Halal, How Are You?

There are some occasions as a writer when you wonder what the hell you’re doing. I’m standing in front of a sealed plexiglass enclosure, watching a crazed looking individual huddled in one corner, two strait jackets firmly strapped around his chest.

Max, bass player for Sydney garage band Halal, How Are You? stands next to me, deeply engrossed in a clipboard. He starts to mutter something about medication. A plaque bolted to the front of the cage reads ‘Zacc’ and it all starts to dawn on me. He’s the lead singer of Halal. I ask Max why he’s here.

“Yeah, I think that’s just Zacc. He’s always been like that since we started. He’s a bit, I guess, still like that even when we’re playing. A little bit sort of… crazy.”

Zacc’s eyes light up at the mention of his name.. He slowly rises to his feet, back still pressed firmly to the walls behind him. I quickly turn to see if Max has noticed this activity. He’s still engrossed in the clipboard, flipping pages frantically back and forwards.

Not wanting to hang around too long, I start firing off questions. I ask Max what’s on the horizon here, what I should be expecting.

“Um… Dunno. Not too sure at the moment. Lot of things coming up. Starting to get more and more gigs at the moment. Um… I mean, it’s just sorta coming to a point where um… Tryin’ to figure out a plan of action.”

Zacc starts yelling nonsensical phrases at the top of his voice. “Are there any zombie ladies in the house tonight?! I don’t want any starfish fucking!” I ask Max if all this craziness inspires the frantic energy in the band.

“Ah… Not necessarily just that, I think we all sort of thrive off each other and bounce off each other like that.

“I dunno ’cause we’ve been friends for a long time and it all started back in high school, just mucking around and I think that helped us a lot in uh… being able to do what we do now as in like, um… The way that we work off each other and all that sort of stuff.”

So they draw inspiration from each other, I ask, feeling increasingly nervous. “Yeah, that’s what I’m sayin’” Max starts looking worried too, the results of his manic reading obviously not to his satisfaction.

“O.K. has anyone ever maybe felt like they wanted to touch a video game in ways they might not otherwise?” Zacc yells out again, now taken to tip-toeing around his cell. I try to get Max’s attention by mentioning their recently released live album, Live at Halaloween.

“Yeah, that was really fun. We just um… recorded it on a whim at a show in our friend’s house.” He doesn’t look up from the pages in front of him.

“Think it was his birthday so we just threw a big um… halloween party at their place and uh…” Zacc stops and pivots in his place to face us. “We played in their garage and um… his band played also and um… just sort of scrounged together a few mikes and um…”

I get the feeling things are starting to turn, as Max mutters on. “Dodgy sort of sixteen track mixer and um… set it up as best we could and just had a lot of fun in this tiny little garage and just recorded it all.”

I quickly press Max as to whether Zacc was dressed in his strait jackets when they recorded the album. “We did the halloween thing. I’m not sure, but I think Zacc was meant to be Lesley Addams.”

That must be some weird mix of Pugsley and Wednesday. Max motions towards the exit, watching as Zacc tears the buckles on his strait jacket. I back away slowly, asking where this guy came from.

“Zac was a… I think he was a hooker that catered exclusively to clowns.”

That at least makes some sense. I turn towards the stairs, noticing Max reaching for a syringe over my shoulder before I make my escape.

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