An In-Depth Interview With The New York-Based Indie Rock Band, HERE’S TO YOU!
Posted On 23 Jan 2019
Allow All Access to introduce you to the New York-based indie rock band, Here’s To You!
Having been together for 10+ years, the band is gearing up to release a ton of new content – their first releases since 2015. Their upcoming album, titled “Wonder/Wander,” will be released in three EP-length phases, with the first phase, titled “Phase I,” being released on February 15th.
On January 18th, a music video for the lead single off of “Phase I,” titled “Burning Alive” was released.
Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/utj4KpAvOWU
Connect With Here’s To You Here:
Instagram (@HeresToYouBand): http://instagram.com/herestoyouband
Twitter (@HeresToYouBand): http://twitter.com/herestoyouband
Learn more about Here’s To You in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Stephan: Continuing to recover my sinus surgery that I had a week ago! haha It’s been very annoying, but I’m super blessed everything went smoothly.
Greg: Playing a showcase with my other band VISTA, answering these interviews, preparing for our release later this week!
Mike: Reading a butt load of cases for school!
Charlie: It’s 3:30 AM right now, so definitely sleep soon if my brain lets me. Then start the day, write some music, go to the gym, and spend time with the lady.
Now that a new year has started, what musical goals does this band have for 2019? What are you most proud of about 2018? Do any of you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Mine is to read more for fun!
Stephan: 2018 was amazing because it allowed us to regain confidence in the music we were making. Because we took so long to write this record, there were many times where it was easy to just give up. Fortunately for us, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, realized we had incredible material to be released and finally made a plan to Just Do It™. 2019 is going to be our year to finally release all of this music we’ve been hard at work on, and to start playing shows again!
Greg: I plan to tour more and make new connections. I plan to have this album’s release be something that people truly resonate with. I think I want to try and eat a little healthier too, and just be a better person than last year.
Mike: 2019 is the year of Wonder/Wander! We’re all itching to get out and play a good amount of shows this year for sure. For me personally, I should probably start working out again. I’ve been on quite the hiatus haha.
Charlie: We’re planning on pushing these releases as much as we can, getting out and playing some shows! I’m proud of our ability to focus on putting our project out, even with such crazy lives. We’ve worked hard and poured a lot of emotions and time into it. I have some personal resolutions, I want to write at least two songs a month, buy another investment property, and improve cardio health. I feel you with the reading though! That is something I’m also trying to do when I have extra time.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
Stephan: We were all in different bands in 9th grade, but at some point, I had an itch to start a band with Charlie as soon as I saw the chance. Eventually, in April of 2009, I went up to Charlie, asked if he wanted to start a pop band called either “Here’s To You”, or “One Moon At A Time” – fortunately, we went with the former, and the rest is history!
Greg: I remember sitting down with dinner at them when they had formed the band shortly after and considering it. I came up with a guitar solo to a song they had already written, then it all kinda came in naturally from there. Once I had my own personal investment in it, it was worth it for me. Name was easy.
Mike: Being the last guy to join the band, I wasn’t around for the fun of name picking, but I can say that playing my first show with the band after months of rehearsing definitely solidified my desire to be in the band. I believe it was up in Rhode Island!
Charlie: I have so many amazing memories over the years with this band. I remember one night we were in the van on a mini Six Flags tour, probably 16 years old. Stephan’s sister was driving us because we couldn’t drive yet, and we were in the backseat listening to music, joking around, looking at the unfamiliar city we were in, and I felt this insane appreciation for the moment, like we were all exactly where we should have been at the time.
How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group?
Stephan: The Long Island, New York music scene is very, very specific once you know what to look for haha. I think back in our music scene’s heyday when we were first starting, it was impossible to not be influenced by the bands around you, especially sonically. However, I think our main takeaway from our hometown has just always been to accept everyone, no matter sex, race, religion, or creed – I think that’s the true NY influence, especially in how we carry ourselves to other states/venues.
Greg: Couldn’t have said it better myself. We truly don’t discriminate, even sonically. We used to have more of a tunnel vision for the sound and what we listened to but I think we’ve matured past that. Yet somehow still maintaining a vibe that we all mutually agreed for with the band.
Charlie: Our hometown definitely influenced our earlier songwriting and how I styled my voice. I think that raw sound we initially had is still somewhere to be found in our current sound, but we all like to think we’ve evolved into something very different.
How has your various musical backgrounds helped shape the sound of this band?
Stephan: We say it a lot, but we all listen to such vastly different types of music – it’s insane. I think having such a wide variety of musical tastes just helps our songs be the very best they can be, as we inadvertently end up drawing from so many different sources and inspirations. From the entirety of the Harry Potter film soundtracks, to The Fall Of Troy, to Ella Fitzgerald’s greatest hits – the amount of musicality I draw from is immense!
Greg: If someone sat and studied us for a while, especially in our writing sessions, they’d be able to see that we have certain influences and who brings what into the band. Damn. I kind of wish we did that. It’d be so interesting.
Mike: Greg, can we get someone to do that? That would be insane. Greg’s totally right though. It’s funny because our listeners only hear the final product, or the combination of all of our different musical backgrounds and genres that we’re listening to individually. We all bring totally different genres of influence together to form our own sound.
Charlie: We all have pretty individualistic musical backgrounds. I’m a lot more drawn to electronic music and the production side of things, which helps shape the ambiance and mood of the track. I think that combined with my voice makes up about one-fourth of HTY’s sound. Stephan has a pretty insane classical drum & percussion background to drive the energy, Greg’s got a great ear for making emotional guitar ambiances and lead melodies, and Mike brings us to funky town with his musical dexterity on the bass and ear for melodies and harmonies when writing.
How do you think that you have grown as a band since forming? What has remained the same?
Stephan: For three-fourths of us, we’ve grown up entirely in and around this band. We went through puberty, had our first loves, had our first heartbreak, went to prom, went to college, got our degrees, and more, all in this band. No matter what’s taken place in our lives, we’ve always had this tight-knit bond inside of this band where we could always rely on each other, especially during the tough times. One thing that has and will always remain is our ridiculous sense of humor: still quoting Spongebob now is still just as funny as it was back in high school.
Greg: To add to this: I truly would have lost my mind without this band and this artistic outlet. It has really done something for me and I hope it never goes away. It’s a part of who I am.
Mike: I wasn’t around for the formation of the band, but just the several years that I have been in the band have definitely grown and shaped me even more as a musician and songwriter. I’ve been through a fair amount of important moments in life with these guys and they’ve all had a huge impact on me for sure.
Charlie: We’ve definitely matured in terms of our musicianship, egos, songwriting, experiences. We’ve all remained great friends and when we’re together it still feels like we’re 16 again joking around and making music.
Have you been working on this new forthcoming music since your last music was released in 2015?
Stephan: In short: yes. Our first album was a collection of songs that we had been working on all throughout high school for many years, and by the time it was all ready to be released, we had already been eager to start writing vastly different, newer music. Really, I’d like to think we had been working on what would be “Wonder/Wander” as early as 2014, as at that time, we were already maturing as songwriters and musicians. We’ve demoed, recorded and finished a great deal of ideas as we honed in on our new sound throughout the past few years, and luckily, I think once “Burning Alive” was finished, we realized what songs would need to be written to fit with it, and what songs that had never been completed could be used to accompany it.
Let’s talk about your upcoming “Phase 1” EP set to be released next month. How does this collection prepare listeners for the rest of your EPs and the upcoming album, “Wonder/Wander”? How did this first one come together? What was the inspiration for these songs?
Stephan: We actually have about 90% of the entire album done right now as we’re releasing Phase I. What it really came down to was what songs would be grouped with one another for each Phase. The way we decided was we knew we wanted a nice eclectic range of songs on each Phase, but we also wanted to have some cohesion between them. The best thing about this is that, if something on Phase I ends up not being your liking, you can be rest assured that something on either Phase II or III will catch your attention.
Greg: A huge inspiration for these songs was actually the fully colored photo of the car at sunset that would become our album cover. That is one of the biggest inspirations in our current branding and vibe. We wanted to create a soundtrack to that loosely – and a lot of songs we wrote I think accompany it very well.
Mike: After having most of the album written and recorded, we tried to figure out which songs belonged together as a smaller subset of the album and would reflect how diverse these songs are from each other in some ways. We definitely separated the songs that are different from what you might consider the overarching sonic theme of the album to be so that every phase has something new in it.
Charlie: The first song written I believe was Burning Alive, and from there Greg continued to bring these ambient and emotional guitar riffs and drum loops to the writing sessions and we all added, subtracted, reworked everything until we were all happy with the product. That inspired a lot of the emotional base, and the lyrics just filled that space with personal stories to help convey those emotions. I guess it prepared listeners by giving them something totally different than we did before. The following parts are similar, but also uniquely different from Part I.
Generally, how do you all go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
Stephan: One thing I’ve always loved about this band is our ability to write together, even when we end up butting heads with one another. Most of our songs will start as an individual idea, but it’s very cool to see how the song ends up taking shape as we all work on the idea from the initial idea together. It definitely changes the outcome of a song compared to if only 1 or 2 of us only wrote it, but it really gives the songs this variety that I don’t think you always see in a lot of music.
Greg: I also love how the writing process is never the same. We always try different stuff when we find ourselves having a block. That why I think this album worked. We just went with what was natural. Steph had a few ideas to start, I had a few ideas to start, so did Mike and Charlie. Even if it wasn’t the initial demo, one of us would pass it off and be like “I have no idea where to go with this” – and then it would get worked out when someone else’s head came into it.
Mike: Most of the time one of us would bring an idea, voice memo, demo, whatever, to the rest of the group and we’d all make that our starting point, adding our different influences and ideas to it until it was something that all four of us were happy with. From those writing/demoing sessions, we would take the songs to our practice space and figure out how we should tie all of our instrumental ideas together, and what we can do to better align our vocals/main melody lines to the rest of the instrumentation taking place; tightening things up, really.
What was it like making the music video for your first single “Burning Alive”?
Stephan: It was a ton of fun. It was very free-form, as in, we had a few loose ideas and concepts, but we ended up getting a lot of cool shots that were thought of on the spot with our director, Sam Hollinde. Believe it or not, this is actually our first, true music video for one of our original songs. We’ve always gone all out for our cover videos, but for some reason the stars didn’t align to create a music video for one of our own songs until now!
Greg: It was freaking awesome, I was super happy with how it came out based on a few loose concepts. I was instantly excited to have a nice visual to go with the branding.
Mike: It was COLD without a doubt. The projection shots were definitely my favorite part. Seeing how we transformed the room we were in with all of these cool lights and projections inspired such a cool feeling for all of us.
Charlie: It was awesome. My girlfriend Sam Hollinde was the one who filmed it who did an incredible job capturing our super broad idea, and making it into something we all find extremely beautiful and honestly touching. It was exciting to look back at the footage and see the vision coming together as we filmed!
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Greg: It’s so equal for me. You only record a song once, maybe twice for some odd reason but that’s it. Enjoy that moment. Let it exist. Then you have your time on stage, and hopefully other people resonate with it too, and you can create that feeling again.
Stephan: It’s definitely equal for me as well, but I have to say that playing big, live shows is absolutely incredible. Having that many people actually listening and responding to your music all at once is such a unique feeling that I don’t think anything else can compare to.
Mike: Yeah, like the other guys, they’re about the same. Those two things are such different experiences even though they’ll ultimately revolve around a lot of the same exact songs. For me, being in the studio is an opportunity to be creative, and playing a show is your opportunity to share that creation and experience it with the people who want to hear it most.
Charlie: I honestly find myself happiest when I’m writing music, and I think that’s because I was never that crazy about my voice until I started training it the right way. I love singing and performing shows, but I find creating to be my personal happy place.
Where can people see you perform next? Do you have a 2019 tour scheduled yet?
Greg: Nothing yet. We want to make sure the release of this album goes as smoothly as possible. Although; some type of release show this year is bound to happen.
Charlie: Not yet, but depending on feedback from the album, and our ability to set aside the necessary time, we’re definitely on track to be playing at least a few shows in the coming months.
Do you find that all of social media and keeping up with your fans has gotten so overwhelming? Or do you rely heavily on others to take care of that for the band? Which platform would you say that you enjoy engaging with the most?
Greg: I like twitter the best, Instagram is cool as well, but they’re both kind of addicting and it sucks. Twitter, and thinking of stupid tweets is something that has completely changed the way I think; I kind of hate it, but there’s not going back now. Anyways, with this new branding we’re going for for the band, I think it’s a lot more grown up and something more people can enjoy. We still have a sense of humor though. I just want the music to communicate the most for us, rather than something we say on the internet.
Stephan: It definitely is overwhelming, but you also have to appreciate that we even have these platforms that most artists never had access before the late 2010’s. Nowadays, I think utilizing these tools to their best abilities is the most difficult thing to master.
Mike: Social media is definitely a skill in itself, and can make or break a lot of artists/bands opportunities and exposure. I’m pretty terrible at social media myself. We all are able to collaborate and come up with ideas with what to post and when, but it’s definitely not my strong suit.
Charlie: I post pretty infrequently which I know is not super engaging for any fans, but I’m hoping with all our new music and content I’ll be more engaged in it. The problem is that I don’t put myself out there enough for anyone to really want to engage with me. However, I love engaging with people when it happens and it always makes me happy to hear that our music had a positive effect on other people.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
Stephan: As much as music is an “escape”, I look at it as more of a necessity for us humans. No matter what this world throws at us, and how bad things can get, us humans will hopefully always have music to bring balance to our minds and hearts. Hopefully, music will always act as the light for all of us even in the darkest of times.
Greg: Oh yeah. Ooooooooh yeah. I would literally go insane without music, as cliche as it is to say. If I’m not creating every couple months, I will not be satisfied. My mental health will deteriorate. I need it to exist. I need to have something musical to be working on at all times, but that’s just me.
Mike: I definitely get a little wound up if I go for too long without demoing a song, playing my guitar, or writing. Music is definitely a necessity for most people, and I think that that’s true all of the time- during your own good times and bad times.
Charlie: I’ve always found music as an escape, even when I was too young to care about the political climate. It was a huge escape for me when my dad passed when I was twelve. It gave me a means of channeling my emotions, and it continues to do so in a way that talking to someone never really could.
What musicians would you love to work with in the future? What artists have really been inspiring this group and your music since day 1?
Greg: This is hard to say. I’d really be open to collaborating with anyone really. I think anything Owl City or Carly Rae Jepsen touches turns to gold, at least in the HTY realm. So that would be sick.
Stephan: Honestly, working with a big producer, someone like Mark Ronson, could be very, very cool.
Mike: I didn’t even think of Mark Ronson ^^^ that would be super cool. Uptown Funk Part II? HTY Edition? I’m always inspired by bands like Paramore, Coldplay, Fall Out Boy, the list goes on.
Charlie: Day 1 influences for me would be Linkin Park, Sum 41, Blink 182, Green Day. I was in elementary school when first listening to these bands, but I was so inspired by their music and I’d always picture myself performing these songs when listening to them. From there it made me want to start learning guitar and songwriting. Nowadays im influenced by a ton of different music, but if i could pick one artist to work with right now it would probably be The Midnight. They’re a pretty big Synth-Wave band right now, but I love their sound design and ambiance and it would be an honor just to sit down and observe their process.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
Greg: The message of it is just an album for anyone going through life. I want people to enjoy this album how they enjoy it. The resonation is all I care about. If a song resonates with you because it’s sad, so be it. If it does so with happiness, that’s awesome. Let it be your soundtrack to stuff. That’s why we made it.
Stephan: I think if you get a chance to see us live, you’ll find that the live show really extends the idea that with our music, we just want everyone to feel happy and included. We want everyone, no matter age, sex, race, religion, or creed, to be involved, and to enjoy the music in whatever way they need it for themselves.
Mike: We definitely write our music with the idea of someone relating to it in the back of our heads. All of the songs on this album relate to all four of our own real life experiences. We’re all normal guys at the end of the day, and there’s a good chance that our listeners have experienced some of the same things we have. I hope that our experiences being shared through our music establishes a relationship with our listeners. Sometimes, it’s just good to hear “hey man, I’ve been through that same thing too!”
Charlie: The messages of our songs have some variance for interpretation in my opinion. The songs tell stories to bring you into our world and experiences, but if someone relates and attaches emotion to one lyric, or the whole song it could mean something different for them than it would someone else. We’re just hoping people do relate and find themselves listening back to experience that sensation every time, just like we do when we listen to music we relate to.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about this group?
Greg: Thank you. You make this possible. Over the course of 2019, please enjoy Wonder/Wander.
Stephan: We’ve been together for a long time and this is really the first time that we feel our music really reflects us as people and what we’ve been through – so, we just hope people either give us another shot, or finally give us a shot after all of these years!
Mike: Thanks so much for making it to the end of this interview! We’re all super stoked for these releases to finally be here.
Charlie: An immense thank you for sticking around if you have, and if this is your first time hearing of us, I hope you stick around and I hope to see you! Either on the internet or in real life at our shows. And most importantly, I hope Wonder/Wander is something you can latch onto and find yourself revisiting often.