An Interview with H.R. of Bad Brains

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Paul D. Hudson, AKA H.R. (Human Rights), is a pioneer within the genre of Hardcore Punk. As some of the earliest pioneers hailing from the now legendary D.C. Punk Rock scene, Bad Brains, led by H.R. morphed from a Jazz Fusion band early on, only to become one of the leaders within Hardcore by combing Punk, Reggae, and Rastafarian influences, blended at breakneck speed. Simply put, without Bad Brains, there is no “Hardcore.”

Today I’ve got the one and only H.R. with us. We chat about his upcoming new music, what it means to be punk, some of his old favorites, and more. If you’d like to learn more about Bad Brains, head over to their website here. Enjoy.

Andrew:
H.R., thank you for taking the time to speak with us here. It’s been such an odd time. How are you holding up?

H.R.:
I’m holding up great. I have been focusing on reading and writing, and recording in the studio, and getting ready to tour in the near future (top secret). It has been a time of transformation for me and a new beginning. I have been learning to go through meditation and healing, making things brighter.

Andrew:
Your last solo record was 2019’s Give Thanks. Are you currently working on any new material at this time?
 

I’m working with Jordan, AKA Boots, on a top-secret project. Jordan has worked with Beyoncé, Run The Jewels, etc. I am also working with Ted, from Passafire, on new music.

Andrew:
Let’s talk about the idea of “being punk.” You’re about as OG as it gets, so what does Punk mean to you? Is it a genre? A way of life or an aesthetic?

H.R.:
It’s all of the above, and it’s also a new way of making new music come together with reggae music. I always wanted my friends and family to understand that we are all one people and want people to be part of the scene and grow positively.

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Andrew:
In a world that’s been so confined by the constraints of big business and the alienation caused due to the internet age, how do artists find their footing these days? What advice would you have for younger artists?

H.R:
I would advise them to stay in school and keep their jobs while playing good music. I also would recommend to them to read the Bible, or if they are not religious, they for sure must find peace within themselves and meditate.

Andrew:
As an artist, who are some of your biggest influences? Who are the obvious ones, and maybe some not-so-obvious ones?

H.R.:
I do like the Meditations, Israel Vibrations, Bob Marley, James Brown, and The Beatles.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Cassettes? Or are you all digital? Regardless of format, where do you like to shop for music?

H.R.:
I love vinyl, and I think we will be going back to vinyl. I think cassettes are out of date and CDs have – different sound than vinyl as it is more compressed. With albums, you get a much greater sound that is much larger.

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Andrew:
What are some of your favorite albums, and why? Ones that mean the most to you.

H.R.:
I like The Beatles album that had “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The reason why I like that song is that they were just kids having fun.

I like The Meditations because they were so positive and years ahead of their time. I also love Bob Marley’s album, Survival, because it talks about real stuff we had to go through with slavery.

I also love Stevie Wonder because he played good music, and he reminded us that we must never forget our African roots and was always positive.

Andrew:
Outside of music, what are some of your greatest passions? How do those passions inform your music, if at all?

H.R.:
I love Rastafari because he has taught us to maintain, gain, believe and achieve a much more enlightened way to live and to have a better industry in Ethiopia. After all, it wasn’t structured well, and he improved their lives by bringing structure to it.

I love celebrating my birthday! It is essential to enjoy life, and my birthday celebrates that.

Andrew:
Last question: You’ve been at it for over 40 years. You’ve been a member of one of the greatest Punk Rock bands ever. So, as a veteran of the “scene,” what would be your advice for bands/artists who have just decided to take the plunge?

H.R.:
I want the artists/bands to remember that they must practice their skills to get better. Also, it is essential for them never to give up.

HR of Bad Brains Homepage

Interested in learning more about the work of Bad Brains? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.
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