They may have started as a band that wanted to simply joke around and play songs together, but 17 years later The Hextalls are nearing the release of their latest album, Play With Heart. Nowhere else will you hear a tune about a Flyers fan losing his girlfriend to a Rangers fan at Madison Square Garden.
“Ranger danger! Have another beer! Never trust a girl in a Richter jersey!” croons Devin Hextall, front man of the pop punk band The Hextalls on “I Don’t Wanna be a New York Ranger.” It’s a catchy, funny song about a Flyers fan who goes to a game at Madison Square Garden, gets lost in the lobby while buying beer, then finds his date making out with a Rangers fan. Hockey, beer and relationship angst are just some of the irreverent topics that have been a staple of The Hextalls’ songs for the past 17 years. Their newest album, Play With Heart, will be released Feb.14 and is available on Amazon, iTunes and their website,
TheHextalls.com. The album includes a song about
Sergei Bobrovsky called “Who’s the #1 Cop?”
“We started our band as a joke,” Hextall explains. ” We all have a sense of humor. There were a lot of bands in our hometown [Kamloops] that took themselves very seriously. We wanted to see if we could do this for fun and maybe be better than the serious bands.” The Hextalls’ current lineup is drummer Nicole “Nikki” Stixx, bassist Jimmy “The Con,” guitarist Jeremy “JJ” Justice and guitarist/vocalist Devin Hextall. And no — he is not related to former Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall, but he is such a fan of the temperamental netminder that he all but legally adopted the surname.
“There was something about his aggressive style that I loved,” Hextall said. “When it came time to pick a band name, I kind of forced ‘The Hextalls’ because I was obsessed with Ron since I was a kid.” While their name is inspired by the fiery goalie, the quartet draws musical inspiration from pop punk bands like Chixdiggit and Screeching Weasel — as well as the godfathers of punk themselves, The Ramones. “We all like three-chord pop punk stuff that’s simple and catchy and happy,” said Hextall. Founded in 1998, the band broke up in 2002 when Hextall moved to Chicago “for a girl.” They reformed in 2006 when he moved to Washington State, near the border. (The rest of the band lives in Vancouver.) The Hextalls spent the late 2000s releasing albums and touring, even appearing at Baltimore’s annual punk festival, Insubordination Fest, three times. Now, with online music services making it easier to reach a wide audience, The Hextalls prefer to spend their coin on producing music instead of touring. “We’re going to make the best songs we can and have fun with it,” Hextall said. Seventeen years later, and they’re still having fun.