Chico, CA natives Hail The Sun rapidly gained popularity in the post-hardcore world in 2012 after signing to Blue Swan Records, and releasing their first studio EP, Elephantitis. By the time HTS had released their full length, Wake, in 2014, I knew these guys were destined for greatness. It seems as if my favorite little unknown band, found in the depths of myspace, had turned into rock stars over night; and they are deserving of every minute of it. HTS are one of the few bands reviving the current progressive/ post-hardcore movement, and they do it well. They are newly signed to Equal Vision Records, and just finished recording their latest full length, to be released this year. Before they left the studio, I talked to the band about the new album, moving to a new label, and the future of Hail The Sun.
Kayla: So this is the fourth time you guys have written and recorded together, and it’s been about six years since your first release. As you’ve grown, has your writing process changed over time?
Aric Garcia: I would honestly say, not really.
Donovan Melero: Yeah, not too much. It’s still been long distance for the most part when we write. We all write parts on our own, and then meet up and jam out the riffs. We also still work the best, I feel like, when we’re under pressure and on deadlines.
K: What do you think is going to make this new record stand out in comparison to your previous releases?
A: I feel like it’s a good combination of all the things that people love about us and what we love about our music. It’ll be highlighted in all the best ways. We’re really happy with what we have so far and we’re excited to show everyone what we’ve got.
D: It still has, what I feel like and I think we all agree on this, our core sound. But there’s also that variation. Even a little bit more variation, but it’s not like a 180. It’s still us, just more varied.
K: Would you say there’s a concept or reoccurring theme to the new album?
D: No, it doesn’t seem that way. I guess, in the most general possible way, in regards to a theme, you could say it’s about life. That’s all. Songs about things and events and people and places. But if I can say so myself, I think it still has the bite that I like our music to have.
K: You’ve recently made the move from Blue Swan Records to Equal Vision Records, how does it feel to be on a major label? Has it changed anything as you record the new album?
Shane Gann: It just made the recording process a little smoother, we’re able to focus solely on the music. Because we have a larger, more prominent team, we have more people behind us that are taking care of a lot of the smaller minute details. Like, we have a team of people there that’ll just go and get food for us so that we don’t have to leave the studio. It sounds pampered, and it is, but it just lets us focus solely on the music.
D: Equal Vision has put out hundreds of records, they have experience rolling out records. It’s like an equation of timelines and press outlets and when to announce things and how to put together preorder bundles. They take care of the business side of releasing the record. Not to say that Blue Swan or any other labels don’t have that type of thing. It’s just more experienced here. They’ve done it a million times so they know how the game plan goes.
K: Now the last few times I’ve seen you guys live, you’ve had Elijah Stavely helping out on drums for a few songs, and crowds really seem to enjoy Donny up front. Do you see yourselves ever bringing on a full time drummer?
D: I would say yes, but not full time as in, well at least in the foreseeable future on my end, I’ll always want to still split it up.
S: It would definitely be a live only thing. Maybe kind of like how we’ve been doing but for more of the set, or the whole set. But Donny will always be our drummer.
K: I’m always curious to see what kind of music my favorite artists are into, what’s on your guys’ playlists right now?
S: I’ve been listening to Billy Rymer from The Dillinger Escape Plan record drums every morning at 7am. They’re recording in the room next to us. I’ve really been digging this Swedish guy named Ásgeir, he’s got an album where he does vocals both in English and in Swedish. It’s a lot more towards easy listening/ indie-alternative/ electronic kind of stuff, which I’ve always had a taste for. Another band that kind of falls into that is The Album Leaf. I’ve been listening to their newer stuff lately.
A: I listen to so much different stuff, it’d be hard to list everything. But, not really a lot of current stuff to be honest. I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz and just stuff from the 80’s. That’s a really hard question for me to answer.
D: On my playlist I have Kanye West… Graduation and 808’s and Heartbreak, I have Weatherbox, and I have Oranges.
K: If HTS were to cover any song from any artist, what would it be?
D: We’ll all have different answers here, I would say Alabama Shakes‘ “Gimme All Your Love”.
S: I’ve always wanted us to cover something by The Cranberries. “Linger”. I think that would sound really cool if we did that. Weird, but cool.
K: What message would HTS like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
D: If I could choose one thing, it would be to think. Use your brain! Think as much as you can. Just do you. You should always find a way to be happy, don’t be miserable because you’re doing something that someone else told you to do.
S: Make your own opinions about the world, don’t just eat everything up that is fed to you.
K: Along with a new album, what can fans expect from HTS in 2016?
D: More touring! A lot more touring, hopefully on a bigger scale. I would say that’s the biggest thing, new album then lots of touring. Pretty normal cliche answer I know, but that’s really the plan.
Catch Hail The Sun on tour this month with A Lot Like Birds and Stolas, on their way to SXSW!
Listen to their latest demo, “Paranoia” below!