HAERTS have had an enviable ascent in the rock world, having only been playing together for little over a year but still possessing the ability to craft perfect pop songs like the irresistible “Wings” and “All The Days.” The NYC-based band has also already toured with Shout Out Louds, Atlas Genius, Fitz And The Tantrums, and, most recently, Washed Out. Their St. Lucia-produced debut EP Hemiplegia comes out this month, so members Nini Fabi, Ben Gebert, and Garrett Ienner hopped on Turntable.fm to play some songs and talk about taking meetings, touring hard, and why pop isn’t a dirty word.
HAERTS started playing “Weightless” by Washed Out
STEREOGUM: So who exactly am I speaking with?
HAERTS: Nini, Garrett and Ben
STEREOGUM: And you are all sharing a body/avatar? You can log in separately and all play DJ if you want
HAERTS: As Always we are sharing one form…
STEREOGUM: So you have chosen to a redheaded boy to represent you. Is that an accurate depiction of what your child would look like?
HAERTS: It actually just magically appeared. It was meant to be
STEREOGUM: It must have been.
HAERTS: A stork just flew overhead
STEREOGUM: Congratulations! It’s a redheaded boy
HAERTS: What are you? A Gremlin?
STEREOGUM: I am a blue cat
STEREOGUM: Or a Mogwai
STEREOGUM: Yes. Don’t feed me after midnight
STEREOGUM started playing “Everything Counts” by Depeche Mode
STEREOGUM: So I understand I am interrupting your day off in LA
HAERTS: Nice start to the set!
STEREOGUM: I just saw their show, so I am on a big Depeche Mode kick
HAERTS: How was it?
STEREOGUM: It was amazing
HAERTS: We heard it was great
STEREOGUM: They are true rock stars even though I think Dave Gahan spends a lot of time watching Mick Jagger YouTube videos.
HAERTS: Unfortunately Santana on the stereo system clashing with Depeche on our laptop
STEREOGUM: So, what are you planning on doing as soon as I let you off the internet?
HAERTS: We will jump into the pool we are sitting by right now!
STEREOGUM: You really are pool side? Now I am jealous. Did you play a show last night? I ask because you live in NYC but are in LA.
HAERTS: We actually did not have a show last night but flew to LA for a few meetings and to work on a track we are doing with Felix Cartal and finishing up a MS MR remix as well
HAERTS started playing “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis
STEREOGUM: When you realized you wanted to be musicians, did you expect that you would have to take a lot of meetings? Whoa this song.
HAERTS: No because at that point we probably did not know the meaning of a meeting. We were little kids playing around…annoying our families with our respective instruments.
STEREOGUM: So have you all played music since you were little?
HAERTS: Yes. Benny wasn’t even born yet when he started playing
STEREOGUM: His poor mother! When did you start playing together?
HAERTS: N: that was Garrett typing…Yes his poor mother :)
HAERTS: G: he literally just uttered under his breath “Jesus taught me how to play”
STEREOGUM started playing “Ceremony” by New Order
HAERTS: NEW ORDER!!
STEREOGUM: Yes, it’s an 80s dance party up in here
HAERTS: Very nice, we can definitely follow up with something fitting after.
STEREOGUM: So when did Jesus lead you to start a band together?
HAERTS: N: OK, joking aside. We started playing together about a year ago. Ben and I had been doing music since we were teenagers and started playing with Garrett in 2012.
STEREOGUM: So it’s only been about a year? And now you are signed to Columbia? That’s an amazing progression
HAERTS started playing “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel
STEREOGUM: Funny, I have Solsbury Hill queued up next
HAERTS: G: Things have been moving quickly the past few months, but overall this doesn’t feel like a fast progression, because we’ve been playing our whole lives
G: we are on the same wavelength with you…
N: LOVE Solsbury!!!
N: But speaking of the band it really has all felt very natural and right so far.
STEREOGUM: So even though it’s your debut album doesn’t feel like a debut?
HAERTS: N: We all have worked on other albums before but this definitely is our true debut as a band and for each one of us individually. It means so much to us to present something true and meaningful that can hopefully touch a lot of people.
STEREOGUM: I think people will really like this record. Your first two singles (which are included on the EP, right?) were really well received. Do you mind the “Pop” moniker at all?
STEREOGUM started playing “Tereza” by Trails and Ways
HAERTS: B: No I don’t think we mind. Pop music is not a dirty word for us.
STEREOGUM: I love pop music, personally.
HAERTS started playing “Bankrupt!” by Phoenix
HAERTS: N: if you really look at the word it just refers to music that a large number of people can relate to. Frank Sinatra was POP. So if you really love and believe in what you do I think you always want to share that with as many people as possible. Of course now pop is connected with something plastic and over produced but it should not be that way.
STEREOGUM: Right! Pop music is Frank Sinatra and Katy Perry and Robyn and you that’s a big genre
HAERTS: G: And I think the attitude is changing as well. Right now POP is an exciting word to me, because the quality of music now, compared to what was considered “mainstream” 10 years ago, is higher and more diverse
STEREOGUM: Because this interview will go live right around when your EP comes out and people may not have a chance to hear it, how would you describe your music?
HAERTS: N: All the Days and Wings will be on the EP which we are excited to release on September 24th. How would we describe our music guys? ;)
B: It’s always hard to describe your own music. We’ve been working on it for such a long time that now the lines get a little blurry. When we first introduced synthesizers into our music it felt very adventurous, but it seems like such a familiar sound now.
STEREOGUM started playing “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel
STEREOGUM: That’s interesting because now you seem like a very synth-driven band.
HAERTS: G: to me I hope its something that is familiar and relatable, but also something that is very individual and a new listening experience for me. not me – TYPO : ) – a new experience for people*
HAERTS: N; That’s true if you look at the end product and we love the layered sounds we can create with synths and other instruments. But in fact we are a very song driven band and the sound we have now is just the means to amplify these.
STEREOGUM: Did you choose these songs together? Or each choose a few?
HAERTS: N: We chose them together
HAERTS started playing “I Wear Your Ring” by Cocteau Twins
HAERTS: G: I love this song
STEREOGUM: Who does most of the songwriting? Is it collaborative or does one handle lyrics and others music? I love this song, too! I kinda forgot about it.
HAERTS: N: yes we love Cocteau Twins!
STEREOGUM: Her voice is so smooth
HAERTS:N: Ben and I write most of the material. We have been writing for many years and each song is different.
B: There is no recipe to writing. We collaborate a lot more now than we used to. Hemiplegia has been our first co-write with Garrett.
STEREOGUM: Do you all share lyric-writing duty as well?
STEREOGUM started playing “Habits” by Tove Lo
HAERTS: B: Nina does however write all of the lyrics. I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to write any. I’m terrible at it!
G: They would be songs about Jesus then….
N: Not very happy about all the JESUS talk.)
STEREOGUM: People do like songs about Jesus. Let’s talk about touring instead!
How much of the year have you spent on the road?
HAERTS: N; We do not know this song and for some strange reason we cannot hear it. HA
STEREOGUM: Hmmm I’ll skip it but you should check her out. She’s like the Swedish Ke$ha
HAERTS started playing “Hard To Find” by The National
HAERTS: N: We will! OK, touring: We are on the road with the beautiful Washed Out crew right now. We’ll have one of their tracks up next. It’s our 3rd opening tour and we’ve probably spent 3 months on the road in our little traveling circus life.
STEREOGUM: Have you played in Portland yet? Washed Out has such a fanclub there due to Portlandia
HAERTS: N: Listen to these words (Hard to find by the National) !! Sooooo good! Heartbreaking.
STEREOGUM: The National is the best/worst for break ups or if you ever feel like sitting down for a cry
HAERTS: G: Its ironically fitting in the LA sunshine
STEREOGUM: Who else have you toured with?
STEREOGUM started playing “California (All The Way)” by Luna
HAERTS: B: to answer your question: we played Portland 2 days ago, but it was a festival so we didn’t actually open for Washed Out.
STEREOGUM: Oh right, Music Fest NW
HAERTS: B: Yes! Music Fest fun. We opened for Animal Collective. Such a trippy show!!!
STEREOGUM: Who else have you opened for? And who is your dream tour partner?
HAERTS: N: CALIFORNIA))
HAERTS: G: Our maiden voyage was with the Shout Out Louds. I think it was so important to all of us because of how they treated us and made us feel so welcome. We learned so much and couldn’t ask for a better band to take us under their wings
HAERTS started playing “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis
HAERTS: N: Washed Out was on top of our list to tour with because we’ve been big fans of their music for quite some time now….wait did we just repeat a song?
HAERTS: N: Big NONO. We blame it on LA
STEREOGUM: But it’s Donna Lewis who probably needs the royalties. (You can skip it by mousing over your avatar)
STEREOGUM started playing “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson
HAERTS: N: Michael saved the Day
STEREOGUM: He always does. So who is your dream tour partner? Would you want Radiohead to open for you?
HAERTS: G: you just stole the words out of my mouth. or fingers G: FYI that was in response to Michael not Radiohead!
STEREOGUM: Noted! But, sorry, Thom Yorke heard that
N; I think we should open for them instead!
STEREOGUM: That would be a dream opening slot.
HAERTS: N: yes, Radiohead would be the ultimate DREAM come true!!!
STEREOGUM: Do you play any cover songs at your live shows?
HAERTS: This is a constant part of our van playlist
HAERTS started playing “It All Feels Right” by Washed Out
STEREOGUM: Who else do you play in the van?
HAERTS: B: we don’t really play covers. I think a cover needs to have a live of it’s own and there needs to be a place for that
B: We did however cover “Your Love” by the Outfield for a friend
STEREOGUM: I hope they appreciated it
B: at Martha’s Vineyard Stars and Stripes
B: Yes. It was fun! We made it really 80′s with lots of sampled toms!
HAERTS: G: We also do covers at our friends’ weddings
STEREOGUM: Well, next time you play in NYC I’m going to request Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
HAERTS: N: We just listened to it on the drive. What an epic song.
STEREOGUM: Yes! That and “Invincible” by Pat Benatar. Well, I’m going to let you go enjoy the LA sunshine and your meetings. Thanks so much for chatting with me!
HAERTS: Bye! See you soon
Hemiplegia is out 10/8 on Columbia. Stream it below.