The first time I ever heard Hungry Lake’s debut album, ‘The Overpass’, I knew I had to learn more about the band who describe themselves as “Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Bear Who Played Spacey Garagey Folky Melodies”. I hunted down their contact info and a few weeks later I got to sit down with lead singer/songwriter Joe Thomas. Read on as we discuss old songs becoming new songs, being a musical Mad-Lib, and why they want ‘The Overpass’ to be absorbed organically.
AMBY: Hi Joe, thanks for sitting down with me today. Can you tell our readers; who are Hungry Lake and what are you creating?
HL: Well, Hungry Lake is: Me, I’m Joe, Ryan and Taylor, Josh and Dave and our sound guy is Josh as well, we have lots of Josh’s. We are a noisy folk-rock band and we just recently released ‘The Overpass’. We’ve already written another album that we want to record early next year.
AMBY: Oh really? Ok, that is impressive. Let’s speak first about your debut album, ‘The Overpass’. The band has actually been creating the music from this album for years. What was the recording process like? Was there a lot of refining that happened?
HL: Well, we recorded the album ourselves; for the most part it was done on tape, which limits you, in a way, because you can’t edit things in on the fly, you have to live with it.
AMBY: Kind of a more authentic sound, in a way.
HL: Exactly. There was some digital work done at the end, to put everything together and make it sound really great.
AMBY: In terms of your experimental sound, what sort of experimental things are you using as instruments in the music?
HL: Sometimes it’s as simple as just using a guitar in a way you wouldn’t typically. I’ve definitely used drumsticks on guitars to beat the strings. On (The) Chemical (That Ate This City) the guys used butter knives on an acoustic guitar and they beat it like a drum to get this weird sound out of it.
AMBY: So taking instruments and repurposing them to make new and different sounds?
HL: Yea, just using whatever we have at our disposal but also not going to any extreme lengths.
AMBY: You guys have actually been making music for years, what prompted you to release an album now? And why was the release so soft and gradual?
HL: Well, it was always supposed to be this album… it wasn’t always called ‘The Overpass’ but the album was always there; we were always working toward this. Instead of trying to push it out over a three month period, getting press and having a CD release party and inviting our friends in bands to open the show and inviting all our friends to come to make it look like we have tons of fans when we don’t (they do), we just…put it out there. I just didn’t want to do any of that stuff. After working on this album for so long, it made sense to me to just put it out without any kind of hype about it and just see what happens with it. This way, people can receive it on their own; maybe have a friend tell them about it or see us at a show and buy a copy.
AMBY: So having it come to them through the love of music, rather than the hype machine?
HL: Yea. Not that there would be a very big hype-machine surrounding us.
AMBY: There could be
HL: There could be. It depends how rich our parents are.
AMBY: Well, ‘The Overpass’ is good, it definitely warrants a bit of hype.
HL: Well, we thought about all just crowding around one guitar, and each playing a different part of the guitar to make up a song, but that’s the stupidest shit in the world.
AMBY: [Laughs] Speaking of crowding, Hungry Lake recently played ‘Band on a Couch’. What was that like, how did you fit on the couch? I understand it is the closest you’ve ever been to your bandmates.
HL: Yea. Ryan and I were pretty close. There were a lot of guitars in the way. No, it was cool. We had Rebekah and Vale from a band called House Art. We thought “We’re playing on a small couch; we should probably bring more people, because 5 people is not enough.
AMBY: Just trying to make it super-awkward.
HL: Rebekah and Vale are playing with us on Monday (at the Silver Dollar Room)
AMBY: How did you decide what songs to play on Band on a Couch?
HL: I guess we wanted to play Leaside (10am)…..
AMBY: Because that’s my favourite song
HL: Yea, that’s exactly why. The song has a good vibe, its one song that always stays in the set while every other song comes and goes. New Destruction, the second song we played is an important tune from our forthcoming record. Some of the songs we might not play anymore, or they’ll turn into other songs and we will just play them in different ways
AMBY: That sounds really awesome. Okay, tell our readers about your cover series – why did you decide to do one and how did you pick the songs?
HL: I’ve always done covers, especially while doing solo gigs. There are so many great songs that have such big production, like ‘Friday I’m in Love’ but there’s a song in there that’s really sad, same with ‘Dancing in the Dark’; an upbeat song with really bleak lyrics. It’s like, hey, even in the most over-produced decade in music history there were still songs that had lyrical content that was heart-wrenching, whereas today you’re lucky if the underground stuff has lyrics that make you think. I find a lot of artistry in film and comedy writing these days in terms of writing that blows my mind.
AMBY: What does Hungry Lake have planned for the near future?
HL: We’re playing a full-band show on Monday and after that there might be a few Hungry Lake shows but mostly it will be me and a guitar until we start recording the next record.
AMBY: You’ll be playing shows in Toronto?
HL: Yea, hopefully farther.
AMBY: Maybe Detroit?
HL: Yeah, I would be down to go to Detroit and play a folk show. I feel like it’s important to keep a strong focus on my song writing; always becoming a better performer and writing songs that can stand up on their own. You’ll see some of our new material is pretty progressive but still rooted in country, folk-y music that’s noisy. A bunch of descriptive words that don’t quite match up – we’re like a musical Mad Lib.
AMBY: What is something about Hungry Lake that your listenership doesn’t know yet?
HL: We are super hilarious; we don’t do hard drugs, which may be surprising to some people, maybe. We don’t want to be the same thing on every record, so you can expect something different from ‘The Overpass’ next time.
AMBY: Sounds like we have something great to look forward to
Thank you Hungry Lake, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Heather Cook | @Outroupistache1