“White Hassle... makes a positively anthemic, stripped-down hobo-folk-blues-country-ish noise... Picture a very friendly musical collaboration between Sam Cooke, the Holy Modal Rounders, and Hank Sr. going down in a junkyard, the lyrics a sliced-up-life, poetry-of-the-particular triumph.”
- Mike McGonigal, Yeti 2002

“White Hassle's blend of rural country blues, 70's pop, 50's pop (Everly Bros.), and skiffle
punk (Violent Femmes) is the stuff of genius.”
-Eloise Butler


White Hassle (named after the American fast food chain White Castle) is a NYC band consisting of Marcellus Hall and Dave Varenka.   Hall plays harmonica, guitar, and sings.  Varenka plays drums, metal percussion, and sings harmony.   Both Hall and Varenka played in the band Railroad Jerk* (see below).

White Hassle released a full-length album on Matador Records called “National Chain” (1997) and a 7” vinyl single on Super 8 Records (1997).  WH recorded for John Peel's BBC radio program in London (1998).  The band toured Europe via train (1998) and half of the U.S. (1998). WH released a critically acclaimed CD-EP in June of 2000 on Orange Recordings (http://www.orangerecordings.com) entitled “Life Is Still Sweet.”   With guitarist Matt Oliverio and other guests, WH recorded a full-length CD "The Death of Song" (2002).  "The Death of Song" was released in Japan on the Mazri label (http://www.mazri.com, 2003), in Europe on Fargo Records (http://www.fargorecords.com, 2003), and in North America on Orange Recordings (2004).  With guitarist Chris Maxwell (formerly of Skeleton Key and the Gleaners; see http://www.gleanersnyc.com and http://www.eleganttoo.com), the band toured Europe for three weeks in November 2003. In 2004 Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse tattooed "Life is Still Sweet" on his arm and invited WH to play the "All Tomorrow's Parties" festival in Long Beach, California.

White Hassle has been playing live and recording with various special guests, notably DJ Atsushi Numata on turntable and Meredith Yayanos on violin and theremin.  See the "Shows" page on this site for current band news.

The band has played the annual Austin, Texas music festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), as well as the L'Abordage festival in Evreux, France, July 2000.  Since 1996, when WH started, the band has shared bills with Pavement, Johnathan Fire*Eater, They Might Be Giants, Delta 72, Skeleton Key, the Melvins, Speedball Baby, Chavez, Rex, Hasil Adkins, French Kicks, Catpower, Come, Fuck, Boss Hog, Luna, Bettie Serveert, the Meat Puppets, the Blues Explosion, Girls vs Boys, the Shins, Polyphonic Spree, the Country Teasers, the Rogers' Sisters, the Fiery Furnaces, Spoon, Ugly Casanova, and the Walkmen, among others.

More information:


email: whitehassle@yahoo.com

CDs may also be available at http://www.cdnow.com

-interview: http://www.ink19.com/issues/november2000/inkSpots/whiteHassle.html
revie w of the white hassle ep at suite 101.com
CMJ review at http://www.cmj.com/
review of White Hassle's "Life is Still Sweet"

NYC's White Hassle finally delivers
the goods with a collection of songs that masterfully
blend country, blues, indie rock, hip hop and classic
pop elements to their fullest potential. There's not a
bum track among them, but you've absolutely got to
hear the seething 'I Can?t Imagine (That You're
Happy)' and the exquisitely heart-breaking '2 By Sea.'
- Emmet Matheson, Regina Canada

With this long-awaited (by me at least) follow-up to 1997's NATIONAL
CHAIN, White Hassle displays a maturation of sorts. Where many
of the songs on NATIONAL CHAIN were admittedly experiments in
a different style of song-writing for Marcellus Hall (also known
for his Beefheart-meets-Pavement hi-fi outfit Railroad Jerk),
LIFE IS STILL SWEET sure-footedly showcases the lyrical dexterity
Marce Hall is adored for.
The title-track alone is worth the sticker price of this EP.
"Life is Still Sweet" is a melancholy affirmation of beauty,
that calls to mind Jack Kerouac's advice to "Accept Loss Forever."
Plaintive harmonica twinned with skipping-heart percussion by
Dave Varenka, will lift your spirit while leaving a lump in you
throat. When Hall pleads, "Please step away from the car/Please
step away from the car!" it's like having every single one of
your heart-strings plucked.
"Watertank," the first cut, jumpstarts the whole thing with a
boom-sh-boom-boom, while "Futura Trance" puts the spotlight on
Varenka and his bizarro collection of noise-makers and bangables.
An oddly faithful yet totally different (turntables and such)
Everly Brothers cover sneaks in, and before you know it, the
CD is over and you have to play it again. Which leads me to the
only complaint about LIFE IS STILL SWEET: I want more!!!
- Emmet Matheson, Regina Canada

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Over the span of ten years, Railroad Jerk - the celebrated, premiere, industrial-folk, junkyard blues, rock band of the 90's - made four full-length LPs for the independent label Matador (http://www.matadorrecords.com) and toured the world. Beginning with "Railroad Jerk" (1990) and "Raise the Plow" (1992) the quartet defined the blues-punk sound of the era. Although never achieving the kind of mainstream recognition enjoyed by other bands of the time, Railroad Jerk was an influential force in what became known as "alternative rock." With the release of "One Track Mind" (1994) and the legendary line-up now in place, Railroad Jerk reached its biggest success. Drummer Dave Varenka, guitarist Alec Stephen, bassist Tony Lee, and guitarist/vocalist Marcellus Hall brought the RRJ sound across America and to Europe and Japan. The "Rollerkoaster" video was shown on MTV's Beavis & Butthead and the boys were sharing bills with the likes of Guided by Voices, The Blues Explosion, Cibo Mato (sp?), Girls vs Boys, and Catpower. Everywhere people could be heard shouting "Bang the drum!" and the song "The Ballad of Railroad Jerk became a college radio hit. By this time the band had become known for its excesses on and off the stage. When "The Third Rail" (1997) was released, the nonstop touring and whirlwind media circus had begun to take its toll on the boys and they took refuge in the studio, recording demos for the fifth Railroad Jerk LP which was to be entitled "Masterpiecemeal." This final LP was never released but a bootleg cassette version is coveted in underground circles as a record of the what many believe was the band's most productive period. Dave Varenka and Marcellus Hall went on to form the much lauded band White Hassle.

To see Railroad Jerk videos visit http://www.launch.com and find Railroad Jerk