There are bands that spend time talking, and then there’s Hate Drugs.
After logging in countless hours over a period of 11 months taking their latest project, “Tsumani Soul II,” from concept to completion, the dream pop quintet is finally ready to celebrate its latest milestone with a party of seismic proportions at World Records’ Dream Theater complex on Dec. 30.
Released in September, “Tsunami Soul II” had already been slowly teased through a series of catchy, self-produced music video singles the band has become known for since forming in 2014. But even after a relatively brief time together it’s easy to see why listeners took hold of the band so quickly: They never stop working.
“It is nonstop,” said David Caploe, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist. “Even when I'm at work I'm still writing, organizing, and plotting our next steps. It’s the job I don't clock out of.”
Quite an appropriate M.O. for a young, working band hoping to find their way into the playlist of listeners and consumers looking for the next buzz band.
“Things are constantly happening," Caploe said. "It’s just a matter of keeping up with everything. Needless to say, we don't go to bed early.”
Joining Caploe is brother Josiah on keyboards; Norman Lee, guitar; Adrian Diaz, drums; and John Irwin IV, bass. That’s five distinct personalities, each with their own direction and zest for the creative side of life.
“It’s pretty democratic,” said Caploe. “I want to create an environment that inspires creativity. As the leader of the band I try to provoke individual creativity while directing the collaboration. We spend a lot of time talking about everything. We work as a crew, but I'm usually steering the ship.”
That type of diplomatic leadership is what also helps make Hate Drugs along with all of its moving parts, segue into its latest chapter: a full-length album.
“There have definitely been stormy days. Relationships can be challenging, especially when you are working together so closely. We have been through a lot together as a band, and have stuck with each other through some really hard seasons, all of which have just made us stronger.”
Now that we’ve established the group’s brotherly bond, let’s get back to the story behind the 12-track mini-opus of “Tsunami Soul II,” which also includes a 13-episode YouTube video series “Stuck in The Studio” that chronicles the band’s adventures while recording.
“This whole project was a huge learning experience. Not many people know that we started on the album three different times and got through halfway the first two times before we finally found a process that worked for this album.”
Series filmmaker Keaton Punch, who began collaborating with the band two years ago, followed the band like a fly on the wall during and between sessions. Interspersed with interviews from fans and band members, the result is entertaining and insightful. Each episode clocks in under 10 minutes.
“It was an idea that had been floating around between us and Keaton when we started talking about recording our first LP, but we had no clue that it would end up being such a huge project.”
Those unfamiliar with the studio recording process will get a nice idea of how painstakingly long and arduous producing a full-length album can be. In this case, members vying for creative input and a little control, with engineer Cory Reyes at the console.
“Having Cory come on to produce this album was a big step forward for us as a band as well. He did such a great job. We started the album last November and didn't finish the project until September of this year. The documentary captures the entire journey from the first day of recording to the final mixes. There were a few detours along the way, to say the least.”
Opening with the brief intro track “Dizzy,” the album sets off into the mid-tempo gem “On My Own,” and continues through a steady path showcasing the band’s strengths as songwriters with a penchant for timely appeal. With personal lyrics and themes balancing life with everyday musings, it's dream pop at its indie best: pure and under their own creative control. The band knows its audience, but even more, they know how to create a likable hook in a sub-genre where the "dream" can sometimes make you unintentionally sleepy.
Choice cuts include “On My Own,” “Isotope” and “Oh Well (I Still Think of You).”
“This was the kind of project that was all-consuming. For almost a year it’s all we gave just about every minute of we had into the album. As soon as we got off work, we were in the studio or having meetings till 2 or 3 a.m., maybe get a few hours of sleep then wake up and do it all again. We were so sleep-deprived and malnourished. There are parts of the blocks of time that are blurry from how tired we were. Some of the songs on the album were written three years ago, so it’s hard to say how much time was put into the project, seeing that it covers such a large timeline.
The verdict: The strength of “Tsunami Soul II” is how amazing it sounds. Production is warm with plenty of ear-pleasing elements courtesy of producer Reyes. I’m drawn to music before lyrics and the band gets really high marks, but for those looking for poetics in their playlists, you’ll also be singing along after a few listens. I really look forward to what the band has planned next.
“We have a lot of big ideas,” said Caploe. “I’m talking years down the road. We have huge plans — it's just a matter of getting resources and making the right connections.”
And speaking of future plans — which include more new music and a trip to the SXSW music festival in Austin in March — the band would first like all of Bakersfield to join the festivities on Dec. 30. Don’t forget to stop by the group’s merch table to snag some new swag and be the envy of all your friends.
“We just want to say 'Thank you' to all of our Bakersfield fans. You guys have given us such a great foundation to build our dream on.”
The band is also asking for fans to bring canned food and warm clothing to be donated to the Mission at Kern County.
Pre-sale tickets for the Dec. 30 all-ages show are available for purchase at World Records for $10 (which also comes with half-off discount towards a physical purchase of “Tsunami Soul II” at the show) or at the door for $15. Bands Elk Grove, Wee Beasties and Almnc will also perform. World Records Dream Theater is located at 2815 F St. For more information call 325-1982, or visit thehatedrugs.com.