Diego Luiz: Hi Sam! First, thank you for the opportunity to talk about Hudson Hank.
Diego Luiz: How are you?
Sam Oatts: Great!!! We’ve been working feverishly to get this release out. Stressful at times, but rewarding.
Diego Luiz: Well, let’s start!
Diego Luiz: Usually, when it comes to building a successful band, it’s important to find members who are willing to work hard and have the same common goal. Tell us, how did you meet the band members?
Sam Oatts: Well, I agree- finding a musical team is so important. There has to be a real element of family among members to get through the inevitable hardships a band will face in their career. So with that in mind, our choices were clear. Our drummer, Dan, and I grew up side by side and have played in bands together since we were 14 years old. He’s my best friend, and not a day goes by that I don’t value his wisdom and incredible talent. Our guitarist, Simon, is a virtuoso in many regards. We met while attending conservatory (Manhattan School of Music) in the early 2000’s and he hasn’t stopped making me laugh since. His dry sense of humor really keeps the band smiling, which is so important. For the live show, we added some very talented professionals that I’ve worked with on tours and Broadway shows over the years. Really psyched to have such a great team.
Diego Luiz: So, what’s the story behind the name “Hudson Hank”? Have you thought about other names?
Sam Oatts: We had thought about many names… but most of us in the band are from the Hudson Valley in New York, just 25 miles north of NYC. We thought it would be a nice tribute to the beautiful area we’re so proud to come from.
Diego Luiz: About the process of recording your debut album, where it happened and what were the obstacles to overcome?
Sam Oatts: Well, we started in Brooklyn at a well established indie recording studio called Studio G. From there, I started working for Guy Berryman writing orchestral arrangements for another project (James Levy and the Blood Red Rose) he was producing. We worked very well together and he liked the stuff I was working on with Hudson Hank and decided to get involved. Then, I traveled to London to record the rest of the record under his watchful producer eyes. When we started the record in Brooklyn we were on a very tight budget and had to cut corners, but once Guy was involved, we could really spend the time getting things right. Mixing was tough, because it was done in London while I was in NYC- Not being able to be there for the process sometimes made communication tough. We couldn’t just get together and sort it out- there were thousands of emails… very tedious. But, Guy and his engineer, Ian Shea did an amazing job. There were so many layers of strings, brass, guitars, vocals to decipher- but they did a masterful job, and I’m so grateful for their time spent making this record sound awesome. It was then sent to Abbey Road for mastering.
Diego Luiz: We know that Guy Berryman is the producer, talk a little about working with him.
Sam Oatts: Guy has an incredible ear for the recording process, having worked on all those multi-platinum Coldplay records. From the sonic quality that’s required in a rock record to the overall shape of the record (how the record flows), he has such fine tuned insights on the recording process. I certainly learned a lot! He also has a wide range in musical taste with a particular affinity for Motown that gives him great perspective in the studio. Great producers have to be adept communicators, musically and interpersonally. Guy is well versed in this way.
Diego Luiz: The first time I heard the song Earthbone, I noticed some similarities with bands like Sigur Rós, Joy Division, Doves and Depeche Mode. For those who do not know your work, how would you define the sound of Hudson Hank? What are your influences?
Sam Oatts: Wow- you nailed Sigur Ros and Doves. Love those bands! While I’ve enjoyed Depeche Mode and Joy Division, I wouldn’t say that our music has that industrial edge to it. I like music that is cinematic in nature, music that occupies large open spaces. I’ve always been a fan of the early 90’s British shoegaze scene for that reason. It really puts my head in the clouds in a good way! Also, it’s hard denying our roots in classical music. Right after conservatory, I toured with orchestras in large concert halls across Europe, Asia, and the US. Having to fill those cavernous venues with acoustic instruments has been a large influence on my writing. I like space.
Diego Luiz: Earthbone lyrics (e.g. “And when the wind blows / I got the earth dust in my eyes”) seems to allude about our existence on planet Earth. What can you tell us about the inspiration behind of Day Break songs?
Sam Oatts: Well, I wanted to write lyrics that not only fulfilled my personal emotions, but had a common thread that all people could interpret in their own way. Some of the lyrics may seem vague, but that’s the space where the listener can have their own place and relate to their own life experiences inside the music. That was my goal, anyway. I think Coldplay is amazing at this.
Diego Luiz: When you’re creating a new composition, do you think of the fact that your music can carry any message or affect in any way the people and the world around you?
Sam Oatts: Of course! Music is a language that we all speak. Whether one person or one million people hear it, we (the whole world) constantly use music to communicate emotion and feeling. As a band, we like to focus on communicating peace, love, contemplation/thoughtfulness, art, etc…
Diego Luiz: Let’s talk a little about the live performance of the band. What can people expect from a show of Hudson Hank?
Sam Oatts: Well, people can expect something different every time! We constantly work on new ways to present the music. Sometimes we have a brass section, sometimes we have strings. Sometimes we just play as a 4 piece and rock out!!!! We also try to have a visual component in our shows and love working with visual artists of all mediums to create a multimedia experience.
Diego Luiz: What’s your favorite song to play live and why?
Sam Oatts: I think we all love playing Earthbone. It flows so well in any musical context. It plays well regardless of what arrangements we use.
Diego Luiz: What could you say about your future plans after launching Day Break album?
Sam Oatts: We will continue to work hard making music and playing, as it is the fabric of our collective existence. But! More importantly, I think it’s time we come to Brazil!!!!
Diego Luiz: Finally, since we’re a site about Coldplay, I must ask what is your favorite song of Coldplay?
Sam Oatts :Well, damn. Today it’s one song, tomorrow another! All so brilliant. I will give you my top 3 at the moment.
1: Life is for Living (The hidden track on Parachutes)
2: What if (X and Y)
3:Hurts Like Heaven (Mylo Xyloto)
Diego Luiz: We would like to thank you for the interview and wish you success!
Sam Oatts: Obrigado, Irmão!!!!!