From the opening notes of Sun Showers, the feature debut of fast-moving indie-everything troupe Homemade Haircuts, there’s an unmistakable statement of creative intent.
Strangled guitar chords and dynamic drum fill set the stage for undulating melodic guitar lines and sunny, reverb-drenched vocals that immerse the laid-back chamber pop of the band’s previous efforts into rock spectacle.
It might not even be fair to compare what Homemade Haircuts looks like now to their earlier efforts, which were largely the product of singers Bob Magee and Evan Delp admit they were just learning to be a group when they were undergraduates at the University of South. Carolina in Colombia.
Neither Delp nor Magee had ever seriously played music in a band before, bonding over a shared love of big, loud 2010s alt-rock bands with strong pop sensibilities like Cage the Elephant and The 1975 songs, which can often sound more like early Alex G or Mac DeMarco if it weren’t for their pop sensibility, which was evident early on.
“We weren’t really playing a lot of shows or anything. We were really learning how to write songs,” Magee said. “And Evan, who mixes our music to this day, was [learning] music production. Homemade Haircuts was just kind of a project to learn how to make music.
Even given the laid-back nature of their approach, the duo found some early success on streaming services, particularly after a quirky Twitter interaction with YouTube influencer Jenna Marbles led to their song “Fairy Tale” gaining popularity. get over a million Spotify streams and appear on a few of its algorithmic playlists. Their approach, with layered, dreamy vocals over meandering yet infectious melodies, clearly worked.
With songs from the new album, however, the duo brought in drummer and bassist Blake Hunter (Bellavida, Bull Moose Party) to fill in the sound just as they ramped up their live performances. Hunter, a young but seasoned veteran of the Columbia music scene who teaches both guitar and drums for Freeway Music, also brought some sense of music theory and chops to the band. The result is a record that more easily compares to their self-proclaimed influences, as well as local indie rock heroes like Band of Horses or Susto.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this album was also formed during the period when we were starting to play gigs,” Magee said. “I think we realized the kind of music we wanted to play for the audience and the energy we wanted to bring to the shows.”
Delp added, “When we were just starting out in college, drum programming was the best tool we had. I think we’ve realized the limits of that, in a way. I really feel the depth and variety of our sound [expanded] because we opened with [Hunter]and he had a unique perspective.
“I think it made it a little more ‘rock’ than we would have done on our own,” added Delp, “but that’s the beauty of the collaborative process, walking into a room and seeing how good it feels when we’re listening again and things change in very nice ways that we couldn’t on our own.
While the band produced the LP, there’s clearly a lot of polish and balance that wasn’t as evident in its track record. Drawing on the charms of those early bedroom pop efforts while consciously pursuing room-filling energy, the band, now relocated to Charleston, is ready to see how far their music can go.
Hunter names Charleston outfits like Susto and Brave Baby as early inspirations for the possibilities of his playing, and local drummer and producer Wolfgang Zimmerman as a big drumming influence.
“I just remember being in love with them when I first stayed to play music, when I realized these bands were in the same state as me, just two hours away [from Columbia],” he said. “I thought they were amazing.”
Magee echoes that sentiment, noting that “ever since we met Blake and felt like we had become a band, being from South Carolina has meant a lot to us.”
“Just doing this in South Carolina has definitely colored our experience and all of our influences. We’re happy to be a South Carolina band.
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