ABOVE: AIR REVIEW
There are not many people that can say they’ve known a friend since they were born—but Air Review’s frontman Doug Hale isn’t like most people. Thanks to their parents’ decades-long friendship, Hale met his Air Review bandmate Richard Carpenter just hours after entering the world. It took a little longer to connect with the rest of the band, which is comprised of Dragan Jakovljevic, Jeff Taylor, and Justin Robinson; they came together in 2008, just outside Dallas, and started writing songs together.
Air Review’s second album, Low Wishes, is something of an accident—it was originally meant to be just an EP showcasing a reimagining of the band’s sound after the release of their self-titled debut. The resulting material, of which enough emerged for a full-length release, combines wistful, nostalgic folk melodies with catchy electro beats. A perfect entrée into the album’s sound is the immediately contagious “Young,” which we’re excited to premiere below. Check it out, then read on for our discussion with Doug Hale about moving away from Britpop music, starting over, and becoming “America’s Son.”
ILANA KAPLAN: You guys are from Texas, right?
DOUG HALE: That’s correct. We’re in Dallas.
KAPLAN: How’s the weather down there?
HALE: Actually, it’s gorgeous right now.
KAPLAN: I’m so jealous. It’s arctic temperatures up here in New York. How excited are you guys about your record?
HALE: We’re really stoked. It’s been a fun process. We’re excited to finally get it out there for people to hear.
KAPLAN: This is your first full-length, correct?
HALE: It’s technically our second full-length, actually. We had our first one a few years ago when it first came out. This is our official release.
KAPLAN: What was the process like in putting together Low Wishes?
HALE: It was an interesting process, because when we first started writing the record, we originally had planned to record an EP. The point of the EP was to re-brand as a band. It was pretty different than the direction that we started out with back when we began in 2009. We hadn’t really thought ahead about recording a full-length. We thought we were putting out a folksy-cute, maybe a little folksy-electronic, thing. “America’s Son” was actually the first song written specifically for that EP. Then, as the songs started developing, it started to grow into something that felt like it could be more of an album. There’s an interesting progression in the album, because you’ll hear some songs that are a little more folk-influenced, and you’ll hear some that are a little more on the electronic side. You can hear that progression as we were writing the album, the direction change. They’re not in blocks: they’re throughout. You can definitely hear the ones that are a little more folk-inspired.
KAPLAN: How did the songwriting come together on the album?
HALE: It’s definitely a collective effort. The majority of the songs usually start off with me and my laptop. I generally bring it into the studio, and as a band we produce the whole thing. It gets a bigger sound at that point when we get the band together. For the most part, they generally start on my laptop.
KAPLAN: Which bands or musicians have really influenced your work the most?
HALE: It kind of depends on who you ask in the band. A few of us grew up listening to The Beatles and The Beach Boys, specifically me. Even Smashing Pumpkins and Neil Diamond. These are bands that we grew up listening to. Myself, I’ve leaned towards electronic girls singers, Grimes, even Father John Misty. If you put them all together, you’ll hear them for sure.
KAPLAN: Do you have touring plans thus far?
HALE: We’re planning on hitting it hard in March. We’re definitely planning on being down in Austin for SXSW. Hopefully it’s going to be a pretty busy spring for us.
KAPLAN: Will this be your first time at SXSW?
HALE: We were down there last year. We’re not official either year, but we’ll be down there. We were down there last year as well, for unofficial stuff.
KAPLAN: It sounds like a covert mission. I like the sound of that.
HALE: [laughs] Yeah. It’s just as fun. You get to go to the really cool day parties. It’s a matter of getting those dates lined up, but we should be down there the entire week.
KAPLAN: What song has become the most meaningful on Low Wishes?
HALE: I think “America’s Son” has a particularly special place for us. It was kind of the catalyst for the record and for the new sound for us. That’s probably going to be the most special one collectively as a band. “Animal,” the last track on the album, is the one we’re looking at. I think it foreshadows where our sound can go as a band. We’re looking forward to getting into that process after the tours.
KAPLAN: So, you stuck with the same name during your first record, and this one as well. Was it strange re-branding yourselves? What did that feel like?
HALE: It was a little strange. We started out on the Britpop spectrum. When we released that album, we hadn’t thought a ton about what we were trying to do as a band. We just got together in a garage and threw out some songs we had been working on individually. We weren’t that concerned about melody or lyrics at that point. It was about making some really cool songs and getting it out there. Both of these albums were self-produced; the production is pretty great, but as far as melody and lyrics, they’re pretty lacking. What is ironic about the re-branding process, and doing what we really loved, is that our crowd grew as well. If you are able to do what you love, people will come. They’re right there with you on the same page.
KAPLAN: Definitely. Who are you looking to tour with in the future?
HALE: We would love to tour with Local Natives. That would be a blast. Their album comes out the same day as ours, ironically. We are all huge fans of that band. Bon Iver. Father John Misty. There are so many bands that we look up to.
KAPLAN: Your sound definitely complements those bands. How did you guys meet?
HALE: Richard Carpenter, the keyboard/guitarist, was actually there the day I was born. Our parents had been friends for 40 years. Literally since Day One, I’ve known him. I have a picture of him with a cigar at the hospital when he was one year old. We had been friends our entire lives. Over the past seven to 10 years we started stumbling into each other. Richard and I probably have the longest history with each other, by far.
AIR REVIEW’S LOW WISHES IS OUT TODAY. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT ITS WEBSITE.