What I Learned at Bandcamp: Hug of War
Hug of War has been playing shows around Phoenix since 2011. Sole member Jason Kron mixes rap with punk to produce music that’s made for having a good time. In February 2015, Hug of War released its third EP, Emancipate Your Ears! 5000 Years of Global Music Domination Exposed!!. The four-track album, along with prior releases, is available to stream on Bandcamp.
Read The Spec‘s interview with Hug of War, below…
Tell us a little about yourselves…
My name is Jason Kron. I perform under the name Hug of War and I run a Phoenix venue called Funny World.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been making music since I was 13. I was in punk and metal bands, then played acoustic guitar songs under name Hug of War for a spell, and switched to my current style three years ago because it was just way more fun. I figured if the Beastie Boys could play one style, then start playing something more rap-based and keep the same name, why couldn’t I?!
Who/what are your influences?
Getting into punk in my teens made me realize that starting a real band with what you had was actually possible, and that the idea of community is so much cooler than playing music with the naive goal of becoming famous. The Make-Up was a band who addressed many of the same topics as those playing more straight-ahead punk. However, they did so while dressed up, playing music that was more gospel influenced, and using their own language in a way. They’ve been so influential in getting me to integrate styles to try to do my own thing. So, I try to take that attitude and mix it in with my love of ’80’s rap. MC Lyte, Kurtis Blow, Whodini— no matter what they were rapping about, and as silly as it could be, it was always delivered with a sense of righteousness.
What is your favorite song you’ve released and why?
My favorite of mine is “It’s a Thrill Being Mentally Ill.” Though the song’s tongue in cheek, it’s important to me that the stigma of mental illness be erased. When someone’s depressed, it’s “They’re just trying to get attention,” or “They need to get over it and have a can-do attitude!” Mental illness is as real of an illness as anything else, and people that don’t understand it need to keep quiet about it. And those who do deal with it need to take healthy steps towards recovery without the feeling of shame.
Upcoming projects, where do you want to go from here?
I don’t want to be in the box of doing just one thing, and I don’t want to just get by on the gimmick of rapping like so many others have. I want to keep progressing, and I want to write something that will help others get through life as much as other artists have helped me.
If you could no longer be a musician, what would you be or do for a living?
I’ve been interested in social work and teaching art to kids. I want to accomplish in my music what I’d accomplish in those fields–I try to encourage creativity, genuinely help people through telling my stories, and convey to them that no matter how fucked up the world is, each individual has amazing amounts of potential. I’d also like to write more essays and science fiction. Even if I wasn’t making music, I’d always have that drive to document how I view the world.
What musicians or bands do you look up to?
I look up to artists such as Frank Zappa and Devo who’ve been able to integrate playfulness, weirdness, sincerity and social commentary. Too many comedic musicians have no substance, and too many so-called serious musicians are afraid to do anything other than wear black and sound really mad. I also look up to the Fugazis of the world, those who teach the importance of having ethics that go along with your music. And I look up to any musician who is trying to do something sincerely different. If you’re not trying to make something original, which is distinctly you, then what’s the point?
Why do you make music?
For those of us who have problems expressing ourselves in our day-to-day lives, music can be a great way for us to say what we need to say. It’s also a way for us to construct an alternative world that more closely approximates what we want when real life isn’t cutting it.
Anything else you’d like readers to know that we haven’t asked you about?
It took me years to work up the courage to play my own songs in front of others. I’m so glad that I got to that point eventually, but I encourage others to not make the mistake of waiting like I did. It doesn’t matter what equipment you own, or how much formal education you have, or how much people like or dislike or ignore what you do, or whether or not you fit into any scene. The less you fit in, the more you’re on the right track. Oh and by the way, I can be reached at email@example.com!