You're about to release your music video for "Coping Lessons," what can you tell us about the story it tells?
I had this weird idea a while ago to do a video that was two different versions of a birthday party, one in which I'm alone and my friends have all forgotten/don't care, and then the party I imagine them to be having, in which they're destroying a piñata with my face on it/just generally celebrating their shared dislike of me - sort of a really bizarre representation of how anxiety manifests itself. It ended up making more sense to tell the story as the party I'm really having and the party I wish I was having - except that even in my fantasy party all my friends turn out to hate me, which I guess just goes to say that you can't really ever fully escape from your anxieties - only learn to live with them. Plus, there's like three whole dogs in the video, and I think that's pretty rad.
How would you describe the relationship being depicted in the lyrics?
The character I'm speaking to in the song is really just a personification of my various issues. The line "I dreamt you called and woke up angry" is directed at my sense of comfort - I spent a lot of time relying on various substances to quell my anxiety, so the idea with that line is that I had a dream that I still had these coping mechanisms to rely on, and then woke up and realized that I just had to learn to face my anxiety without self-medicating. The "you" that I refer to in the chorus is just me speaking to my coping mechanisms again. With the line "you push me 'til I fall down, 'til I can't get back up, and still I hope you'll be there each morning when I wake up" I'm reflecting on that I can't shake the desire for some substance to keep me calm, even when it's so negatively impacting my life.
How does "Coping Lessons" differ from "Leave the Light On" in your opinion?
Coping Lessons is a much more deeply personal song for me. Leave the Light On is strung together lyrically from various experiences I've had but isn't quite as literally autobiographical. Coping Lessons was also one of the first songs I wrote when I started writing again at the beginning of 2016 - I came out of a really long haze and realized that I had a great deal to say, so in a way it, along with another unreleased song of ours called "Apathy and Mediocrity" feels like the thesis statement of the record that we made last year.
You've produced 2 songs thus far, is there an EP or full-length album in the works?
We have an entire full-length worth of songs written and recorded, and are a few songs into writing a second LP. We're, for now, just releasing the songs that we feel most need to be heard and seeing where it takes us, but all of these songs will see the light of day eventually. I definitely want to keep up the momentum but we don't want to release anything before the time is right, so right now we're just figuring out that balance.
What's your writing process involve? Junk food? Sleepless nights? Total isolation? Complete spontaneity?
It's really mostly spontaneity for me. I do typically write alone but I don't necessarily isolate myself on purpose just to write. I write a lot of melodies when I'm driving around. I find that I write more interesting ideas and lyrics when I'm not just decidedly sitting down to write. I think it's hard to just decide you're going to write a song and then come up with something of any value - at least for me it is. I've always thought of myself as a sort of channel for it - ideas come to me and all I do is formulate them and round them out.
How did you get your start in music?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 7, but didn't really develop a passion for music until about age 11, when I started playing guitar. Green Day's American Idiot was an incredibly influential album to me. I remember watching the Bullet in a Bible live DVD and just thinking that I wanted nothing more than to go do that - the connection between Billie Joe and the audience creates this ridiculous energy that's always been fascinating to me. I always struggle to connect with people and performing is the platform through which I can foster connection most easily - that's a lot of why I've always been so drawn to it.
What's your ideal line up if you could go on tour with anyone?
Oh, man. Green Day is the obvious answer for me - if we're talking literally anyone. As far as bands I'd love to tour with that aren't international superstars -
Bayside is one of my favorite bands and I'd love love to tour with them. Jeff Rosenstock, The Wonder Years - I've been listening to a really cool band called The Regrettes lately that I would love to play some shows with, too.
What's next for Hi, Mom!?
Music and shows! We have more songs and videos to release in the next few months, and a short west coast run in the works for January. I've been dying to get out and play some shows, so that's what I'm most looking forward to. I'd say that specifically we will have another music video out by the end of the year, and maybe even some acoustic videos or a Christmas song. Henry (our drummer) is an audio engineer and I'm a full time graphic artist so we're able to be exceptionally self-contained, which gives us a ton of freedom. We'll see what we can cook up.