Yeah, yeah. You know it already. Halifax can really party. Hell, even the old bag in the cubicle next to you probably knows them from their stint on The Real World Austin. But what’s decidedly more important is that the Thousand Oaks, California-reared quintet’s music translates. Just ask the million plus visitors to the band’s PureVolume page. But better proof lies with the band’s crackling debut album, The Inevitability of a Strange World, which finds frontman Mike Hunau, guitarists Chris Brandt and Adam Charles, bassist Doug Peyton and drummer Tommy Guindon at a distinct advantage over other booze-swilling, excess-extolling rising stars. Sure, many have tried through the years, but few bands have managed to bridge the great divide between rock, punk and metal with their hooks, hearts and hopes in tact quite the same way these electric warriors have.
More than mere trouble makers with guitars, Halifax are songcraft specialists with enough vision to merge the best of all possible approaches, which explains the group’s unique delegation of responsibilities to both Taking Back Sunday producer Lou Giordano and hard rock veteran Machine. “We loved working with Lou,” Hunau says. “His expertise was invaluable. But we wanted to put more ‘Oomph’ on the record, so Machine helped make it more aggressive. More in your face.” With that said, insistency abounds on The Inevitability of a Strange World. Be it the pop-meets-pummel charge of “Nightmare” or the irresistible, inventive first single, “Our Revolution.” The latter’s Mick Mars-themed riffs and rebellious “Hell yeah!” refrain qualify it as 7-Eleven parking lot music for the 21st Century. Says Mike, “It’s an homage to classic metal, and Motley Crue in particular.”
If Halifax’s melee-inspiring roar feels as woozily fun as it is proficient (few will be able to deny the exuberant crunch of “Under Fire,” for instance), it’s interesting to learn that the quintet’s influences vary from Nine Inch Nails to the Foo Fighters to reggae to Children of Bodom. “It’s almost like the music we listen to doesn’t necessarily shape our sound, as much as it helps to express what we are feeling,” says the singer.
From the coke-binge-gone-wrong theatrics of “Snow In Hollywood” to the stunning snarl of “Promise Me A Tragedy,” Hunau says most of the tunes in the Halifax songbook first germinate when he and Brandt collaborate. “It’s usually us coming up with a skeleton of a song and the lyrics and then we’re bringing it to the table and showing everyone what our version of it is,” he says. “And then everyone works on it together.” As frustrating as a rock democracy can be – Hunau says the sequencing of the disc was laborious due to disagreements – it’s this teamwork that eventually found the group a home on the infamous Drive-Thru Records label.
Rewind to 2003 and Halifax was just another in a myriad of unsigned but resolute indie outfits rolling the highways and byways of North America. Sharing van space, shitty hotel rooms, bodily aromas, Old Milwaukee and a collective dream in between crappy jobs in chain restaurants and landscaping, the group recorded and supported its initial EP, A Writer’s Reference. Within a year’s time, Halifax found itself among the lower echelon of the 2004 Warped Tour, but its reputation continued to grow. By early 2005, after establishing friendships with Drive-Thru founders Richard Reines and Stefanie Reines – and bowling them over during a New Jersey gig with The Early November – the label tweaked and reissued Reference. Appending an acoustic version of the band’s beloved “Sydney,” a track Hunau scribed in tribute to his late grandfather, Halifax continued touring and building its fanbase while concocting what would become The Inevitability of a Strange World.
When Mike, Chris, Adam, and Tommy landed in Austin, Texas for the renowned South By Southwest Music Festival last year, little did they know how a routine night in the world of rock & roll coupled with a few television cameras might sensationalize their image. “A lot of people who only know us from the TV will come to our shows and think we’re drunk off our asses or something,” Hunau chuckles. “But we didn’t do anything on the show that we don’t do normally. Bands go out drinking and get drunk and have fun and hang out with friends and chicks. It’s not like we’ll play with other bands and they’ll say, ‘Oh my god! Halifax is out of control.’ Yet anyone with an objective ear might garner such a notion in a positive sense by turning to The Inevitability of a Strange World. Take the contagious, exhilarating motion of “Better Than Sex,” for instance. Here, Brandt and Charles’ machine gun riffing escalates amid Hunau’s memorable, melodic intonations. Catapulted by the rhythmic drive of Peyton and Guindon, it’s evident that Halifax deserves the attention they’ve yielded so far.
If their intentions seem simple, they also seem pure. “No matter how shitty we’re feeling, there’s redemption when we go out and rock a crowd,” the singer acknowledges. “We definitely don’t just get up there and play our songs. We have a blast every night on stage.” Like we said, Halifax can party. Listen and live in the Strange World.