Artist Interview - Alex Di Leo

Alex Di Leo - 70s car.JPG

The Hook recently had the opportunity to talk with singer/songwriter Alex Di Leo! Check out our interview with him below!

Dylan: Hey Alex, my name’s Dylan Young, I’m an artist myself who previously had gone the band route for a while, but since then, has recently transitioned into being a solo artist. With that in mind, I’m interested to hear your take on it.

Alex: Hey Dylan, So nice to meet you! Thanks so much for reaching out to me. 
Great to be talking to another artist.

Tell me about your writing process. As a solo artist, do you write alone? Do you collaborate with other writers or musicians? Do you write a song, then when you feel it’s ready to be recorded, bring it to a certain go-to producer you gel with? What’s your process?
Most of the time my songs are inspired through an idea/melody that randomly pops in my head. The best is when a great lyric comes with that random melo-dy. If that does not happen, I write the lyrics as I work on the song more. Most of the time I try to create the melodies for each part of the song before really focusing on the lyrics.

Most of this EP I wrote by myself with the exception of a few songs. I love collaborating with other artists, producers, and writers because I think each time you work with someone you learn something new.

 After I have all the melody, lyric, and arrangement I take it to the producer who I’m currently working with, which at the moment is Josh Diaz. From there we make scratch tracks if I haven't already done so. We make sure we like everything about it before we move onto any part of the production and after that..the magic begins.

Apparently your old band, Wyld Fly, was fairly successful. What happened to the group and why did you decide to go the solo artist route? What about it appeals to you? Is there anything you don’t like about going solo?

Wyld Fly definitely did some cool things in south Florida. The reason the group ended was because of the disagreements in musical direction we were going. I was the lead singer/frontman in the band and at most times I felt like I didn’t have a say in many of the band’s decisions. This led to me becoming a solo artist. It appealed to me because I’d have much more of a say in what I’d want to do. The only trouble I found going into this was trying to put a committed group of musicians together. It took me a while, but  things have changed and I have got an amazing group of musicians backing me up now and ready to go.

Do you miss being involved in a full band? How was making the transition from that world into being a solo artist?

I don’t really miss being involved in a full band. I think this was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my music career. It’s really helped me move along and find the sound and image that I had envisioned.

What can listeners expect for So We Go?

‘So We Go’ is about falling in love, the first time you laid eyes on your partner. Continu-ously wanting to feel that way you did when the "stars first collided”, that magical spark. That is a feeling only the two of you share together. Both taking the chance on possibly one of the greatest adventures of your lifetime. 

What’s the inspiration for your songs? Are you inspired by personal events? Do you just write to write? Is there an ex out there that kinda just messed you up? Where would you draw your creativity from? Sadness? Anger? Happiness? Etc.
Most of the songs on the EP lean towards a positive side and were inspired by a relationship that I’m currently in. There’s a couple songs that talk about the frustrations of being in a relationship, but they are in an encouraging way. I also find that when I travel, inspiration strikes and melodies and song ideas come easier to me. Maybe, it’s because I tend to be more relaxed and music and ideas seems to flow . 

How would you describe your sound in 5 words?

Melodic Alternative/Indie/Rock/Pop

I read that you went through 4 previous production sessions in making So We Go, which as anyone who’s made a record before can consider a grueling process. Why don’t you talk about that a bit? What went “wrong” the first four times? Was each time with a different producer? Were there any mistakes you might have made that in hindsight, now know to avoid? etc.

In mid 2014 I recorded a few songs Saigon Kick lead singer, Matt Kramer. This production sounded more like American/folk and was coming out a little too much in the bluegrass style then what I was imagining.

I didn’t record anything again until the beginning of 2015. I went up to the House of Blues in Nashville with a local producer,  Mike Puwal from Insane Clown Possy and Phil Richiardi. We went in aiming for an alternative pop, The Fray, Coldplay sound. But they ended up leaning a little more towards mainstream country which wasn’t the direction I was aiming for either. Not saying I don’t like country. 

I started another recording production with another a local singer-songwriter from     Miami Jim Camacho and a producer, Jodi Marr from Nashville. Still aiming for a similar sound I decided to go for another three songs and they sounded a little closer but still, not there. They were more of an Adult/Contemporary sound.

Towards the end of 2015 I did another few recordings with StreetRunner, a Pop/R&B producer who’s worked with Eminem, Lil Wayne, and a few other well known rappers. We spent around  4-5 months in the studio. After all that time I realized the direction was a little closer to what I’d been looking for, but since most of the instrumentation was coming from within the computer and the way it was done, it sounded too..stiff and like it was lacking feeling. 

Throughout that same time I had started an alternative dance side project with my close friend, lead guitarist from my previous band, called Cold Summer. When I’d take a break from my solo stuff we’d meet up during late nights to work on this one song which we also called “Cold Summer.” We actually released the single in April of this year, 2016. We were in the midst of recording another but haven’t gotten back to it since..

 Finally, in January of 2016 I started another recording production with Joshua Diaz, lead singer of Kids and now guitar player for Further Seems Forever, who I’d met November of the previous year. I felt that we had really clicked. I showed him a few of the things I’d recorded throughout the last couple years and told him what I was going for. He said he knew exactly what it was. So I decided to shoot for three more. But these felt different from all the others from the very             beginning. All the other productions I’d done were in high end top of the line studios, even though Josh’s studio was a small quaint wooden cabin with a vintage board, I felt different about these. Throughout that time I’d asked Josh to join the project and he’s been the bass player since. In mid April we had finished the first three, they turned out so great we decided to do another three which were finished in early June which complete the first EP, “So We Go”

There were definitely some mistakes made a long the way through this process. But to be honest, I think making mistakes is one of the best things anyone can do,  especially as an artist. I think it really helps you identify yourself even more.

What do you wish to achieve? Like, what are your goals with pursuing music? Your dreams. What motivates you to wake up in the morning and go after this? Was there some sort of a-ha! moment or experience that led to this pursuit?

My goal is to share my music with as many people as possible and hope to make them feel something in some sort of way. Soon I’ll play festivals and climb the ladder in that aspect and eventually grow to the arenas. This has always been my mind set and is constantly reinforced every time I create a melody and get goosebumps from it.

What’s your musical background? 

No one in my family has a musical background. The way I got into music was through my Grandma. For my 10th birthday, my Grandma  gave me an acoustic guitar. At the time, she had started dating a guy who was involved in music and I think he was a great influence on the idea. 
Shortly after I started taking lessons and found out my friend also played. We decided to put a little group together around the age of 13 and this really inspired something greater.

What’s your current top 5 bands/artists you’ve been into?

Coldplay, Ben Rector, Walk The Moon, Vance Joy, One Republic

Do you have any advice for people considering going into music?

Truly make sure this is something that feeds your soul and gives you a high.

Anything you want to say about So We Go?

Releasing my debut EP is definitely the highlight of the last 3 years. I’m beyond excited to share the positive vibes and stories that relate to a period in my life. I think because I’ve done 4 other recording productions to get to this sound I was looking for, I’ve truly come to appreciate the journey and outcome even more. I’m constantly thinking of how short our lives are and how important it is to experience new things, take risks, and to not be afraid of what could go wrong, but what could go right, and that’s what helped evolve the concept of So We Go.

My new single "I've Been Waiting" is now on Spotify, Apple Music, and all other streaming services! Follow me there!

A huge thanks to writer Dylan Young & Alex Di Leo for this really awesome interview. Check out Di Leo's track "Make It Easier" above! For more, check out Alex Di Leo's social media links below!

Alex Di Leo: // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // YouTube // Soundcloud

Artist Interview - DaZay Burnett

The Hook had the opportunity to sit down with DaZay Burnett recently, and get some really good info on The Vagabondz, growing up in Harlem, his perception of the role of women and drugs in music, and student debt. 

Check it out below!

I like to build up to personal questions, have the conversations accelerate sort of, so I’ll start with the basics: How are you? How was the Asap Ferg concert?
I'm doing great and you? The ferg concert was TOO LIT everyone was moshin’ goin crazy, I loved it. Shoutouts to Asap and Tory Lanez!

Did you guys happen to start as spoken word poets? The interlude “LESSons” leads me to think that. The poem/song/interlude is great by the way. 
I personally didn’t get into rap through spoken word, my homie Tye did, he’s the one doing the LESSons interlude on the album. I’ve always wanted to try my hand in spoken word, haven’t quite got around to it yet.

What is the role of poetry in hip-hop or rap?
The culture seems to be being swept under the rug by new artists partially because of trap artists  (Not saying all. Just saying a lot of them are more entertainers than rappers/poets). I feel like poetry plays a huge role in rap and lyricism in general. Some of your favorite rappers started out as poets and it really helps getting your ideas out and transferring it over to a beat ya know? For example, my verse on the song “Exceptions” on LESSONS was actually a beat poem I had to write for homework back in high school in my senior poetry class (shoutouts Mr. Leon/ Beacon High)

What is your definition of a poem or poetry?
For me poetry is just the flow of words someone uses to convey an idea or how they’re feeling. Anyone can be a poet. It’s just telling stories.

Do you have a strategy when you rap or do you write freely or freestyle?
Well I started out in hip hop freestyling. I started rapping freshman year of high school and when I was 16 did something called “The Rapathon” back in my hometown of Harlem, which was basically a day long rap cypher which was broken into sets of rap teams, and I was the youngest member my year. I didn’t start writing actual songs till my senior year though, so It just depends on the day to be honest. I’ll hear a beat that’s so cold the first line comes to me automatically and i’ll be done with my verse in less than a hour. Other beats I gotta kinda sit on and take things in from my day to day to use as material, or I’ll freestyle over it until something comes together. I don’t have a solid strategy I just write.

Your music seems to more conscious or complex than just “bitches & drugs.” Now, of course, drugs are arguably great (disregarding anyone’s opinion) and women are a drug enough which is definitely enough cause for creating art, but what motivated you to focus on different things? What inspires your music?
Yeah we definitely get the conscious rap label a lot, which I’m always kinda boosted by because if you peep our earlier tracks on soundcloud (Leopard Interior EP), it’s all sex, drugs, light and dark songs. But that’s just the life we were living at the time growing up in NYC, beefin with other public schools, turnin up at brooklyn free’s (frees= house parties), so the music is like a piece of that moment in time. I feel like we matured fast from that route though, especially with LESSONS, the subject matter is more focused on issues that a lot of people don’t know youth go through in this city, and just our day to day life lessons. Whether that be through songs talking about guns, not being able to afford college, police brutality, or even a lovey dovey song like “Come Tru”. I don’t really think I’m conscious though, when I think of conscious I think of Common and Lupe. I just write about how I perceive the world, and I’m inspired by life experiences and stories I hear from teens from Harlem who feel they don’t really have a voice in society just because where we are and how black youth are perceived. Regardless of how the media tries to make it seem, we’re not all the same and I feel like I have a duty to talk about what I see in my hood on the daily so I just tell my side of the story as honestly as I can. Not every song is pretty and light because it can’t be like that, that’s not how life is for us. We got the turn up songs too don’t get me wrong, but if you have a voice that people want to listen to why not let them know what’s going on out here? That’s just my take, I just want to unify everybody.

What is the role of drugs and alcohol in music? Why do you think it’s a major topic of discussion in rap music? 
Well for one it’s a major topic of discussion because it sells music like crazy.  Alcohol  is so marketable, every major artists is sponsored by at least one liquor brand nowadays. People get high and drink for a variety of reasons whether you agree with the use or not, it’s not stopping anytime soon, but I feel like hip hop gets unfairly labeled the “drug” genre when drug references have been tossed in songs way before hip hop was invented. People rap about what they know so if you smoke and drink all day, your music is most likely gonna reflect that.

What is the role of women in hip-hop culture? You guys seem to talk about women and romance, but sometimes, in unconventional, and I should add refreshing, ways. For example, “Come Tru” sort of resembles a raw rap love song, but mirrors something more sincere than the new love songs rappers are coming out. It’s raw in an honest way and not in a vulgar way that degrades the woman subject being discussed. It sounds hopeful, sort of reminds me of older rap love songs like Ja Rule’s “Put it on Me” or 50 Cents “21 Questions,” perhaps not the same tempo, but definitely a similar tone and vibe. Could you talk a little about your take on love and romance?
I’m not really the romantic type to be honest, but at the end of the day no one really wants to be alone no matter how hard they think they are. It’s weird talking about love for me because I never really had the chance to see what it looks like in my life, and I’ve never personally been in love, but “Come Tru” is about choosing to take  a chance on someone. If they’re worth it. 
From my understanding, a vagabond is someone who wanders from place to place with no particular destination to go to.

What was the incentive behind naming your group that?
Tye came up with the name our sophomore year and we played with the idea for a while, but it didn’t really stick at first. We went nameless for awhile and it wasn’t until senior year that we settled on it because we went through things by that point that really had me and Tye feeling like modern day Vagabondz, and we could relate to the idea of it a lot more by then. Also, my mom (who was once homeless herself as a teen) always used to have me serve food at homeless shelters on Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was younger,  so I’ve always been a strong advocate for helping out those in need. I get tight when people disrespect the homeless or look down on them, no one has the right to do that because you don’t know what leads up to different circumstances, everybody’s story is unique one way or the other. I wanted to take the negative stigma out of the word “vagabond,” because we’re all vagabondz really, wandering place to place at the end of the day with the same destination; 6 feet under.

If I’m recalling correctly, you’re the manager of Vagabondz. How long have you guys been together? 
Yeah for now! And we’ve been a solid group for a little over a year now.

Why did you start the collective? How did you or do you curate your members? 
I started it with Tye, we used to always freestyle together during recess, in class, lunchroom cyphers, everybody at my school lowkey had bars. We just kept trying to find beats that matched our style and it wasn’t working out so we waited, and by senior year a couple of our close friends at school started making beats at different times so we knew we had to do something with that. With the exception of DJ ForTunes, everybody in the group went to Beacon, but now we got new additions to the squad and a whole visual art section so the movement is definitely expanding.

Tell me about the Beast Coast Bondz  Bash experience. How was it on the opposite side of the stage?
Well the whole day was a stressful as fuck because I’ve never thrown a show before so I was shook at first, but it ended up being a beautiful experience. Everyone really pitched in to make it a dope night and to see so many people pull up from different areas was crazy. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my UArts fam they definitely held it down! It was definitely a humbling experience too I saw people rapping along with me it was kinda scary. To see your words and thoughts go from the notes on your ipod to a bunch of people shouting them back at you is indescribable. 

How do you usually prepare for your shows? 
At this point I can’t even listen to my own songs to prepare, like I’ll rehearse the set once a couple days before, but the day of I’m blasting Fabolous “Ima do it,” Bone Thugz, Future. I have a sequence of songs that just get me amped up. I do a lot of pre-gaming before our shows, but I also gotta make sure to do breathing exercises and hydrate heavy so I don’t pass out on stage. 

Tell me about Harlem and growing up in New York. 
I love Harlem. It’s all I know really, I’ve lived in different parts 111th st, 143rd, 125th, 140th.. There’s so much culture that people don’t know about a lot of artists got their start up here. It’s gentrifying like crazy though, every time I come home from school for a show or break I notice a building is missing or a frozen yogurt spot pops up. There’s 7/11’s in Harlem now where bodegas used to be, that blew [my mind] when I came back and saw that shit. Growing up in New York City is a blessing and a curse though I always tell people because there’s so much to do and it’s the city that never sleeps, but that can get old fast. If you not from here and you come here trying to make it big and whatnot with no heart, the city will destroy you. I don’t know why New Yorkers just have a different attitude, I didn’t realize it until I started going to other cities, everyone stays in their own lane here and minds their own business. Saying hi to people you don’t know out of courtesy is weird if you’re from NYC. I’ve lived here my whole life and seen a lot of crazy shit, you never know when the city will surprise you. I’ve been caught in the middle of multiple shootouts, seen people stabbed, beat up by cops etc.. You  get used to it after a certain point. You pick up on which blocks are too hot to walk through at a certain time, who might be looking to rob you if they’re eyeing you a certain way.. the city will definitely keep you on your toes not being street smart will get you hurt here, and if you can’t fight it might be hard for you. Beautiful city though nonetheless with some of the realest people you’ll ever meet.

Are there any artists from there or artists in general, dead or alive, that influence or inspire you?
Harlem legend Big L, listen to a lot of him, I love the stories in his rhymes. From the new school, I would have to say Dave East, he’s definitely putting Harlem on the map in a big way his bars are crazy. I listen to anything though, my tastes in music is all over the place a lot of my favorite artists are overseas, Tom Misch, Little Simz, Jay Prince to name a few. Alina Baraz & Galimatias is certified heat definitely check them out.

Tell me about up upcoming projects and collaborations?
First off my bro Zymoon Merkury dropped a tape that’s smooth listen through called “Seamount” everyone should definitely check that out. I have a solo EP that’s on the way “HEAR:ThereN’BacK” that’s getting the finishing touches worked out as we speak, that’s due before the summer is over, plus I’m in the process of a debut video! The tape has collabs with MOBTOWN out of Baltimore (bump that new track “Every Corner” on soundcloud) and my bro DJ ForTunes crew The Last Call out of Flatbush. Lot of cool stuff in the works I’m hype to get it all out there for y'all.

What about upcoming shows? 
July 22nd “Beast Bondz Bash II” [played] in Hoboken NJ Paul Vincent Studios! Then we [had] another show in Philadelphia July 31st at a venue called “The Dungeon," the name sounds cool as fuck so I’m real hype for that one. Also, just got news Vagabondz will be performing at Coda on Sept 18th for Battle of the Bands.. I’m just happy that people are supporting it’s a dream come true.

How do you feel about your stage presence and performance art? Do you put as much into performing as you do into recording and writing? 
It’s all connected for me. I write with a performance view, meaning when I’m writing I’m already envisioning in my head how I’m going to spit each line on stage. I love performing though. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, I’ve been on Amateur Night at the Apollo three times and even won once, so to be able to sing and rap on stage is exhilarating for me. I’m not religious but when I get on stage it’s like church for me, I always rock every show like it’s my last.

Are there any new members coming to the group soon? 
We already have some new members, Kyle Barrett is helping manage the group/does our photography. [We've] got photographers Wes Knoll, Annacela Cordova, and vocalist Noah Elijah who’s performing at BCBB II. Still recruiting for second wave bondz so the list will most likely keep going on as time passes.

What’s your major at UArts? 
I was originally musical theater but switched to music business entrepreneurship & technology second semester, I had to. I want to do movies and TV later on in life but I gotta focus on one thing at a time.

Do you see yourself hitting the road to stardom early or would you like to finish your years out here first (Or perhaps do it at the same time)?
I don’t really know at this point I’m just focused on furthering our music, school, and doing shows. It’s so hard to make it in America without a degree so I definitely want to continue my education to have that under my belt, but I don’t see why I can’t do everything at the same time. If we stay focused, continue doing shows and making dope music we’ll be alright, everything happens when the time is right.

This is random, but how do you feel about student loans? 
Fuck student loans they’re literally the devil. College is too damn expensive in general though, it shouldn’t cost an arm and leg for a decent education.

Do you think national student debt is a systematic plot of scheme?
Absolutely. Sallie Mae is the biggest pimp in the game right now with hoes all over. I’m about to start an outreach program for people trying to get out of the debt game.

Where do you see the Vagabondz in the next ten years? 
I see our movement expanding globally and I want our collective to have at least a hundred enlightened individuals from all walks of life.. We’re a collective first and foremost, so our artists are constantly creating and collab-ing with other artists, and we’re solidifying ourselves as not just a group, but an actual brand. With time I want to branch out into all different forms of entertainment and media, so in ten years you’ll be seeing Vagabondz everywhere

Thanks so much to DaZay for this interview, and for more on DaZay, check out the links below!

DaZay Burnett: Facebook // Soundcloud // Datpiff

Artist Interview - Amanda Jones

Recently The Hook was able to get in touch with rising Oregon-based pop artist, Amanda Jones. The vocalist answered some questions for us regarding music, life, and her childhood! You can check out the full interview below for the inside scoop!

1.)    It seems that resetting life seems to be thematic in your music. Tell me about some of your experiences with starting over and refreshing yourself.
As a 21 year old, it’s been a time in my life where change is all around me. I’ve spent a couple of years figuring out myself, my beliefs and what makes me happy and am starting to feel really good about the place I’m at currently in my life. Sometimes you just need to start over to become the best version of yourself.

2.)    When you write music, are you influenced by real life happenings or do you take inspiration from other things?
Both! I write about personal experiences, things I see my friends going through, or random words/ phrases that might stick with me. It’s always a little different and makes the process unique each time.

3.)    What was your hardest “goodbye?”
My cousin passed away in a car crash 4 years ago, and it’s something I really struggled with. I wrote “My Goodbye” during that time to find peace/ closure from his death. 

4.)    How do you feel about this generation and how it handles romance and relationships?
The dating culture for this generation is honestly really weird, stressful and confusing. The general “hook up” culture that has become prominent over the past few years, makes putting yourself out there and dating so much harder. I don’t like it.

5.)    What is the role that love plays in music?
I think that love plays a huge role in the sense that it’s an emotion we feel, something that we as humans always crave, and a huge part of every person’s life. It’s a topic that everyone can connect to on some level. 

6.)    Tell me about your childhood.
I was really shy until first grade, when I had an awesome teacher that brought me out of my shell. I hardly talked to people until that year, but somehow we connected and she got me really into writing poetry and reading my work at poetry readings/ coffee shops. I saw the movie “Annie” and was inspired by it to start singing the words and poems I would write, and I haven’t stopped singing since! I’ve grown up with lots of dogs and cats, one brother and my parents. It’s still weird to think about the fact that I’m an adult!

7.)    Where are you from? What were some of the customs in the area that you grew up in and how did this affect your music?
I was born in Idaho, but moved to Oregon with my family around the age of 3, so I consider myself a Portlander (since I’ve basically spent my whole life here!) There is a very strong music scene, and I started going to concerts around age 11. Seeing artists I admire pour their hearts out on stage was/ is still so inspiring to me. Being so far into the local music scene, it definitely helped shape me into the strong independent artist I am today. 

8.)    When did music become an important part of your life?
In 1st grade, but I really started taking it seriously in middle school. Singing at coffee shops, posting demos on Myspace- that is the time period when I really started working toward my musical goals.

9.)    When you are making music, do you create for yourself or do you create with other people in mind? Why?
This is a tricky question, and my answer would be both! I create songs to help me get through rough times or celebrate good times, but also write with my listeners in mind. I want to write songs that they can connect with or relate to through their own personal experiences.

10.)    Tell me about your creation process.
I have thousands of voice memos with song ideas on my phone. The process varies, but i usually end up sitting down with my guitar and just singing whatever comes to mind, and building up ideas from there.

11.)    Have you taken any steps to educate yourself in regard to your profession?
I have focused on writing and poetry classes. I spent a few years in a community choir when I was younger, but veered away from that when I was tired of making my voice blend in and stopped growing vocally. 

12.)    Do you have any “before performance” rituals?
This is so strange but 99% of the time, I eat chicken in some form as my meal before a show. It’s so random but I guess it’s good to get my protein for the day in!

13.)    Tell me about your most recent performance.
I recently opened for Sebastian Olzanski and Jonah Marais on the “Daydream Tour” in Portland, and it was such a fun show. I got to perform original music and a couple of covers. I was so stoked to be back onstage after not having a large show for a few months.

14.)    Are there any concerts or tours approaching?
There are no confirmed tour dates yet, but I am hoping to hit the road in the very near future!

15.)    In regards to music, what has hindered you most?
For a few years I was my own personal roadblock. I doubted myself and really struggled with committing to YouTube content and growing as an artist. Luckily that phase of my life has passed, and I am feeling stronger than ever with my artistry.

Huge thanks to Amanda Jones for her honesty and sincerity! The Hook appreciates the time taken to complete the interview, and we hope our readers do also!

Amanda Jones: Twitter // Facebook // Spotify // Website  


Artist Interview - Curtis Cooper

  Photography: Abi Reimold

Photography: Abi Reimold

In a coffee shop, Curtis Cooper and I drank tea and talked.

And when I say talked, I mean we really talked about everything. Curtis let me in on his life in less than an hour, and maybe that's why I wanted to talk to him in the first place. After seeing him play back in March, I was hell-bent on finding this guy. 

So, I did, and we met in this coffee shop and we talked and I recorded it, transcribed it and now it's here for you to read. Curtis let me in on growing up, on college, music, feminism, racism, and Philly - and heck, if you're interested in that stuff, especially from Curtis Cooper (all around really cool human being) then maybe this interview will be really good for you!

So, let’s get started with you telling me about yourself, about how you got started in music. I started playing guitar when I was four, my Dad made me, it was kind of an every day thing, and then I got into piano, cello, and choir – but I didn’t really stick with any of that too well until I was 13 and I got back into guitar and I went to Paul Green School of Rock…ultimately I didn’t like doing that as I got older because they make you do these tribute shows make your family come and stuff, which was good back then because it got me into classic rock bands, the people that stuck with me like The Ramones, The Clash, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana. Nirvana was the first big one, and I got back into guitar hard, and ya’ know Nirvana was the first band I found myself, the first band I said, “this was made for me.” I knew every fuckin’ song.

Where are you from? I’m from South Philly originally, moved up to North West when I was 10 and I went to High School at Central, which is a really good school.

How did you get where you are now? I’ve always played guitar, but I’ve never really played in bands. I don’t know why. I played in some in high school, one was called “The Stretch Marks,” and the other was called “Don’t Get Caught.” The songs didn’t have any meaning, ya know, we just liked to get really drunk, and honestly I did that through college until like, really, a year ago when I thought I should stop playing punk music, and play music I want to play that makes me happy.  

What is the Curtis Cooper Project? I had always had these songs I had written that I just didn’t know what to do with, and that’s when I started the Curtis Cooper project – I hit up Scott Stitzer (Drummer in Mumblr) saying “dude I want to make a record, I don’t know what it’s gonna sound like, I know all the parts,” so, I went over there and recorded it, and it got more traction then I thought it would…so, I started to play you know my songs. I feel like I just started doing this, way more recently than I should have – but, through all of that I got my guitar chops up pretty good, so. 

Where are you at now? I’m living in this venue in West Philly called All Night Diner, and it is literally just like the best place I’ve ever lived. There’s 8 people living there and everyone plays music. I come home there’s a band in the basement, someone’s always playing guitar near me, so all we do is play music now – and it’s amazing. I’m kickstarting into music for the first time, and it’s amazing, and I lucked out being in Philly because you can get anywhere you want, it’s so easy to tour from here. This city is so strong, too. There’s great bands in North Philly, South Philly, Fishtown, West Philly – like, anywhere you go there’s a scene. I feel like everything’s just falling into place, and I’m kind of opening my eyes for the first time and wanting to be involved more. It’s not about just being angry anymore, it’s about being proud of what I write.

So, you write all of your stuff? Yeah, I do write everything. The rhythm of the melody is incredibly important, the harmonies is also something I think a lot about, and that’s more important than the words to me. I write the lyrics, too. I write those last, but I’m working on that. I have a general idea, but sometimes I tip toe about it, or sometimes I’m direct about it, but the rhythm is still the most important thing to me.

What about Philly inspires you so much, since we’re talking about Philly, does it inspire you at all? I’ve toured a lot, I’ve been on a travel kick, I’ve traveled around the world like this past year, ya know the Philippines, Mexico, Amsterdam, Morocco, England – you know I’ve just been traveling, up and down the East Coast and the West Coast, and I keep my eye out thinking like “ya know, where would I move, if I had to move” and for a while it was Ashville, and Portland, or Seattle, but the more I traveled the more I realized I need to be in an east coast city, and like Philly is the perfect mix between New York and Baltimore where you have the grid, or Boston where you can get out and the architecture is beautiful and we have so many beautiful things, and you have the grit where people are still real, and you have the yuppies to keep the city clean – I feel like we have everything, the clean and the shit, everything you need here. Of course, all the colleges too, I mean that’s why we have a scene – we would be nothing without Temple, Drexel, UPenn, Uarts this is why we have a music scene. 

So, this sounds dumb, but I read on your Facebook that you’re inspired by Elliot Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel, do they still bring things to your own music now? Elliot Smith, yes, really. Oh my god, all the time. All I do is play Smith songs all the time. I woke up in the Philippines with Elliot Smith tattoos. He’s unbelievable, so smart, obsessed with math and theory and everything. You think he did that on accident, put his pinky on that string on accident, but no it’s all on purpose – unbelievably unique and clever. It’s all about chord progressions for me, so if you write a good progression I’m in love, and Elliot Smith is the king. He was always just fuckin’ with his brain to see how crazy he could get. My all time favorite record is From A Basement On The Hill, his last record, and the way you listen to music is like getting inside of a persons head – I feel like when I get inside his head, I’m not alone. It makes me feel like I’m fuckin’ fine, like I have a friend. 

Is that what you want people to get from your music? No, I don't because it means people are just as fucked up as I am, which is odd. I mean people are listening to my record, and I'm surprised by it, I didn't think people would want to listen to it. I hope people don't like this because people are fucked up, but honestly I started the album out disguised. Like the song "4 Minutes" is happy and "Today L.A." is about the first time I left Philly. Then the third song is about depression, "Happy and Sane," is about two people in my head, half of me thinks I'm fine, but when I go to sleep it's not like that, but then you wake up and everything's fine - it doesn't make sense. There's always these little disguises, the 4th song is about suicide, the 5th and 6th song is about getting arrested, the last one is about cocaine. I just try and make them as pretty as I can, but in my head this music is sad, so if you relate to it, but I hope that it's not because everyone's depressed as shit all the time.

What are your goals now? Now since all of my friends are really making their music their business, and I'm sitting here like why aren't I making music responsible, my goals used to be like let me just tour a bunch - but now it's being more realistic about getting paid for shows, my dream would be to just be getting paid to do music, like if I won the lottery I'd just play music all the time, but I'm poor so I have to work. I am what I am, I can't change that. I don't really know what my goals are, maybe play more established venues like I've played Johnny Brenda's, playing Boot & Saddle, Bourbon & Branch. I started out playing house shows, ya know the dream, but honestly I really enjoy having a real sound, I want a sound guy who knows what he's doing. My goal now, I guess, is to not freak out - I'm working on a record now, get that out, keep expectations low, I guess? I don't have to take my life too seriously, cause I have some options, some outs, but I do have options.

So, easier questions, what's your favorite type of food? Um, I love potatoes. I cook food as much as I can, so I mix it up a lot. But, my dream meal is like a steak, potatoes, asparagus, and a bunch of bread and butter. That's the dream. I could eat that for the rest of my life.

That was my next question, could you eat that for the rest of your life? I could, if I had to eat one thing I'd eat just potatoes because you can always mix it up. I'd add sauces to it, or salt/pepper, onions. Potatoes are magic. 

You played at the Bernie Support Show, have you done anything politically charged like that before? My Dad is a very weird dude, and in the 80's he was really into Native American Rights and Communism, I don't know how those are connected, but because of that back in High School I hosted benefit shows for Native American Rights - and I've been fortunate enough to have gone to the Sun Dance Festival. I've gone to The Feast Of The Dead. I had a benefit for Leonard Pelteir, and it's sad because I feel like if these were benefits for something else more people would come out. That's my go-to, but honestly, I can't find a Native American band to be on the show - that's the political thing I'm invested in, because I was fortunate to see those ceremonies, and this is a dying race of people that no one is talking about. I have this desperation about it, I wish Bernie could win, I feel like this is the first time that change is possible, you know.

I guess that's really it, unless you wanted to talk about the record you are creating? Yeah, I mean it's gonna come out at some point. Laughing In Line came out really chill, because I was staying away from aggression - but this next one, the riffs are heavier, but it's definitely what people call Punk now - grunge or fuzz. There's a lot of acoustic songs, two about being in love. All of the songs are about death, I had so many people die this year, and it all started with David Bowie, but people close to me just dropping like flies. The record is very depressing and anxious and tense, but it's closer to what I think I am as a musician. I'm working with a drummer where this album is his wheel house, and I'm working with a jazz and bass player who is the best I've ever met in my life, and I'm fortunate enough to be playing with these people. It'll be depressing, angry, grungy and love-y. 

Huge thanks to Curtis for this stellar interview about potatoes, depression, and politics. We'll be adding an edited audio version of this interview when we aren't so stupid with editing audio (aka me, I'm dumb) but until then check out Laughing In Line, check out Curtis who is always playing - he's got a show this Friday, August 15th at Goldilocks w/ Branden Can't Dance and Teenage Halloween - and as always check out his social media below for more!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp // Soundcloud

Artist Interview - Ecclesiast

  Photography:   ©Eichelberger    Photography 2016

Photography: ©Eichelberger Photography 2016

After the release of their newest EP, Ecclesiast sat down with The Hook to talk about really cool stuff like what they're about, future plans, and what it's like to have a brand new EP under their belts!

Check out our interview with metalcore band, Ecclesiast, below!

1.  Congrats on the new EP! How has the reception been thus far? 
The reception for the EP has been incredible and better than we could have ever hoped for! 

2. Did you have any goals set in place for what you wanted to accomplish with your debut release?
With this release, we just really wanted to lay it all down on the line and show you all where our hearts were and what we were going through personally in our own lives, in hopes that the listener would be able to relate in some way, shape, or form.

3. What was the writing process like? How quickly did it take for the material to come together?
The writing process was honestly one of the best parts of this whole album. After various changes, we each just came to a good and solid conclusion on what the songs would be, what they would mean, and in turn, what the end product would sound like. Bouncing ideas off of one another has always been a strong suit of ours and we plan on utilizing that for the upcoming full-length album.

4. Ecclesiast may fit comfortably into the metalcore genre, but the band nonetheless has a unique approach, especially in your melodic sensibility. Care to divulge any prominent influences?
While each of the band members do have similar influences, ranging from Slipknot, to War of Ages, we each had our own take on the album and how we present our own musicality. I [Tyler] grew up on blues, jazz, and classical music, and with that, incorporated that into my own playing, for heavier genres.

5.  "High Horse" was a great single to introduce people to your sound with, but all the material on the EP stacks up as well. Do you feel "High Horse" in particular embodies what Ecclesiast is all about?
“High Horse” was chosen to be our single, for the sole reason that it indeed is what we’re all about. We’re all about compassion and change. We believe that an individual can always better themselves for the better of society, and the world, and that even if man has fallen so far behind, we can always get right back up on our feet.

6. All of your music has a really prominent message of redemption. Do you feel like you've dealt with that a lot in your own lives? 
As many people do in their lives, each of us have dealt with our own personal hardships and trials throughout our walk of life and have therefore been able to incorporate that into what we’re doing, to create very honest, very real tracks for you guys to listen to. Redemption was something that really resonated with each of the songs, because that’s each of us strived for at one point in our lives. Reaching for a better cause, a higher purpose.

7. When do you guys think you'll be working on more material?
While we’ll more than likely be keeping it under wraps for a good while, we’ve actually already been working on more material for future releases and are excited to share it with you guys in the future.

8. Can we look forward to any tours in support of this new material?
You can definitely expect a large amount of shows, as well as some out of state dates, in support of this new material in the future. But as for now, only time will tell.

9. We saw that you guys are playing with In Dying Arms, It Lies Within, and Sea of Treachery when they come through on their Fight The Parasite tour. What was it like getting in contact with them? 
Getting in contact with these bands was an awesome thing. Each of us actually really love the music that the bands on this bill have put out, and admire what they’re doing, so this show is sure to be one for the books.

10. What three bands, together or not, would you dream of touring with?
It would be an absolute honor if we were able to tour with Oh Sleeper, Gideon, and War of Ages. Seriously, that would be one stacked line-up!

Huge thanks to Ecclesiast for being super rad dudes who make heavy-hitting, powerful music!

Ecclesiast:  Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Artist Interview - GreyMarket


The Hook had the opportunity to chat with GreyMarket recently about what's been going on during their super busy 2016 - especially with shows, and the release of their most recent album!

You can check out the interview below for the inside scoop on these really rad Tampa Electro-pop duo!

1. You guys have a ton of different influences which can make it difficult to find band members you mesh with. How did you guys link up?  
I (Mike) put up an ad seeking a bass player for my band at USF that Cave's sister found and handed over to him.  After some growing pains and cutting our teeth Cave switched to guitar and we went through some lineup changes until settling on what we're doing now as our preferred course.  Incidentally our musical tastes are remarkably similar.  

2. I’ve read that your guys’ music is not only inspired by other albums but film as well. What sort of films do you try to draw from?  
There are plenty, but we both love Sci-fi.  Blade Runner, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek.  

3. Favorite film? Director?  
Ohhh not fair.  Soo many.  Blade Runner, The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, Goodfellas.  My (Mike) current favorites are the Wachowskis.  Obviously there are lots of favorites but they keep pushing the envelope.

4. What is your workflow like when you’re writing a new song? Where do you start/build from?Cave could probably answer this better but he composes mostly alone and brings ideas to me. I'll give feedback and cut drums, and then he'll finish fleshing it out. Fortunately our taste is similar so there is rarely disagreement on the general direction. 

5. Your music creates such an enormous wall of sound. Have you ever thought about making the duo into a trio?  
Actually we began under the assumption that we'd need at least 4, maybe even 5 members to make the sort of music we set out to make.  After auditioning people and testing out different lineups it was always the two of us left standing with this idea of what it was supposed to be.  It took a lot of work and experimentation but when we finally cracked our operational design we were off and running and never looked back.  

6. What’s your favorite U.S city to visit on tour?  
Another hard one. I'm a big fan of Charleston, SC.  

7. Who has been your favorite band to play/tour with thus far in your career?  
Probably Electric Six. They were really cool people, and completely down to earth.  

8. Have you ever toured in Europe before? If not, can you see that possibly happening in the future?  
We have not but yes that is a possibility.

9. Do you think you’ll release any music videos for any songs off The Stress Kills?  
Yes we will.  We've just been bogged down with other responsibilities and touring, as we're still an independent operation, but we'll get to it.  

10. When can we expect another release?
We're already working on new material so I'd guess in the fall.  

Huge thanks to GreyMarket for taking the time to tell us cool stuff, and we look forward to what's coming out next!

GreyMarket: Website // Facebook // Twitter // Bandcamp

Artist Interview - Alive & Well

After the release of their most recent album, and a slew of shows and really great achievements, The Hook had the opportunity to talk to Alive & Well about how they're doing, what inspires them, and how they like their grits! 

Check out our interview below!

1. How’ve you been (Because it’s polite to start any conversation with checking in on the person you’re talking to.) 

Mike - We've been great! Our video for 'Addictions' just came out through New Noise magazine and we have a bunch of shows coming up! 

2. To get straight to the personal stuff, would any of you identify as a “cheese person” or “sugar person” in regard to grits? (Seriously, a person’s identity lies in the answer of the question.) 
Mike - Oh man, for grits? Salt and butter. Cheese is good basically all the time for anything though. String cheese, is a favorite because it's perfect for on the go scenario's, which I find myself in often. Sugar isn't really necessary to add to anything. Only add it to coffee if you're gonna pound it and get a fuel boost. Then add tons. I call that Space Juice. 

3. It seems that your music focuses on acceptance and freedom. If I could describe your music in terms of food, it would be sweet, maybe comfort food, but the best kind, like Oreos and Pizza. Would your music be encouragement to others to enjoy their lives as it is or is it a statement, telling the world that you will enjoy life regardless of your circumstances?
Mike - You have to find enjoyment in everything (especially oreos and pizza), but that doesn't mean you have to settle where you are and say ' yep, this is how's its going to be forever'. If things are rough right now, find something fun about it, engulf yourself in it, enjoy it, utilize it, because you're only going up and that one thing that got you by in that particular situation won't ever be there again. It won't ever have the same feeling the next time around. Everyone is always going up, so enjoy every step of the way. 

4. What inspired your song “259 Park Drive”?
Matt - 259 Park Dr. is about the house I grew up in. I had a single parent and my mom worked a lot and my friends and I took advantage of her not being there by having parties and hanging around since there wasn't much supervision. A lot of my friends who all have settled down and taken up careers, gotten married, had children, look back at that house and it represented wilder times in their lives. We all got our bearings on life there, made mistakes, drank too much, tried drugs, and had a blast as we figured out what kind of people we were going to grow up into. That song is a thank you to the people who were there as I use to have huge anxiety issues about being left alone, I still prefer being with a group but at that point in my life it was crucial to have people around in order to be comfortable. 

5. If you guys were still in basements and not at beaches, would you still make music? Would you still embrace the process?

Matt - The move from East to West was a monumental experience in all our lives and in different ways and it provided great content to write about. But our lives individually revolve around music so much that it doesn't matter where we ended up, I am pretty confident that we would still be making music no matter what. 

6. It says in your Facebook bio that you guys are collectively interested in “Enjoying the fuck out of life and what [you’ve] got.” That also seems to be a reoccurring theme in your music. Could you elaborate on why that, specifically, is important to you and the music that you create?
Mike - Kind of what was said in question three. Some days you have it all, some days you have nothing, but have fun. There's no point to any of this (life) if we don't have fun with it. Space Juice helps. 

7. Are there any topics that you’d like to use your platform to sing about in the future?
Matt - We have a lot of new stuff that's being written right now, as things progress were constantly being provided ideas for new songs. Mike is now a big part of the process of conceptualizing songs with me while Brozgold takes more part in the arrangements, but whenever Mike and I hang out we talk a lot about what we want to address. We consider ourselves spitefully optimistic so well continue to write songs that will hopefully motivate and encourage people to fight for things they believe in. But the commentary this band will provide ranges from civil rights, politics, and religion, all the way to partying, drug use, and debauchery.  

8. Your music also seems to discuss cyclical nature (drugs, seasons, day-to-day conflict and resolution). Could you elaborate on your reason for focusing on this?

Matt - The seasons being the most obvious one, my teenage years and early 20s I could anticipate aspects of my life based on the season it took place in. I was happiest in the summer where I could purely focus on music, partying with my friends, and traveling. I spent the fall still enjoying myself but in the back of my mind prepping for the inevitable seasonal depression that would kick my ass in the following months. Winter was miserable, broke, freezing to death in my van on my way to college classes where I was completely unmotivated to work due to my mental state. And then in spring I would dig myself out the mess I made and fix my life up. I repeated this for years before hastily fleeing for the west coast.  

The drug aspect is something that I think a lot of people wouldn't talk about with as positive of a connotation as I do. I am a careful, recreational drug user and I think that some of the experiences I have had under the influence have contributed to why I am such a positive and welcoming individual. If you're not religious and consider humans for what they are; animals that have evolved and adapted over time by chance and made up of a combination of chemicals, then its easier to accept that some folks chemicals aren't in in sync all the time and if you can take something that makes you feel better than you would with out it, why wouldn't you? Its a shame when some folks lose control while experimenting and its certainly not for everyone, some people have disastrous reactions and it ruins their lives but I personally use substances to alter myself into a better version. They help me act like more of who I believe I am, a more confident and overall happier individual. I'm not condoning it or even celebrating it but to not include it the songs is not addressing a large aspect of who I am. 

9.)   50 years is a long time to commit to music or anything or anyone for that matter. Do you see yourself committing to music and/or to each other for nearly as long as 50 years?
Mike - If the world doesn't cave in on itself by then then hell yeah! We'll be Alive & sort of Well. I'm sure our bodies will be in shambles though. 

10. If you could rock out with anyone who isn’t with us anymore, who would it be? 
Mike - Dime bag probably. Dude could head bang and the after party would be insane. 
Matt - Lemmy, the dude could party and Im sure he'd hate our band. 

11. What is your top five artists of all time?
Mike -  Every Time I Die. Vinnie Caruana (all his stuff). Sum 41. Springsteen. Alkaline Trio
Matt - Green Day, Billy Joel, The Chariot, Tom Waits, Every Time I Die

12. Are there any artists who you plan to work with in the near future?
Mike - All the bands we played with the first year we started. Those first few shows were crucial and helped us out a lot. So Light Years, Driver Friendly, Firestarter, Such A Mess, For The Win. And some new friends we've made a long the way I'd like to play with again. Post Season, Chasing Morgan, Crooked Teeth, Trophy Wives. 

Matt - I think we're a perfect fit with Hit The Lights, Four Year Strong, and Set Your Goals. I don't know how to make that happen but it would be awesome.

13. What, specifically, do you admire about those who influence you? 
Mike - The fact that they're just people. If I'm lucky enough to meet the artists or bands that influence me, they're always just a regular person. No rockstar mentality. 

14. Tell me about some of the projects you have lined up in the future. 
Matt - We want to end this EP cycle with a huge music video for 259 Park Dr, ideally I'd like to do it on the east coast with all our childhood friends and family in it because its a song about them. After that we gear up for our next release. 

15. How do fell about emotional vulnerability in art? 
Matt - I think its amazing, some of my favorite lyricists are people who pull the curtain back on their lives. The good, the bad, and the uncomfortable. I think it takes balls to admit something in a song that you might not even be comfortable saying in conversation and thanks to music shifting away from radio, where you had to be careful about what's being said, now I think you're getting a closer, realer look at song writers. 

16. Where do you want your band to be in ten years?
Mike - Every/ anywhere there's a stage. 

We want to thank Alive & Well for this really stellar interview, and if you're looking for more on these really cool guys, check out their social media below!

Alive & Well: Facebook // Website

Artist Interview - ORBS

Recently, The Hook had the opportunity to speak with ORBS about their latest music, their favorite snacks, and what they're up to. You can check out the interview below!

1. You just released a single, “Dreamland II," for the new record Past Life Regression. Is this track a sneak peek of what the record will be like?
- There’s really not any one track that can sum up what this album sounds like. Lyrically I know this one doesn’t deal with reincarnation which a lot of the other songs do, so it’s kind of an odd ball in that regard, and it’s one of the shorter more concise songs on the album. When we were doing the track order we thought of it like an A and B side even though it’s a four sided 2xLP, and what was the back side in our minds is definitely darker and weirder. The first song we released “Exploded Birds” is more in that vein. This is just kind of a weird little mid tempo rock/classical song.

2. What inspired the track and the rest of the record?
-Well, musically "Dreamland II" was inspired by a two handed piano technique Ashley was working on, double hitting each note trying to mimic using a delay pedal. That’s the piano line you hear in the chorus. So the verse was written with the same kind of floaty feel but with more elaborate piano arpeggios. I wrote the drum and bass part to kind of feel like a salsa, I just had that droning syncopation in my head over top. I think it helps hint at the energy that the part is about to erupt into.  This song was the second we started and the second to last we finished three years later..the first version was about 6:30 minutes long, same beginning and end but it went on this crazy journey. It was nice to have the time to come back to it and focus on what the core idea of the song was. “El Burro” which ends the album was another one that went through a major change like this, but I think that plays a lot into how we were able to grow as musicians and arrangers from our first album.

3.  Dan Briggs, what is it like producing this while also playing on it? 
-I produced this album in more of the way a movie producer does; I paid for it haha. Every album I’ve recorded with any band is planned and arranged perfectly before going into the studio. I’ve never written in the studio with an engineer acting as a producer helping to shape songs, so in that regard every group I’ve ever been in has produced our records; in more of the music sense of the term. One of our pre production demos for the song “Peculiar, Isn’t It?” is available in the pre-order for the album with a bonus EP, and you’ll be able to listen to that and then the version on the album and they’re completely identical; with maybe a few vocal approaches being the only thing that’s a little different. In the studio I just love being the first one there and the last to leave in general, being on top of every hit and every effect adjustment.

For this album I recorded the guitars and bass over the course of a week, so it was literally just me and the engineer Kris Hilbert in the room for like 70 hours just killing it and going totally psycho; and as he’d tell you a lot of it was recreating sounds that were on demos from a few years prior. In Orbs especially the sonic world of the song is as much of the carefully planned arrangement as anything else.

4. It’s been awhile since the release of Asleep Next to Science, why such a long hiatus? 
-Well, the last run we did was really bad, shows getting pulled out from under us the day before, working with promoters that just didn’t care. There was one day we got into Phoenix the day before our show and went to see our friends Letlive play at the same venue we were playing the next day, so we printed up some flyers to hand out because the shows had been pretty weak up to that point and you know..we come from the DIY hardcore world of the 90s/2000s and that’s just how you promoted shows. So we show up and there’s not a flyer or anything anywhere for the show happening the next day; and the kid working the door was the promoter and I just sort of lost it in a way- enough that he didn’t show up the next day. So, at that time in 2011, it was just a huge stressor. My life was playing music and I was going from BTBAM tour to Orbs tour, and after that one I think we were all just feeling it. I started my fusion group Trioscapes that summer and it really reinvigorated me. Adam, Ashley and I started chatting after that summer and just ironing things over; because we already had a handful of ideas at that point. Flash forward a year or two later and the three of us were getting it all put together in the same way we wrote the first album. And then you know, funding the album ourselves...everything just took longer. Each step of the process was drawn out a bit because there was no real deadline. It was such a relief when we had a finished product and EVR came on board to help us release it because things have been in motion ever since. 

5. What inspired you guys to get back together again to work on a new album? 
-Honestly some of these songs had been around before our first album even came out, because there was a long wait for that one to happen as well! The first version of “El Burro” and “Jaws on Repeat” were written in the fall of 2009, “Death Is Imminent” and “Dreamland II” happened in the spring of 2010; and our first album didn’t come out until August 2010. So there were these pieces we were so excited about already, and then Ashley shared with me the beginnings of “These People Are Animals” and “Giving Tree Hanging Me”, and I sent “Not That Kind of Ouroboros” and “Exploded Birds” and we fine tuned everything had our LP. It just took...awhile haha. 

6. You worked with Kris Hilbert and Will Yip on this album, what was that like?
-They’re true warriors. The album wouldn’t have happened without working with really passionate people all along the way and those dudes set the tone. We recorded this when Kris’ studio was in its original layout and it’s now evolved into this incredible studio, but at that point was us huddled in a pretty small room in a big building. It was this same time of year in 2013, we just plowed through tracks. I’d do the guitar on both sides and then pick up the bass, and then move on to the next song. It was intense haha. I remember we were loving the Queens of the Stone Age “..Like Clockwork” record and probably listened in the car every day on the way to dinner. He then flew out to Long Beach with me for a week to record Adam at his house to accommodate his work schedule, which I think was pretty relaxing for him and nice to get away from his studio here in North Carolina. And Will really reinvigorated us with positivity and his input as an outsider to the band. Kris is one of my best friends and has a connection to Orbs, but Will I just emailed because I dug his work and he latched on in the same way Kris did and that meant a lot to us. Will was insanely busy at that time (and I think still is) so any time I got an email from him with a new mix idea I was always super excited. We met up at his studio later in the process just for a day and slammed through levels on the album and it was a blast. Definitely a winning combo!

7.  What makes ORBS different from other groups you’re all involved in like Between the Buried and Me and Fear Before (the March of Flames)?
-Well, there’s stylistic things that are obvious; Orbs is really more of a rock band at heart. Things get weird, progressive, experimental; but for me I just feel like I’m writing as straight forward of songs as I can haha. My natural tendencies are just based off of my musical make up, but that includes everything from Frank Zappa to Nirvana to Bartok and things just naturally are a little different for us, and I think that’s a similarity to BTBAM and Fear Before. 

8. Is ORBS going to tour to support the record? 
-Tour dates for the end of July/early August should be wrapped up next week hopefully! We’re doing a week on the east coast with Ivadell from Columbia, SC just to kind of get out there and get our feet wet playing together again, and to support our album which comes out July 15th. I’ll be in Europe right before hand with BTBAM so it has a similar timing and feel to 2010 all over again haha. But I couldn’t be more excited. Adam and I have talked about how we don’t understand how we’re going to be able to contain ourselves emotionally on stage playing these songs because they’ve been this pipe dream for us for so many years now and it’s finally really happening. We’ll see what happens from there, it’d be great to get some opening slots on tours for sure. 

9. What is favorite part about working with each other? 
-This band was so fun for me to put together initially because it’s made up of a lot of my best friends. Adam and I had gotten really close when our two bands toured together, and we had him sing on the BTBAM “Colors” album. Right after that Ashley and I started writing together and I knew I had to get him involved. I was living with our bassist Chuck Johnson at the time and I had to get him playing bass, and now Matt Lynch who I’ve worked with since 2011 in Trioscapes has just been my rock ever since and he’s kind of stuck going everywhere with me haha. I don’t think he minds though! The 5 of us were all together for the first time in five years two weeks ago when we filmed a music video in LA and it was awesome. It felt so good!

10. Do you expect to keep ORBS going in the future?
-There’s well over a half hour of music already written...I’ll let you figure that out based off of earlier answers!

11. Lastly, tacos or nachos? 
-Well, today is Tuesday so I should say tacos. Also I lived with a cat named Taco and she is magical.

Thanks for the awesome opportunity to really dig in deep with some of these questions ORBS, and we hope our readers enjoy learning about you just as much as we did!

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