You know you're on the right track as new band when you get the stamp of approval from Godsmack. When the veteran band was going out on their latest tour, Sully himself personally handpicked fellow Bostoners HourCast to be their opening act. I spoke with vocalist Patrick McBride to get introduced to the band.
antiMUSIC: Hey Patrick. How are you doing?
Patrick: Doing fine. We're sitting outside of the venue here in Denver and getting ready to play our show with Breaking Benjamin.
antiMUSIC: Your CD is terrific. There's a good mix of crunchy stuff as well as the more melodic material. "Memory and Lies" and "This Life" are my favorite tracks.
Patrick: Thank you very much, I appreciate that. We did something special with that track. A lot of people don't realize but before our album came out we donated that track to a good friend of ours, Jack Healy, who was one of the forefathers of Amnesty International. And he used that track on a compilation they were putting together. And so that came out like, God, over a year ago I mean like way before the album came out. And we gave Jack that song to put on there.
antiMUSIC: "This Life" or "Memories and Lies"?
Patrick: "Memories and Lies."
antiMUSIC: Oh awesome.
Patrick: Yeah, so that one's got kind of a cool story behind it. "This Life" was actually the first song that we wrote together as a band.
antiMUSIC: Wow, that's amazing. Not bad for your first shot eh?
Patrick: Yeah, that one's kinda the test of whether or not I was going to work out for this group as a vocalist. Because as you may or may not know, these guys actually found me over the Internet. I didn't you know, I didn't grow up with these guys, didn't run around with them when I was a kid, and have all this history, you know typically how you do when you join other bands, or when bands form. They found me in the Midwest, they heard a profile on this now defunct site where I had a picture and a profile and some songs I had done for previous bands and that sort of thing. And they heard it and they gave me a call and they said "You know we think you'd be a really good fit for this band." And so they flew me out to Boston and I spent a couple weeks writing with the guys and went back to my job and about two months went by and I didn't hear anything, and I thought, "God, I didn't get this gig." Next thing you know, Alchamedia faxed me a contract and I'm moving to Boston and quitting my job, man. (laughs) So that's the beginnings of the band.
antiMUSIC: Bring us up to speed for those like myself, who aren't familiar with your band. What's the history of Hour Cast and who is everybody?
Patrick: Well the band started with Jerry Clews our drummer. The guitar player is Dave Henriquez and those two were playing in kinda rival Boston hardcore bands for a number of years when they were growing up and then years later, met up and you know decided to form a new project together. And that's when they went out looking for me. And they found me and brought me in and for a while we didn't have a bass player. And then as we started to progress to playing live, we recruited our new guy Dave Sullivan.
antiMUSIC: When did you actually join the band?
Patrick: I joined the band in 2003. 2002-2003ish
antiMUSIC: So this your debut or did you have an indie release before this.
Patrick: We actually have a five song EP that we released strictly on the east coast. And what we did was we really busted our ass with that one, Morley. We would go to Godsmack shows, Korn shows, any band...Sevendust shows, any band that was a like-genre and we would stand with all these other kids outside that were handing out flyers for people to come to their show, we were handing out disks of a 2-song sampler, saying here's free music, and we gave out 10 thousand of those in Boston. So we really embraced the idea of giving our art away for free way before things were really starting to turn that way anyways. So we really felt that was a good thing for us to do because we wanted people to know the music and we wanted people to have the music, then from there we made the five song EP which we released, and now we have our full length State of Disgrace which is in stores and on iTunes and all that good stuff.
antiMUSIC: State of Disgrace is a powerful record that shows you guys have a preference and good understanding of dynamics. You have those slow intros to songs before cranking into a raunchy verse. Do you guys craft your material along those lines or does it just end up that way?
Patrick: Well we really have the freedom to do what we wanted to do with our label situation. I know with some bands that work with big producers or they have a big label behind them, a lot of time those labels try to drive them to write 10 songs that sound exactly alike. With being an indie label and being able to self produce this record the way that we did, we were able to say, look we can put a song as heavy as "God Failed" On there because that's a part of who we are. But we're very much a band that can do a song like "Memories and Lies" and we didn't have somebody telling us, no, you can't put this on the record or no, it doesn't fit the genre, or it doesn't fit our vision of what we want you to be. We were in full control of that. And that was an amazing, amazing thing.
antiMUSIC: Your vocals are amazing, particularly in "This Life". It's amazing how you can do the clean vocals and the growly stuff both the same.
Patrick: I'm lucky. I really am. And I think I was blessed with a pretty decent set of chords on me that I'm able to do some pretty different dynamic things with my voice where we don't need two guys in the band to do that. Typically you see a guy who can sing real well, you know, but he's not a great screamer, and vice versa. But fortunately I'm able to do both. And that was a good selling point for me as a vocalist coming into this project.
antiMUSIC: Tell us about how the record came to life. How long were you in pre-production and how does the writing work in the band?
Patrick: Well, we work with Fran Flannery at Longview Farm Studios who was the engineer on the record and as I said earlier, this is something we produced ourselves. When we went into the studio, Fran said to me, quote, unquote, he said: "I've never seen a band more prepared coming into the studio". Because we had all of our songs down, all of our klicks, all of our electronics, everything on hard drive, I mean we were really, really prepared for this record. And we even had material we ended up not putting on State of Disgrace that we're going to save for future releases or B sides or whatever
But we wrote a lot of songs, and we went through them all with a fine tooth comb and would really sit down and bring these songs to life, then crush them and kill them and then bring them back to life again, and strangle them to death and all those things you do with your art to make it be the best it can be, we tried to do.
antiMUSIC: Tell us a bit about some of the lyrical ideas on the record. Is there a kind of commonality or theme to the songs?
Patrick: Yes, all those lyrics are very, very personal, and come from a personal space, and it was really a multitude of things that inspired that. Some of it was just the whole situation of being ripped from your home and your family and everything that you know to come out to the east coast to start something new. There was a lot of confusion and loss that went along with that. Also a lot of it has to do with the guys in the band and with some of the relationships that they had, whether it be personal relationships or love relationships or those kinds of things. Because as I'm getting to know these guys, you know, it's strange. You're thrown into a room and you're told, "okay now you guys write an album". We didn't even know each other. So all of these things I've learned about these guys, and things that are happening with them, and things that are happening with me, that's kinda what the record became about. It became really more about us. And then as the songs started to release, we found all these people saying: 'wow I can really connect to that song, or I can really relate'. So it wasn't something that was strictly personal. We find that a lot of people have these situations in their lives themselves, so that's a good thing.
antiMUSIC: Talk to us a bit about a couple of the songs, either what they're about or if you're one of those people who doesn't like to explain lyrics, maybe something interesting that happened while writing/recording.
Patrick: I think that I want to let people kinda decide what it is for them, rather than give you a specific story as to what it is for me, to protect people's identity. (laughs) To protect their identity and integrity but yeah, there's a lot of songs on that record, you know, false promises, and people not being what they appear to be, and you know, this whole kinda business of music and just growing up and learning about the world.
antiMUSIC: How did the remix of "This Life" with Chris Vrenna come about?
Patrick: Well, we're all fans of the electronic music genre, especially me, and I've been a big fan of Chris's for a number years. And then we had a friend who knew him and we approached and said: "Hey, we have some songs that we'd love you to work on" and we sent him the record, he liked it and said "Yeah, let's work on a couple of songs." So he did "This Life", and he actually did one other song that we haven't released yet.
antiMUSIC: So you're out on the road with Godsmack right now and word is it that Sully himself picked you guys. How cool is that?
Patrick: Oh god, you have to understand, especially for my guys who've lived in Boston their whole lives, to be on the road with Godsmack, I mean it's an ultimate dream come true for these guys because when you talk about you know, bands coning out of the east coast, hard rock bands, Aerosmith, Godsmack, they're the biggest bands. And here we are on the road with a band who for ten years you know, these guys have listened to and watched them grow from being in little clubs to playing huge arenas and stadiums now, and the fact that they're giving us a shot, when they could have taken any band in the world they wanted to be on this tour, and they picked us that shows you how cool these guys are.
antiMUSIC: You've been out with Sevendust and will go out again with them later this year. Have you been able to learn anything about the rigors of touring by going out with some of the bigger boys like them and Godsmack or is touring, just touring, no matter who you go out with?
Patrick: There's no question we are babies in this world of touring and we're learning everyday. It's an interesting lesson to learn, it's an amazing, amazing experience just getting out here to be able to play in front of this many people. It's what we've always wanted to do and then at the same time, you have to be careful of what you wish for in this world because sometimes when you get it, you realize all the other things that you're not able to do, you know, like have normal relationships with your family and your friends and your loved ones. You know there are some things that are sacrificed other than the physical demands of the road as well, that we're learning about, but, you know, fancy problems to have. What am I bitchin about? I'm not bitching about anything. I'm right where I want to be.
antiMUSIC: What's the down time like for you guys? Do you stay in your bus and write? Or do you hang out with the other bands? What goes on?
Patrick: Well I went see Borat with Aaron from Breaking Benjamin last night. (laughs) So we definitely try to hang with these guys because you know, they've been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things that we haven't and it's nice to be able to hang with guys that are cool in all those other bands. And it's helpful to learn, you know. Learn from their experience and talk a little bit about those kinda things.
antiMUSIC: That's all the questions I have for you, Patrick. Anything you want to mention that I didn't ask you?
Patrick: Well, I would like to say to you, personally, I want to tell you: thank you very much for the interview and the opportunity. It really means the world to us because we are working our asses off to get this record out there and in people's hands and spread the word about our band. It's really interesting too, the way this has all worked out Morley, because we're trying to do this thing backwards. In a way, you're not supposed to tour until you've this huge hit record, and here we are touring with this band that's bigger than life, and we don't have this huge hit record but we're selling hundreds of CDs a night. And other bands are looking at us, at the venue, it's almost like we're out on the street, in our van, you know what I mean? (laughs) Selling discs the old fashioned way. It's really really interesting how it's all played out because they look at us and they say, "Wow, you guys are really doing this right". We haven't sold millions of CDs but they're really impressed at how we're doing it every night. And every night after we play, we go to the merchandise booth, and we are the last people to leave, until every fan in that building is gone. We shake all of their hands. We take pictures with all of them. We sign their stuff and we give away free merchandise to them as souvenirs. Those are the people that really make it happen. And that's why we're here you know. That is why we are here to do this.
antiMUSIC: Well, it's a terrific record. It sounds like you're going to be around for a while. All the best with it.
Patrick: Thank you very much.
Morley Seaver and antiMUSIC thank Patrick for speaking with us.