My newest interview is a band that is really packing some punch.
Tip your hats/Red Sox caps/Berets/ Pom Pommed Ski apparel with protective earflaps…
…to Gentlemen Hall!
Sounds dapper, don’t it?
If by dapper you mean like a steamroller leveling the music scene (in a nice way), then you are correct! Well, and maybe some ‘regular dapper’ as well.
Gentlemen Hall has had quite a year. The group consists of Gavin Merlot on vocals/guitar, Cobi Mike on vocals/guitar, Brad Alderman on keys/synth, Ro Richard on bass, Seth Hachen on flute, and Phil Boucher on drums. The Boston band won Best Video and Best Pop/Rock Artist at the Annual Boston Music Awards, became the first independent band to win a Billboard Music Award and perform on the nationally televised event, and had already won an MTV Video Music Award for “Best Breakout Boston Artist” in 2009. Yowza.
Their current EP is titled When We All Disappear, primarily produced by Michael Seifert, and the band is on tour.
Needless to say, I had some questions for them. Brad Alderman and Seth Hachen answered my nosy questions.
Farah Joan Fard: So I am based in Boston, went to Emerson and also took classes at Berklee so I am interested to hear about your backgrounds! What programs were you all in at Berklee? Anything in particular you feel you took from your time there and applied to your musical success?
Gentlemen Hall: Boston is a great city for colleging. What we really got most out of it was jamming with other great musicians and now we have a whole network of fellow musicians who we collaborate and write with.
FJF: Where was your first gig?
GH: The first gig of significance was at a house party on the 4th of July in 2008. We learned 2 things that night: a)Don’t drink hard for 6 hours before playing gigs b)If a flutist shows up to sit in with the band and he’s wearing his old halloween oompa loompa costume then he should immediately be inducted into the band. And he was.
FJF: Oompa Loompas are slightly terrifying, so props to you guys…but on to the next one…favorite venue in Boston?
GH: That’s gotta be the Magic Room. It’s very realmy there. It’s a quasi-secret venue that has great sound and only holds like 100 people so the vibes are always great.
FJF: So Daddy’s Junky Music on Mass Ave has closed…Jack’s Drum Shop closed a few years ago. What is your take on the musical instrument industry–any concerns?
GH: The internet seems to be destroying a lot of local music commerce which is a shame cause it is nice to go to a store and try gear before you buy it and do old-fashioned things like talking to people in person. However, really the best way to get great gear is to research it and then find it on craigslist.
FJF: So online there seems to be some dispute about the origin of your band name. Care to spill the beans?
GH: There shouldn’t be any dispute, it was the name of an old mustache grooming salon that one of our grandfathers regularly visited in Kansas. I don’t think it’s around anymore though.
FJF: Billboard Music Awards. First of all–congrats, that is amazing! What was that experience like? Any crazy stories or behind the scenes tidbits you would like to share?
GH: It was an honor to be the first independent band to play at the BMA’s. We (met) all sorts of musical icons like U2, Taylor Swift, One Republic and they were all very kind and had encouraging words of wisdom for us. We never dreamt that we would go from playing drunken house parties to playing for 8 million people a couple years later. The only downside was that we were in Vegas for an entire week so we lost all our money and dignity but it was worth it.
FJF: Also, you have a Ben and Jerry’s has named a smoothie after you! How did that come about? Having a menu item named after you is quite an honor! GH: They’re a great company plus their ice cream is delicious. They approached us about the smoothie and they donate the profits to a local music school so that underprivileged kids can take lessons, so we feel warm and fuzzy about the whole situation. Our only demand was that they give away our cd free with every smoothie.
FJF: A lot of sites are comparing you with Passion Pit due to your origin and such. Have you collaborated with Passion Pit at all?
GH: Not yet but they were a big inspiration for us cause they blend elements of indie, electronic, realms, and pop music in their sound, much like we do. Though we use those same ingredients we are still different in many ways but we are big fans and can’t wait to hear their next album.
FJF: Your Facebook page mentions vintage synthesizers…what equipment do you use? Any favorites?
GH: We love vintage gear and are ready to advocate for analog gear anytime. We pride ourselves in characteristic tones that can be found in vintage synths, amps or just a great room sound. It’s harder to find the realms on digital gear in my opinion though it can be done. On our album we used a lot of Juno-106, Prophet 5, Alesis Andromeda, Moogs, and tape machines. We use soft synths too, though- if it sounds good, it is good.
FJF: Any advice to Boston musicians in terms of booking gigs in the area and getting their voice heard?
GH: Keep tickets prices low. Give away your music for free. Play places that aren’t venues–like parties, events, or just set up in the street because that is often where the best vibes are. Writing good songs is the most important thing (…)If you build it they will come.
FJF: Anything you would like to add?
GH: Shout out to the Boston music scene, there are so many great bands there right now and we love being a part of it. It is truly an honor to be doing what we love and we hope everyone does the same cause it’s awesome.
Check out more from Gentlemen Hall and check out the name-your-own-price download on their site store!