Half The Animal might be a relatively new project, but for the four diverse musicians that make up the band, it has been a long time in the making. For founding members Nick Gross and Chase Johnson, this means years of playing music together and slowly discovering the right sound they wanted to pursue, and for classically trained guitarist Dan Graham and bassist Evan Smith – who has had plenty of touring experience with Silversun Pickups, Chromeo and Big Data – it was simply the perfect fit. And thus, Half The Animal and their rock infused brand of alternative pop was born. With their debut EP, Shapes dropping on March 31st and tour dates planned throughout April, Half The Animal are starting their year out strong. Get to know the band and listen to their single, “Babylon” below.
Half The Animal has a very interesting origin story and background, because years before you even formed as this current project, you’ve been close friends and creating music together. For Nick and Chase, this meant you guys met and were drawn together creatively at a young age. How do you feel this has helped shaped the music you write together today?
Nick Gross: Chase and I have always been super connected. We met in Church class when we were thirteen years old and connected over surfing and music. The music we write today with Half the Animal has been years and years of writing songs together and just being really great friends. We’re southern California kids that grew up on the beach, I think you can hear that with our debut EP for Half the Animal.
Over time, you’ve come together as a full group, adding Evan and Dan into the mix. What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from one another and your different backgrounds in the music industry?
We respect each other a lot because we all bring such different but important attributes to the band. Evan has an incredible production company and has a huge touring history with bands like Big Data and Chromeo so that really helps us with our live show and touring, and Dan brings this charismatic Australian energy and incredible musicianship that rounds out the band. We’ve all come from so many different situations in the music industry and have learned a lot, so I’d say the most important lesson we’ve learned in the music industry is that you’ve gotta want it and put twelve hours a day into your career, or someone will be waiting to eat your lunch.
Although you’ve been creating music together for some time, Half The Animal is a fairly new project and identity. What was your initial goal when you first started creating as Half The Animal?
When our last group split up, Chase and I always talked about doing a re-brand and starting a fresh project. When we re-grouped to get back into the studio we took our time and really crafted music that spoke to our growth as individuals and as musicians. We wanted something that was more alternative/top 40 driven but also felt like a band. We blended a lot of programmed drums with real drums to give the songs a punchy but organic feel to them. Our last project was much more rock driven and put us into a genre that is hard to get out of. We’ve always had a love for pop music so we wanted to channel that for ourselves with Half the Animal. Our goal is to reach a larger audience and be able to relate with more people through our lyrics and our production as a whole. It’s 2017, not 2007 anymore.
How do you feel your hometown of Los Angeles has affected the music you make?
There’s an energy here that really makes you want to succeed and do the things your passion about in the entertainment world, so that’s fueled a lot of inspiration and creativity for us along the way. We love LA.
This month, you guys will be releasing your debut EP, Shapes. Can you tell us a little bit about the songs on this EP? What inspired it?
We like to think we have one blue, purple, green, and red. All of the songs have their own attitude and own feel to them, but are still completely Half the Animal. It’s an alternative pop EP and the songs are fresh. Babylon is our single and it has this really anthemic feel to it while Saturday Night is a really rad four on the floor dance track that just makes you feel good. We’re loving exploring the diversity of what the group can actually be right now, but always making sure to stay in our lane at the same time. It’s a fine balance with that as creators.
It being your debut release, was there anything you wanted to accomplish with Shapes?
Get product out into the market and tour our faces off. We’ve already started working on our second EP before this first one drops, so it’s all about keeping constant content for people and new music. The attention span is short these days, especially everyone in the band. So we just love to create and keep it all pushing forward. We hope Shapes will get us out on the road for the next six to eight months and allow us to introduce Half the Animal to the world in a real way.
The first song you released from the EP was “Babylon.” What does this track mean to you?
It’s the most representative of the band as we see it. We chose “Babylon” to be our single because it fits the overall vision for the band and where Half the Animal is going the best. It means a lot to us. It was the first song we wrote when we got back into the studio to start a new band. Those three chords were the first chords we played on the keyboard when we started our journey back into the music scene. It’s the same three chords throughout the entire song which is really rad.
What would you like listeners to take away from the songs on Shapes? Are there any tracks that you’re particularly excited to share?
We think “If You Want My Love” is our hidden gem that nobody has heard yet. We put up two songs off the EP at the end of 2016 to start teasing the EP, but “If You Want My Love” we all really really dig and are excited for people to hear that song. We want listeners to feel good, be inspired, and come to our shows to share the energy!
After the EP drops, do you have any other big plans for the rest of the year? Could we expect to catch you out on the road soon?
We have a ton of shows that we’ve been doing. A lot of college shows and performances in LA as well at School Night, Emo Night, and Sayer’s Club. We’re looking forward to our show at Pauley Pavilion at UCLA. We’re looking at summer opportunities and will absolutely be touring in the Fall to support our debut EP.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Check out our socials! Everything is @halftheanimal