Interview: The Hush Now

The Hush Now are playing The Knitting Factory today at 2:45!

How did you all meet?

Barry: Back in 2007, Noel had written an album’s worth of songs and was
looking for musicians to record with. My name had come to him through a
friend, and we met up to discuss recording. Several months later we recorded
our debut in Burbank, California. Less than a year later we were racking
songs for our follow-up, Constellations. The band had, at this point, not
played a single show. There were some line-up changes upon completetion of
that record, including aquiring John on keyboards. He was a friend,
co-worker and musician/songwriter I had been collaborating with. When the
band finally decided to become an official live band as well, we brought Pat
on board to play bass. He’s a great musician that John and I were working
with, as well as writing music with. The final piece to our puzzle was
aquiring Adam on lead guitar. He humbly walked into our world via the
Internet, and we never let him go online ever again. Ever.

Your bio starts with an ominous sentence about the fact that the band’s
first releases exist as a result of a car accident Noel Kelly had. What
exactly happened?

Noel: Well, the honest story is…I had just returned from touring with my
old band, Cerulean. The band pretty much dissolved following that tour for
several reasons. My broken right wrist didn’t help matters. But folks
started families or made other commitments that are just impossible to
support making minus $15’s a day touring as an unsupported band. I was
reeling. I hadn’t thought much past the band. So, on the day of that
fateful eve (ha), I received a healthy tax return and went to celebrate with
a friend and nurse my wounds. Driving the less than 20 blocks back to my
apt (everybody drives in LA; doesn’t make sense, it just is), with a broken
wrist driving stick shift, my car hydroplaned, slid neatly between 2 cement
barricades, skipped the curb and went slamming into the catholic church. This
happened right around midnight. I spent the night in jail. My one phone
call was to friend letting her know she’d need to grab a cab from the
airport the next day. The next morning, I went to the church on easter
morning and offered to pay for the damages. I then lost my license for a
year…which in LA (because everybody drives) pretty much ended my ability to
work in that town. So, with nothing left, off to Portland, OR…and six
months later I was back in Boston.

You release material pretty frequently, is that a goal you set for
yourself or more a result of being prolific songwriters?

Noel: Well the second part of the question is a bit loaded. I will say we
write quite a bit ad there’s never a shortage of material. Everybody in the
band is a songwriter. Not only does that mean there’s a wealth of material
coming into the practice space, but material comes together quickly because
each person can apply that skill to other people’s ideas. I do press the
guys a bit to keep putting material out. We all have to work day jobs to
pay the bills. But, it’s the only way I know to keep getting the band out
there right now. And anyway, that’s what we’re supposed to do anyway, we’re
musicians 🙂

How would you describe your music?

John: Our music comes from a variety of places. Sometimes we get together,
and someone starts to play something randomly… and we’ll all join in, find
a vibe we like, and form a song around that. Other times someone will come
in with more complete ideas, and we’ll all see what we can bring to the
table. Occasionally someone will present a completed song, which we’ll end
up ripping apart and taking in a totally new direction. We really don’t fit
neatly into any category or genre that we’ve thought of yet. I think one of
our greatest strengths as songwriters is our willingness to experiment, as
well as the trust we have in everyone’s abilities to make what we bring them
better, regardless of whether or not it might be ‘cool’, ‘hip’, or ‘jive’.
Because we’re so organic with what we write, we’re never really sure where
a particular idea or song will end up.

To sum it up: Our music sounds exactly like the five of us trying to make
the best songs possible, and forgetting about any attempt to be ‘cool’. We
worry about making the best music we can, and let everyone else figure out
what it’s worth.

As for myself, I personally try and persuade myself not to repeat myself…
😉 .

What is the oddest band you have been compared to in the past?

Barry: I think we’re fortunate enough not to have been oddly compared to
many bands. We all come from different backgrounds, yet somehow our sound
cohesively garners comparisons to bands we look up to. Sometimes
surprisingly, sometimes right on point. Music aside, our personalities could
be oddly compared to any Keystone Coppers film.

Where do you think you fit in the Massachusetts music scene?

Noel: We do have some bands we’re friendly with. But we’re really pretty
much a group of loners that found each other. We’re not very good at being
scenesters. Who has the time. I’m always working. I’m not knocking it,
scenes that is, we really just don’t fit in. We don’t fit at all.

You have most of your music available for free on your website, why?

Noel: People don’t really pay for music anymore (at least from what I’ve
seen). I want people to hear our music. If that means we have to give it
away, that means we have to give it away. You hope that translates
eventually into people coming out to live shows and supporting the band that
way. And if you believe in what you’re doing, that shouldn’t be a problem –
it may take some time for people to catch on, but it’ll happen. Then we can
start making a living as musicians. Which is all we want.

Can you come back on the process of recording your latest EP, Shiver Me
Starships?

Barry: The process for recording Shiver Me Starships was much different from
our other endeavours. Instead of having a work cd of 10 songs to fill in, we
started from scratch with the 5 of us. Noel had a couple ideas, John brought
one to the table, we wrote a couple together and one just came from a jam
we were hanging on. Having 5 songwriters in a band could be a hindrance to
any outfit, but in our case the respect and admiration we have for eachother,
as well as the natural ease of working together proved to be very cathartic.
Sometimes you just need to go back to the basics by putting 5 musicians in
the same room, pressing record and watching it unfold.

How did the music creating process work differently with the new line-up,
if it did?

Adam: Well the line up is unique to former recordings, the new
guys bringing lots of drive and atmosphere to the solid foundation that’s
always been there. I think the organic song structures and Pat’s bass lines
are the real delight for me.

A blog entry on your myspace page tells us that we have to ask directly in
order to find out what the meaning of the name is so… what is it?

Adam: Noel named the project while it was still what he likes to refer to as
a “vanity project.” The name stuck out for a number of reasons, among them,
simply reflecting the loud-quiet dynamic the band focuses on maintaining.
Kudos of course here to the tasteful mastering of Jeff Lipton.

Noel: I think they meant the title of the EP Adam.

What new sonic developments should we listen out for when playing Shiver Me
Starships for the first time?

Noel: Confidence. You have everybody completely confident in what they’re
doing singularly on this EP. But that is only because of how confident we
are together. And it’s getting better. And we’re getting better; The
classic case of the sum being greater than the parts. Of course I’m
biased, but there’s something special starting to unfold. It’s pretty
exciting.

How have you been liking the audiences who have been exposed to Shiver Me
Starships live so far?

John: So far, audiences have responded really well to everything we’ve
played off Shiver Me Starships. I get the impression that people are
catching on, and really appreciating the broad range of genres we touch upon
on the EP. “Vietnam Giraffe” has been a bit of a surprise for me live. While
recording, I had no idea it’d be the ‘single’ for the album. I knew it was a
poppy number, that could get people dancing…but I couldn’t have predicted
that it’d be getting praise from both casual listeners, and music critics
alike. “For What it’s Worth” and “Pure Gold” have been my favorites to play
live. They both vary heavily in our approach depending on the mood of the
show, the band, and the audience’s reaction. That keeps them fresh for us,
which I think translates to an interesting performance each time.

Which song do you wish you played live more often?

Adam: Daedalus Bound.

Earlier this year, you rocked SXSW now the CMJ Music Marathon is coming up
for you on October 22nd. Excited?

Adam: Absolutely. New York is always a blast. It’s a rare occasion you have
the run of some 40 or so venues in that kind of place. I’m substantially
less familiar with a lot of bands on the festival this year so I’m looking
forward to meeting lots of great people and being introduced to some new
music.

What do you have to say to those who think catchy songs aren’t cool
enough?

Noel: 3 words…Hall and Oates…oh wait, that probably supports their argument.
Ahhh, fuck it. I’m too tired to give a shit what anybody else thinks to be
honest.

What’s next on the task list for you? Your website announces a full-length
album for the spring…

Noel: Ooooohhh, so much to come. We have a Halloween song that just came
out. You should check that out. There’s also a new Christmas song in the
works. I think it tops last years. We’re pretty jazzed. Anyhoo, thanks
for the opportunity and best to you and yours. Cheers.

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