This next Badass Band is another mixed bag of awesome. They give you a taste of everything: mellow, sweet, poppy tracks, enchanting, harmony driven, psychedelic style tracks, and straight up rock n roll tracks. Badass Band 106 is The Hidden Lines.
I heard about The Hidden lines long before I saw them, and I ended up at their residency at Hemingway’s in September to support another badass band. I had no idea what to expect from them. What I got was a whole lot of me going “Whhhaaa?” between tracks because of the musical accosting I was receiving. Their live show was high energy, flowed extremely well, and they easily kept everyone’s attention for their whole set.
The Hidden Lines currently have an album available on Bandcamp, Auralize, released in February of last year. Some of my favorite tracks are:
- “Rouse”- This is one of the straight up rock n roll tracks I mentioned. Dirty guitar riffs, with contrasting bright cymbal work, and reverb heavy vocals. This is a song you’re gonna bang that head along to.
- “6 A.M.”- Draws you in with simple plucking, solitary bass drum beats, and tambourine, jumping directly into magical harmonies crooning lines like, “When you’ve lost the art of sleeping, that that is when you start screaming, when you close your eyes, and think of problems, just sit back and know you’ve solved them.” You can’t help but feel an aura of calm during this tune.
- “Blonde Hair”- A mellow, poppy tune. Bright acoustic guitar lines, and keys take center stage here along with the lengthy, dreamy vocals. These perfectly echo the odd dream-like world that is weaved throughout this track, “Out of the thin blue sky, you came, and sat down on a leaf, next to me in my own leaf, and we talked, and talked, and talked…”
Recently, I caught up with Adam, Alex, Tyler, and Morgan at a show, so read on to find out what they had to say about the way the music industry is becoming less focused on albums, what they would change about how bands are treated in relation to venues, which member weaseled his way into Coachella and who has travelled to over 37 countries!
When and why did you start playing music?
Alex: I started playing music at five years old. I learned from my grandma and my mom who were professional concert pianists with the Russian Bolshoi Theater Orchestra. They taught me and then I went to the Alexander Hamilton Music Academy for high school for four years. I came out of a big class of really good musicians like Zane Carney who plays at some places around here now and some other people. Orlando Napier plays around here as well. It was a really good music program.
Tyler: I started playing organ in my grandma’s church when I was four. Picked up guitar at fourteen. I saw ZZ Top in my hometown back in Saskatchewan. They played in the park, playing guitar.
Morgan: I started playing piano when I was actually about five. I picked up the drums at thirteen. I went to school at a performing arts high school in Oklahoma City and have been playing ever since.
Adam: I started playing piano when I was five. I used to go visit my aunt in Abilene, Texas. She taught me how to play the first minute or two of Moonlight Sonata by heart. Then I picked up the guitar in seventh grade, so at like 13. I’ve taken lessons from different instructors along the way. I’ve also taught myself a lot.
Sounds like you are all transplants. Are any of you from Los Angeles?
Adam: I’m from Los Angeles.
Morgan: Nobody is from Los Angeles.
So how did all of you guys meet then?
Adam: I met Tyler in a bar. I was standing on top of a bench like at my place or something. Tyler was talking to me about playing bass at an upcoming show, and he ended up joining us on guitar. And met Alex, who called from Craigslist that he responded to were playing together for two or three weeks. And Morgan and Paul … actually Morgan is a cool story. He met Tyler when he inquired about drums but we had already engaged someone to had just joined the band. When it didn’t work out, we put an ad out, Morgan had actually met so It was like real life and Craigslist.
Morgan: I was working at the building where Tyler lived. I got his number. Then I lost his number. Three months later, on a random day, I was roaming Craigslist for bands that needed drummers and the top one was The Hidden Lines. I was like, “Oh Shit!” and I had met him three months earlier so it worked out.
Why the name The Hidden Lines?
Adam: I did a lot of traveling in South America a few years ago. I was searching for a name. I wanted to create something that I felt somebody could yell. I also like names that are like a riddle and can mean so many different things to so many different people. In fact, playing shows and then hanging out with people, has come to mean many different things at different times. We don’t like to be one style, one genre. We like to hop around but still make it have that uniform sound.
How does your creative process work?
Adam: On my first album, I didn’t have the band at the time. I did everything. Now, we hash out ideas. I’ll bring a concept to these guys. Then we’ll start hashing it out. Then we’ll see where it goes from there. We’ll have different parts, different layers. Sometimes they bring ideas. We just kind of hash it out and it takes shape. Sometimes we’ll make lyrics on the spot and then they end up sticking.
What do you think the hardest thing is about being a band in this city?
Adam: Everyone’s got to work really hard to survive here. It takes a lot of people’s time away from being creative. Just really coordinating with each other as well, and giving the band the proper amount of time.
Alex: I think that it takes a certain level of commitment from everybody in sacrificing a lot of their own time from their daily routine. For example, I’m married, I’m about to have a baby, I have a job and I play music, which is my first love. Juggling all that and creating time around everybody else’s schedule can be challenging. Lately, we’ve been really good about it. But once we’re there, everything about your day … you’re tired after work, or you’re exhausted … or you had a bad day…it all goes away in that room. We leave our problems at the door. We walk in. Everyone’s having a good time. It’s like, whoa, the world kind of disappeared for a second. At least that’s the way I look at it. I come in there and it makes my day.
Morgan: I played bands in Nashville, New York and now Los Angeles. In all of the cities, there is so much competition. There are so many people trying to do it. Everybody knows people that play in five or ten different bands that are asking me to come to shows all the time. Its an art to sort of to balance it out. How many shows are you playing? You don’t want to over play in a city. All those normal things you juggle in a big music market. We do our best.
Tyler: Building a fan base. I played in a band in Tuscaloosa. We played like four hour sets. I’m just getting used to having 30-45 minutes. It’s a showcase town. It’s kind of hard to get a crowd warmed up in 45 minutes.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Tyler: Auto tune.
Adam: For me, it would be a mandate that the industry views the relationship between venues and bands. How they treat bands and the way they compensate the bands. There needs to be a union, just like SAG for actors. Because some of the deals you get here are so terrible. The mentality is for these people, “Oh, well, you don’t want to do it. Well, we’ll get so and so to play.” People get taken advantage of and then you ruin something over a crappy deal, which is not good for anybody’s morale. It’s not good for any purpose except for putting more dollars in the pockets of the venues.
Alex: It used to be about people putting out albums and now it’s all about singles. Every song that’s put out there now has seven or eight different writers on it nowadays. The days of having one writer, one band, one song are dying. It’s all about releasing the most amount of hits instead of having an album where maybe not necessarily ∆every song is great, but it’s great overall kind of thing. Maybe that’s just an old school way of thinking. Maybe I haven’t adapted yet.
If I were to change one thing I would change it back to being all about being the entire package. What you’re trying to put out there instead of, “Oh, let’s write hits because that’s what we need to have to make it.”
Tyler: It’s almost like for a lot of people music has become more of a sound track as opposed to a specific thing you did, like go to a movie. My parents sit down and listen to an album. You lose that the way things are going. But, on the other hand, I think people are listening to more music almost than ever. There is so much accessible that I think that is a very positive thing. It’s just that the way people use it is changing fast.
Alex: I think everything comes around again. He was saying that the market role is all singles … that’s how it was, I think, with the birth or rock and roll until the early sixties. Then bands like the Beatles started making albums. I think everything will come around again.
Best live show you’ve ever gone to?
Alex: Best live show I’ve ever gone to was in 2002 or 2003. It was Muse at the Henry Fonda Theater with 800 people. It was probably the most incredible performance I’ve ever seen. At that time they didn’t have any production or anything. It was just them three doing their thing. It was just freaking awesome to see them at that state. Specially compared to what they are doing now which is completely insane.
Tyler: Stevie King, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Warren Haynes in Atlanta. That was awesome.
Morgan: My favorite is probably Tool in ’96 on their Toolbox Tour. That got me to want to play the drums.
Adam: 2009. Paul McCartney at Coachella. I totally didn’t think I was going to get in. I had driven all the way from L.A. just on a whim. I’m like, “Oh yeah. I’m going to Coachella.” It took me all day. I didn’t have a ticket, and I’m like, “I’m not paying full price.” So I go, “Ticket? Anybody have tickets? Anybody have tickets?” And these people are like, “Well, we VIP wristbands and tickets, but we’ve already used these so you probably can’t use them.”
I get this wristband and put it on my wrist and then I go up and I try to use the ticket and they are like, “I’m sorry. It’s already been used. You can’t get in.” I started putting on a show and said, “I bought this on Craigslist. So they brought me in and talked to the manager. This lady walks me over and they’re like, “I’m sorry we can’t let you in.” I’m feeling all dejected. The lady is walking me back and says,” You can just walk right through those gates. “ Suddenly, I’m in. I didn’t think I’d get to see Paul or anything. Then, all of a sudden I’m seeing Paul McCartney and I’m in VIP and he just killed it. Then he came out for an encore. And then I just had this crazy night.
One song you never get tired of listening to.
Adam: For me, right now, it’s this Tame Impala song “Un Deux Trois”.
Alex: “The Sunny Side of the Street” by Jenny Davis. I could listen to that song all day, even sleep to that song. I can do many things to that song. Literally. Anything. It’s an awesome song.
Tyler: Probably “Rockin’ Chair” by The Band.
Morgan: There’s a lot of them, but I’m going to go back to Tool, Ænima, the whole album. That’s probably my favorite. I’d listen to it anytime.
Favorite things to do, not musically related.
Alex: Food. Food, food, food, food, food, wine and beer.
Tyler: I love the opera. It’s music related. I haven’t missed one L.A. opera since I moved here two and a half years ago.
Morgan: Traveling for me. Domestic or international.
Adam: Why don’t you say a couple places you’ve been to? Because its pretty cool.
Morgan: I’m going to Taipei and Hong Kong on Friday. It’ll be my thirty-seventh country. I go with my wife.
Adam: I really like acting. And sports.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Alex: I’d be Will Smith in Hitch.
Tyler: I’d be Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what are some bands you would feature?
Morgan: Hotel Cinema is great.
Alex: The Black Apples. Herbert Bail Orchestra. The Vim Dicta.
Tyler: Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel.
Adam: The Janks.
Tyler: Valley Queen.
FIND THE HIDDEN LINES HERE: