By Mandi Kimes
Consisting of vocalist-guitarist Jake Pappas, drummer Jesse Dorman, bassist Jared Slaybaugh, keyboardist-synth player Matt Gillen, and guitarist Jack Rose, the Orange-County band originally started working under the name J. Thoven before working with producer Lars Stalfors (Cold War Kids, Deap Vally) to craft their new style and name: HAWAI. With Stalfors at the production helm, the band cut their Working All Night EP through Antler Records in Southern California. The first single and opener “In My Head” would stir up a local buzz, even gaining spins on KROQ. With its lush guitars, energetic beat, cinematic production, and unshakable refrain, it’s liable to stay stuck in your head for long after one listen. Elsewhere on the EP, “Fault” glides between a clean guitar hum and an expansive vocal line. Meanwhile, the song “All Night” mirrors the musicians’ tireless commitment to their own art. Underneath the beachy gusts of guitars and keys, shimmering soul, and iridescent hooks, HAWAI’s island houses an inspiring message. Pappas says “I want to make an impact in terms of what the lyrics are about. It’s important to convey something that can help people. There’s a power within music. It can be a healthy tool to use. We treasure that.”
HAWAI will be playing with Vista Kicks and The Gloomies at Valley Bar in Phoenix on Tuesday, July 19th. More information on the show can be found here.
MK: Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to writing?
JP: I usually find inspiration when I’m listening to something I haven’t heard in a long time. No specific genre or artist really, but like...when I listen to “Back in the USSR” or something like that, I’ll find something that inspires me to write.
MK: The concept behind Working All Night is true to many of the modern-day working Americans today: the act of struggling to make ends meet while maintaining sanity and happiness. Do you feel like you’ve met your balance of work and happiness, or are you still trying to find the balance?
JP: I’d like to think that we’ve found it. I think it will always be a constant battle to find that balance, and when you’re stuck on one side or the other, the question then becomes “How do you find the balance?” It’s like being on the road touring: sometimes it’s all fun and no work, other times it’s vice versa. We’re always trying to maintain a solid work-life balance in regards to our happiness.
MK: You said in Consequence Of Sound that “The EP was made from a collection of about 10 working songs...that were almost there but still needed some love.” Do you plan to work on the remaining songs and release eventually? If so, when can fans expect them?
JP: Well, we’ve written a lot, and sometimes it’s all about how in one moment the song can start from nothing and then lead into a better moment where it flourishes. So...I don’t even really know what we’ll do with the other songs. We do plan to make a full-length record, but I’m not sure if those previously unreleased songs will make it on there.
MK: When you walk off the stage, what do you hope audiences take away from your show?
JP: I really hope the audience hears something that they need to hear in that moment in their life. I hope they don’t just hear us and move on with their life, but actually connect in a way that they probably haven’t felt in a long time.
MK: You played Phoenix back in September. Now almost a year later, what do you hope to gain from your stop in Phoenix this time that you didn’t get to last time?
JP: Last time in Phoenix was our first time, so I’d like to see some familiar faces. When you play a brand new town, you never know what to expect, so it’s always cool coming back to cities we’ve played and seeing returning faces. We played Phoenix and Tucson during our last run, and I will say that Arizona in general was really great on that tour. The crowds were awesome, and we had fun both nights.
MK: I read somewhere you’ve been jamming to Andy Shauf’s The Party album, which is one of my favorites. Besides that, what else are you currently listening to?
JP: Yes, I absolutely love Andy Shauf’s new record; he crafted such a simple concept in an artistic way. I’ve also been listening to Lower Dens, Whitney’s new record, some old Bob Dylan albums, Sia, Paul Simon, and some Cass McCombs. During the summer I like to revisit Toro Y Moi and Mac Demarco. There’s also a new artist I found called Szymon that’s been really cool to listen to.