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Interview: Hearts & Hand Grenades
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I have always loved music from a very young age. I grew up playing violin in the Orchestra for school and that eventually led me to playing bass as a hobby in college. If I never became a musician I would surely find myself doing something else creative like videography as that was once a hobby of mine in the past.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I am a big fan of horror movies! When we are not focusing on our music, I love to watch a good slasher film and dive into all things from the horror genres. Mike is a big fan as well so it’s a lot of fun to hunker down and see what new additions have hit the streaming services. I don’t necessarily draw inspiration from horror in general for our music, but it definitely gets me pumped up to play some heavy riffs!
How long has music been your career?
I have played music since I was in 4th grade, but I have played in bands for about the last 10 years.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
We are based out of Buffalo NY, and the music scene here is heavy into cover bands. It’s difficult to break out as an original music band in general but it’s always a challenge to present your own material in the local bar scene. We have a few music venues that dedicate their stage to national acts so it becomes a race for the area’s talent to get on those gigs as well. I think when that is the hometown vibe, it peaks the curiosity to get out of dodge and play in other regions. Our first official tour took us to the Midwest and it was such a different scene for us. The people there were so excited to soak up our band, which most of them never heard before, and they were so welcoming and happy to have us. It was a great feeling.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
The best show was at Sunshine Studios in Colorado Springs, CO. The crowd was so energetic and into our show and we were feeding off of that energy as well. Everyone was just locked in to the music and it made for one hell of a time. Everyone we met there was so good to us. I wouldn’t say we’ve played a “worst” show, but there are definitely times where things are just going wrong on stage or someone has an off-night. Those things happen but we try to find the fun in EVERY show. So maybe that means we haven’t had a “worst” show just yet.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Locally, my favorite venue is the Town Ballroom in Buffalo. We had the chance to play there a few years back for a Halloween show and that place was great. It’s a bowl-style room with a nice floor pit and two higher levels so the sound was great, the atmosphere is always charged up and it's one of Buffalo’s best venues. I would love to have an opportunity to play at Wembley Stadium someday. It's such an iconic venue and it's certainly an achievement to do so.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
My favorite band is Muse so I would love to play a show with those guys! Their energy and stage show is fantastic. I would also really love to tour with Lacey Sturm. She has been an influence on my music since the early days of Flyleaf and she continues to crush it with her solo career.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Go for it! Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to fail. That is all part of the learning process and it's what makes you a better musician and performer.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I would advise myself to get into the live music scene much earlier than I did. I was a very shy child and was too timid to sing in front of anyone for a very long time. It wasn’t until my adulthood that I actually took the stage and became a performer. Once I had the courage to do that, I never looked back!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
For me, ‘Beautiful Pain’ means the most. It's about facing your past and not running from it and instead learning from your mistakes and moving forward. To me it sums up what a big part of life is: learning to accept the things we can’t change and walking forward.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favorite to play is ‘Between The Lines’ because I usually just beat the crap out of my bass for that one and I have some fun with it! Our most requested is ‘Turning To Ashes’ and it has a catchy drive to it and an energy that keeps everyone amped up.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
Our creative process usually starts with Mike coming up with a guitar riff that he molds into a heavy and catchy sound, then I will put my bass to it. Once we have honed in on the idea we are going for, we bring the lead guitar into the mix and it's usually at that point where I’ll work the lyrics in. Once we have mixed those ingredients, we finish it off with the drums and just fine tune from there. I think the inspiration comes from both our favorite bands, and from each other. We will always play to our strengths whether it's leaving room for a killer guitar solo or a strong vocal part, or even a drum breakdown.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I try to write lyrics based on very relatable topics. So instead of specific events, I tend to draw from emotions. I hope to send a message that people are not alone in the way they may be feeling and that others go through similar things at times. On the contrary, I have written a song about a weird dream I had where some found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which ultimately turned out to be a secret club for assassins…that became the song, ‘The In Crowd’.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Mike and I disagree all of the time when we are first working on a new song, but we always come up with something great as a result. The writing process is absolutely the time to bring up and differing ideas or suggestions since that’s what makes the music “ours”. If we agreed on everything all of the time we wouldn’t be pushing each other to be our best. So long as the objections are constructive, we will always stay creative and let the songs grow organically. There are also times where I frustrate the hell out of him too, haha. But I’ll admit, he’s pretty darn good at coming up with driving rhythms.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We are already working on some new material which will eventually become our third album. We don’t have any set dates yet for when that will be released, but likely the end of 2022 or into 2023. We are focusing on touring right now and putting together some dates so those should be announced very soon. We have plans to make it to the UK near the end of 2022/beginning of 2023 and can't wait to meet our fans over there. We have had such a great reception from UK fans and I’m very excited to finally get over there! Stay tuned to our website and social links as we will be posting information there as soon as we can.
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