Music News

Hate State

It hardly seems strange that Sam Destefano, guitarist and lead screamer for Denver's Hate Fuck Trio, moonlights for a band called Bob's Lawn Service. But when fellow Trio bandmembers Pete Cassidy (bass), Jon Destefano (rhythm guitar) and Sean Weldon (drums) reveal that they're also part of Bob's Lawn Service, the concept of intermarriage between local bands becomes more confusing than ever. To everyone but the Trio, that is.

"Bob's Lawn Service is all the members of the Hate Fuck Trio," Destefano explains. "And we cover Hate Fuck Trio songs. But it's more important than a pseudonym, because it's like a split identity. Bob's Lawn Service is the bad Hate Fuck Trio. They're evil. They're troublemakers. I mean, we're good guys. The Hate Fuck Trio is out for the fun. Bob's will pretend like they're out for fun. But watch your back, man--those guys will fuck you over in a second. They'll really kiss your ass, too. But as soon as you turn your back, man, they'll take your money for beer, they'll ditch you and leave you hanging."

"Dark...mean...fuckers," Cassidy interjects.
"It's a running gag now," Destefano continues, "because when we play as Bob's Lawn Service, everybody comes up to us and they're like, 'You guys cover Hate Fuck Trio songs so much tighter than the Hate Fuck Trio!'"

So where does the Hate Fuck Trio stop and Bob's Lawn Service begin?
"Well, Bob's does play one original song," Cassidy divulges. "It's called 'Bob's Lawn Service.'"

Deadpans Destefano: "Sometimes the Hate Fuck Trio covers it, though."
If the above conversation portrays this quartet--whose members insist that they're a trio despite their actual number--as a pack of hams who love to poke fun at the world, then you've already got a handle on their approach to music. Together they make twangy, wah-wah-treated punk ballads that deal with "profound" subjects such as a burned-out James Bond or a truck driver wannabe who fantasizes about dodging Smokies while double-clutching an eighteen-wheeler.

The group--or groups--got its/their start on a fateful night less than a year ago. According to Destefano, then an accomplished guitarist but a percussion novice, "I used to play my drums like two hours every night and drive my roomies crazy." His plan at the time was to become adept enough on the skins to form a one-man act. "But then one night me and my roomies got this case of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and my brother Jon picked up my guitar and Pete picked up my bass. These guys had never played these instruments before, but we decided to start a band. We wrote like three or four songs that night--two of which we still play--and then later we started really getting into it. Last summer we started practicing for three hours every day."

The result of this rigorous practice schedule is apparent to anyone who's ever seen the Hate Fuck Trio land on a stage. The energy inherent in the sonic onslaughts produced by Destefano (who realized that guitar is the ax for him), Weldon (actually trained on drums) and the two musical novices suggests that they've been performing as a unit for ages. And their tightness isn't going unnoticed. The Hate Fuck Trio is generally playing more than once each week in the Denver area, to audiences that are growing in size. Moreover, they received a good response during a recent one-week tour of prestigious Los Angeles venues. But don't hold your breath waiting for the foursome to move to the Left Coast.

"L.A. is the most disgusting city you can possibly play music in, probably in this nation," Destefano declares. "L.A., man--five billion artsy-serious bands. And every single one of 'em is just banking on it, you know?" He notes, "We're kind of anti-rock and roll. At any moment we catch ourselves being serious, we're like, 'Fuck this, man.'"

For whatever reason, this attitude seems to be paying off. Despite the players' youth and their laziness about marketing themselves, they've already received contract offers from several unnamed indie labels. In addition, they were recently profiled in U magazine, a college-newspaper insert that boasts a circulation of 1.6 million.

If there's any downside to the Hate Fuck Trio's quick success story, it's that so many Denverites are scared away by the act's seemingly angry moniker. But don't assume the appellation masks hidden hostility. "Our name is such a piece of black comedy," Destefano moans. "And so many people don't get it."

Lucky for him there's another band promoting the Trio's music. It's called Bob's Lawn Service.

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Steve Gray