Interview – Maple Hill

Alt-Rock band Maple Hill released their debut full-length in early February. The quartet is comprised of members: Joel Beckwith (Bass), St. John Faulkner (Drums), Max Gaeta (Lead Guitar), and Kristian Wood-Gaiger (Vocals/Guitar). The young band is known to have a wide range of influences that includes acts such as Blink-182, Green Day, Mayday Parade, and The Wonder Years. Their new up-tempo record is entitled Headspace and consists of 10 tracks. Learn more about the band and what they have planned for 2016 from their responses. Be sure to check out some tracks from Headspace below!

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How would you describe your music to others?

Our music is very fun and energetic. It’s hard to categorize what we sound like to fit into a specific genre. Lately, we’ve been describing it as “vibey alt-rock/pop-punk.”

How did you guys meet?

Kristian and St. John have been playing music together since they were little kids, and have been in a bunch of bands together. Max and St. John went to pre-school together, and had played in community youth jazz bands together before this one. Joel and St. John met through doing community youth theatre. St. John and Kristian were looking to fill a slot for lead guitar player in an old band, which both Joel and Max auditioned for. Everyone seemed right, so we went with it, and here we are!

What is the story/meaning behind the band’s name, Maple Hill?

When we were deciding on a name, it took us nearly 6 months to come up with something that really resonated with us. Maple Hill is the name of the part of Ithaca, NY (our hometown) that Kristian lives in, and is also where we spent a lot of time bonding as a band. We came up with it early on in the process of recording our debut album Headspace. After living with it for those amazing couple of weeks, we knew it was the one.

Who and what influence your music? Why?

Our music is mostly influenced by various aspects of our personal lives. Headspace is an album mostly about the transition into early adulthood, and the conflicts that arise during the process. Each song is a story or journey, and a lesson learned. Some of these stories are more uplifting and hopeful, some are more disheartened or frustrated, but each is a moment in time.

How would you describe your writing process?

Most of the writing of Headspace took place in St. John’s bedroom. We would come up with and write song skeletons on our own, and then bring them there to turn into more developed ideas. Our writing process is very collaborative, and each member contributes to every song.

How often and how long do you practice together?

Three members of the band are currently full time students, attending three different schools in three different cities, which makes it hard for us to practice as much as we would like. When we can be together for an extended amount of time, however, we try and practice every day for a few hours each rehearsal. Then we just hang out for a while afterward.

How would you describe your recording process?

Getting the opportunity to make a record at The Panda Studios (The Story So Far, State Champs, Basement) in Bay Area, California over the summer was invaluable. Living and working in the studio for two weeks, all while getting to meet some really talented and inspiring people was the best experience we could have had for our first ever album. We’re so proud of the record we made, and had the best time making it!

From start to finish, how long did it take to create the new record, Headspace?

Before going in to track Headspace, we had each gotten the opportunity to record in different capacities. Never satisfied with any of our previous experiences, we knew we really wanted to do this album the right way. This meant a lot of preparation for us prior to even setting foot in the studio. We worked on the writing of the album over the course of about a year and a half – new songs and ideas constantly being added, tweaked, and reimagined. Then we practiced our butts off for about two months before we flew to California. Once we finished up there, we entered the mixing process. Being on the other side of the country at this point, we had to send all of our notes back and forth via email, which extended the process. All in all, it took about two years for Headspace to come to fruition, and we are so happy that its release has finally arrived!

Can you talk about the inspiration behind a few of the tracks?

Like we touched on before, the songs on Headspace are, for the most part, each a lesson learned from a situation during our respective transitions into early adulthood. Something that we strive to do with our songwriting is to take a personal account of an instance in our lives, and apply commentary that could be very applicable to the lives of others as well. We can tell you a little bit about some of the songs we put out before the official release of the record:

‘Space to Grow’ is a song about self-reflection. Following the theme of the album, it’s all about finding a new perspective. The song speaks towards looking inwards, and accepting that a change needs to happen. You may be able to tell how this lesson was learned in my case, but the message of the song is applicable to anyone that has ever gone through a similar process of decision-making about their own actions.

‘Stomping Ground’ (which we also have a new music video for) is a song about moving on, although not necessarily knowing what the future has in store. In the same vain as Space to Grow, there are certain parts that are inspired by specific events. As a whole, though, the song was inspired by a mindset of taking charge and making intentional progression.

Do you play covers at practices or shows? If so, which ones are your favorites?

We all have a soft spot for top 40 pop. Rather, we love taking top 40 pop songs that we are drawn too, and Maple Hill-ifying them. We do a pretty cool cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” that always gets people singing and dancing. It’s really fun to play that one.

What do you typically do post-gig?

After we break down and pack everything up, we try to stick around for as long as possible to chat with anyone who wants to after our set. We love getting to do that. Later, we all  just hang out and talk about the show (things that went well, funny/cool moments, things we can improve on).

What image do you think your music conveys?

We would love for people to draw their own conclusions on our music. What’s most important to us is that we try not to take anything or anyone all too seriously, including ourselves. We love music, and are trying to present something relatable and expressive with the music that we make. At the end of the day we just want to have some fun, so you should come have some fun with us!

What has been one of your biggest challenges as a band?

One of the biggest challenges for us is making the transition into becoming relevant. We love where we come from, but there really isn’t anyone there that is into the music that we like and make, other than our closest friends and ourselves. It’s been really tough to gain traction in that sense. We are hoping that with the release of Headspace we can attract more attention, and start to be known as contenders for one of the exciting up-and-coming bands in the scene that we know we can be. Baby steps, though.

What has been your funniest or craziest experience working together?

Something both funny and crazy that happened to us was actually during the recording process for Headspace. The band (who will remain nameless at this time) that had lived/recorded at the studio just before us had apparently aided and abetted a minor flea infestation. They had been playing with a stray cat a lot, and probably didn’t have the best hygiene, and so we got the short end of the stick on that one. We got displaced from the studio for an entire day while they bug-bombed the place. We couldn’t give up a day of work, though, so Max and our engineer Ryan “Rings” Ellery moved everything into what was basically a storage locker down the road, and tracked lead guitar all day. That was a stressful experience, but they were really nice about it. They put us in a hotel and bought us breakfast the next morning. We can definitely laugh about it now.

Anything interesting your fans should know?

We were between the ages of 17-19 when we recorded Headspace.

What can we expect from Maple Hill in the coming months?

Something that we really hope we will get to do more of is touring. We love playing as many shows as we can, and meeting as many people as possible. We can only hope that with the release of Headspace, a larger audience will listen to our music and see what we’re all about. You can expect more shows and goofy instagram posts, with the possibility of more video content and tour dates! Stay tuned in on social media to check it out when it happens!

 

 

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