Paul D. Hudson, known professionally as H.R. (Human Rights),lead the hardcore punk band Bad Brains, and is an instrumental figure in the development of that genre (really its more of a undefined sonic community). His vocal delivery has been described as diverse, ranging from a rapid-fire nasal whine, to feral growling & vast screeches, to smooth near-crooning or staccato reggae rhymes. He has departed that band periodically to pursue solo efforts that are more reggae than Bad Brains’ punk type sound. H.R. and his Bad Brains bandmates became Rastafari around 1979 after attending a Bob Marley concert at the Capitol Center. This spiritual direction influenced the music of Bad Brains via his vocals, and inspired the creation of his reggae band, Human Rights (or H.R.). Although reggae is the focus of his solo material, he often has explored rock and other musical genres as well. Interviews with H.R. feature prominently in the 2006 documentary American Hardcore, in which he discusses the early days of the hardcore scene in New York City & Washington D.C., and his association with peers like Minor Threat & the Cro-Mags. In particular, he recalls encouraging Ian MacKaye to fully articulate Minor Threat’s emerging straight edge philosophy, to give young people a positive direction. As depicted in the 2012 documentary Bad Brains: A Band in D.C., H.R.’s behavior, such as wearing a motorcycle helmet during a performance and refusing to sing, caused some friction with other members of the band. In late 2016, the film Finding Joseph I: The HR From Bad Brains Documentary premiered in Europe and the United States. Directed by James Lathos, the documentary features interviews with H.R., as well as other musicians, peers, & family member, while chronicling his life, struggles, & philosophies.
There are not enough words to keep adding to the influence H.R. had one so many people, myself included. I believe and would credit him with being one of the people that helped open my mind’s ear to allow more diverse sounds to clash into one another. Something I try and continue to do every day. Many know about H.R.’s behaviors on and off stage, his mental conditions untreated and treated and some know about the long years of thoughts shattering headaches he suffers from, and how surgery years ago helped, but like may things, they came back with attitude. I was lucky enough to get a little time with Lori Carns Hudson, H.R.’s wife, to talk about these headaches and the obvious toll(s) they have taken on a life and a career of someone many know via name/video/legend/. We also get an idea what Lori does daily to try and ease the times, keep things moving forward (when tours get canceled & creative opportunities are less soften) and care for H.R.. These are sometimes the people that get forgotten in the shuffle of the suffering. Lori shares some info on a brand new single featuring Nick Hexum of 311 and potential album in the Fall. What we really learn is that help is what is also needed from the community, a hard thing to ask for, but a recognizable truth. Here’s a place to go to be a part of that community. Lori has also started a blog about excruciating pain & caregiver fatigue.