It's just past nine o'clock when I walk into photographer Robin Laananen's apartment--she's in mid-shoot with the quintet for this interview. Despite the usual awkwardness of being photographed, vocalist Quirk, keyboardist Leona Marrs, drummer Jason Lajeuness, guitarist Dean Hudson and bassist Gabe Carter are at ease with one another during the group shots and individual portraits. They're too preoccupied laughing at their own inner band banter to notice the camera flashes. Afterwards, we sit down for a round table discussion on overcoming disgruntled critics, the making of a new record to fuck with those said critics, the power the guy with the van in the band has, and how being average ain't so bad if you're having a good time.
Hint Hint formed a little over two years ago with the intention of only sharing their handful of songs with friends, until Derek Fudesco of Pretty Girls Make Graves liked what he heard and suggested the band finish the demos and release the EP on his new label with Dim Mak's Steve Aioki. Sex is Everything on Cold Crush was released at a time when electro punk was mid stride in a good three-year run, and bands were still rushing out to pick up a cowbell for their drummer and a hot girl with good fashion sense to play keyboards.
While everyone from the Liars to the Rapture to Radio 4 were finding inspiration in the genre's angular guitar riffs, disco beats, and nervous aggression a la Gang of Four, Hint Hint were cast in the role of the dark, misunderstood West Coast younger sibling who was trying too hard to be like his East Coast older brother.
When pressed for a serious answer on the impact of being a new band and receiving such mixed (some rather harsh) reviews, Quirk responds with, "You want people to say good things because you're kind of happy about it, but you have to take it with a grain of salt. That whole experience of making the EP was so quick and fast, it was like, whatever." When I ask if the band had something to say to the critics with their debut full length Young Days on Suicide Squeeze, Quirk answers back with one of his typical tongue in cheek remarks: "Shove it up your ass." The rest of the band laughs. Quirk finishes in a rare solemn moment, "No, I'm kidding. We were aware of things we wanted to change, but it wasn't because of critiques in the past. Some of the things we were critiqued on were things we wanted to change as well."
Mindful of the genres, Hint Hint was labeled after their last record. The band entered the studio a year later in a much different place, musically and personally. They had evolved from a dance band with undeniable hooks and grooves that nobody could ignore to a serious, versatile, improvisational rock band. Much of this transformation is attributed to the production help from Zach Reinig (who has worked with Black Heart Procession and Blonde Redhead) and the addition of Carter, former bassist of the seminal rock band Juno. Besides bringing a van to the band, Carter's experience and solid bass rhythms lay the foundation for Lajeuness' infectious beats, Hudson's ambient guitar, Marrs' sensual keyboards and vocals and Quirk's guttural howls. The soundscape on Young Days is just as urgent and volatile as with Sex is Everything, but delivered with confidence and excitement.
"Part of what we are is a group of individuals who have varied interests in and out of music," says Hudson who is alluding to everyone's diverse taste in music and their day jobs they truly enjoy. Maars is an acupuncturist, Hudson and Carter work at Sub Pop, Lajeuness books one of Seattle's premier venues and runs his own production company and Quirk, well, he's learning French right now.
"We're defined by this band, but we're also defined by our other interests. It's a definitive moment in our lives to be in this band and have what's going on, going on," says Quirk. And just when you thought Quirk had no more sass left in him for one night he says, "I'd definitely say we are slowly becoming above average." Hint, hint.
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|Date:||Nov 1, 2004|
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