Dave Raymond has moved beyond the Surface Tension, which bodes well for Hidden Hospitals‘ future. But there’s plenty to enjoy in the present if you’ve yet to listen to the band’s latest album.
Hidden Hospitals is ready to head out a spring run of tour dates to support the album, but if you’re lucky you might hear signs of a band moving deeper. Raymond says he’s already recorded a few new songs that form a musical core of a forthcoming full-length, arrival date unknown.
It’s all part of Raymond’s constant movement between albums and bands, pursuing his interests. We’re still hooked on Surface Tension, so we’ll take our time, even as he flutters between moods and outlets.
Stereo Subversion: It’s been some time since Surface Tension released. How is your relationship with it now compared to when it first came out last year?
Dave Raymond: We just went and recorded three new songs with J. Hall in Nashville, because that’s where we go to produce and record. I didn’t realize how far away from that entire chapter I was until we got there and started actually recording. I intended the three songs to be an extension or b-sides for Surface Tension. I thought it would be fitting, but they came out in a completely different place. I feel inspired already to sit down and write a new record around those three songs. I’ve been saying it’s like one quarter of a full story.
SSv: Tangibly, what are some of those changes?
Dave: While writing Surface Tension, a lot of things were culminating in my life, and I was going through a lot of things. I met my now wife. She and I are getting married, so that’s a good part of it. The band itself, it was the first time I’d gone through writing a full-length with an entire band around me in a healthy way. Usually things are a little bit stressful, but it wasn’t that way for Surface Tension. I think as far as a mindset, I’m in a little bit more of a positive spot.
The engineer we’ve worked with in the past, I played him some of the songs and he said, ‘Is this the first time you’ve ever went major in the chorus?’ I was like, ‘I guess so. It’s got kind of a lift there that isn’t typically us.’ [Laughs] Surface Tension is a batch of songs I wrote over two years ago. Then you go and put it all together and mix it out and then release it. We did a crowdfunding campaign to get it made, so it’s such a long process. There’s such a distance between who I was then and who I am now.
That’s why the way that things came out, all of the tools I’ve used to write and all of the ideas that are there, it’s cool because it’s not alienating the band at all. It’s still extremely us. It’s just farther and deeper down into what is authentically Hidden Hospitals.
SSv: That’s great that everyone’s on board.
Dave: Yeah, for one of the songs, none of them had even heard it yet. We went into the studio with the intention to record two songs. Then J. Hall said, ‘Do you have any other ideas?’ I played him this one that I’d been working on. He said, ‘Well, every time I hit stop, I just want it to keep going. So we’re going to do this one?’ Jared, our drummer, was like, ‘Yeah, we’re doing this one.’ That was my first experience of doing the majority of a song in the studio, without coming to the studio saying, ‘Here it all is. Let’s record it and shine it up.’
SSv: You worked with J. Hall on your last album, so are you working with him on the next one?
Dave: Actually, I’m not going to work with anyone else for Hidden Hospitals but J. Hall. When it comes to official recordings, he’s the one I want to work with.
SSv: You’ve got a run of spring tour dates and yet you’re talking about the album, so are you nearing the end of supporting Surface Tension specifically?
Dave: I am digging into a new album, but I think we’ll work on it throughout the year maybe. The spring dates aren’t the last of it. We’ve got these March dates and there will be dates in April and others to put together. But then we’ll stop and put together another 100 new songs so we can put them on the chopping block and see what makes the cut.
SSv: You’re also busy playing some with your wife, right?
Dave: Yeah, that’s Still + Storm. We actually recorded with J. Hall in Nashville as well. That was a really awesome experience. We’re going to release a new EP in a couple of months.
SSv: Does that help having different outlets in some way?
Dave: It’s almost out of necessity, it’s been that way. I have a group called Given Names, which is very dark and moody electronic with one partner of mine. Still + Storm has been an incredible exercise because I’ve come into this without any of the tools I’ve had from Hidden Hospitals or a rock band. So we’ve entered in saying, ‘How do we do this?’ Rachel plays guitar and sings, which is typically the position I’m in. It’s put me in the position of, ‘How can I be the rest of the band?’ It’s also great to not have to jam a bunch of people in the car before we can go out and play shows. These were our first five shows that we’ve played and I couldn’t have been happier with it.
SSv: You mentioned using crowdfunding for the last album. How was that working so close with your fans? Is that a good model for you guys?
Dave: First and foremost, we couldn’t have done it without doing a campaign. I don’t go through life asking for help with anything. Actually, it’s the opposite. I’ve gotta figure out how it’s done and whether or not I can even do it on my own and then I’ll involve people or ask for help. We were in a position where we knew we needed help. I can’t do that more than once. When I see other artists do that, I just can’t do that. I’m pretty sensitive to it.
It’s been two years since that campaign came to fruition, and I’m still immensely humbled by it. To your point, the relationship that artists have with their fans, you just don’t exist without them. They repeat your name and tell other people. You can talk about your band forever until people are deaf in the ears, but it doesn’t mean as much unless someone you trust and care about says, ‘Matt, for real dude, you know I wouldn’t tell you about this unless it was important. You need to hear this.’
*Photo by Erin Drewitz