Whenever anyone writes about Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices, it’s a fair bet they mention that he’s prolific. (You can then hear fanboy wails far and wide.) Why do we bring this up in relation to Mount Laurel, N.J.’s Ben Spizuco (a.k.a. Hello Whirled)? Well, the 24-year-old data-entry worker has just released No Use Crying Over Spilled Blood, the 46th album Hello Whirled outing, not counting EPs, covers records and live stuff. So it’s no surprise that Spizuco, who refers to Hello Whirled as the “fifth or sixth most prolific band ever,” considers Pollard his primary influence and inspiration.
“Bob changed everything for me,” he says. “When I started listening to GBV, they were just a band I was getting into, as I spent most of my time with Pavement and Radiohead. It wasn’t until I started listening to the side projects that I realized how special Bob’s discography truly was. Not only did he make it OK to write short songs, he inspired me to put out a lot of stuff all the time. Bob makes great music, and he’s the best.”
You can maybe hear a bit of Pollard on No Crying Over Spilled Blood (like on the barely-more-than-a-minute “Truce”), but a lot of the LP is reminiscent of fuzzed-out indie bands of a certain era like Sebadoh. (That’s just one comparison with which the opinionated Spizuco may disagree.) The record is discordant at times (“A True Arc”) but just as often majestically catchy (lead track “Fate Fades In And Out,” “The Sound Of No Hands Clapping”). It’s an impressive bedroom-rock album—and that description isn’t just critical hackery.
“I’m at a point where I operate entirely out of my bedroom,” says Spizuco. “Guitars, amps, drums—all of it is in the same room as my bed.”
Logistics aside, how does one pen such a voluminous catalog of tunes by the time most people his age are still figuring out post-college adult life? Spizuco says he doesn’t recall a time when he didn’t play music. He started taking guitar lessons at 10 and began to write songs a year or two later.
He released the first Hello Whirled effort, 2016’s Morning EP, when he was 16. Add in side projects like Embalming Druid with Dan Jircitano (Rectangle Creep) and Joe Fazio (Physarum) and others that we don’t have time to go into, and Spizuco estimates he’s put out an astonishing 75 records. (Hell, 2018 saw 15 Spizuco-y albums alone.) Simply put, music is his compulsion. (You might say he’s guided by voices. You might, but you shouldn’t.)
“Songwriting and recording make more sense than anything else in the world,” he says. “This is not an exaggeration. I don’t have to use up any ‘social battery’ to do it. I don’t have to worry that I sound like an idiot. I don’t need medication for it. Medication is good, by the way.”
Spizuco would love to make a career out of his need to create—he’s already prepped a 47th Hello Whirled outing for release—though he understands that may not happen. If nothing else, he can take solace in having a pretty good head start on a potentially unique musical legacy. (Did we mention he’s only 24?)
“Ideally, I would like for it to be my main thing, where I wouldn’t need a real job, but that isn’t realistic at all,” says Spizuco. “Right now, it’s effectively a passion project that consumes my life in the best way.”