When I am looking for indie artists to interview I thoroughly scour over every article I can find on new music releases, emerging artists, upcoming livestreams, etc. So when I discovered the band Hennessey, I thought, Holy Shit!! This is some of the best music I’ve heard in a very long time, how can I get in touch with them? And Ta da!!, here it is!!
Q: When looking up some research for your band, one of the most common things written was that you are a “hipster band from NY”..Is that how you see yourself? How would you define the “hipster sound”? The band consists of Leah Hennessey on vocals & EJ O’Hara on keyboards..whose idea was it to get the band together?
A: When we were in high school, there was simply no greater pleasure than railing against “these fucking hipsters” or “those fucking hipsters”, constantly pointing the finger, while knowing full well that three fingers were always pointing back at us. Now I think in this post-hipster era, there’s something perversely satisfying about admitting that our band is a fucking hipster band. There is a clear lineage of snarky, poetic, arty freaks making clever music to dance to – from Le Tigre and LCD Soundsystem back to The B-52’s or anything on Factory Records or Ze Records — and I think we’re part of the lineage, and what else do you call but hipster music? I had been in bands before but never writing my own songs. EJ was always my favorite producer and maker of music on the computer and it was a dream for many years to get him to have a real band with me, ding my songs. The band is also really our two guitar players, Noah Chevan and Malachy O’Neil, who we play with live (rarely simultaneously though) and on recordings, but in this new quarantined situation the core of the band has really been me and EJ.
Q: I watched some of your videos on Facebook & I’m really excited for you guys in terms of where your band is going. You really have that uniqueness with the electronic, rock, 80’s new wave style & the way you command the stage…it’s just refreshing..What does the band miss the most about performing live in front of an audience?
A: I live to perform live and after a few months of not performing, I start to wonder if I exist. There is a certain self in me that cannot speak or move without the performance mode, and that self is currently in some kind of teenage angst with the door slammed shut, and I have to just give it space to sulk and wait till it’s safe for it to come out again.
Q: New single coming out today, Jan 29th.. what is the story behind the song? Where do you get a lot of your inspiration for your lyrics?
A: The new song is called, “8 Men” and it’s about how the eight richest men in the world have more money than everyone else in the world combined. That number and ranking continues to fluctuate (now I think Elon Musk has more money than all of them) but the situation is the same. The wealth inequality on the planet is unfathomable – it’s too vast and drastic and brutal for me to even wrap my mind around. This handful of guys has enough money to feed and house and educate and provide healthcare for every single one of us – it’s not a shortage of resources that condemns so many of us to poverty and starvation. I was looking at some oversimplified info graphic about the eight richest men and I thought about reposting it and I was just hit with such a wave of nausea at the futility and hypocrisy of posting something so obvious and reductive (and on Mark Zuckerberg’s own platform – ultimately generating more revenue for Facebook/Instagram)….so I said fuck it and wrote a song instead, which I think expresses some of the absurdity I feel about even talking about this stuff. And I’m still going to post the song on Instagram.
Q: What have you guys been doing during this crazy stay at home/quarantining type of atmosphere?
A: My friends and I started a songwriting workshop and every Thursday we have to bring in a new song and play it for the group. The critique is very insightful and inspiring but the best thing is the discipline we’ve all developed just by forcing a song a week. That’s how I wrote this song and I never would have recorded it if my friends hadn’t been so receptive and amused.
Q: Scenario: The band is going on a national tour… you have to pick 1 artist/band to open for you, 1 band/artist to come on stage and sing with you and 1 band/artist to hang/party with you after the show. You also get to choose the venue to start the tour….
A: I can’t imagine a world where she would be opening for us and not the other way around but it would be my dream to have Macy Rodman open for us. I’m also thinking practically, because she doesn’t usually play with a band, she just has tracks and her own superstar self, but I feel like she could tour the world with a Bluetooth speaker and cardboard guitar in a Swarovski catsuit & get any crowd screaming in heat.
Right now my new obsession is this Scottish bagpipe/small pipe player is Brighde Chaimbeul. Her album, The Reeling, has been on repeat for me while I bike up the freezing bike path along the Hudson. I have a fantasy about her playing on a Hennessey song, and maybe when we start putting the album together, I’ll work up the nerve to ask her.
Maybe this is just the 2020 homebody blues talking but my dream for after a show would be to be whispered to sleep by Jarvis Cocker. I’m not big on podcasts but when I can’t sleep, I listen to Jarvis’ Wireless Nights – it’s the exact mix of banal comfort and subtle eroticism I need to cross the threshold into the land of nod. He’s one of my all time favorite heroes and if we could hang out after a shoe, whether that entailed “partying”, chatting or just passing out, I would die a happy fan girl.
Q: I want people to be clear, you are Hennessey (the band) but if you Google the Band Hennessey, you’ll get an entirely different band and sound….since you are a relatively new band, has there been any confusion with this other band with the similar name?
A: I know it’s crazy to call the band Hennessey — I always have to specify that there’s an e at the end so it’s not like the cognac – and there are so many other Hennessey artists, but it’s what feels right to me.
Q: We Will Not Be Lovers is a cover by The Waterboys. I love what you did with their song. Any more plans on covering other artists & adding it to your next album?
A: We have been talking about a prog-disco cover of a certain folk song but I don’t want to jinx it.
Q: Where can fans listen to your music and buy your merch?
A: Here’s a link to our music on all platforms… https://sl.onerom.com/8men. We usually do small batches of T- shirts which I post on Instagram @hennessey_the_band.
Go check out their new single, 8 Men, out today wherever you stream music.
Make sure to check out my blog, where I have quite a few interviews lined up. Reach out through Instagram if interested in an interview.
Until next time, I’m Your Music Stylist – Linda Dias.