If there's no rest for the wicked, this punk rock doc must be pure evil ...
Published: March 30, 2011
By day, Dr. Jamie Hall practices medicine at the Herman Kiefer Clinic in Detroit. As evening descends he's MD2020, frontman for "bootycore originators" HafLife.
Like Rob Zombie, Hall obsessions include B-movies, comic books, hot-rods and chicks, and his blood-and-gasoline-splattered lyrics reflect this with unrestrained glee. The "punk rock doctor" freely admits that he likes to live life "in the fast lane," though this interview was delayed because Hall had to pause to stop a patient from bleeding "all over the place."
HafLife's third full-length, Nightcrawler, is out now and, predictably, it's a whole lot of drive-in fueled fun. We yakked with Hall about the blood on his hands ...
Metro Times: Is your patient OK?
Dr. Jamie Hall: They'll live to fight another day.
MT: Explain bootycore?
Hall: Bootycore is a bastard hybrid of industrial, electronic music and Detroit R&B funk. For the most part I invented it and I'm gonna stake my claim to it.
MT: What are you a doctor of?
Hall: Mostly urgent care. Primarily in Detroit, but I do prostitute myself to other counties.
MT: Do your patients know what you do outside work?
Hall: Some do, some don't, and some can only wonder.
MT: Do you not get enough blood splatter at work? Why would you sing about it?
Hall: That's the best question I've ever been asked. The truth is, people who know me as a musician first are filled with shock and awe, and wonder if I'm the nut who'll be seeing them. Then there's shock and awe that I'm a musician from people who know me as a doctor first. I'm not sure it's a complement or an insult, but I'll take both.
MT: Do you relate to Rob Zombie?
Hall: I love Rob. Especially in the early days — it was right on the mark. The drive-in is one of the last great American excesses.
MT: Has the HafLife sound changed over your three albums?
Hall: The sound has gotten a little more live-sounding. ... We were supposed to play Movement one year, and the rumor is that Derrick May himself would not allow us to play because there's too much guitar in our music. We ran with that and just put more guitar into the electronic music.
MT: What themes do you explore on the new record?
Hall: Paranoia, love, obsessions, compulsions — things like that. And, of course, the endless, relentless need for speed.
MT: Describe the HafLife live show. Don't you wear gasmasks?
Hall: It's sort of vaudeville with 100,000 volts behind us. There's a famous quote, I think, by Hank Williams Sr., when asked why he and his band wore flashy, outrageous suits. He said, "These people work hard for their money and they don't want to see somebody up on stage who looks like them, they wanna see a show." That's what we do. ... We're sick of people thinking that the music will speak for itself because usually it doesn't.
MT: Who are your heroes?
Hall: Tom Waits, Michael Gira of Swans, and Poison Ivy [Cramps].
MT: What do you do to relax?
Hall: Either jumping out of planes or racing snowmobiles. Occasionally I'll read a book but it has to be one that goes really fast.
HafLife plays Saturday, April 2, at Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739; with Deathlab and 1592.
> Email Brett Callwood