The Underground: Horns & Halos

The Underground: Horns & Halos

By Molly Fleming, Staff Writer

“The Underground” is a music/CD review for musicians who have less than two gigs a month and offer public access to samples of their music, e.g. promo CDs, Internet samples, etc. If the band has more than two gigs a month, but those gigs are house-party shows, then they are also eligible for “The Underground”. The CD or tape does not have to be in wide circulation, but must be readily available to the public at the shows, or through request. Garage bands and struggling musicians may send their samples and brief bio to Molly Fleming at The Rock River Times, 128 N. Church St. 61101

It seems these days that the local bands who don’t get enough “play” are mostly of the hip-hop or free-flow genre. Two weeks ago “The Underground” covered Pop Eye Jonesin’, the profane but cleverly dark punk-hop group. This week, The Underground salutes yet another struggling group of a similar genre: Horns and Halos—a “horror-core” flowing duo with slightly cleaner lyrics. Their promo CD is already available with an album due to be released later this year. Not only is it worth checking out, but it also warrants bumping the bass and dancing on the hood of a car.


Peter Gulatto (a.k.a “Lil’ Pete”) and Brad Peterson are making some of the most interesting music in Rockford today. Gulatto has previous experience with groups such as punk band The Singles, and hip-hop group FDC. Peterson has been around Rockford with the likes of Acid Rain, Burning Jawahs and also FDC. Horns and Halos is the result of compiled experiences from the musical genres of these past groups: hip-hop, punk rock and heavy metal.

Peterson makes the music for the group, and is experienced in creating subtle, yet infectious beats. Lil’ Pete writes and executes a lot of the lyrics and adds a classically poetic angle to a contemporary form of music. The rhymes have a sharp, rapid rhythm on par with Dre from Outcast. Peterson also adds his more sporadic and unpredictable flows which he attacks with vocal viciousness.

What they sound like

The name says it all: the dark power and intense regal quality that brass horns represent mixing with the lighter, more positive image of cherubs with halos makes for a colorful and never clashing mix of sounds. Be under no false assumptions, though; this is no Christian rap group.

Some of the most obvious influences of Horns and Halos are Sublime, Beastie Boys, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Cotton Mouth Kings, but ‘Lil’ Pete and Peterson are by no means limited to just imitating those groups. They have been described as “the Beastie Boys on crack,” by a listener, and the two seem to take great delight in that description. But the basic low down of Horns and Halos is a poetic “horror-core” duo that mixes all the brilliance of contemporary poetry with the mixed up sounds of original music that is beyond generic classification. Some of the music, arranged by Peterson, is reminiscent of the soundtracks to certain horror movies based on H.P. Lovecraft novels, which contrast strangely with the more positively driven words. The best description is in Peterson’s own words though, as he referred to the group as “alternative hip-hop with punk and abstract influences.” Lil’ Pete’s strongest lyrical influence and inspiration comes from Langston Hughes, oddly enough, which shows through in the clever and sometimes deep poetry that pervades Horns and Halos.

The Mission

This group has a mission as well, which is refreshing compared to the sometimes pointless pop groups of contemporary music. “Basically,” Gulatto commented, “We just want to get our point across. And that is, that there is no reason for all the B.S. Do things for the right reason, because You is what matters, not anyone else…We’re not trying to be ghetto, but we’re willing to fight for what we believe in.”

The songs on their promo CD show very clearly what exactly that attitude means, and for hip-hop driven music the words are uniquely and comparatively clean. There aren’t a whole lot of rhymes about drugs, girls and guns, but the lyrics bring up more real issues that most people can relate to, like simply having a good time. “We’re more of a party than a band,” Peterson said. “It’s something fun, something different.”


Horns and Halos has performed at the Lion’s Den in Rockford for Save The Scene, The Fun Plex in Omaha NA, Club Infinity in Sheboygen, Wis., and Loras College, in Dubuque IA. The best response to their music occurred in Omaha, where a strong local hip-hop scene is prevalent in the community. So far they haven’t landed any future gigs in Rockford, but an ideal venue for this group would be Mary’s Place, Kryptonite or anywhere that encourages dancing and diversity. It would be advised for the local bars and music venues to contact these boys, because they’re sure to bring a crowd in.

Illanoise will be out sometime in November, bringing 20 tracks of new music to the Forest City, produced, in part, by Jason Zastro at Electric People Studios and also recorded at the Band Center in Milwaukee. Track one, “Beatbox CIPHA,” is composed entirely of bodily noises without any lyrics. If a band can make a song so interesting and so catchy with absolutely no lyrics and little backup music, than imagine what they can do with lyrics and instrumentals. It is one of the best songs out of Rockford this year, and the album just gets better. “Who’s got the Mic” is an upbeat dance piece that encourages listeners to get out of their chair and start moving, and “No Grudge” is a brilliant work of personal sentiment, which you have to hear to find out about.

Last Statement

As a last statement, the group wants to let Rockford know how they perform: “We like to find the beauty in hip-hop…and in that which it is not.” Lil’ Pete commented.

Go to to find out more information, and perhaps to request a sound clip. For bookings for any kind of venue (private parties, public venues, etc.) call Peter “Lil’ Pete” Gulatto at 962-0444 (Make sure you ask for Pete Jr. and not Pete Sr., as there are two of them) or Brad Peterson at 962-7620 *1, and leave a message.

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