The members of Hidden Hospitals are no stranger to touring, frequently hitting stops in and around their hometown of Chicago covering the Midwest and even the East coast. Still, one part of the country has constantly eluded them until now…the West Coast.
This June, they packed up their white Ford Econoline van and hit the road for roundtrip journey from Chicago. They passed through Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and of course, California. I caught up with them here in Los Angeles at a favorite Silver Lake dive, the infamous Silverlake Lounge.
What started out as merely attending a gig, turned into an ambitious multi-camera collaborative shoot of four of their songs (see below starting 08.09.2016). I also had a chance to sit down with HH’s David Raymond to ask some questions and gain a bit more insight on this tour and what’s next for the band.
Photo by Rozette Rago
How did the West Coast tour finally materialize? I know this is something that has been brewing for years, was it a timing thing?
We’d been planning to get to California for quite a while. I’d submitted to support countless tours after ‘Surface Tension’ released but we rarely got considered. Now, the end of the album’s cycle, we decided to just make it happen. We won’t wait so long to get back there again – the West Coast has put its hooks in us.
Your set at Silverlake Lounge was tight. How do you typically prepare for a tour and for your live performances?
Prepping to perform is a mix of programming and rehearsing. We don’t use traditional pedalboards, or amplifiers. Jared’s drum kit serves a dual purpose of drums and MIDI controllers. So does my guitar, and so do our voices. Programming takes some time, paired with trying to be creative and remain efficient (easy setup / tear down). I don’t often have much to say into the microphone so we design our sets to flow from song to song without dead air in between. So, we wean down a set, sequence, then rehearse in the space until it all feels natural. Admittedly, we’ve never left for a tour feeing “ready”…but I think that’s chasing a unicorn.
What was the most surprising thing you realized on tour?
That most of the time it’s not what people want, even though they think it is. I’ve seen more people quit, and bands implode while on tour – and for the most fleeting reasons. Touring (as is the whole of being in a band) is about making the most of everything. Often, that means making the most of very little. On top of that, trying to stay empathetic to those you’re doing it with since they’re enduring the exact same things you are. It’s fragile, beautiful, chaotic and unique. I don’t believe anything else in life is the same as touring a rock band.
Photo by Tony Rago
You guys drove on this tour from Chicago all the way west and back again. How was that experience?
The majority of those long drives was absolutely beautiful. It helps being with people who also appreciate those vast landscapes. I think it makes sense that they are the people that I play in a band with too. Being able to see something rad out the window then all talking about it is more rare than you’d think.
We had photographer & friend Jaret Ferratusco out on tour with us too. Jaret shot a ton of photographs during drives, load ins / outs and of course at the shows. We had a great working routine of getting on the road, I’d edit all of the photos from the day before, then we’d tag team social media posts. We got to tell a lot of ghost stories too.
What was your favorite show/stop on tour and why?
It’s tough to say. These were all new stops for Hidden Hospitals. We hadn’t been to the west coast since our last bands, so it felt like a lot of new experiences. We keep coming back to talking about The Slidebar in Fullerton, CA though. We showed up early, which usually means one of two things: locked doors, or a grumpy staff. We encountered neither of those things. Everyone was kind, accommodating and let us have space to get ready for the show. The club itself is absolutely perfect too. I thought to myself almost immediately that the room must have been designed by someone that either plays in bands or used to.. It turns out that the club is owned by Lit. Great bands, great production, great show and a great crowd. That’s the most a band can ask for on tour.
Did you learn anything new as a band touring the West Coast?
Sure, always. The three of us have a really awesome chemistry – and chemistry is fragile. Don’t poison it.
Photo by Tony Rago
How do you all interact as a band, outside of playing your individual instruments do you all play specific rolls in the band. Talking about promotion, planning, writing, your design aesthetic, and the fact that you do all of this without a manager.
There’s a lot but they’re all good things to be busy with. Lately, Jared has been doing all of our booking + tour booking, communication with bands, promoters. I’ve always done our design work, social, merch – all things digital and print. Past those day-to-day things, I write songs then collaborate with Jared to bring them to life. We’ve got a great working relationship and language for making music.
Most bands do everything without a manager (out of need). We’re fortunate to have a clear vision and the motivation to continue. We’d absolutely partner with someone or a team but that hasn’t happened.
I, like most that do this, have to balance a work life in harmony with music. Fortunately design and creative direction lend themselves as services to a band. I keep both lives separate though. I don’t work on music for pay, I don’t do music as a job for anyone. I use one facet of my life to support the other, and it has worked for me. It’d be a perfect system if I could figure out how to clone myself.
Photo by Tony Rago
What’s been the biggest challenge since launching HH and this past year?
The hardest challenge we’ve seen is getting considered for touring opportunities. That’s always been a struggle – to the point that it seems nearly impossible to get on existing tours. No label, no manager, no agent = no need to write us back when we’re submitting for tours. In the past year, we’ve been headlining most of our shows – and we’re not a headlining band. I think we’d bring a lot to the existing tour packages that are touring domestically. We hear it every night on tour, some form of “why don’t you guys tour with xxx?”. We’d love to – believe me.
What are you listening to individually and as a band right now?
I’ll stick to what we’ve been rocking on rotation during tour at high volume. Every Time I Die, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Silver Snakes, Nine Inch Nails.
What’s coming up next for band?
Write and explore new territory. Things are different now so we’re all embracing it.
HIDDEN HOSPITALS: SILVERLAKE LOUNGE (VIDEO SERIES)
1. Bone Scraper
2. Wounded Sirens
3. Controlled Chaos