Presenting to you today an interview with Lowell, MA's own The New Highway Hymnal! These guys have been generating huge buzz around town as of late, emerging as one of the preeeminent live acts around town that present a raw and unadulterated type of music not seen since the heyday of The Pixies. The guys were nice enough to do a chat with MusicBoxPete as explore the innermost regions of the band in depth, and go through the recording process of their latest EP "Reverb Room". Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and your positions in the band?
Hadden Stemp (vocals/guitar), Amelia Gormley (bass/vocals), Travis Hagan (drums), Charlie Northern (guitar/vocals)
Take us behind the early formation of the band and how you all came together?
Hadden, Travis, and Amelia all played in various different bands throughout high school until coming together to form The New Highway Hymnal in 2009. Charlie joined the band in April 2014 after the departure of our former guitarist, Lukas Goudreault (MMOSS, Soft Eyes) in 2012.
What were some of your early musical influences and how have they helped shape the band?
We're all fans of 60's and 70's psych rock, like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Grateful Dead, The Stooges, etc. Those bands have had a huge influence on our music. We're also inspired by more neo-psych bands like Jesus and Mary Chain and Spacemen 3.
What were some challenges that you encountered starting the band and how did you learn to overcome them?
We're all from the north shore of Massachusetts, so when we started out we weren't playing shows in Boston, we were playing places around our hometowns. It took us about a year to finally break into the Boston scene. We played Allston DIY Fest in 2011 and that show really helped us get noticed in the city.
Take us behind the recording process for "Reverb Room" and what that whole experience was like?
We recorded everything at Project Sound recording studio in Haverhill, MA to 2'' tape on an old late 60s Ampex MM-1000. All the basic tracks like the main guitar, bass and drums were recorded live. Then we went back and overdubbed guitars, vocals, feedback, drones, etc. We had some fun experimenting with running the vocals through a Leslie (on the title track), old guitar amps and guitar fx pedals. On the title track we actually did 4-5 different takes of the song, and bounced each one down to a single mono track on another tape machine.Then when we mixed the song we faded in and out certain sections of each one (and probably ran them through a Leslie or a delay or something). It gave another live element to the mix since it was to tape and everything had to be done in real time. We'd read that the Grateful Dead had done something similar on Anthem of the Sun and wanted to give it a go to see what we could do with the idea.
How does the first single from your new album "Television" differ from your previous work?
It's a little less dark or ominous sounding and a little more colorful. There's more of a focus on melody, we keep it noisy though.
Away from making music, what do you like to do in your spare time for fun?
Smoke weed, eat beach pizza, skateboard badly, listen to records.
What are your plans for the rest of the year surrounding the album's release?
We're looking to release a few more singles and a few videos. Still trying to find someone to put the album out but if we can't we might just self release it.
Thanks once again to Hadden, Amelia, Travis, and Charlie for taking some time out of their ever busy schedules to do this interview! I've had the opportunity of seeing them in concert before, and trust me they are as advertised and will totally rewrite your vision of everything that is awesome about Boston music, and the sound is as explosive and incendiary as they come. For more on The New Highway Hymnal, 'Like' them on Facebook here and give them a follow on Twitter over here.