There’s a line wrapped around the Hollywood Palladium on a Friday night for the opening the Hounds of Hell tour. Fans dressed in hues ranging from jet black to atrocious neon are ready to take on the night for the nationwide co-headlining event with electro mavens Tommy Trash and Wolfgang Gartner. Inside, dancers fill the ample space as lasers shuffle between the shadows. The energy from all the bodies is contagious and the feeling of connectivity among the crowd is undeniable. Glow-in-the-dark cups, which are a signature of the venue, are picked up off the floor and stacked high, with many people hurrying to finish their drinks just to add to the tier. If you were looking for a feeling of eclectic togetherness, this was the place.
Back stage, there’s an energy, but it’s more an energetic angst. The number of men communicating on walkie-talkies frantically perambulating the corridor and back entrance far outweighs the amount of VIP on-lookers. As I’m bounced around between tour managers, it becomes quite apparent that if there were a schedule for the night, it’s clearly been thrown out the window by now. But amidst the chaos, in a room painted a terrible shade of green, is a rather calm and chipper pair of friends, whose grace and sarcasm are a welcomed change to the frenzy that’s transpiring around them. Somehow, the walls of the dressing room are withstanding the monstrous opening set put on by Bass Kleph and through the shakes and trembles, I sit down with an anxious and seemingly unfazed Tommy Olsen and Joey Youngman (aka Tommy Trash and Wolfgang Gartner, respectively).
It’s the first night of the Hounds of Hell tour. How you guys feeling? How’s your energy level?
Wolfgang Gartner: The energy on a bus tour on the first night is always hectic as hell. I mean, we’re both using this production and this is the first night we’ve used it. It was built just for this tour. We’re only gonna use it for this tour, unless we play future shows together.
Tommy Trash: Can we say what it is?
Well, by the time this interview comes out, there will be pictures and reviews already so…
WG: Yeah, yeah, so first of all, it’s hectic. It’s the first day of a bus tour; you’re about to live on a bus for the next five weeks. So we both have two tour buses: he’s got his bus, I’ve got my bus, we’ve each got…
Bus on bus on bus?
TT: Yeah, it’s like battle of the buses.
WG: It’s nice to play in your home city as the first day of a bus tour, but then on the flipside, Palladium is a big show and it’s an important show for me and it’s kinda nice to be warmed up and in the groove of things. Last time, Palladium was the last stop on the tour for me. I just had it down ’cause I had been touring for five weeks and I’m like…
Let’s do this!
WG: Yeah! But now, it’s like this is the first show of the bus tour, chaos, the Palladium, big show, big capacity. There usually isn’t any pressure involved, but there is today—for me, anyway.
TT: Yes, I’m quite flustered.
Oh, wow. Yeah, I see the flustered look in your eyes.
TT: Yeah, my body is sayin’ it. It’ll be fine once I get out there and start playing and it usually just evolves.
WG: And that’s usually how it works: You get up there and three minutes into it, you’re good.
Tell me about the Hounds of Hell theme. Are you guys fans of The Hound of Baskervilles? Hell hounds?
WG: That’s really like… our managers are really good at branding and really cool imagery and ways to separate us from the rest of every dance artist. So we were like, “What is nobody else doing?” Everyone’s doing this nice, ravey artwork and the letters are all bubbly and it all looks the same and we’re like, “Let’s do an ’80s rock hair tour.”
TT: [Tossing his hair] I came prepared earlier.
WG: The concept was actually built around his hair.
TT: [Laughs] It’s built around the Wolf and the Hair. I actually wanted to call the tour Hair Wolf, but my manager shot me down.
You guys just recently released “Hounds of Hell,” the song. Did you guys knock it out in the studio or did you send files back and forth?
WG: Back and forth. Each of us had a folder of scratch ideas that we hadn’t finished yet. We ended up using something that he had started, kind of like a general outline of the idea, which is like the main melody for “Hounds of Hell.” Then I kind of took that and built the drop and continued to send back and forth…
That’s cool to hear, ’cause you can definitely hear where both of your styles shine through in different parts of the song and it comes together perfectly.
WG: Yeah, exactly. You hear Tommy’s drums, you hear things that are me. Sometimes people think it’s backwards; some people think I wrote the melody and he wrote the drop.
TT: People have no idea what the fuck is going on [laughs].
WG: [Laughs] Yeah, like, don’t analyze it, just listen to it.
Tommy, in our last interview, you said that with collaborations, sometimes artists will have to compromise on parts of a song to finish the project. Were there any compromises for “Hounds of Hell”?
WG: I was more happy with this than most of the shit I do myself [laughs]. Which is rare, because most of the time there is a compromise.
TT: Ya know, I’ve gotta say, most of the times with collabs, there is sort of like, maybe not doing shit the way you want [to do] it, but this was just fucking really easy. We have a really good chemistry.
Well, I’d imagine you’d have to have some chemistry to agree to go on tour together…
WG: [Pointing to Tommy] He’s pretty much the only person I actually like [laughs].
WG: [Laughs] Yeah, in the DJ industry, anyway; they’ve all got attitudes.
I don’t know if I should agree or not.
TT: [Laughs] There’s so much I wanna say right now!
How’s Kindergarten doing?
WG: It’s really failing right now. We’re about to go into Chapter 9… Just a really lackluster relaunch.
Except for the latest “Hounds of Hell” release…
WG: No, that’s looking like it’s gonna flop too. It’s just a really dark time for us right now [laughs].