UTG INTERVIEW: Hidden In Plain View At Skate And Surf

FEATURE- HIPV - Connor Feimster Photography

While I was walking around Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey last weekend, I noticed how much older the crowd was than it had been in past years. The hotly-anticipated reunions of Midtown and Saosin with Anthony Green stole the show, but they weren’t the only reunions that drew in a nostalgic fan base. New Jersey-based Millenial favorites Hidden In Plain View played their second reunion show on Sunday afternoon to an enthusiastic crowd and sounded great despite years apart.

After the band’s set, we had the chance to speak with HIPV guitarist and vocalist Rob Freeman and drummer Spencer Peterson on the Asbury Park boardwalk. The guys told me about how they started talking again after years apart, their best and worst memories of their time on Warped Tour, and how the scene has changed since the Drive-Thru Records era.

You can read the full interview and see photos of the band performing at Skate And Surf 2014 after the jump.

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You guys are from Morristown, NJ, which is not too far from Asbury Park. How have you watched the NJ and tristate “scene” change since the time when you started out?

Rob Freeman: For me, it started out as a thriving, VFWs and DIY-kind-of-show community. There were still bigger clubs, but there was just a lot of activity in the VFWs and firehouses, all the way up to clubs like Chrome, Birch Hill, and Obsessions. We never actually played at Maxwell’s but we went there a bunch of times. We were on the road for such a long time that we didn’t get a chance to keep an eye on it too closely. I guess nowadays it doesn’t seem to be doing as well, but there’s still a bunch of great bands.

You played Warped Tour ten years ago in 2004. Saosin played that year, so did the Early November and few other bands playing today. What are some of your best and worst memories of Warped Tour?

Spencer Peterson: Ten years ago? That’s crazy. The bad ones we don’t want to say out loud [laughs]. Probably the good ones include the camaraderie of being with your friends, making new friends, you know. I don’t know man, it’s Warped Tour. You grow up going to this thing, and it’s a dream to play it.

Rob: It’s like summer camp. A bad memory I can think of is from when we played Montreal that year, and our bus must have parked a mile and a half or two miles from the stage, and it was pouring rain all day.

Every story I’ve heard from the tour about how it was either freezing cold or 105 degrees.

Spencer: You learn how to be a band on that tour. It’s fun to hang out with the bands on the tour, but after playing every day for two months, I don’t think we were ever tighter as a band. Another bad one is, and it happens to everyone, our bus broke down with no AC. That’s why you have a bus, to have AC during the day. There was no where to go, we were laying in the back of a trailer wondering what we were doing with our lives.

Rob: Our bus must have broken down four times. We had three different buses on that tour.

Spencer: Another highlight of Warped Tour, when our bus broke down on the 2005 tour, we got a bus from this tequila company, and it was wrapped with like, three babes on the side.

Rob: They pulled up, and it had three chicks in bikinis on the side of it. So we had that for like three weeks or something, and every day someone would pop their head in and ask, “hey man, you got any tequila in here?”

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You signed to Drive-Thru back in the day, and we’ve heard good and bad things about that label. What are your memories of that era?

Rob: The thing with Drive-Thru was that they had a sound about them. When they signed a band, I pretty much knew I was gonna like it. There was a built-in fanbase. People had trust in that label, and they would be like “Oh, they signed Hidden In Plain View? I’ll probably like this band.” So the crazy thing that happened to us, was when we got signed and they put us on their website. We played the Bloomfield Ave Cafe in Montclair, NJ the week prior to fifteen people, they announced us and we played a week later and we sold it out. They didn’t know our music, but they wanted to check us out.

You don’t get that as much today. You guys would all tour together too.

Rob: Yeah, it has a lot to do with the internet. Everything is so easy to access now. Back then you needed the push, but now you don’t need it.

It’s weird because you don’t even see it happen. CDs have come to an end during my lifetime.

Spencer: Yeah, it’s a dead format now.

This reunion was originally only supposed to be one show. What changed that you’re still here today playing together?

Spencer: This guy named Joe Dent put out Life In Dreaming on vinyl back last September. He’d been trying to get in touch with us for a while, and he reached out to Joe, Joe reached out to everyone else. We were all just doing our own thing. And that got everyone talking, and we ended up talking about doing a show. So we played the TLA in Philly last year, and it was so fun, and we had to ask, why end there? Why make that they only one? If there’s interest, we wanted to do it. We had fans in places other than Philly. Our disbanding was sort of abrupt, there was never a going away tour.

Rob: It’s hard to make plans. If enough comes along, and we can do it, we’ll do it. We’re our own boss in a sense, we answer to ourselves. It’s a matter of making sure we can all do it and do it well.

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Rob, you made a name for yourself as a producer after Hidden In Plain view split, and you worked with artists like Cobra Starship and Gym Class Heroes. How does working and producing with your own band compare to producing other bands that are arguably outside of your genre and comfort zone?

Rob: It’s way easier to produce a band that you’re not in, because you’re not attached to it. You can step out of the inner circle and take the music as the music. When it’s your own band, it’s weird. What’s a good analogy for that? When you’re producing, you’re the outside member, but when you’re in the band, you need to have an outside opinion. When we would write a song, we would write that thing ninety times over in ninety different ways, and you need someone to say “that’s the better way.” You get attached to things when it’s your project and start second guessing yourself.

Spencer: When it’s your own band, you want everything perfect. I’ll never forget when we started to record Life In Dreaming, our producer said, “look, I get it, you want it to be perfect. Every band wants their first record to be perfect. But since it’s your band, you’re willing to go the extra mile.”

Rob: When it’s not your band, it’s your craft, but it’s not your baby.

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I did some research online and I found some interesting web comments from 2004. Someone commented on a post about your UK tour with Allister, Home Grown, and The Early November, and said, “It’s sad that I’m going to this just because there’s nothing else to do next week. What do The Early November and Hidden in Plain View sound like?” and the only replies are “Putrid” and “Think bad, but a little worse.” What’s your reaction to the hate from 2004 in 2014?

Rob: Come at me, bro! [laughs]

Spencer: It’s the internet, that’s what it’s for. If I wasn’t in this band, I would probably hate it too because I’m a fucking dickhead [laughs]. It’s just some piece of shit kid who wants to be a jerk on the internet.

When you see the largely positive reaction to your reunion shows today, do you get a different vibe now then you did back then?

Rob: As you get older, you realize that it’s easier to hate something than it is to like it. People like to hate, I don’t know what it is.

Spencer: I couldn’t give a fuck less about what someone wrote about us on the internet in 2004 [laughs].

Let’s end with a music recommendation, what have you guys been listening to lately?

Rob: All sorts of stuff, man. I produce so I try to keep my ears open to a lot of things. Midtown is really good.

Spencer: I’ve been really into The Weeknd’s last record, Kiss Land, a lot. Stuff that nobody else in the band listens to. A lot of electronic stuff.

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Interview conducted by: John Bazley (Follow him on Twitter)
Photography courtesy of Connor Feimster Photography

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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