"We never really fit in, and that's exactly how we wanted it."
That's Connor Garritty, vocalist for L.A. heavy-metal crew All Hail the Yeti, explaining how he sees his band situated within the larger SoCal scene.
True to Garritty's assessment, All Hail the Yeti's sound — as heard on their trio of full-lengths: 2012's All Hail the Yeti, 2016's Screams From a Black Wilderness and 2018's Highway Crosses — is far closer to the Southern groove-laden sludgy style of Acid Bath, Mastodon and Pantera (with a touch of PNW heavies Alice in Chains) than anything from his own hometown's heavy-music history.
Garritty uses AHTY's hardcore-meets–hard rock–meets swampy metal sound as the platform to spin rich tales filled with all kinds of supernatural Americana weirdness: from the Jersey Devil and El Chupacabra to Sasquatch and beyond.
Their approach has earned them a growing grassroots fanbase and cosigns from bands including In This Moment, In Flames, All That Remains, and Life of Agony, all of whom have tapped All Hail the Yeti as tour support.
Garritty and Co. continue their mythical metal mission on this year's new Within the Hollow Earth EP. The seven-song effort was produced by Steve Evetts (Suicide Silence, Every Time I Die, the Dillinger Escape Plan), and features the raging single "Headless Valley," which was inspired by the fabled "Valley of Headless Men" in Canada's Nahanni National Park.
"It totally encompasses everything our sound is about," says Garritty of the new song. "Heavy, melodic storytelling. Classic Yeti sound. No bullshit, real music with real heart and soul."
We recently connected with Garritty — just as All Hail the Yeti were wrapping their fall U.S. tour supporting Jinjer and Suicide Silence — to find out what makes his band tick. Below, the singer walks us through the vision and history of AHTY, his successful career as a tattoo artist and more.
WHO IS ALL HAIL THE YETI? PLEASE GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY ON WHAT INSPIRED THE BAND AND HOW IT CAME TOGETHER.
CONNOR GARRITTY All Hail the Yeti started back in 2006 when myself and the original guitar player had come to the end of our previous bands. We started writing songs in a little room in the back of the tattoo shop I worked at in Los Angeles. We wanted to do something different, new and fresh but that still felt familiar. We wanted to combine sounds from genres that weren't being combined. Our goal was to sound like nothing else out there.
IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE YOUR BAND'S MISSION STATEMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Worship Satan, hail Yeti!
YOUR LYRICS OFTEN EXPLORE DARK AND SUPERNATURAL TOPICS. HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN CURIOUS ABOUT THESE THEMES?
I've just always been drawn to legends, folklore, cryptozoology, paranormal, horror, true crime, serial killers, etc. For me it just always seemed more interesting to tell stories rather than open my heart or dump my personal emotions on our listeners. Sometimes I write about true events that have happened. Sometimes I totally make up a story and escape reality. There is no set method to how I write or how we write musically.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO HEAVY MUSIC?
I have three older brothers, so it was introduced to me very early: Van Halen, KISS, Mötley Crüe, early Eighties rock and metal. My very first memory was being on vacation and my older brothers were cranking Van Halen II and I just remember knowing immediately that I was hooked!
WHO ARE YOUR TOP THREE MUSICAL INFLUENCES WHEN IT COMES TO ALL HAIL THE YETI?
That is such a hard thing to pinpoint. There are four of us and we all have such broad musical influences. As for the band as a whole: Acid Bath, Alice in Chains and Pantera.
ALL HAIL THE YETI HAIL FROM LOS ANGELES. HOW DOES YOUR BAND FIT INTO — OR STAND APART FROM — THE SOCAL HEAVY MUSIC SCENE?
We always strived to sound different than our peers and the bands that we were playing with locally back then. And so many genres of heavy music have been popular since we started. We just always kept our noses to the ground and did what we wanted to do. Whatever was popular, we did the opposite. There are not many bands left that started when we did. When you believe in something like we have there is no way to stop it. This band is something that had to come to be. It was always going to happen and thrive. We worked our asses off and paid dues … times 10. When bands do that they stand out. They show the world that they are here to stay!
BEING IN A BAND, WHAT'S THE HARDEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE COME ACROSS SO FAR, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
The hardest part has been four strong personalities that are very different. Over the years we have grown to be very respectful of each other and our quirks. Patience is something that every band needs to master. I think the hardest part about being in a band is losing a key member. We are no strangers to it. Just when you think that things are moving in a great direction. Someone decides that they are done with it. And we are forced to pick up the pieces and continue on. It's a struggle. But again, it's what makes this band so strong. Surviving the hardships and pushing on!
THIS PAST YEAR-PLUS OF THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN COLLECTIVELY, AND INDIVIDUALLY, CHALLENGING. WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE FOR YOU? DID YOU DEVELOP ANY NEW CREATIVE ROUTINES OR HOBBIES?
It was difficult for us; we had headed out for a tour and it was abruptly halted before it even started. So we kicked off in debt and on the road ... and didn't even get to play a note. Once we returned we kind of went our separate ways. I lost myself a bit. So much of my identity is being the singer and member of this band. So when it was taken from us I didn't really know what to do with myself. I eventually immersed myself in my art, reading, writing and just trying to stay away from the TV and the evil that is the news!
YOU'VE BEEN BACK ON THE ROAD WITH JINJER. DO YOU HAVE ANY PRE-SHOW RITUALS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL TO GETTING YOU IN THE RIGHT HEADSPACE TO PERFORM?
Nothing too crazy. Three of us do vocals in this band so you'll definitely hear three different vocal warm-ups happening. We've introduced some props and makeup and other cool things into our set. So about an hour before our set, we are pretty focused on transforming into our character and becoming this entity for our live show. But no matter what type of mood we're in the hour before the set is nothing but laughs. I think we all just subconsciously know what is about to happen. We all know that the thing we were put on this earth to do is about to happen. It's melancholic. Almost subconsciously we know exactly how each other feels. The excitement, the nervousness, the adrenaline. All of it.
OUTSIDE OF THE BAND, AND MUSIC IN GENERAL, WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS?
I am a tattooer and have been for 25 years. I love it, and it has allowed me to be able to pursue music fully. I owe it everything; I give it everything. I wouldn't be who I am without it either. And when I'm not doing that you can find me in the mountains, sitting by a fire, hiking in the woods and escaping this godforsaken society.
DO YOU HAVE ANY "UNEXPECTED" MUSICAL INFLUENCES THAT MIGHT SURPRISE LISTENERS — AND HOW DO THEY IMPACT YOUR OWN CREATIVITY?
I think expectations are bad. Nobody can ever expect anything from me. I like so much different music and everything that I let move me or give me energy has an influence on me in some way. Literally everything that I listen to affects me differently — from super heavy metal to mellow trip-hop to folk songs to nursery rhymes — and that is what makes for an interesting sound.
WHAT BAND OR MUSICAL ARTIST ARE YOU THE BIGGEST FAN OF?
Acid Bath was my first true music love. The sound, the lyrics, the vocals. All of it. It changed me in a way I could never explain. There was something different about their sound. It haunted me in such a terrifying way that I could not stop. To this day it still gets regular rotation.
YOU'VE RECENTLY RELEASED A NEW EP WITHIN THE HOLLOW EARTH. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT FOR REVOLVER READERS WHO HAVEN'T YET DISCOVERED IT?
It is a journey meant to be listened to from start to finish. The depth of the lyrics complement the music. And each note and word were carefully placed. It is our greatest achievement in my opinion.
WHAT DOES ALL HAIL THE YETI HAVE PLANNED FOR 2022?
We just finished an amazing tour with Jinjer and Suicide Silence. We will break for the holidays. Then continue writing more songs. There is more North American touring in the works for spring/early summer. Then off to U.K. and EU in the summer for festivals and tour!