P.H.F. (formerly Perfect Hair Forever) is the home recording project of Auckland, New Zealand native, Joe Locke. After forming the project in 2012, Locke has had a prolific musical output and creative presence online. Inspired by the freedom to experiment exercised by bands like Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu, and the resourcefulness of ‘80s era hardcore, P.H.F. has created a sound that is both imaginative and utilitarian. Praised at home in NZ and here in the US for his explosively unpredictable live shows and eclectic releases, P.H.F. are a force to be reckoned with. This fall P.H.F. will release New Metal, Locke's tenth full length with the project, which has completely overhauled P.H.F's sound yet again for the new decade. For New Metal, typical album conventions are thrown out the window in favor of a spontaneous mixtape atmosphere, as Locke offers some of his most raw and honest songwriting.
“P.H.F. kind of started as a noise project, then slowly became something a lot more palatable,” Locke explains while reminiscing the halcyon days of P.H.F.’s infancy. “Initially everything was very simple—basic pop music that I wanted to feel aggressive and scrappy, yet cute and sweet.” Locke quickly found his voice in Auckland’s diverse and tight knit underground scene. A typical show would feature a string of bands with diverse sounds and variations of the same members, playing in an unconventional space for friends. By releasing his brutally lo-fi gems OK COOL, MALL-O-CAUST, and PUKER on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, Locke gradually found a loyal following across the Atlantic in the US. Locke says, “The internet is kind of like fishing—all you have to do is put your line out and then hopefully people bite, then you find like-minded people to collaborate with.” Locke befriended bedroom recording peers like Arthur, Clairo, and Rew and composed memorable collab tracks like “Better Someday” and “Queen” with them over email. P.H.F. became the go-to soundtrack for homemade skate videos on YouTube, and Locke’s irreverent graphic design for the project was etched into the minds of music listeners across the internet. Locke’s production and songwriting evolved on his more melodic and ethereal releases Grind State and Soft in 2015. P.H.F. toured in the US for the first time in 2016 supporting Slow Hollows on the west coast before releasing their first proper release on an American label, I Hate Myself.
Locke and company have turned a corner yet again on P.H.F.’s highly anticipated new LP, New Metal. “I think this is the most complex and ‘mature’ album maybe,” Locke details. “It feels like a good combination of all the sounds or phases I have gone through musically, so it's a good summation of the music I like to make.” New Metal, which bears a name Locke chose as an obvious nod to the early ‘00s genre which was hugely influential to him growing up, is a 16 track juggernaut—likely P.H.F.’s most ambitious feat to date. On album ten P.H.F. masters the loud-quiet-loud dynamic with an even balance of heavy and delicate instrumentation, beneath Locke’s tender delivery of some his most thoughtful lyrics yet. Locke sings with the wisdom and agony of a legacy songwriter, detailing his struggle with mental health and modern banality. For New Metal, Locke’s gritty home recordings are souped up by engineer & co-producer Nick Noneman and live drummer Nich Santana. P.H.F. breathes new life into the rotting corpse of alternative guitar music, with Locke’s masterful incorporation of harmonic dissonance, infectious breakdowns, and atmospheric production.