A Conversation with Noel Heroux of Brooklyn Band Hooray for Earth

It's always interesting to watch how a band allows itself to evolve. Oftentimes, it blows up, claiming the members as casualties with the usual reason being "creative differences." However, on occasion, musicians will allow natural progression to take the lead rather than resisting growth. Brooklyn's Hooray for Earth is an example of the latter, and their evolution is evident in every recording.

From early efforts that Noel Heroux recorded at home by himself, to Hooray for Earth's most recent album, Racy, you can track the maturity of not only the production but also the craftsmanship of the songs. An indie rock band with loud, fuzzy guitars and synths is definitely not a new formula. However, there are few bands that make distorted chaos and synthetic tones sound so elegant, and still retain undertones of despondence and doom.

Observing Hooray for Earth, it seems like there's a sense of ambiguity surrounding the band. Overall, it's hard to pin down what inspires the lyrics, although there are themes easy enough to which listeners can relate. Aesthetically, the band's image is either captured in a blur from a live show, or in deliberately obscuring shadows. However, after speaking with Heroux, it's obvious that ambiguity is not something he hides behind, but rather something he employs to allow the music to speak for itself.

Metro Times: You're only a few dates in, but how is the tour so far?

Noel Heroux: Good! Pretty easy going. The band on tour with us, Grooms, are good friends, and those guys are awesome. So it's been pretty chill.

MT: Have you ever played in Detroit?

Heroux: Only once! It was about four years ago, and it was the dead of winter in January. So the weather was pretty brutal. I mean, really brutal. Me and Chris are from New England, so we're used to crazy, brutal winters, but it was like 5 degrees up there. [Laughs] We had a great time, though! We're excited to get back up there.

MT: Four years is a long time, but True Loves came out in 2011, so there's been a decent gap between albums. How does it feel to finally have Racy out and done with?

Heroux: It's good. It's funny you say "out and done with," because that's what it feels like, because I didn't want to have such a gap. Things over the past year and a half, a lot of stuff, business things and personal things all mixed together, caused a shift. This album could have come out a year and a half ago, really, but there were just a million complications. It's been a little bit of a mess. So it's nice to have it out, and we have a couple tours lined up. We'll drive around and play this stuff. It feels good.

MT: As far as the business issues you mentioned, which delayed the album's release, is that something that comes along with being an indie musician on a smaller label?

Heroux: Everybody's got their own experience. I can't really detail it because there's a lot of people involved, but yeah, sometimes tiny little legal issues that you don't really think of come into play, and all of a sudden you have a situation. [Laughs] At the end of the day, we had to sit on our asses for a while, but now we finally get to complete this circle, if you will.

MT: In that year and a half that you sat on the album, did you stay busy?

Heroux: Yeah. For me, this is not the only thing that I do musically. So I kept busy and kept planning for whatever else was going on. I played guitar with some friends' bands for a little while too. Jessica (Zambri), who's been — we're married — she's played in the band as of about a year ago. She's got a lot of her own stuff. So we've been busy recording things of hers. As far as Hooray for Earth, we were stuck for a while, so we had to bide our time.

MT: After sitting on Racy for so long and performing those songs now, did they take on a different meaning?

Heroux: Yeah, definitely. I can't really comment how, but it's definitely different. Like I said, it feels nice at this point that we got it worked out and we can get behind it, roll around the country, go to Europe, and do some stuff after all that wait. [Laughs]

MT: How did the recording process change from True Loves to Racy?

Heroux: True Loves I did at home. Well, not at home, but I rented a tiny little space and set up my stuff. It was mostly like a home-recording type thing, and then after it was done, [producer] Chris Coady mixed everything. When we were doing that, we were like, "Next year, we should do an entire album together, start to finish." We talked about it on and off and finally when it came to do it, we were like, "Yeah, let's do a big studio album." So that's what we did — and this time, it was more so a focus on the band playing because that's not typically how I've done things in the past. So the four of us went up to the studio and locked ourselves away. I recorded the whole thing by myself, just as a first pass. After that, we learned everything and brought it to the studio and redid it with Chris making things sound good. It's pretty simple, really; nothing crazy. It's just, record the stuff and let it be what it is.

MT: Racy definitely has a more organic, band feel, and the guitars being more in the foreground of the mix gives it a much bigger sound.

Heroux: True Loves has a lot of guitar, but it's not so obvious. With Racy, Coady recorded it as he saw fit. I told him, "When there's a guitar, I'd like it to actually sound like a guitar." [Laughs] So we just let it be what it is. It sounds much more like we would as a live band, because that's what we are. We're a noisy guitar band with pretty synth stuff in the background.

MT: Did you ever run into problems translating songs from as they are on a record to a live situation?

Heroux: Honestly, it took quite a while to get comfortable in a live thing with the earlier recorded stuff. When it's just me in charge of recording, I'm not concerned with something sounding a certain way. I just want [it] to sound right for me. When you have to go play that shit live, it can be a real pain in the ass. [Laughs] When Jess joined the band, we stripped a lot down and made it feel comfortable.

MT: Any future plans lined up?

Heroux: I'm just going to do this tour, and a little bit more in November, and just see where it goes from there. I've got some ideas, but just kind of keeping it open. mt

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