Brooke Hampton, founder and lead vocalist of Austin hardcore metal band Slow Pulse, shows us that girls just want to scream.


By Cy White, Photos courtesy of Slow Pulse

Here’s something completely unexpected on a Friday afternoon: a blonde woman in a red dress growling at me. Picture sitting at a desk steadily slogging through dozens of emails. Suddenly, a subject line like a slap in the face, reminiscent of a now-famous panel out of a classic Batman comic: “Brooke Hampton is a Bad Ass!”

Well, good afternoon to you too! Tim Lupa, co-owner of Drinks Records, Drinks Lounge and its “Little” sister, certainly knows how to grab a girl’s attention. The email contains a link to a video—Hampton and her hardcore band, Slow Pulse, performing at Drinks Records. The music starts much like most metal: a slow build that leads into a vocal fry. (Think “Dig” from Mudvayne.) While not unexpected, there’s no preparation for a petite blond absolutely annihilating the speakers.

Hampton laughs at this. Obviously it’s a sentiment she gets often. “Even though I literally dress onstage in skirts and dresses because I’m a girly person, I just love heavy music.”

Have you always been into hardcore?

Yeah, since I was like 13 years old. I’m 32 now. So yeah, forever. Music is a huge part of my life, and it always has been. Hardcore especially, and then especially female-fronted hardcore has always been really influential to me. It’s like such a dude scene; it always has been. But it’s getting better now. I feel like there’s the come-up of women in hardcore, but especially back when I was into it, there were a handful of women known in that scene to front a band. So it was always really inspiring to me. I started practicing at a really young age in my parents’ house. My parents would give me an hour, and I would scream for an hour. Then they cut me off, and I’d do it again the next day.

Older millennials grew up with bands like Korn, Marilyn Manson and Mudvayne. You didn’t see a lot of women in the scene, especially screaming. How did you get your voice strong enough to do that?

Really, I don’t know how. I think I would just listen to this band called Bloodlined Calligraphy. They were an old hardcore band. I would just listen to [lead vocalist Ally French]and try to imitate her. I reached out to the vocalist one time, and I was like, “How did you learn how to do that? Because I feel like I have potential, but I don’t know if I’m doing it right.” So she referred me to this DVD called {The Zen of Screaming} by Melissa Cross. She teaches a lot of people around the world, like big bands.

I just would watch her DVDs and practice it, learning that it came from the diaphragm and not my throat. That’s where, really, all the power comes from; it’s my diaphragm. It’s not just me yelling. I was scared. Like, there’s actual technique to it to really be able to hold out words, do it day to day to day and have that mean power behind it and get the lows and the higher notes. 

Have you had those moments where you’ve completely blown your voice out?

I think it’s more mental. This is my first band ever, my first time being on stage and doing this. So I think that [if]I get in my head, I think that I don’t have a voice; then I get there and I become a small monster, and I’m like, “Oh, it was there.” My band could tell you, my first few shows, I was almost crying in the bathroom. I was, like, having a panic attack, like, “Oh my God, what if I can do it? What if it doesn’t come out?” Then as soon as I step onstage, it’s like, I let out that first growl during the mic check, and everything is there. All the power’s there.

I’m friends with some other people in the hardcore scene, people who have been touring doing it for a really long time. Someone told me, “Your voice will always show up.” He’s like, “I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline or whatever, but your voice will be there.”

Long story short: I thought I was going to [lose my voice], and I have not.

You mentioned that this is your first band. How did this become something you wanted to do?

It was always something I wanted to do, but, you know, life just happens. I went to college; pretty soon after that, after working in radio for a while, I started a makeup and hair company with my best friend, blush ’n bangs. I felt very fulfilled in that for years. 

Then I was like, “I feel like I’ve checked off a lot of things that I’ve done in my life, and I really want to do that one thing that I wanted to do as a teenager.” So I said, “I’m just gonna do it.” Then I just recorded a song and put it on Instagram and was like, “Does anyone want to be in a band?” People were replying like, “Oh my God, did not know that you sounded like that!”

So then I reached out to one of my buddies who runs emo night at Barbarella. I went and saw this band called Hellfury at Jester King, and it’s female fronted. [Bobbie Kleman] doesn’t really scream, per se, like what I do, but she has heavier vocals. So I watched her, had a beer and was like, “I want to do this. It’s time.” That was probably around March of last year.

I texted [my friend]because they have bands play sometimes. I was like, “Hey, can I get some dudes together, play some background stuff? Can I just scream and do a cover set?” He was like, “Yeah, how about June 1?” And I was like, “Okay, yeah, that’ll work.” So I just started texting guys that I know and was like, “Would you want to do this?” and pretty much formed the band. That show went extremely well. It was packed back there. Everyone came out to see us, and I was blown away. We played another emo night doing covers lined up for July 15 at Empire, and we were like, “We want to create original music.” So after those cover shows, we were like, “No more covers, let’s be Slow Pulse.”

Slow Pulse at Drinks Records

It’s literally hit the ground running, and I can’t believe where it’s taken us so far. It’s been awesome. I’m beyond happy with it. The band was the one thing that I really wanted to do. I said as a 13-year-old girl, “I want to found a hardcore band,” and I did. 

What’s the story behind the name Slow Pulse?

I have a husky that is an escape artist. The first song we ever wrote was called “Riverside River,” and it is about him. I lived off Riverside, and he snuck out of my house. He killed a bunny rabbit in someone’s front yard, like their pet rabbit at a birthday party. I had to go to court for it. He’s a very sweet dog that was just like a freak, whatever. They took me to court, and they’re trying to get my dog out of the city of Austin. They didn’t, and my dog is still here. So I wrote a song about it. I wrote it kind of from the rabbit’s [point of view], like “The pulse is slow.” I wanted something brutal. So “slow pulse,” as in if your pulse is slow and you are dying. It’s all kind of intertwined. 

Beyond doing the main vocals, do you do anything else (writing or composing, for example)?

So full transparency, I cannot play an instrument. I can play like three seconds of “Misery Business” by Paramore, three seconds of Nirvana, but like nothing else. But I know the genre so well, and I know what I want to sound like. So I will be like, “Hey, there needs to be a breakdown here,” or, “I think there needs to be less of a breakdown. There needs to be a two-step here.” I’ll mouth or hum it, and they’ll try to pick it up. They always make fun of me because I say, “It’s too repetitive, we need to change it up, we need to change it up.” So they’re like, “Oh, is it? Is it repetitive, Brooke?” and I’m just like, “I know, we can sound better.” I’m the pickiest one.

I do write the lyrics. I’ve written most of the lyrics thus far. Our bassist has had a lot of ideas vocally, so he did one of our songs, but I’ve done the rest. I lost my mom to cancer in 2015, and I was pissed off. Religion, the chemo, everything kind of pissed me off, so I actually wrote the majority of our songs that we have out right now prior to forming the band. I wrote the lyrics because they were just kind of like poems or possibly lyrics. They were about life being unfair, how super sweet, innocent people die, get diseased and are really sick; then manipulative, bad people can live a full life. I just felt really like I was cheated by losing my mom so young.

I think that’s also what kind of pushed me to just start the band because I had these lyrics just kind of sitting there. Our first release was “No Path,” and that is about my mom. Then “Incinerate” was also about my mom going through chemo. I already had [the lyrics]down before the music even had come to it.

Sky’s the limit, what’s the biggest dream you have for Slow Pulse?

I would love to go on tour. So there’s this band called Dying Wish. (I know my band’s gonna see this and make fun of me, but I’m obsessed with Dying Wish.) [Emma Boster] is a little younger than me, and she does the same genre. She’s just a badass, and she’s really inspirational to me right now. I would love to go on a United States tour. It would be cool to honestly have like an all-girl-fronted tour.

I’ve just always loved women doing the thing. I feel more women are coming up. Bands like Dying Wish, SCOW, Dive Bomb, GEL. Like they’re all doing the thing. I would love to be an opening act for them, then eventually, work our way up to headliner status. But even just opening for one of them would be like such an honor.

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