Back in 2005, a group of high school kids from the Chicago suburbs got together and made an album called So Sudden. Within a year the band signed to one of the most popular labels of the decade, took over college radio stations everywhere and were touring arenas with other Chi town heroes Fall Out Boy.
The best thing to come out of a suburban basement since, well, ever, The Hush Sound offered a quirky, more sensible take on the emo and pop rock churned out by the band’s labelmates on Pete Wentz’s Decaydance, which at the time was an imprint of Fueled By Ramen. Three albums and hundreds of shows later, the band was worn out. The Hush Sound went on hiatus as members moved on to new projects like Gold Motel and Debate Team. After a few one-off performances, the band announced that they were working on new material late last year.
With new single “Not A Stranger” available online and a five-band tour barreling across the country, The Hush Sound has a lot to talk about. That’s why I caught up with guitarist and founding member Bob Morris to talk about getting the band back together, giving music away and a drunken adventure from the suburbs to the Metro, where the band will take the stage on Tuesday, June 4, 2013.
Pop ‘stache: First off, welcome back. How does it feel to be playing with The Hush Sound again?
Bob Morris: Oh man, it’s great. We’ve been having so much fun on this tour. We’ve got some really great bands out with us and it’s cool to have a chance to reconnect with our old fans and make some new ones.
P’s: After being on hiatus for five years, why reunite now?
BM: Well, we didn’t necessarily know whether we’d ever do it again. I went off and joined another band for a few years, Greta did Gold Motel, and we were doing alright. Greta and I have always been like brother and sister and even though we hadn’t talked in a while, I instinctively called her when I quit that band. I wasn’t trying to get The Hush Sound back together or anything. I was just upset and needed to talk to someone. That’s when she said “You know, Gold Motel is winding down. Maybe we should hang out and play some music?”
P’s: So it was just the right time?
BM: It wasn’t forced or anything. We just hung out the first few times and didn’t do anything. You know, just being friends.
Everything else just happened to fall into place after that. The stars were aligned.
P’s: Coming from your other projects, was it easy to get back in the right frame of mind for The Hush Sound? When you started work on these new songs, did you have anything in mind?
BM: Yeah, we had all gone off and done our different things. It took a couple of weeks for us to reassess and decide what we wanted to do before we realized that we shouldn’t try to do anything. We should just write some songs. That made it really liberating and everyone was super supportive of all the different ideas.
P’s: Of course, the first thing to come out of those ideas was your new single “Not A Stranger.” You released it through your website and decided to let the fans choose how much they want to donate for it.
BM: The reason we did that is because we had a three-album deal where we got a lot of support and money from the record label. It really helped us build up a fanbase and we’re super appreciative, but when the contract was over, we got the liberty to choose how to distribute our music in our own way. So, we can say “It’s a suggested donation of a dollar,” but one person might pay nothing and another person will pay fifty dollars just because they love and want to support the band. On a record label, you’re just getting a small fraction of the sales. We can basically sell one-tenth of a CD and make more money than we used to.
P’s: Has it been working so far?
BM: So far everyone has been super generous with their donations and it’s allowed us to go on tour and remain sane. That was what exhausted the band the first time. I mean, yes, we love music, but when you’re spending 11 months out of the year on the road, it wears you out.
P’s: Things have obviously changed in the last five years. What do you know now that makes you better prepared for that nonstop touring?
BM: We’ve learned to understand each other and communicate a lot better. Things that normally don’t irritate you get amplified when you’re with someone that much. I mean, sometimes when you’re young you think people are out to get you, you know? But as we got older we learned to celebrate our differences, share responsibilities and be a lot more direct about the way we’re feeling. It’s good.
P’s: You’re currently on the road with Hockey, River City Extension, Genevieve (from Company of Thieves) and Lucas Carpenter (who is an auxiliary member in The Hush Sound). That’s a huge bill.
BM: Yeah, it’s a pretty big bill. We were lucky enough to grab these dudes and it’s been a lot of fun. I know that people will love them. If they’re into our band, they’re going to love them.
P’s: You’ve got a homecoming show coming up, too. The tour is finally hitting Chicago on Tuesday, June 4 with a show at Metro, a venue that’s celebrating its 30th anniversary. Being from Chicago, do you have any special Metro memories?
BM: All of my Metro memories are just me being a dumb teenager (laughs). I remember going there when I was in high school. I took a train and a bus. I was such a suburban kid. Anyway, I got completely lost. I still don’t know where I was! Eventually I got to Metro, my friends and I were super drunk and they kicked us out. We barely got to see any of the show! It’s not the most admirable memory, but hey (laughs).
P’s: What are some of your other favorite places to visit when you’re back in town?
BM: Sultan’s. Oh, I’m obsessed with Sultan’s. I’m in love with falafel and shwarma, so that’s my spot. When I’m in town I usually spend time with my family out in the suburbs. Sultan’s is a must, though. Oh, and Portillos.
P’s: It’s always the food…
BM: Yeah, food is the most important thing in my life. Keepin’ me alive …
P’s: Before I let you go, can you let us in on the band’s post-tour plans?
BM: Definitely We’re going to record in July and August so we can put something out in the fall. After that, we’re going to be touring again early next year.