Thursday, February 4, 2010

fo[u]r hands

Some hands are bigger than others. These Hands in particular are generating some serious buzz on the interweb. They were recently the highlight of a blog called Knoxroad AND they're releasing a single called Hold on innovative German label, Headphonica. Along with the soundscape that is their myspace, read an exclusive interview I had with the band. I'll let them do the rest of the talking:


Where are your favorite venues to play in LA?

Ryan James Sweeney: HM157 and Echo Curio were very awesome. Echo Curio brings a crowd itself.

Geoffrey Halliday: I really liked Spaceland, obviously, but HM157, for live shows. And Echo Curio is like its own crazy art gallery.

How has your music evolved since you guys have been together?

GH: It’s more of a monkey now than it was. No, I think we use more computers now.

RS: On Cities we had a lot more acoustic guitar.

GH:It sounded much more like a songwriter. My first approach to it was an album as an artistic expression, but it was also an excersie in learning to write a song.

RS:Now we’re back to the digital computer base. That’s how we seem to have been starting our most recent stuff. We sample this or that and then we’ll write a song over that with an acoustic guitar, like a songwriter would.

GH: There’s a lot of creating stuff to inspire something else, where the original thing that inspired a song doesn’t even get used.

What’s your biggest challenge as a band?

RS: Finishing songs. Working together.

GH: Having a block of time, finding the time it takes to work hard on something.

RS: Living in LA, you have to work a lot to make a decent living.

GH: When we lived in Philadelphia we just simply didn’t have to work as much. The expense of living is way more out here. Cheap living here is like medium living on the east coast.

RS: Having to work, keep a day job and try to be a band member is a big challenge.

So what are you guys working on right now?

GH: Porn.

Besides your porn videos.

RS: For the past year we’ve been working on a new album.

GH: Yeah we thought about doing an EP just to get something out there sooner, but it’s more of a question of like, where is my block of time to sit and think about something? The idea of sleeping on something is great, but to me it’s the idea of waking on something. Living a day and not really thinking about much else but revisiting that idea consistently. Pondering and giving deep thought in your waking life to something like music when you’re sitting in front of a computer all day is really hard to do. Crunching numbers and all that shit. At the end of the day I could say I’m making excuses and it’s about not stopping, just keeping doing it, because nothings unattainable.

RS: It’s not that we come home from work and are couch potatoes. But being able to record is hard. Every day we get home one of us has a guitar in our hand and we say let’s work on this. But living in an apartment in LA and you try recording at 7 oclock, there’s sirens and screams and “hey buddy fuck you’s” out the window.

GH: But yeah, I think in the end, the fun will be in the struggle of it all. But at the same time, as soon as we’re done with this, we’ll want to move on to something else. It’s rejuvenating to purge music, get it out, and start over almost.

On your myspace it says you sound like Power Rangers and Skip-it, can you elaborate on that?

GH: (to Ryan) Do we sound like that?

RS: It’s definitely experimental.

GH: I mean, we’re songwriters at the heart of it, but we’re also into big, maybe not big, but beats. Sweeney and I come to each other with beats a lot. Not exactly like hip-hop, but like beats with chords and progressions and all that crap.

RS: Yeah, that’s why I would say it’s definitely experimental because we don’t sit down together and write the songs all at once. We’ll come back to each other, like (to Geoff) remember that thing you played a year ago? And we’ll try to work it out. There will be times we’ll write something on a guitar, but we’ll choose to play it on a synth just to try something different and I think that’s why I like to tell people it’s experimental.

GH: Nah, it’s just classic rock.

So you guys made music for a film. How was it making music for someone else’s art and trying to put your own process into that?

RS: It’s very cool but very hard at first.

How did you do that compared to what you normally do?

GH: The process of getting the gig was our first experience ever of composing for a film. The audition was like, write us a song for this trailer and send it to us and maybe we’ll use you. That was tough. Then getting that song to where they wanted it, that was really weird. During an audition they were already giving us new versions of what they wanted.

RS: I felt like the music for us was the frame. We already had a painting, the movie, all we sort of had to do was make the frame.

GH: In that sense I think it does make it easier, but it almost makes it harder because you don’t want to ruin it and you’re always wondering “was that the right sound for right there?” There were a lot of times where I changed what instrument the note was played on to sound right. Piano ended up feeling like a pretty good fit for a lot of it.

RS: But that’s not to say that for a different movie we would have still used piano. It’s different because you have somebody else’s art to think about. Not just us.

GH: Yeah, it’s more of a team effort with film, I think. Film is like the baseball of art.

Yes, team effort indeed. So, what’s the origin of the band name?

GH: (Ryan points to Geoff) My baby! The music started as a side project to a band I was working with in Philly. It was like all of those first songs. But Hands came from, I don’t know, it’s what we use a lot, it’s what we use the most. I think I saw a Discovery channel thing about somebody getting a hand reattached.

So what instruments do you guys use?

GH: Let’s see, Banjo, guitar, bowflex, echoplex. If you’re gonna talk about one thing, I’d say it’s the echoplex. And our amps. And Ryan’s homemade guitar. Anything we feel is necessary when we come up with an idea. Sometimes Sweeney will tell me an idea for a song with an instrument we don’t even have yet.

RS: You know, live we use samplers for our drums. And that’s pretty much all of it.


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