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Humans come alive

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Photo courtesy of Humans' Facebook page.
  • Photo courtesy of Humans' Facebook page.

Some of the most influential bands in history are also some of the loudest. Led Zeppelin melted faces with their bombastic "heavy metal." The Dead Kennedys snapped necks with their idiosyncratic hardcore and Rage Against the Machine smashed domes with their visceral funk-rock.

While many turn up their noses at anything loud or fast, there's no denying the pervasiveness of heavy music. Bloomington-by-way-of Warsaw punk act Humans have made a point to keep their music as loud and as weird as possible, pushing the sound barrier at every available opportunity.

Humans began as the one-man project of Joel Henline.

"It started as a recording project I would mess around with every now and then," says Henline, remembering the early days. "I didn't have a band but I had Fruity Loops".

After months of recording songs on the digital audio workstation, Henline decided it was time to turn Humans into a living, breathing band.

"I showed Zachary [Jetter, drummer] a song and he really liked it so we decided to record with live drums," says Henline.

The results of the recording experiment was so pleasing that Jetter and Henline decided to re-record all the initial demos with a live band. Jetter's brother Jeff was recruited to cover bass duties.

The Humans were finally alive.

The trio went to work, cultivating their live chops by playing shows around the state while recording new material. The members' combined musical influences melded together to create Humans' bizarre, unique sound.

"I have a love for many bands that are heavy, fast, technical or odd," says Henline. "We have influences popping up from most genres of music, so instead of writing what I hear in other bands, I try and play what I want to hear. I like music that is different and pushes some sort of boundary. I don't want to create something that I have heard done before."

If their newest release, Milk Pond, is any indication, the band is only getting weirder.

The EP was released by GloryHole Records, a local indie and psych label that has garnered attention releasing EPs and splits from bands like The Kemps and Vacation Club and captured NUVO's Best of Indy award for local labels. There's no denying that the rest of the Glory Hole roster rocks, but the addition of Humans came as a bit of a surprise

"We met Jimmy [Peoni, owner of GloryHole Records] on one of our last days of tour last year," says Henline. "We had headed over to [Muncie's] Village Green Records to drop off some of our CDs. Jimmy was there dropping off some GloryHole stuff at the same time and he loved the art and packaging of our CDs, said we stunk of beer and sweat and decided that he wanted to release something of ours."

With the bond forged between band and label, Humans began constructing the songs that would become Milk Pond.

"Most of the songs on Milk Pond are about the unexpected and (pauses) about looking at things in a new perspective and finding inspiration where inspiration normally doesn't exist. It's about milkmen and paperboys and evening TV. It's about naked guys squatting in milk."

Milk Pond is a blistering opus of punk rock fury marked by odd time signatures and abrasive riffs. "Vagrant Dead" opens the EP, a roaring math-rock track that pummels the listener from start to finish.

"Screen Memory" slows down the pace, but showcases the band's impressive musicality. Overall, the guitar work is superb and the breakneck rhythms are executed by impeccable drumming.

With the release of Milk Pond, local music is taking a bold step towards tearing down the barbed wire that separates the various scenes. Milk Pond has the potential to cross- pollinate Indianapolis music and launch new mutations of familiar sounds.

Henline is already excited about the new direction of the Bloomington-Indianapolis music scenes.

"Seeing new house venues and bands pop up is always exciting," he says.

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