The end is nigh for Atlanta's experimental psych-rock outfit Hello Ocho, but only sort of. “We don’t want to say that anything we do will be the last thing we do,” says singer and guitar player Chris Yonker. “But Hello Ocho, as it exists in its current configuration of players, will soon be no more.”
It’s a cryptic and noncommittal statement, but Yonker, keyboard player and singer Christian Shepherd, percussionist John Gregg, vibraphone player Chris Childs and bass player Clinton Callahan have long blurred the lines between reality and hallucination with their music. “Tear Wagon,” the most recent single from Hello Ocho’ second album, In Portuguese, came with a hell-ride video juxtaposing deli meats and other sandwich making ingredients with scenes of armed robbery, violence and debauchery—a cautionary tale steeped in abstract symbolism.
Since 2011, the group has carved a place for itself amid Atlanta’s hippie avant-garde music and arts scenes by plunging headlong into the outer limits of crash-and-smash rhythms and manic rock jams that hang in a balance of ferocity and dreamlike beauty.
In Portuguese was self-released on CD last April. Local fanfare and an intense run of shows playing DIY spots across the country seemed to build momentum for the group. But with the January arrival of In Portuguese on vinyl comes news that the group’s members are parting ways.
A short farewell tour kicks off at the 40 Watt tonight and ends at the Mammal Gallery in Atlanta on Jan. 27. Yonker doesn’t want to say that it’s the last time Hello Ocho plays Athens, but it is the last time this lineup of players will be on the road, at least for a long, long time.
“We’re still friends,” he adds. “We’ll continue doing random things together, but it’s hard to get us all in the same room at the same time. So we’re just going to let it go for a while and see where it ends up.”
Hello Ocho plays a free show at the 40 Watt Club Monday, Jan. 9 with Crunchy, Juan de Fuca and the Gary Eddy Band.