BoneHawk talks with Erik Heemsoth about some history behind the band, highlights from the past year, and what we can expect in 2016, as well as much, much more.

Relatively new to the scene, BoneHawk self-released their debut vinyl album, Albino Rhino, on their own Hornacious Wax label in October 2014. Word of mouth among the groove/stoner-oriented hard rock scene has helped it sell out its first two pressings, which is an amazing feat for an independent band who call the Kalamazoo, Michigan area home.

The band consists of Chad Houts (guitars), Matt Helt (guitars/lead vocals), Jay Rylander (drums), and Taylor Wallace (bass). Although this line-up has been together for a few years now, both Chad and Matt’s friendship started all the way back to when they first met in third grade. Over the years, they would develop a fondness for classic rock jams; thrash metal and heavy rock guitars, which would play a big part in developing the sound of BoneHawk.

According to the band’s bio through Ripple Music, Chad and Matt envisioned combining Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy-esque harmonies with the down to brass tacks heavy groove of Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and the twin guitar heaviness of Judas Priest and Kiss.

2011 saw the earliest incarnation of the band when Chad and Matt hooked up with a former band mate friend of theirs, Chris Voss, to record Albino Rhino. Not long after they recorded Albino Rhino, they found Jay and started playing shows locally in support of the album. People took notice and shows were selling out in no time at all. The buzz was out and the band sold out the first pressing of Albino Rhino in just two months, which was a sign of bigger things to come!

With Chris no longer in the band, Chad, Matt and Jay found Taylor (ex-Wilson) and continued to forge on. They set their sites outside of Kalamazoo and started playing shows all over Michigan, as well as weekend trips to Fort Wayne, Indiana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Chicago, Illinois.

January 15, 2016, saw the band playing their first ever show at The Music Factory in Battle Creek, Michigan. National Rock Review’s Erik Heemsoth sat down with the band where members talked about their individual history in music plus together as a band. They also mentioned some personal highlights from the past year, as well as exciting things to come, and how the band came up with their name.

Listen to the interview:


Demand from the fans has the band releasing a third vinyl pressing of Albino Rhino while the band has also inked a deal with Ripple Music for the official CD release of the album. They also have an upcoming 7″ vinyl EP of Thin Lizzy covers as well as a split LP with Kingnomad. The split LP is part of Ripple’s The Second Coming of Heavy with theirs being Volume 3 in the series.

Following the interview, Jay remembered a funny story of which he referred to as probably one of the most memorable shows he played with the band. You can hear that story here:


To some, a BoneHawk is when one guy tries to check out your unit while your taking a whiz at the urinal. To others, it’s a creature in The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard, which bear a resemblance to a regular hawk but with a black hue and an exposed skull. But to those of us in the music scene, BoneHawk play a behemoth modern-day mix of loud rock’n’roll, 90s stoner, and 70s groove, with a foundation of heavy riffs and twin guitar harmony interludes.

Our photographer, Thom Seling, was on hand for the show at The Music Factory. Here are some of his images from that night.

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About The Author

Erik's interest in music began at an early age. In high school, he was the co-host of the underground metal show the Social Mutilation Hour, on 89.5 WAHS, under the name of Neurotik Erik. During this period of his life, he independently promoted shows under the name of Ding Dong Ditch Productions. Erik would rent out local VFW Halls, use space at Oakland Community College Auburn Hills Campus, or simply throw basement parties around the Detroit area. While at college at Ferris State University, he became head of the student run organization, Entertainment Unlimited, and continued to promote shows, but on a larger scale. He also helped start an underground magazine, 'Outpunk', where he interviewed bands and wrote music reviews. Additionally, Erik joined the staff at the Ferris State University Torch and wrote on a larger scale.

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