Arkansas-based band My Hands To War recently took the time to answer some of my questions. While currently riding the wave of a viral video, they will release a new single on February 24th. We discussed their upcoming show with Norma Jean, their description of the perfect omelette, and more.
All questions were answered by Justin Cole (guitarist/vocalist) unless otherwise specified.
Q: My Hands To War formed over 12 years ago. How have you evolved as a band throughout those years? Is there anything you have learned the hard way that you wish you would have known before?
A: The evolution was honestly natural. At first, we started like we are now, just less refined. We had a lot of members come and go and they each contributed to the sound we were playing at the time, but once it boiled down to just a core group we felt that what worked first actually works best. We learned early on cutting our teeth in the local music scene that you have to work hard to even be acknowledged, but once you start grinding and paying your dues, the scene is ultra supportive. I definitely wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to not doubt so much and to trust in other people because this band is very important to all of us and we just want that focus to be the same and not waver from as much outside influence. Also the current group of guys we have in here now are the guys I wish we had from the beginning. Our ideas run pretty concurrent with each other and even when we butt heads, there’s constructive ideas that come out of that and it works out for the better in the end.
Q: What music is currently on your radar that you feel others may not be aware of but need to check out?
A: For me personally, I’m always jamming Every Time I Die (a collective band favorite). More recently, Loathe from the UK just put out an incredible full-length that everyone should go check out if they want an experience rather than just songs put together in sequence. I’m also really digging Sleep Token (also from the UK) and Car Bomb’s newest outing. But there are a ton of local bands around here that deserve a lot of attention as well such as Terminal Nation, Go For Gold, Petal Weather, Past Comfort, Abimael, Colour Design, Census, and Any Given Room. All those bands have music/content coming out this year I do believe.
Q: So there was a video of you guys that went viral in recent days. It shows you making an omelette during your set at a show. How did that come about? Was it something funny you planned or just an impulsive idea?
A: Okay so this question seems to be popping up a lot on the video itself and it stems from Cory, our drummer, never wanting to play a house show with this band because we do have a very energetic performance. But the stipulation was that Todd, our vocalist, had to make food during the set and give it to someone to eat. Originally, it was supposed to be a hot dog, then turned into frying an egg, and last minute, it became an omelette. And the rest is history from that point.
Q: How do you guys feel about that video going viral? Has anything cool resulted from it that you are able to share?
A: Honestly we had no idea it would be as big as it is. It’s been crazy. The cool thing is that more eyes are getting on our pages and people are asking about music and stuff like that. We’ve had people from other states and even other countries ask us if we’d ever come to their local spot and play. Possibly to have food cooked for them, but hey if we make some new friends that way, I’m totally fine with that. Food is a great equalizer. And we gained a management company now because of the interest generated and that’s an awesome thing. We also never realized how much we’d have to spell “omelette”.
Q: Okay, since we’re on the topic, I have to ask… How would you describe the ideal omelette? What all do you put in it?
A: Justin – Steak, Monterey jack cheese, black olives, onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
John – Eggs, spinach, Feta cheese, grape tomatoes, and Valentina Black Label sauce.
Cory – Cage free eggs, sharp white cheddar shredded, salt, pepper, cooked in real butter. Side of bacon.
Cody – Ham, bacon, extra sharp cheese blend, cage free eggs, and chives with a side of curry ketchup.
Todd – Eggs, cheese, meat, salt, and pepper. Topped with salsa.
Q: Aside from cooking during a set, do you guys tend to do a bunch of stage antics? Has anything weird ever happened during a show that you’d like to share?
A: Stage antics, I’d say kind of? We’re a very energetic band and really feed off energy regardless of if it’s a huge crowd or it’s just us. Todd has hung from rafters and even crowd-surfed from the stage to the bar, got a drink, and made it back without touching the ground. We do like to get the crowd as involved as possible though. An old song of ours has a part where Todd usually invites as many people that can fit on the stage and they dance with us, usually during one of the breakdowns in it. In the past, we’ve all kind of hurt each other/ourselves. Never intentionally though. I’ve definitely hit Todd in the head a few times and I gave him a concussion on tour a long time ago. In the moment, no one really notices any pain. Our true catharsis is through the performance and energy we put out to each other and we vibe off that. We’re definitely not as young as we used to be, but we still give it all we got.
Q: On social media, you have been teasing the release of a new single on February 24th. Can you tell me anything about the single, or what it means to you?
A: Yeah! So the single is called “Postfulgurate”, meaning ‘after a bright flash of light’ which is mentioned in the lyrics. The song itself is the end of a story to an album we are currently writing. We showed some friends the song long before it was actually recorded and one person suggested we “Star Wars” it by putting the single first, THEN telling the story it concludes. I feel like the song itself really hits on all aspects of the band. It’s got changing time signature parts, shifts in mood, a good blend of singing and screaming, and a nice drive that carries throughout. It’s a little unpredictable and I think our fans and anyone who listens to it will enjoy it because that’s kinda just how we are as a unit. Personally, the lyrics and music are both something I am incredibly proud of as a musician/writer, and my guys fully supported my vision on this song from the first note. It’s about losing an incredible piece of your history and that feeling of loss and despair when you open your eyes after a tragic event. That feeling of uncertainty you get when someone you love and care about disappears before your eyes almost.
Q: Later this month you get to play a house show with Norma Jean. How cool is that? What bands would you dream of supporting on tour?
A: Honestly, that’s blown my mind more than the video has haha. I have a terrible track record when it comes to booking. I’m mostly the musical whiz in the band and it happened kinda out of nowhere. I posted a flyer for the house show where we cooked the omelette to my personal IG story and one of the guitarists from Norma Jean that I’m friends with asked about it, got in touch with the owner of the house, and voila. It was almost instant. Bands that we would love to support on tour would be Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, ’68, To Speak Of Wolves, and The Chariot (RIP), but we would also thrive in any sort of tour situation where we have to prove ourselves. We don’t pander to any particular audience and our fans are from a wide variety of scenes. We would love to make people try to follow along rather than let them dictate where we go.
Q: Any more shows on the horizon at this point?
A: We are working on some more out of town shows this spring, just waiting on confirmations and stuff for that. We have some local show ideas but we’re currently not spilling any beans just yet. Most of us in the band, mainly myself, have a hard time not telling people the things we’re working on so we’re trying to be better about that haha. We’re eyeing Dallas, Tulsa, New Orleans, and Orlando at the moment. We have friends and connections in all these places. It’s just trying to line everything up and make everything work in our favor.
Q: Is there anything else going on with the band currently that you’d like to mention?
A: Currently, we’re just riding the wave and letting things happen as they come. We really set out for this to be the year where the push was gonna happen and lo and behold, this crazy beautiful thing fell into our laps. Now we just keep that same energy and move forward as far as we can go. We are also prepping and finalizing songs for our upcoming full length which is a really dark story that I can’t wait for people to experience with us.
Photo Credit: Kurt Lunsford
Video Credit: Brett Cole Photography