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Taking a stand

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Black Halos’ Billy Hopeless doesn’t back down from a challenge

WHO: The Black Halos

WHERE: The Boot Pub

WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 19

Blood, sweat and piss. It’s the commitment The Black Halos bring to their music and their audience each time they step on stage.

The Halos are a return to the spirit and the danger of everything ’70s – and just a little more. Their growling sound and glam-black image has inevitably earned them comparisons to the New York Dolls in just about every review. But make no mistake, while the Halos admittedly admire the energy of their predecessors, they’re quickly gaining a reputation that could make the Dolls look like Big Apple cutie pies.

"It’s a nice comparison, but I don’t necessarily think we’re like the Dolls," says Halos frontman, Billy Hopeless. "The Dolls were so way ahead of everything, so original. They were encompassing everything that was good about rock and roll. They were taking things from the ’50’s and ’60’s, girl groups and doo-wop. Stuff that has been missing from rock and roll in a lot of ways – the fun aspect of rock and roll and the sexuality of rock and roll, the real sort of teenage kid feeling."

Interesting that a band typically classified as "punk" insists that it is "rock" that appeals to listeners.

"There’s a set of older people that really like us and young people that really like us, and then there’s the crowd that when they first see us on stage go ‘What the hell?’ And then they’ll hear us and say ‘My god, that’s rock and roll!’"

Hopeless draws inspiration from as far back as the birth of it all and The Pelvis himself, Mr. Elvis Presley. The King was the first notable sex symbol of the music world, an image that at the time was indeed dangerous.

"Was there anything sexier than Elvis in his black leathers? You could ask my mother and she would say ‘No, there isn’t’," adds Hopeless. "Back then they used to write songs about things people could understand. No one was trying to be deep and spiritual. It was basically boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy dies in car crash."

But the time warp and musical cross over doesn’t stop there. Hopeless really counts himself as a blues man, with emphasis on his lyrics. If you take a good look at the Halos’ songs, they really are an evolution of the traditional, "my baby left me, life is so sad and now I’m crying in my beer." Take 50 Bourbon St., for example, from their latest CD The Violent Years : "If there’s a Lover’s Graveyard, I’m sure she’s digging me a grave. I’m sure my marker will read ‘World’s Biggest Sucker for a Pretty Face’… Now I’m loving the bottle. I’m trying to kill the pain."

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