Some creative partnerships are forged because the relationship between artists produces memorable, high-quality work. You know who I’m talking about—Mustaine and Friedman, Downing and Tipton, Hetfield and Hammett, et al. Modern heavy metal has plenty of them too: Hinds and Kelliher, Duplantier and Andreu, Harrison and Waldo.
Though all of the aforementioned partnerships are legendary in their own right, Hatebeak‘s Blake Harrison and Waldo the South African gray parrot—who you may recognize from Decibel‘s bi-weekly For Those About to Squawk column—are a unique entity. Formed by Pig Destroyer noisemaker and samples overseer Blake Harrison and ex-Triac guitarist Mark Sloan in 2003, the grind/death metal duo recruited Waldo to squawk, shriek and caw over their music. The end result is kind of like Obituary’s Slowly We Rot—it’s metal and there are vocals, but nothing is actually being said.
Hatebeak released a demo in 2003 plus splits with Longmont Potion Castle, Caninus and Birdflesh before entering hibernation in 2007. The trio reactivated in 2015 for their first LP, The Number of the Beak, which brings us their latest release: Birdhouse by the Cemetery, a split with Richard Christy’s guinea-pig-trio-fronted Boar Glue.
In 2011, Christy (ex-Death, Charred Walls of the Damned, ex-Iced Earth) adopted his guinea pig Sugar and began to put the sounds Sugar and “siblings” Taco and Tico made to music.
“When I started doing this music, it was just for fun and to try out new guitar plugins on Pro Tools,” Christy tells Decibel. “Little did I know it would lead to an incredible vinyl album split with Hatebeak!”
Christy claims that his guinea pigs have an unlikely past in the extreme metal underground.
“All three piggies had a black metal band called Lettuce Eater back in Peru,” the former Death drummer explains. “They were so underground that they literally lived underground. You won’t find anything about them on the internet, that’s how metal they were. They hitched a ride with a hedgehog sludge metal band called Hogicide that was touring South America, made their way to NYC and the rest is history!”
Tragically, Sugar, Taco and Tico passed away a number of years ago, but Christy stresses that their artistic legacies live on because of Birdhouse by the Cemetery, where they tackled a variety of subject matter.
The trio focus on lyrics about their toys, food and their namesake.
“They also sing about boar glue, for which the band is named,” Christy says. “It is basically guinea pig sperm, and when Taco first met Tico he was so excited that he released boar glue onto him, which fortunately we were able to get out of his fur immediately.”
Waldo, for his part, is less talkative. The parrot has been busy pecking seeds, listening to slam, falling asleep when his cage is covered with a sheet, practicing mimicry and getting his real estate license.
“Who wouldn’t buy a house from a parrot?” he wonders.
He says that Christy approached Harrison and Sloan about the release, and the rest is history. Christy confirms that he’s been a fan of Hatebeak since he met Harrison prior to Hatebeak officially releasing music, but it took time to gather samples and finish the music.
Christy is confident that Boar Glue will have an enduring legacy despite their inability to play live or make appearances.
“They’ll be the Steely Dan of guinea pig bands, recording albums and not touring, except Boar Glue’s music is way better!”
Waldo isn’t so sure there are any animal-fronted bands that can outshine Hatebeak and Boar Glue regardless of what they do next.
“Who else is there?” he asks. “Caninus? I did a split with them too, so… not jealous.”