Stuff We Sell

On Repeat Tapes OR5 HITS HITS

There’s a feeling of necessity that permeates anything we call “punk” — a sense that this music could only be born into our way-fucked world with feral urgency and fearless determination. But sometimes punk’s unstoppable impulses are cooler, quieter, weirder and/or infinitely more imaginative.

Was HITS a punk band? Hard to say, still, nearly two decades after the trio’s mesmerizing, months-long flash of existence. What’s for sure: In the spring of 2004, Jessica Latessa and Lindsay Nash were living with Jacob Long and Daniel Martin-McCormick (bandmates in White Flight after the split of Black Eyes) in an apartment above Brown’s Furniture on 14th St. N.W. Whenever their friend Lili Schulder -- who had spent her teenage years playing in Pocket Rockets, a glam group that recorded for Teen Beat -- came over to hang out, Latessa remembers a question hanging in the air: “Why aren’t we in a band?”

Maybe they made a plan. Or maybe it just happened. Nash would pick up the saxophone she’d dropped in high school. Latessa had never played drums, but she found a kit for $25 and began teaching herself. Schulder would play guitar. They reclaimed their recorders from childhood and bought various bells at a music shop in the suburbs. Somehow, these instruments would be the group’s only organizing principles. Instead of a band, HITS would be more like “an outlet to hang out and get into deeper levels of being weird,” Schulder says.

So in the weird-deepness/deep-weirdness of Latessa’s bedroom, three friends started writing mostly-instrumentals that felt medieval, alien, futuristic, crude, intricate, joyful, inventive, playfully succinct, deeply intuitive and unlike anything their scene had ever known. “Everyone just liked all the same stuff,” says Nash, “everyone” meaning the members of HITS, and “the same stuff” meaning not their influences, (which were never discussed), but whatever sounds they were pulling out of the air.

Before evaporating later that summer, HITS managed to record a six-song CDR with Hugh McElroy (fewer than 20 copies made, packaged in homemade paper sleeves with “HITS” meticulously X-acto knifed out) that they sold at the few shows they played — four or five in D.C. with the likes of Early Humans and other bands lost to memory; one in Philly with Orthrelm; and one at New York’s Knitting Factory with Q and Not U that freaked out Latessa’s family. “Maybe they were expecting Josie and the Pussycats or something,” she says. “But I knew we were weird. I knew because there was no way to describe it.” There still isn’t. HITS was HITS. It was a band that had to happen. So it did.

- Chris Richards, September 2023 

HITS is Jessica Latessa Arcangel, Lindsay Nash, and Lili Schulder. All tracks recorded by Hugh McElroy at Swim-Two-Birds. Art/Design by Greg Piwonka.