Hangnail - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mike of Hangnail. We discussed the band’s return to making music, their new EP, working with Tooth and Nail, what’s next for the band, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.

Thank you for reaching out!

Fans are excited that the band has returned. What made you want to get back together and release new music?

We've actually played a few shows since our "last show" in 2003. The first show we did since then was at a friend’s wedding reception. It was their wish to have us play at their reception so we really couldn't say no, and it was a good excuse to play again. When people got wind we were playing again but it was an invite only event, they were upset, so we played another show at a local venue shortly after the wedding. We played one other time after that back in 2016 and that was it. 

This new project has been in the works for a couple years now. I am a music pastor at a church for my vocation and I'm often writing arrangements of old songs around Christmas time for our church.  The past few years I started wondering how some of these old hymns would sound if Hangnail were to play them so I started putting some rough arrangements together. I kept bugging the other guys about recording this but, besides the fact that we all have families with kids and are crazy busy, I think they were a bit hesitant to do Christmas covers at first.  Nick works in audio production and this project happening really hinged on Nick having the time to do it. In October of this year he let me know he was up for doing it and so the process began.

You just released your new EP ‘Christmas Hymns’. Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for the EP?

As I mentioned previously, this project really came about from me working on arrangements over the past few years. Two or three years ago I got together with Matt and Jacob and a few other friends to try out "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "O Holy Night". We basically had one practice session and put together a phone recording of it. A year or two later around Christmas time I was literally flipping through pages in a hymnal with an acoustic guitar in hand trying out different songs and shooting really rough phone recorded demos to the guys in the band. 

I wanted to find some songs that weren't as well known and really liked the potential for "One Small Child" and "I Wonder as I Wander". Again, I grabbed a few friends to play this songs with all the parts, recorded a phone demo to basically document the ideas. Once Nick wanted to move ahead we basically used those demos as references for the songs, polished the arrangements a bit and recorded them. Nick and I produced and recorded the songs and Nick mixed everything. We knocked it all out pretty quickly. Got the bulk of the tracking done in a day. Nick is an incredible engineer and mixer.

You released the new EP through Tooth And Nail. How did it work out for you to release the EP with them? What’s it like returning to the label?

We originally were planning to release this independently, but through some projects Nick had recently worked on, he had a contact at Tooth and Nail. He sent a demo of "O Come All Ye Faithful" over to them just to give it a listen and they responded back pretty quickly that they had interest in getting behind this project. We were excited to work with them again. They were always good to us and have been great to work with this time around as well. It's honestly kind of surreal, we really never had any expectations of a label supporting this project.

What’s it been like returning to Hangnail and releasing new music? Did it come easy? What do you think of the reception so far?

It's been really good. These guys are like brothers to me and because of life being crazy and taking us all in different directions this has served as a great reason to spend more time with these guys. I would say it did come pretty easily. We've all stayed active in music in different ways so it wasn't really that hard to pick up where we left off. If anything I think the years of experience we've gained has really given us a different perspective on the writing process in a good way. Reception has been good so far. I think people that were fans and are aware this exists have been really into it. 


Will we hear more new music from the band? If so, what can you tell us about that?

That's still up in the air. We've been floating some ideas for new original music back and forth but if it happens or not is really going to depend on if we are able to carve out the time and if there seems to be much interest from people to hear new music. 

Your discography has become part of that classic era of Tooth And Nail. Has it surprised you that your albums are regarded as classics and/or what has that meant to you?

Haha, I guess I've never really considered our stuff as "classic" in terms of being an essential part of the Tooth and Nail catalogue. If being from the classic era means we are old, that would be accurate, haha! Honestly, the way I see it, we kind of fell in that awkward in between space where we weren't quite part of the nostalgic Tooth and Nail era but we ended before the new era began. It seemed like the pop punk scene had really transitioned to emo and/or more straight forward pop rock. But then after we were done it kinda saw a resurgence on radio. So maybe we hung it up a little too early?

What are some albums from that era that have stood the test of time for you or that you would think of as a classic?

Man, so many. Green Day's "Dookie" and Weezer's blue album were huge influences for us and have stood the test of time in my opinion. "Life in General" by MXPX and Slick Shoe's "Rusty" are still fun to listen to. Other Tooth and Nail albums that I would still spin today are Strongarm's "Advent of a Miracle", Craig's Brother's "Homecoming", Stretch Arm Strong's "Rituals of Life", Stavesacre's "Speakeasy", and Further Seems Forever's "The Moon Is Down". Some other favorites of mine that come to mind are Blindside's "Silence", Jimmy Eat World's "Bleed American", and Face to Face's live album.   

“Friendly Advice” opens your self-titled album and is such a great opener for an album. Can you tell me about writing that song?

That was sooo long ago! If I had to guess I'm pretty sure that song started with Nick coming up with a cool riff that we built a song around together. I honestly don't remember who came up with what parts. We used to practice a ton back and then and would just jam stuff until we thought we had something cool. I do remember playing that song over and over again when we first wrote it. It was a fun song to play. The lyrics were inspired by some friends of mine that I saw making a lot of poor life decisions and it was a plea to them to wake up and change course.

What’s one story from the recording of your debut album that you’ve never told anyone or something that still stands out to you at this time?

Again, that was really long ago. One thing that many people don't know is that that recording was self produced before we signed with Tooth and Nail. They basically bought the record off of us. I guess one fun story that comes to mind is the hidden track at the end at the end of the album. That person you hear screaming is actually Nick in an iso booth. We told him that we couldn't hear his talk back mic even though we actually could and were recording him, haha. I'm not 100% sure of this but I think we actually put that on the record without his permission.  Maybe not, but it at least makes the story more fun!

Is there a chance that any of your albums could eventually get vinyl pressings?

I guess that's a big thing now, isn't it? None of us are really cool enough to be into the whole vinyl thing. It would be cool I guess to have, but since it's not something any of us are into it would probably need to be someone else pushing for that to make it happen. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else that you would like to add?

I appreciate the opportunity! If you haven't listened to our "Transparent" album, which was our last album released in 2003, I would recommend giving that a try. The band broke up right when that was released so it didn't get much exposure but we all feel it is by far our best song writing of any of our full length releases. And I guess the biggest thing I would ask is if anyone knows of people who used to like Hangnail music but may not be aware that we have new stuff out, let them know!

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