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Band Crush: Hallelujah the Hills

December 2, 2010
(l-r: Brian Rutledge, Peter Negroponte, Elio DeLuca, David Bentley, Ryan Walsh, Joe Marrett, Nicholas Ward)

Hallelujah the Hills (HtH) are an ever-changing entity with a few important constants: Thought provoking lyrics, detailed layering, memorable hooks and the ability to seemingly be omnipresent. Band leader/frontman Ryan Walsh keeps the band fresh with frequent and entertaining updates on all things HtH. From updates on the road, to recording, to their drummer quitting the band mid-show, Walsh has been open and honest to press and fans alike. This honesty has proven to pay off as the band prepares to fly solo on their third effort, separating from their former label Misra Records and turning to fans for help with funding via their recent Kickstarter campaign. 

BBC: You have a six/sometimes seven-piece band, most of whom are very involved in other projects outside of Hallelujah the Hills. How are you able to coordinate everybody?
Ryan: If this band existed before email/text-messaging we probably wouldn’t have lasted this long.  We all bargain, convince, and coax each other into putting the time to make this band work.

BBC: You have two full-length albums complete with tour support and all the rest under your belt. What have you learned about the whole process thus far, and what do you plan on doing differently in the creation of your third record?

Ryan: I’ve learned that I’m a master at thinking something is the greatest while I’m working on it and then immediately hating it when I’m finished with it.  This time we’ll be condensing the process so compactly that there will be no time for a mid-process love affair so hopefully this will be the magic trick that allows me to love it….forever.

BBC: You are very involved with new technology and media – social networking, Kickstarter, viral videos and all the rest. Being that you do a good portion of the business side of the bands operations yourself, how do you feel about the current state of the music industry, and how the ever evolving technology and media ties into it?

Ryan: Well, we’ve joked about viral videos before.  I think that phrase is funny.  Obviously, anyone who makes a video or a song or whatever wants as many people to see it.  That the culture has condensed that hope into a tight little gross phrase like “viral video” is telling of where we’re at.  I’m both intrigued and repelled by it all.
I would love to just remain quiet for seven months and then step out of the shadows with a brand new album.  But this band has evolved into a large, nuanced sound and I don’t think this lineup and these songs would benefit that much from a lo-fi recording technique.  So, it’s studio time.  Our label can’t fund it.  No one knows what the hell is going on.  Music consumption is through the roof and sales are in the toilet.  We figured if we could make a pre-order Kickstarter campaign that was fun for us and the fans and fund the recording….well, then ok let’s try it. Bands self funding with fan pre-orders and Cory Brown‘s “I Buy Music” initiative seem like new strategies to me. Worthwhile ones at that.

What do you see for yourself in the upcoming year?

Ryan: I want to release a third Hallelujah the Hills album and dispose of all my enemies.

BBC: What Boston bands are you currently crushing on? 

Ryan: I have major league, red-faced, note-passing, hot-feeling, shaky-handed, heart-skipping crushes on the music of Faces On Film, Marissa Nadler, Mr. Sister, and Magic Magic.  Sometimes I’ll listen to the Ho-Ag records or the Night Rally record and get majorly upset that they weren’t heard by more people.  I am really curious to hear what Aaron Perrino cooks up with his Sheila Divine reunion.  I’ve had some weird nights where I’ve heard some really great songs at Whitehaus in JP.  I want someone to hire me to write a long article about going to The Midway every night for a month and reporting on what I see and hear.  I want to become a more involved, less guarded music fan.  I want Boston to be an idea machine.  A machine that churns out ideas.

Note: This interview took place one day before the departure of drummer Peter Negroponte, who declined to comment. Ryan Walsh on the matter: [Negroponte] disagreed with something said on stage during the show and, much to my surprise, decided it was enough to storm off and quit right there in the moment.” Walsh went on to reassure that the band will be “just fine” and that the new album will have “no shortage of drums.”

The first video the band produced as part of their Kickstarter campagin:

“Classic Tapes” by Hallelujah The Hills (MP3 LINK) featuring guest vocals from Cassie Berman (The Silver Jews)

Colonial Drones (2009 Misra Records)

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