Words by Keane Fletcher
There are lots of methods for coming up with band names. You can use a self-deprecating quip (Led Zeppelin). Make fun of an old teacher (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Take inspiration from a Buddhist ideal (Nirvana). Or, like Jarvis Hill of Brisbane-based indie-rock outfit Hey Danger, you can let your subconscious do the work with the help of a little free association.
'For [our] name I used a process called blue sky thinking, where I set a timer and write as many random words that come into my head as I can...I wanted something that wasn’t too clichéd but also said 'Hey! We’re here.' And that was that.'
Simple beginnings right? Wrong. The band has actually been quite the labour of love for Hill, originally beginning as a two piece (Hill and bass guitarist Thomas White), before finally expanding to include the current line up (lead guitarist Lachy Cope and drummer Josh Webb). But then again, Hill is no stranger to long conceptions. Having dropped their debut single 'Daze' in late 2019, it's been a bit of waiting game to see what they'd come up with next, a process of false starts and recalibrations that are finally set to pay off with the release of their aptly titled second single 'Stop and Go' next month. Ahead of its release, we sat down with Hill to talk all things music, inspo, what being a perfectionist means to him.
Check out the interview below.
1- Where are you based at the moment?
We are based in Brisbane, Queensland.
2- How would you describe your sound? What are your musical influences?
This is a tricky one, I would probably have to pinpoint it at indie-psych-rock. A lot of the songs for our upcoming EP have been in the works since late 2018, and my musical influences are constantly changing and evolving. So, the headspace I was in at the time our EP was finished and the types of music I was listening to is very different to the genres and styles I’m more focused on at the moment. I would say our main influences are The Strokes, Tame Impala, and Last Dinosaurs to name a few.
3- Tell us a bit about how you guys got together. Is there a particular meaning behind the name Hey Danger?
This is a very long story. Originally Hey Danger was kind of the remnants of a band I used to have with my brother that fell apart. From this I took all of the solo material I had at the time, and merged it with a couple of songs from the old band to create a new setlist of material, one of which was our single 'Daze'. This was around March 2019, and the only members of the band at that time were myself and my bassist and long-time best friend Thomas White. Our debut single was recorded with just the two of us, with myself on drums, guitar and vocals, and Thomas playing bass. From March to October of that year, most of our time was spent trying to find other band members to make it a functioning 4-piece. I reached out to an old friend of mine from high school, Lachy Cope, who soon became our lead guitarist, and he was able to enlist his friend Josh Webb to become our drummer. So, by the time November rolled around, we were able to piece together a full band and were ready to perform live!
As for the name, I used a process called blue sky thinking, where I set a timer and write as many random words that come into my head as I can. I started piecing these words together in different combinations, and through a process of deduction I was able to get to Hey Danger. I wanted something that wasn’t too clichéd but also said 'Hey! We’re here.' And that was that.
4- How does the songwriting process usually work for you? Do you have a routine when it comes to writing and recording, or does inspiration for a song usually take you by surprise?
Hey Danger is mainly a solo project, I record all of the parts for demos, tab it out and then bring it to the rest of the band, where they can add their own little nuances to the parts I’ve written.
My song-writing routine is definitely sporadic; I can have creative ruts that can last up to a couple of months, and then suddenly I’ll write, record, and somewhat flesh out a few tracks within a couple of weeks. I feel like if I try to write music, it just doesn’t happen, I have to kind of let my moods guide me into it and that’s when I produce tracks that I enjoy. I think the thing I love the most about song-writing is seeing how different songs develop depending on which instrument I start the song on, eg. a track on the EP, Jojo, started out as a bass riff and was then built from there. Though I would say most of my songs start as a chord progression on guitar, then a drum beat, a bassline, lead guitar and finally vocals.
For the studio versions of our tracks, I record the drums, rhythm guitar and vocals, Thomas records bass and Lachy records the lead guitar.
5- Your debut single ‘Daze’ is a piece of thumping indie-rock gold! But it was released way back in 2019. Why has there been such a long break between releases?
There’s been a lot of things happening within the past year or so, both personally and with COVID, that play into our waiting-it-out for our next release. But honestly, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and tend to psych myself out when we have a release planned, a few hiccups occur, and then I scrap the whole thing and start again. It’s taken a lot of planning and organising to get this next release together, and I just want it to be the best it can be, hence why it’s taken such a long time.
6- How has the pandemic affected the band? Have you enjoyed having more time to write and record, or has it been stifling? How has the band been forced to adapt?
The start of last year was going amazingly; we had a freshly formed live lineup, we played gigs at least once every two weeks and we were really getting into our groove. I went to Japan for a couple of weeks at the start of February, and when I came back Covid cases were really starting to soar. Before we knew it, all venues were shut and we couldn’t play any gigs. We were pretty bummed, though while we couldn’t play live, it was the perfect time to get our next release together, so we got into Airlock Studios and recorded our EP! While this was happening, I was writing what will hopefully be our debut album, though it is largely still a work in progress. I was able to have the time to do this as I lost my job working in a kitchen pretty early on in the year due to the Covid restrictions. Most of the band were working at music venues and bars at the time, so they lost their jobs as well. Though it was pretty tough it was awesome to have some time to sit with myself and write something that is much more lyrically and musically meaningful than what I have done before.
7- If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Though it is something that every artist relies on at the moment, I think the way streaming services operate needs to drastically change. All of our favourite artists pre-streaming era were able to do what they did due to their albums being sold, money from those sales going to them/their label and those numbers being calculated for the top charts. Now that streaming platforms are the go-to for listening to music, the way artists are imbursed for releasing their music and the way the charts are calculated has changed drastically, sometimes in a way that is quite damaging to both emerging and well-known artists.
Though it’s not all bad, as I think because of this, artists are looking towards live touring and performances as a way to accrue income for their hard work. Which means more of your favourite bands gigging and touring more often!
8- What's next for Hey Danger?
We’re planning to release our second single ‘Stop and Go’ sometime in February, though an official release date has not yet been set, and soon after our self-titled EP will be released. As soon as that’s done, we’ll be jumping back into the studio to record our debut album, and will release a couple of tracks as singles over the course of the next year before the album comes out!
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!