me speaking knowledge and tying to uplift my people and uplift people in that situation is the best way to do it. Whether it is rap music or rock music, when you have the microphone, you have the voice of the people. You can actually speak up for that.
Can you remember the moment or events when your music started spreading and you got your break to so speak?
Oh man, when I heard these horrible rappers start rapping from the south. You see I am from the South of America and I didn’t feel they were representing in the right way. So I made a rap and rapped all about these Southern rappers and said they are representing wrong and caught a lot of attention and all of that. It caught my manager’s attention and I was just sitting there on MySpace and kids linking me up and checking me out. My manager called me up and said I dig it. From then it’s just been moving on great man.
Now before your debut album, you have had a bunch of Mix Tape albums available on your website, can you explain the concept behind those?
Well that’s just basically to show rappers that I can rap with them and I can rap better than them and show people the cool music I listen to. I wanted to show people who I am and those mix tapes show my growth leading
up into the new album.
How did you get involved with 3Wise Records down here in Australia?
My manager, he knows some dudes in Australia and hooked it up. We want to get out there and I want to rock the world. He has a lot of connections everywhere so I am just ready to do it.
So the plan or wish is to come out and play some shows here?
Hell yeah, I’d love to do that, I can’t wait to see Australia man, it would be awesome.
You must be pretty happy with the feedback and reviews the album has been getting so far?
Oh man, amazing feedback, I haven’t read one bad review. It’s been amazing, the only thing they trip on is when I say the N word! Other than that, I’ve got some great reviews, I love it!
So your debut album is titled, Birth.School.Work.Death. What was the inspiration behind having this as the album title, is it as straight forward as that phrase being the cycle of life?
Basically it’s just the repetition of life, that’s life right there. You’ll probably die and come back and do it again. You gotta try and do what you can in that allotted time of Birth.School.Work.Death.
You worked with producer Ross Robinson who has worked with Korn, Slipknot and At the Drive In, was he someone you had specifically sought out for this release and how was the experience?
That was a dream come true because Ross Robinson and Rick Rubin I always felt are two people I knew would understand what I am trying to do with this music. So it came across perfectly and I felt that Ross could take it out of my mind and put it on the record.
How about the music and band you had working on this record, how did that come about – former Idiot Pilot guitarist, Daniel Anderson, bassist Paul Hinojos (At The Drive In/ Sparta/ The Mars Volta) and Blood Brothers Cody Votolato (Guitar)
All of that was created in the studio with Ross Robinson. I told him what I wanted and he had the people. He got in Paul from At The Drive In, Cody from Blood Brothers, Daniel from Idiot Pilot, we came in there, all fresh and one day I created 6 songs with them, that’s how thick the energy was. After that was just tracking out and doing things like that.
Were you familiar with their backgrounds?
At The Drive In is one of my favourite bands ever, so that was amazing to work with him. Blood Brothers I had heard things here and there and Idiot Pilot I knew of from Ross, so that was cool.
Musically, what do you think you bring to the rap and rock combination that maybe others haven’t in the past?
I think it’s me being real, I come from the hood, I come from rap, so I have just got that naturally about me, I am not acting in any kind of way. I am naturally a rocker, it’s all the same attitude. So it’s just when you come up with both sides, you have to know how to do it the right way and keep it credible. I feel Iike other people did not keep it credible. You have to draw that line right in between them and stay right there and you could go too far rock or too far rap and end up being corny. For me I think it’s all the same attitude and if I don’t feel the music or anything like that, then I don’t think the hood I come from will feel it and I don’t think the rock n roll cats will feel it. I have to really enjoy the music myself to put it out there.
You’ve played with the a cross section of artists such as Wu Tang Clan, 50 Cent, Cypress Hill, Deftones, Staind, Hatebreed and big rock festivals such as Download. How do you find adapting your show to the obvious different types of audiences?
Some situations you have to adapt your show accordingly, but that’s mostly when it comes to the hip-hop. You don’t want to just jump out and rock and roll and scare them. I have to introduce myself as a rapper and show them I can rap and get down. Then after that I bring them to who I am and you know bring out the new stuff to them. If they don’t respect you as a rapper, then they don’t respect what you’re doing.
This might be a tricky question for you to answer and maybe it’s not something that’s a high importance to you, but at this point, who has been more welcoming and receptive of Hyro Da Hero. The hip-hop and rap or rock communities?
I feel like the rock community has been most receptive of it now. Hip-hop just have to get their ears open to it. The rock community, they accept something kind of quick. Raps a little bit more trendy, its whatever is in style at the time, rap is a young mans game, and it’s whatever people are feeding them at the moment. So that’s why I am trying to break hip-hop out of that mould and come out with something new and give them some innovative stuff. That’s basically America too, it’s just all the trendy things, and whatever is cool at the time. Things gravitate towards you, so when you do your stuff, suddenly you will become cool and they will gravitate towards you after a while.
I see Kerrang Magazine has just ranked you at number 37 in the top 50 rock stars in the world today. Do you find some irony that they have ranked you just above Zach de La Rocha from Rage Against The Machine and Chino Moreno from the Deftones, given the numerous comparisons between Hyro and Rage and also your association with Chino?
Yeah yeah, just loved it, that was awesome. It just made me feel happy that I am doing my thing and getting noticed for it. Zach and Chino, there’s some great people man, just to be on the list was cool, I didn’t really care where I was, and being on the list was amazing.
In your own words, you are quoted as saying “when people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a motivational speaker”, can you elaborate a little more on that…
Because I feel like what I am doing is more than hip-hop. I’m trying to lift up the frequency, I want people to vibrate on the high frequency. I want to inspire people, I want to do that, its more that hip-hop, hip-hop nowadays isn’t the same. I feel like I’m a motivational speaker, I lift people’s energy up!
I see you are heading back to the UK later in the year….it seems like they have really taken to Hyro Da Hero!
The UK is more accepting to it, because they like digging some new music. They want to be the first ones that grab onto it, so that’s why a lot of people do great out there. I love it out in England, they really accepted me well. They say they either really, really love you or really, really hate you!
So you are heading back to the UK later in the year, but what’s on for the rest of 2011?
Well I’ve got the UK, then I just want to plan out more touring and all I want to do is just tour, tour, and tour and spread my message out to the world.
And hopefully that will include Australia very soon!
For sure man!
From: Houston, Texas but kickin’ it in Los Angeles
Band members: Daniel Anderson (Idiot Pilot), Paul Hinojos (At The Drive In/ Sparta/ The Mars Volta) and Blood Brothers Cody Votolato (Guitar) and Mark Gajadhar Drums.
Latest release: Birth.School.Work.Death (2011, 3Wise Records/Sony Music Australia)