THE HUSH SOUND: Making a Fresh Start, Independent and Label-Free

Label-free and recently off-hiatus, The Hush Sound have done a lot of growing up for their digital 7-inch, Forty Five. We spoke with singer and guitarist Bob Morris in advance of the release about what it was like work on the band’s first release in five years.

Where are you guys at in the recording process? Is there more left to finish?

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We finished about a month ago. We did four songs. We still have to tweak one of them, but we’re mainly getting back our third set of mixes now. It sounds really cool. This might be my favorite Hush stuff that we’ve done so far, so I’m definitely excited about it. It’s interesting to kind of see how everybody has grown up and changed since the last time we recorded together.

Has that been a big factor in the music you’re working on, the fact that it’s been five years since the band last released anything?

I think the music sounds different. It still has some of the elements, I’m not exactly sure [because] everyone’s different in what they loved about the band, but it still has some of who we were, [even though] we’re very different now.

Having all this time to grow up and kind of realize no one is out to get anyone, that’s just part of the growing up thing. We were sort of stuck at arrested development when we were put on tour at such a young [age], in a fragile and strenuous manner. It’s been really cool to go, ‘Man, I really, really like hanging out with you guys.’ It’s not that I hated them or anything, but it’s exciting to really admire and want to be around these guys. It made recording painless and fun.

We also did it with our friend Sam Farrar who we have known for about five years or so, so that made it really comfortable, too. He didn’t want to do anything to a metronome; he just wanted it to be so free.

Where did you record the new material?

We did it with Tom Biller in Burbank, at this place called The Bank.

You talked about how much better the band seemed to get along this time around, was there any relearning to work together or did it just click right away?

I think we had got to the point where we knew how to work with each other, even when we were younger, and I think now that everybody’s grown up we still have that understanding. But at the same time, no one was super-sensitive. We just all wanted to make really fun music, and it was really easy to do that.

I think a lot of times, when there are multiple songwriters in the band, everybody’s competing to get their songs on the album, but it wasn’t really like that [this time] and I think we don’t want it to ever be like that again.

With the band having been on a hiatus previous to this release, were there any feelings of pressure to live up to fan expectations?

As far as fans’ expectations, it’s really tricky to say. It’s a very different time in music. We went through a whole electro thing, and obviously that’s still popular, but you’re seeing a lot of bands like the The Lumineers and all these bands with real instruments [being mainstream.] I don’t know, I’m curious to see how people react to it, but I’m definitely excited to update what we were doing before.

Is there anything in the new music that fans might find surprising or might not expect from the band?

I think the first song we’re going to put out, which will be released before this comes out, is “Not A Stranger.” It’s very different than anything we’ve done; all four songs are really different from each other. We did that purposefully because we had so many different demos. Both Greta [Salpeter, piano/vocals] and I had individual demos, and we made a bunch. We were like, ‘We should just pick a really wide array and see what we’re feeling.’ I’m glad we did because now we have so much variance to figure out what the next thing is.

That’s what’s always been fun about the band, is that we’ve never been pigeonholed into sounding a certain way.

You had been signed to Fueled By Ramen, and you’ll be self-releasing this time around?

Yeah, I’m not even sure how we’re doing it. It might be an EP, it might be a split 7-inch.

Aside from not having the financial backing, were there any obstacles to working without a label?

When we were on Fueled By Ramen, I think it was still like a MySpace situation at the time, our Facebook was started after we were already kind of done. Everybody had everything linked to everything, and they had a lot of money from the bands that were doing well on Fueled By Ramen, so it just kind of plugs you right in; we were really fortunate to be in that situation.

I think we’re really fortunate now to be on our own, not that we don’t appreciate FBR, but I think it’s kind of a different world we want to live in right now.

Are you feeling like you have more creative freedom now?

Oh yeah, definitely more creative freedom. Our manger was always like, ‘Alright so Bob, you know the Beatles. You guys love The Beatles. They had the octopus, they had the walrus, but they also had the love me dos.’  That was like his way of saying to write a simple pop song, and we were just kind of like, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’

I think it’s really interesting the way it worked out. I really did not think we were going to come back together just because everybody had all these new things going on and it just kind of worked that way without the old manager and the old label. With our new manager, Emily White, we send her demos and she’s like, ‘These are awesome! I like this song. I like that song,’ and she never really doesn’t like something. So it’s up to us to decide and that’s kind of helpful.

[When] we recorded Like Vines and gave it to them, our management was like, ‘There’s no singles on this,’ and everybody was like, ‘This isn’t really a singles type of band.’ He was like, ‘Well, we’ll put out the ninth song as a single.’ That’s how ‘Wine Red’ became a single. We were like, ‘Okay, but we put it ninth. Usually you put a single like third, but whatever.’

How has your previous label experience shaped your work this time around?

When you’re making a record, it feels like no one’s ever going to hear it. Like I wonder what Fall Out Boy was thinking after being gone for so many years. I definitely have wondered, ‘Are going to be into this?’ Of course I want them to, but I think before everything was live or die by the band, and that’s what caused so much stress. Now I have a much more rich life with a lot of other things going on, and that actually helps my music and creativity. I don’t try to hammer out a song for 14 hours. I go for a walk with my dog and I’ll listen to the track and then boom, the idea happens.

I guess you kind of just know how things are done a little better [having been on a label] because they’re trying to squeeze every penny out of people, and with us it’s like we don’t have to squeeze every penny out of people because we’re not getting 17 percent divided by four on every album.

We’ll get 100 percent, and we’ll sell a lot less, and that’s totally fine. We just want to ultimately continue to play and continue to grow the band. If we used to sell, I don’t know, 40-50,000 records and we sell 15 now – then we’ll still be in the same place.

Do you want to keep going the independent route or are you looking to end up on a label again?

I think the plan is to get possibly a Canadian label and a UK label and unless something really cool comes along in the States, we’ll probably continue to do it independently. Our manager is really adept to doing that. We feel comfortable releasing it independently and not really having to be a part of anything we don’t want to be a part of.


photos by Eddie O’Keefe

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  1. Pingback: The Hush Sound – 2013 | Sweet Tangerine

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