M: I guess there were some little steps, but I guess it started in 92. I played in this band called Indian Summer and then Mo Hinder, but it only last a little over a year. I guess hardcore was the first underground scene I found, but then I got a record from and indie band and it opened my eyes to a new world of music that could also be raw and real. I started doing this at home as something I never thought I’d share with people because I was owning a label and putting out other people’s work. Then a label got a demo and offered me a 12″ and it kind of went from there. not a snowball by any means, but a pebble that’s added up over time.
J: Now, to kick things off with the album talk, what’s the story behind the title, XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival?
M: What happened was that I was kind of getting tired of what i was doing. Since my musical history came from real instruments, I got tired of electronic. Also, I was in a different place because a lot of those records were darker and more depressed than I am now. I was thinking of not doing another HSH album, but a friend in Spain told me I should write music about something that makes me happy. I started using random instruments and in no time had 12 songs. I had a good relationship with my Japan label and a few others and we talked about giving it another band title [XoXo Panda], but then we went with HSH. The whole thing was about making real music again and getting back to that natural feel. I did songs and painting and just really got back into that groove. Then labels here started to get on it and we went with HSH and yea, I think I answered your question [laughs].
J: I’ve noticed a huge change in your sound with this record when put against prior HSH releases, is this something we can expect more of in the future or simply trying out something different?
M: You know, I guess I’m not sure. I would say that the way I make music, if I make another record, is forever changed because of real instruments in the process. When I started HSH I only knew guitar and a bit of drums so I started using samples and got really into that. Then I realized I was focusing more on production than song writing. By the end of the last record, I would make a song and then try to write around the music. I didn’t know if I could write a raw song anymore. so I went to this new place. If we make them collide there will be electronics in it though.
J: Did you have anything specific in mind when you entered the studio as far as sound was concerned? It seems like the whole record has this loose, live setting to it, yet everything is so raw.
M: Thank you, that’s what I have the feeling of wanting. I never had a specific sound because the whole time I was working on it, a lot of the songs vary because it’s like documenting the changes in my life and I didn’t know how I wanted it to all sound. I was just keeping up on the fact I was enjoying recording it so much. By the end though, I had more of a feel of how to work like this and if I did it again, it may sound a bit different. I got an extra person to do drums as well because I knew my two beats wouldn’t carry the album [laughs].
J: I noticed a theme with the year and day in review tracks, what are we suppose to gain here?
M: In everyone’s life there are a lot of ups and downs every year and those songs were done early in the process. The year in review was like a 12 month look back in life and the day version is to show you have mini struggles everyday.
J: As far as promotion is concerned with the album, how would you pitch the record to someone who maybe hasn’t dabbled in HSH before?
M: The philosophical intent may sell it: Musically, I don’t know the theme, but I would say the purpose of the record was to get back to the purest and earliest stage of being curious about making things and learning about the world, but at the same time, being an adult and working out things.. It’s like a children’s book set to music, without being too immature. It’s a totally fine line when you add additional percussion and I hope that it doesn’t cross it.
J: Even though a lot of the record seems very lighthearted, the actual composition of sounds gets a bit heavy at times, how do you recreate it all live?
M: It’s hard since I don’t have a band. In the past, it was a laptop, guitar, drummer, bassist. The laptop was key and the instruments were secondary. Though now, there are a lot of people in bands that help out. It’s hard to capture the feel of the record live, but when I was in Japan, this band with 7 people worked with me and it felt really solid. I switch it up based on what I have with me.
J: Will you be touring heavily to support the record? If so, what are your current plans?
M: Supposedly, I guess. The label would like two tours in each territory, but nothing is set. Australia in February, but I have no idea where and when we will pull this off. The older we get and more spread out band wise, it gets harder to coordinate.
J: Now, we always try to add a random question into every interview that just catches you from the side, so your question is: As a child, who did you want to be like when you grew up and why?
M: That changed a lot growing up. I would say John Lennon because my sister, who I always wanted to be close with, loved John Lennon and I wanted to be like him so she’d like me. When I was into skateboarding I wanted to be like Gator, but that’s bad because he killed a woman.
J: We have a policy to not do final questions because they always seem to hit subpar and leave you just wondering why the interview ended on that note. So, instead of one last question, we are giving you an open podium to say whatever you want [as long as you don’t plug the record!]:
M: I would just like to say: One thing I’ve been talking to my friends with is how the world seems to be in a tragic state. Everyone is trying to associate and fit in somewhere and I think we really need to focus on being as good of a person as we can be. That’s what’s going to help the world, by us being a f*cking cool as possible because the sh*t is in shambles and we need to work on it.
*Written By: James Shotwell*