Interview #4: Local Hero

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to some talented young guys from Berkeley, CA. I've contacted them to ask if we could do a small interview. They responded right away so here is the result from that interview. You can listen to them a few posts below this one. Enjoy!

TMB: You guys are all very young, can you tell our followers who you are and how you got the band together?  

Local Hero: We’re four 17 and 18-year-olds from Berkeley. Our original bassist, Jojo, is currently adventuring in Japan. Originally I envisioned Local Hero as more of an acoustic project between Leo, Jojo and me. That was sometime during my junior year of high school. The whole project sorta tumbled along from there. We pretty quickly dropped the idea of a purely acoustic project and the whole thing got terrifically out of hand. So we added Max to the group maybe 3 or 4 months back. Then Maya’s our newest member—she joined maybe a month ago.

TMB: You just finished The Aldgate EP. How would you describe the songs on it? I assume it was your first EP, how was the experience of making it?

Local Hero: Recording is such a mixed bag. It can be intensely satisfying and engaging, but it can also be the most frustrating thing in the world. Especially when you’re running six and seven hour sessions. 

I probably spent a collective 100 hours in the studio spread out over around 20 individual sessions. And that’s on five songs! Granted, we spent considerably more time than we needed to in the mixing and tracking process. 

Coming up with new parts while you’re in the studio can get you in trouble. If the inspiration isn’t there, you’re gonna have a hell of a time trying to come up with something, and can easily squander an hour trying to craft a part. It’s pretty wasteful. Needless to say, we’re going to try to avoid that next time we go to record.

We finished recording the songs on the EP 6 months ago, and since then so much has changed…you can understand why I’m eager to get back to work.

A lot of effort goes into releasing something like this. There are a lot of bases to cover. Even once recording and mixing is done, you have to design album artwork, register with the RIAA, get a bar code, get the music mastered… John Cuniberti did a great job mastering The Aldgate. The whole thing’s been a great big learning experience for us in terms of what’s required to fully release a record. Hopefully everything will be more streamlined in the future. 

TMB: Now you have released the EP, how do you see the future? And are you already working on some new stuff?  

Local Hero: We have 7 or 8 new, unrecorded originals that we’ve been working on. I’m incredibly excited to get back into the studio. Not to cast any dirt on our EP, but I think I’ve been writing progressively better songs, and I think the band’s become tighter and more versatile since we finished recording The Aldgate.

We’re currently looking at a wide variety of studios and engineers to work with. We’re considering recording on tape this time. We might look into doing something at Tiny Telephone—where Jojo recorded his second album with Moe Meguro—or at New, Improved studios in Berkeley. We’re hoping to entirely track the album in no more than seven days or so.

We’ll be playing as many shows as possible in the next year. We’re doing stuff in the East Bay but also San Francisco, Davis and maybe Santa Cruz. We just played a sold-out show at the Berkeley Rep student theater and that was very encouraging, and hopefully we’ll have some more stuff coming down the pipeline.

TMB: You said Vampire Weekend is your favorite band, how do they influence Local Hero? And when you first started playing music, who was the reason you started playing? 

Local Hero: Listening to Vampire Weekend, and Ezra Koenig in particular, have hugely influenced how I write songs. The vocal melodies on the first Vampire Weekend album are incredible. Vampire Weekend and the Beatles are the only two bands where I’ll find myself spontaneously humming one of their songs without having heard them earlier that day. Their melodies just seem to come very easily to the ear for some reason. But they accomplish this without sounding too derivative, and that’s hugely important.

A perfect pop song has a melody that the listener wants to sing. Listen to With the Beatles and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. “All My Loving” has one of the most beautiful, natural melodies of any song I know. To some extent that’s the goal. And we’re definitely making pop music. It’s can be dressed up however you want, and Local Hero might feel closer to what people identify as “rock”, “indie rock”, or what have you. But fundamentally our songs are pop songs.

Many people may not realize it, but 90% of music we listen to is pop. The Ramones played pop. Modest Mouse plays pop. It’s pretty hard to find something that isn’t pop music.

TMB: Thank you for doing this very small interview for us. Do you have something to share with our followers? 

Local Hero: Hopefully we’re gonna have a new demo or two up for free download within the month. It’s still in the planning stage, but I’m already really excited. It’ll be our first studio recording with both Max and Maya on the tracks, so keep an ear out for that. And keep reading the Music Beam!


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