Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Hutch Harris and The Thermals that he commands have one setting that we know of. It's a pistol-whipped, held down, repressed but still swinging and exploding in your face kind of offering that dispenses a blaring convulsion and kiss off to powers that be and powers that deserve to be revolted against. It's an abrupt and biting response to so many things, framed in the sort of outcry that doesn't have to be worked into a lather, as it's always frothy and smoking -- scorching to the touch. People have overturned parked cars with one swift heave on the strength of the adrenaline that the Portland band brews in its authentic plus-force way, sending out daggers, daisy-chained together as beads of incendiary flames and bullets of razor blades that hit like shotgun slugs to the stomach.
You feel a good deal of that ripe and rotten hopeless aggravation in Hutch's words, in the spit that covers his words - a curled lip and tongue - and you hear him breathing heavy as if he's been trying to outrun the atrocities of every day's bigger picture (all that we find almost impossible to slow or change). You hear him taking on the government and the church and all political dirtiness, the scandalous indignities, the human corruption that somehow gets rewarded time and time again, throughout the annals of all history. There's no avoiding the many examples of money triumphing over dignity and honor - of war hunger crowning peace, love and dope. Across all of time, those that think a fair shake is a God-given right or something less religiously other, seem to always get disappointed around the many bends and finer printings of small language. Equity is hidden in the terminology, seen as a masked marauder, different permeations in different shadings and hazes. It comes as no surprise that interpretations come in millions of sizes and Harris, bassist Kathy Foster and drummer Lorin Coleman offer one that coughs up blood and looks you directly in the eye. Heart attacks aren't as serious, but they're much less fun.
The Body, The Blood, The Machine is a freighter laden with heavy, heavy consciousness and a version of clarity. It holds a belief that most of us are pawns - or seen as pawns - used for purposes in a twisted, real life version of Stratego, only the consequences are real and the casualties are realer. There is real blood in this game and there are hard and wet tears that leave a permanent track down a cheek. The anger that is dredged up or formulated is the kind that one doesn't shake for it has no cure. An American presidency as back as the one led by the George W. administration isn't one that can be remedied when another election happens at the end of the year. It will stain and Harris knows this quite well. It's harder to be angry about something that could just get wiped away like greasy fingerprints from a window, but these last many years of senseless war and selfish, monumental decisions are such pointless exhibitions of a destructive one-track mind that they'll remain as burn marks. Harris computes them and internalizes them as a steer takes to a branding iron. It's as if he can smell his own hide burning there on the ass, the initials of someone else's name and ideology grilled into his hair. How he takes it is by raging back, by calling the president and his minions out in his own little way. It's personal and confrontational and it couldn't be any more compelling. It's such constructive criticism - the thought that "I might need you to kill" is taken just like a grain of salt or brought up as a simple mundane favor akin to picking up some bread, if you wouldn't mind, on the way home from the office - that it will never be heeded. That alone cultivates enough ire to make four more records.