Ho-Ag is an experimental "noise rock" band based in Boston, Massachusetts. Known for melding the creaky musical worlds of 50s and 60s sci-fi films, Waitsian dissonant underworld, and fast-paced math-punk, Ho-Ag has adapted through several line-up changes, guest collaborations, experimental one-off shows, and infrequent Devo cover sets to evolve into a consistently unpredictable band that has earned them comparisons to acts like Six Finger Satellite, The Dismemberment Plan, Brainiac and The Melvins.
Ruhe had been playing in various Boston projects (among them are The Gersch, Cokedealer, Justine, Isle of Citadel and a rumored tryout with Luca Brasi) for nearly ten years by the time he met Parish and Dines, who were looking for a drummer to start a new band with after working together throughout their nearly completed years at Boston University. Practices together began in the fall of 2000 during Parish and Dines' last year at BU.
Guitarist Patrick Kim had grown up with Parish in Lima, Ohio and had just moved to Boston that fall to begin an undergrad program at Tufts University. He became a weekly addition to practices by the fall, although their first official collaboration together in Boston would turn out to be the Walt Meadornack and His All-Stars album Major Problems In American History, recorded at Parish's apartment on a weekend during a visit from Tyler Derryberry, who was living in Columbus, Ohio, attending the Columbus College of Art and Design and performing with The Rancid Yak Butter Tea Party. The album also included Parish's roommate Eric Dill, another Lima native.
It would be a year and half before the group would ever play a show, outside of a house party on Allston's Quint Ave. in May 2001, under the moniker of either "Gef" or "Firebabies", depending on sources.
The summer of 2001 saw frequent tape-trading by the four, who spent the summer apart (Parish in Boston, Kim in Mexico, Dines in San Francisco and Ruhe in New Orleans). They regrouped in the fall and began practicing the basement of a triple-decker house Parish moved into in Jamaica Plain. The group's first show came at The Midway Cafe in May 2002 with the help of Neptune, after Parish had slid a CD of demos and practice recordings into the mail slot of their house down the street from his. The first show was set up by Deb Nicholson ("Eximious Productions") and included the Young Sexy Assassins (their 2nd show), Tunnel of Love, and USAISAMONSTER.
That summer, while Kim spent the months in Africa, Ho-Ag recorded an EP called People Coming Back in Time for Me, which was released at a show opening for the notably influential band Melt-Banana. That winter, they began work on a full-length CD entitled Ho Ag Equals Go At, the cryptic title referencing the unintuitive pronunciation of the band's name and a grammatical allusion to Japanese bands like the Boredoms and Melt-Banana. The CD, engineered and mixed by Parish on an 8-track machine, was released by Mister Records in May 2003.
A tour followed that summer, taking the band as far west as St. Louis and back. That fall, the band performed a few shows with sets stacked nearly full of surf-rock songs as performed by The Ventures, a move for which no explanation was ever given. Shortly after, the band broke with drummer Jonathan Ruhe, who later moved to Los Angeles.
Parish asked Eric Meyer to record drums with the group in January 2004 on a song for a 7" record to be released by Mister Records. Meyer was drumming for The Stairs, a Boston indie-rock band led by Parish's BU friend Ryan Walsh. The recording favor stretched into filling in at a few shows and eventually became full-time membership.
At the same time, Derryberry had decided to move to Boston from Columbus on the heels of the breakup of the Rancid Yak Butter Tea Party. He is a known polygamist. Within a few months, Ho-Ag had been reborn as a 5-piece with Derryberry playing synthesizers and vocals.
A creative shift came about during the summer when the band suddenly found themselves 2 members short for a show (at the legendary Shed in Palmer, Massachusetts) coming up in a week (Meyer had an unexpected commitment with The Stairs and Dines had to fly home to California for an emergency). Parish, Kim and Derryberry decided to write a set's worth of material as a 3-piece with the following setup: Kim on guitar, Parish on a guitar/octave setup split between a guitar rig and a bass rig, and Derryberry on drums, keyboards and vocals (sometimes all 3 simultaneously). A clip of the performance is captured on the 2006 DVD "The Old Store and Shed Video Collection."
The results of this session make up the bulk of the band's 2005 EP Pray for the Worms, again recorded at the practice space on Parish's 8-track. Self-released under the moniker "Hive 35", the CD was the band's first to receive consistent national press and radio airplay.
Coinciding with the release of Worms was the departure of Dines, who had begun classes at art school again. The band quickly picked up a replacement in Nicholas ("Nkls") Ward, who was also playing bass for The Diamond Mines at that time. Two national tours followed that year.
The band spent the winter recording their first full-length together at Machines With Magnets, a Providence, Rhode Island studio run by Keith Souza. The album, The Word from Pluto, was completed in January 2006 and released in September 2006 by Hello Sir Records, whose Bryant Williamson and Mike Albanese the band had met while on tour in Athens, Georgia.
The band embarked for a US tour in April 2006, which was cut short when Parish was mugged outside a friend's apartment in Oakland, California. The incident left Parish in the hospital for 5 days with a broken jaw. The band would not tour again until September, after Parish had recovered and the record had finally been released.
Donna Parker (electronics), Eric Dill (electronics, guitar), Amit Dave (guitar), Tyler Derryberry (keyboards)(pre-membership), Mike Kania (saxophone), Ryan Walsh (guitar, vocals), Matt Brown (guitar, percussion), David Bentley (guitar, cello), Brian Rutledge (trumpet), Joe Marret (bass, percussion), MC Mac Swell (vocals), TD Sidell (vocals), Karen Tsiakals (vocals, keyboards), Brian Church (bass).