1. How did you get your band name?
We used to be called La Pieta, but when we were finalizing our deal with Deep Elm we realized that that name was already taken by a Canadian, all-female collective of violinists who play classical music. It took us weeks to come up with a new name we could all agree on. Anything that we liked, even a little, had already been taken. Eventually we started playing around with the word “summer”, which was the name of our first CD, and Griffin's (drummer) wife, Sarah, came up with the name Summer Hours. We all loved it immediately. We feel the name really captures our sound – it’s warm and a little nostalgic.
2. How did this band get started?
The band was started by Rachel, Mike, and Eric a year after we graduated from Oberlin College. Eric and Mike had played in various bands together since their freshman year, when Mike first learned how to play a power chord, and our senior year we’d all been in a band together. We reunited in NYC, and after a few years together, some East Coast tours, and recording “Summer,” and “Inside Out”, Eric left the band in order to pursue graphic arts and digital media. He now lives in Indonesia. Rachel and Mike found another drummer, Mowgli, who plays on most of the songs on “Alone Together”. Mowgli and his wife had a beautiful son, and he too left the band. We started looking for a new drummer and approached Griffin – we knew him from his days drumming for Tungsten 74, a psychodelic-noise-rock band, and he’s been with Summer Hours since 2006.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
Each member of Summer Hours has radically different musical taste. Rachel is a classically trained pianist who has a sweet spot for ’80s pop music and indie rock. Yo La Tengo and the Pixies are two of her favorite bands. Griffin loves noise rock: “the longer and more repetitive a song, the better.” Mike’s influences include Nick Cave, Screeching Weasel, Jawbreaker, Iron Maiden, Sonic Youth, and The Jesus Lizard.
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Touring isn’t always easy. You’re only on stage for an hour or so and the rest of the time is spent hanging out. While it's easy to say which bands we’d love to see each night, for example Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, The Jesus Lizard, Broken Social Scene, it’d be a lot harder to say who we’d want to spend endless days with.
5. If you were a furry, what animal would you be? Why that animal?
What animal wouldn’t we be? It’s more about how cost prohibitive those costumes are.
6. Why should people listen to your band?
People should listen to Summer Hours to feel good—we want our music to bring people some happiness, make them feel less alone, or take the edge off a difficult day. The best comments we’ve gotten from fans have all been to this effect. All the bands that we listened to growing up, and still listen to, make us feel something that was missing minutes before we put on their record.
7. If you were chosen to be in Guitar Hero/Rock Band, what song would you want in the game? How hard do you think it would be to five-star on expert?
"The Party". It sounds simple but it’s actually a pretty tricky song to play – it has a lot of changes and variations within each part.
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
Our moms and the rest of our families. We are so thankful to them for supporting us through all the ins and outs that come with being in a band.
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Get rid of big advances. It fundamentally changes the balance of power between musician and businessman. If it starts as more of a direct partnership between the two, it makes everyone more invested in their long-term success.
10. Memorable tour experience?
There are so many – running out of gas after we’d been driving for hours and should have realized we would need gas pretty soon, and then getting a ride to and from the gas station from a nice lady and her two kids. We gave them a CD.
Also: witnessing a girl fight at a club in D.C.; having a fan in Baltimore get down on his knees and beg us to play the song "Surround", which wasn’t on our set list (we played it for him); playing with great bands like Of Montreal and Dressy Bessy.
In general, the great thing about being on tour is having the time to do the most random things during the day, like inventing our own ball games, visiting a Scientology Center in D.C., going to the Little League Hall of Fame, and just getting to talk and hang out.
11. What does AP.net mean to you?
An amazing resource for checking out music that’s worth listening too & for allowing folks to connect about music.
12. What is your favorite song to play?
" Oceans," "Surround," and whatever our newest song is at the time
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
Southwest America, Provincetown, Cape Cod, and Spain. Actually we once had a song about being on vacation in Spain, but it didn’t make the cut – the first line was great but that was about it. We do have a song about Texas (The Alamo).
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Van Halen, Prince, The Cure, The Smiths, Sinead O’Connor, Quiet Riot, Iron Maiden, David Bowie
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why? Griffin – Stop time. I would love to be able to have control over how much time I could have to get everything done. And I would sleep. Mike – I think I’d have to go with flying. But stopping time is pretty good too. Rachel – I’d like to be able to control the world.
16. Do you feel that your band has "made it"?
Yes, in one sense, we've made it. We had two albums released by Deep Elm in November, 2010, which is incredibly exciting and means a lot to us. People actually pay money to come see us play – and come back to see us again. We’ve received some amazing emails from complete strangers about how much our music means to them – a fan even tattooed our lyrics on her arm and sent us photos. All of that is pretty amazing. But the band does not help any of us pay our bills, at least not yet. It’s still 100% a labor of love.
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
Most people are surprised to learn about how collaborative our songwriting process is. A lot of our songs come out of just messing around during band practice, and when we are writing new songs, we all really listen to each other and give feedback and ideas about what everyone is playing – sometimes we’ll even switch instruments just to see what someone else can come up with. We’ve talked to other bands where someone will bring a complete song to practice and tell everyone what to play for their part – we are the complete opposite of that.
18. What's your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving – it’s all about food and drink and being with good people.
19. What do you like to do in your spare time? Griffin – Sleep. Then play with my son. Then sleep more. Mike – Play guitar, spend time with my wife, read, watch movies. Rachel – I like to walk around. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy NYC and also a great way to write lyrics.
20. What kind of hidden talents do you have? Griffin – I know way too much information about lots of terrible movies. Mike – I’ve traveled around Europe street-performing as a juggler. Rachel – I made a documentary awhile ago – my friend and I did the whole thing from start to finish and it actually made it to several film festivals.