His Hero Is Gone, The Odum, Chicago

The first time I had heard of His Hero Is Gone was seeing a Prank Records ad in MRR, probably at the tail end of my junior year of high school, in 1996. I thought the artwork for their record 15 Counts Of Arson looked awesome, so I took a gamble and ordered it from Vacuum.

Quick aside: Vacuum was a mail order distro out of San Francisco for punk and hardcore records. This was in the days before the internet became the driving force for, well, everything, though it may be hard for some people to believe that. Or even understand the huge impact it had on music, and underground music in particular.

You see, when I was growing up, we found out about bands in one of three ways:

  1. Word of mouth,
  2. Saw them opening for another band you liked, or
  3. Zines.

In other words, you had to work at it.

Which isn’t to say that it was better back then; just radically different. That being said, there was definitely a thrill of discovery that is absent today, which I suppose is something.

So yeah, Vacuum. Vacuum was a mail order distro run by a guy named Timojhen Mark. You’d pick the titles you wanted, calculate postage, send in well-concealed cash and wait a couple of weeks (at least to Chicago) for your records to arrive. The thing that was awesome about Vacuum, aside from the killer selection, was the fact that he had a little description of each record that told you what it sounded like. So a lot of time we would just browse the list and order shit that sounded like it would be good. We got into a lot of cool bands that way, and to this day I’m grateful for the service he provided.

We had placed an order with Vacuum and if memory serves correctly, we got it the day of our junior prom. I remember getting the Jihad CD and the HHIG CD. I don’t remember what Todd got.

So there we were, driving to the place that prom was at, and we popped in His Hero Is Gone for the first time, and HOLY SHIT. It was, at the time, the most brutal thing I’d ever heard in my entire life. I absolutely loved it.

I saw them live twice: once at the Fireside Bowl with, if memory serves correctly, Burned Up Bled Dry, Rash of Beatings, Resin and Los Crudos; and once at the Odum, where this picture is from. I’m feeling like at The Odum they played with E-150 from Spain and maybe MK Ultra, but I can’t remember for some reason. They were only decent live the two times I saw them, which was something of a letdown in light of how fucking vicious their records were. The second time the place was fucking packed, though, and people were going absolutely fucking nuts, which was awesome.

Regardless, they’re still one of my favorite bands of all time and have been a huge influence on me, both musically and personally. Their album Monuments to Thieves is, in my opinion, one of the best records ever made.

Prank Records has kept their first two records in print, though Feral Ward (formerly Great American Steak Religion) has let their last two recordings (The Plot Sickens LP and the Fool’s Gold 7″) slip out of print.

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