Appeared in Hippo Press 12 April 2018
Three years ago, Hunter was a young, hungry band looking to conquer the world. They’re older now, but still determined. They are wiser, however. The precociousness of their eponymous debut has morphed into maturity on Listen to Hunter, a new album to be released April 13.
Sheeny three part harmonies and complex rhythm structures served on a pop platter mark the album. “Anchor (I Refuse to Sink)” opens the 10-track collection, and reflects the resolve of band members Hunter Stamas, Connor Coburn and Cameron Gilhooly. It dares any force, be it a harsh music business or natural disaster, to deter their quest.
“I think we’re pushing even harder now,” Stamas said in a recent group interview. “We definitely still have spunk.”
Yes – despite the slog of sleeping in vans and driving for hours between clubs, a planned summer tour will be Hunter’s most ambitious yet. “Coast to coast, thirty dates, all along the Midwest into California, even the West Coast of Canada, then down into the South and back to New England,” Coburn said. “It will be a big, juicy loop.”
The Listen To Hunter release party, happening at Nashua’s Bounty Room, is also set to be a pull out the stops affair. “It’s like a wedding for pretty much all of us,” Stamas said. “We’ve put so much work into writing it,and the artwork itself took so long, along with the videos that are going to be released … this one will be celebrated.”
The trio will be rounded out by the latest in a series of itinerant bassists; he joined earlier this year. The group goes through bass players like Spinal Tap drummers, though fortunately not for the same reason.
“We knew that from day one it was the three of us,” Stamas explained. “Every bassist was a hired gun after the first two; the were friends, and that didn’t work out – we needed someone to play better and be able to travel. But the writing has always been us. We knew that from the day we formed in 2014.”
It’s often said that a band has a lifetime to come up with its first record, but the second is a sprint. Not so with Hunter, who began writing songs soon after its debut, then frequently got waylaid. “We’re serial procrastinators,” Coburn said. “I think the first album came together relatively quickly. This new one we wanted to focus on making it more consistent.”
Gilhooly echoed those sentiments. “Everything we’ve done is a lot more intentional and thought out,” he said. “The last album was good, but it just came together on its own.”
Thematically, it toggle between Sixties pop influences – “Beach Party” sounds just like its title – and 90s alt-rock, on cuts like “Queen of the Tree Streets,” which evokes Alanis Morissette when Stamas croons, “you’re all I ever wanted/I’m sorry I used to be such a bitch.”
For the first time, Stamas yields lead vocals to her mates. Connor sings the moody, harmony-rich “Too Many Seasons” and Gilhooly is in front on the power pop romp, “Good Deed of the Day.”
Indicative of the new disc’s long gestation is the the final track, “Ballad of An Enigma.” Stamas wrote it immediately in the wake of their debut, and it grew from there. Collectively driven by a mutual infatuation with the first King Crimson album, the three shaped it into a six-minute epic.
Coburn introduced them to the 60s prog-rock masters. “He brought the album around and I was like, ‘we suck’ – how can we do that?” Stamas said. “They jammed on it after a while, and they’re geniuses. They created the instrumental section.”
As Stamas sings, “I always knew that I’d be different, be different,” before wrapping the record back around to the start with a line from track one, Gilhooly does double duty on guitar and bass (as he did on the entire album). It’s Coburn’s drumming, however, that takes “Enigma” into the far reaches, to a place they could not have gone as teenagers.
“I never stop flying,” Coburn said. “It’s just an endless fill.”
Hunter CD Release Show
When: Friday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Bounty, 9 Northeastern Blvd., Nashua
Tickets: $5 – facebook.com/HunterBandOfficial