It’s Not So “Hard To Be Close” With Here We Go Magic

Since A Different Ship came out on Secretly Canadian in May, Brooklyn’s own Here We Go Magic have toured with Andrew Bird, shared a stage with Florence & the Machine, lapped an impressive array of European and Australian stages, run the festival gauntlet, and shrunk in size over the span of a single season. As they gear up for tonight’s Brooklyn Bowl show that’ll kick off their latest run of tour dates, drummer Peter Hale takes a breather in between practices to wax poetic on new beginnings, collaborative efforts, and the contents of the Here We Go Magic on-the-road survival kit.  

Here We Go Magic has gone through plenty of changes—lineups and otherwise—since you came out with your self-titled debut in 2009. What are the most dramatic changes you’ve noticed between the Here We Go Magic of then and now?
There’s so much that’s different about it. We’re always different at any moment in our growth, and we’re always going to be that way. I think all of us, spearheaded by [lead singer Luke Temple], generally, want to keep going back to the drawing board, so every effort is going to reflect that. The main difference is that we worked with a producer for the first time, and the way that we were able to do that was by touring a lot. We were playing a lot of shows that Nigel Godrich came to see. We wound up becoming friends with him through that, and he ended up producing the record. Very literally, spending a lot of time on the road and playing festivals was what exposed us to him, and because he produced the record, A Different Ship feels different and is differently inspired record than the last one.

Are there any standout moments or songs on A Different Ship that you’re particularly proud of?
Every time I have a new favorite. I think that first side start to finish has a really great arc to it. That run of “Hard to be Close,” “Make Up Your Mind,” “Alone But Moving,” and “Over the Ocean;” those are just bangers for my buck and they reflect where I come from. “Make Up Your Mind” has that dense guitar stuff over a straight-ahead rhythm that coalesces in a way that we hadn’t tried before. “Over the Ocean,” then, provides a complete departure from that stuff; I think that’s my favorite song on the whole record, actually. It’s really mellow and down-tempo, almost a little funky in a weird way, and I think that’s an apex of musicianship for us on some level. That one’s a real winner for me.

You’re about to head off on an epic, international jaunt. Your touring schedule looks exhausting. How do you keep it together on the road?
I think having breaks is important. I don’t think anyone can go more than a month straight without taking at least a week off apart and to rest. When you’re on the road, you just try to conserve your energy physically and emotionally for the show you’re playing every night. I think when we’re good about keeping in mind that that’s why we’re out on the road in the first place, to play these shows, our morale stays a little better and we deal with each other better. As long as you have that bright side at the end of the day when you play a show and you know that it’s all going to be okay when you get onstage, then you’ll be fine, because that’s the regenerative thing. Playing a show can be exhausting, but it can be regenerative.

What are you looking forward to the most about this particular tour? Any cities you’re hitting for the first time?
Yeah! It’s funny; the majority of the U.S. cities are ones we haven’t played, or have only played once. The routing is really interesting. There are three shows in Florida, which is really unheard of. You never hear of small-budget rock music playing Florida, you know? (Laughs) It’s sort of a coup. There are a lot of dates in the South, and I think as far as Europe is concerned, we actually wound up having to cancel several dates this August. I’m looking forward to making up some of those and getting back to where we left off.

Why did you have to cut those European dates?
We shrank in size by one member, so we had to deal with that schedule a little differently. We didn’t want to scrap together a replacement and then go bounding through the rest of the summer. We decided to come back and rework the show so that we could put our best foot forward in the fall.

What’s the most memorable moment from your last year of touring?
To be honest, the last four months has been the most jam-packed stretch we’ve ever done. That’s surreal. This run was pretty boring as far as that’s concerned, because it was nonstop for four months—normally there’s some sort of adventure, but there wasn’t time to get into trouble or whatever. I wish I had a juicier anecdote! (Laughs) In a lot of ways it was the best tour we’ve ever done, because it was the most well attended tour we’ve ever done in the States. We sold out places for the first time, and we had a lot of people come out who had been there before and hadn’t seen us live. In general, it was a better feeling than in the past. It really wore us out at the same time. It wasn’t the height of adventure that we can sometimes be inspired to have.

What would be in your tour survival kit?
Twice as many shirts as pants, twice as many underwear as shirts, and Wellies.

Wellies?!
Rubber boots for English festivals. They’re essential.

Way to pull a Kate Moss, man.
They look ridiculous, but anybody who wears them is much happier.

Here We Go Magic Picked Up A Hitchhiker And It Was John Waters

So, uh, this is easily the best headline we’ve seen since “Porpoises rescue Dick van Dyke.” Although the story of Luke Temple’s merry Brooklyn bliss-out band picking up a camp film legend doesn’t quite have the same ring as the star of Mary Poppins being rescued by marine creatures, it did make for an interesting photo op, courtesy of bassist Jen Turner.

Waters has been a reported hitchhiking enthusiast, and Here We Go guitarist Michael Bloch told Pitchfork the fascinating tale:

“There’s a hydro-fracking boom in western Pennsylvania. You can’t get a motel room. We had to drive ‘til 4 a.m., and finally found a Days Inn in eastern Ohio. Getting back on the highway this morning, there was a man at the side of the on-ramp with a sign that read ‘to the end of Rte 70. Jen [Turner, bassist] wanted to pick him up, but we drove past him. As we passed by, our sound guy said. ‘John Waters.’ Luke said, ‘Yep, definitely John Waters.’ We got off at the next exit and circled back. He was still there. We pulled up, opened the door and asked where he was coming from. ‘Baltimore,’ he said. And we said ‘Get in, sir.’”

The band also offered a few tweets from the experience:

·      Just picked up John Waters hitchhiking in the middle of Ohio.. No joke. Waters in the van.

·      @stevekeros steve it is absolutely 100% pinky sworn true. He even carries a mixtape to listen to!

·      Gotta keep them eyes open. People are everywhere.

·      What an utter gentleman, as natural and observant of people as one might imagine. A total joy, full of stories. Thanks JW, be safe out there

·      A bit of an odd day today.. But not all that much more odd than many days, really.

 

We just want to know what was on that mixtape.