Heels & Picks: Hollow Spheres release new EP
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Honolulu rock/pop/blues band Hollow Spheres will release their new EP, “Wanderlust,” with a show Thursday at Downbeat Lounge.
After hearing the title, I wondered if the guys were having some island fever. According to singer/guitarist Sean Cleland, that’s definitely not the case.
‘WANDERLUST’ RELEASE PARTY
Featuring Hollow Spheres with special guests Tempest, Hi Riz and Men in Grey Suits
» Where: Downbeat Lounge, 42 N. Hotel St.
“No, not at all! We thought we should name the album after that track because it has associations with travel and Hawaii,” he said. “The title speaks more to the idea of someone who needs to be uprooted and traveling to feel at ‘home.’ And by the end, the character in the song has the insight that many people have while traveling far from where they started, that ‘home’ is wherever you are at the moment. ‘Home’ travels with you, in a sense.”
The album, available on their website for a donation — I suggest you donate a million dollars! — marks a new direction from the band’s previous release, 2010’s “Silence Speaks Louder.” The idea was to focus on the songwriting and tone down the rock just a little bit.
Cleland said they describe their sound as “a meeting of the minds between Pink Floyd and Steely Dan in their heyday, coupled with a healthy dose of dreamy rock songwriting – all brought to you from underneath a palm tree in Honolulu.”
Produced primarily by Cleland, the making of the album didn’t lead to any “boozy rock-n’-roll studio stories of note,” but he did relay a quirky, MacGyver-esque instrumentation moment in the recording process.
“We did have a good laugh when we tracked the hook guitar for ‘Out On A Limb’ with a capo on the 9th fret (effectively cutting the instrument’s neck in half) of a Fender Telecaster to get a super thin, bell-like, jangly sound.
“The Telecaster was basically a steel string ukulele at that point. We posted the photo online and people got a kick out of it.”
Fans of the band can look forward to the inclusion of “Hold Me Close, Keep Me Far Away” on the EP – Cleland said it’s an older song they chose to record because the fans were asking for it.
“(The song is) from 2010 or so, which we had never properly recorded but always played out live,” he said. “A lot of friends and fans who saw us back in the day used to say this was their favorite song that we played, so I’m glad we finally got it down on record!
“It’s a song about being afraid of losing yourself in another person, and the indecision that naturally creeps into your life if you continue to feel this way.”
Despite the prevalence of reggae and island music on Oahu, Cleland insisted the band doesn’t feel the pressure to write songs that cater to reggae fans.
“I don’t think we put too much emphasis on trying to have a certain sound when we’re writing. The rock/pop/jazz/blues/groove thing is what comes naturally to us.”
Members Shin Kato (bass), Danny Galura (guitars) and Jack Tawil all lent their talents and ideas to the arrangements of the songs in pre-production, with Cleland the primary songwriter. After a few changes in the lineup, founding members Kato and Cleland are excited about the current crew and sound.
So what can fans expect at Downbeat Lounge?
“Fans can expect an eclectic night full of great Honolulu bands! We’ll have CDs available for donation, as well as new ‘Wanderlust’ T-shirts for sale.”
Plus, Downbeat has vegan chicken wings, guys. Vegan chicken wings. Best non-meat ever.
I couldn’t let Cleland off the hook without asking one final, pivotal question. In the eternal words of Metric: “The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?”
“Oh god. Hardest question ever – and it truly is the ultimate question,” mused Cleland. “I can’t speak for the other guys in the ban, but if I had to choose I could never vote against the Beatles! They are the best band ever – they’re the source for me!
“And keep in mind, I’m a HUGE Stones fan, so that speaks to how much The Beatles will never get old for me!”
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.