Hidden In Plain View - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Joe of Hidden In Plain View. We discussed the writing and recording process for new song, “Ragdoll”, the band’s upcoming EP, how their writing process has changed over the years, why tracking vocals is still his favorite part of the process, the staying power of their classic albums, a notable memory from recording ‘Life In Dreaming’, the potential for vinyl pressings, their upcoming performance at Furnace Fest, and more. Check it out below.

First, thanks for the interview.


Of course! Thank you for the chat.  


You recently released your new single “Ragdoll”. Can you tell me about the writing and recording process for the song?


Sure, I would love to.  Ragdoll is the third single which will soon culminate with a full EP titled “Tantrums”.  It is our first release in believe it or not, seven years.  So this is really exciting for us to finally have this out to our community.    


There was something about making this EP that felt extremely satisfying too.  We recorded at Rob’s studio, Audio Pilot Studio in Sparta, NJ almost right after releasing the Animal EP on Rise Records in 2015.  It was a good EP to get us back in the creative swing.  The only issue was we didn’t have a full-time steady drummer to write with.  Spencer wasn’t available to write at the time so Rob met with a few guys and starting writing the bones of these songs with them.  ‘Wildfire’ was written and recorded with our buddy Josh Grigsby from Houston Calls, who is now touring and playing drums with Mae. 

It was a collaborative effort with Chris, Dave, and I but almost in like individual sessions at the studio.  We would shoot up and jam the song and write parts with Rob.  We jammed these songs as a whole band I think like once maybe.  Rob deserves the credit though.  The songs were mostly imagined and shaped by him.  We added our input and some of it just changed when we started tracking through simple spontaneous creative flare.  For anyone who is looking for new music straight out of Warped Tour 2004 or classic HIPV, dare I say, Life In Dreaming-esqe sounds, these songs are for you.  They are rippers that we couldn’t be more proud of.  They took a while to finish thanks to whole lot of unforeseen situations but they are here and we are back. 


Speaking of the new EP, what can you tell me about it so far? 


We are putting together our live show so we can officially get out and support “Tantrums” and of course we got the urge to keep writing.  The process is only beginning but the idea here is not to wait seven more years to finish.  We have high hopes and dreams and a refreshed creative vision for our music.  


What has changed about the writing process for your band over the years? 

We are playing our instruments better now than I think we ever have.  We’ve just grown and learned so much that we are just better prepared.  But the one thing that has really changed, and for the better, is our ability to do this for ourselves.  With Rob having made a career of writing, recording, and producing (and having built his own studio from scratch) we are able to do this without any outside influence.  There are no labels or A&R folks telling us we have to go back and re-demo until they hear something they like.  That can really kill a band’s self-confidence.  

But yeah, ‘Temper’ and ‘Ragdoll’ are not your typical verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus songs.  They are rippers that don’t really follow any verse/chorus/bridge formula.  They hit hard and I really feel like they captivate and have folks engaged and excited.  The freedom to do this alone makes the process so much more relaxed and free to create and trust ourselves.  It's so friggin wonderful actually.  


What’s your favorite part of writing songs currently?


Tracking vocals, of course.  When I go in to record it is just Rob and I in the studio just like it was when we were kids recording songs in his parent’s basement.  We record vocals but we also hear the songs together, situate harmonies, decide where we should trade off and overlap our voices and harmonize.  We also bring in other effects or changes to the song as we hear them.  These are the finishing touches that breathe life into a song.  My favorite part is still the same thing it always was, hanging out with Rob and doing vocals.  


Your albums have become classics in the emo/punk scene. Did you ever anticipate they would have the staying power and fan love that they still have when you were writing them?


I feel extremely proud when people say things like that to us.  Starting with Life In Dreaming, we really did believe we had something special there.  The songs were ready, we were ready, and the process for making the record was just what we needed.  A huge part of me still feels like it needed to reach more people.  But before I digress, the fact that our stuff still holds up where others don’t makes me really satisfied.  I hope our stuff continues to fall on new ears and stays a positive part of peoples lives.


Do you have a notable memory or story from recording ‘Life In Dreaming’ that you’ve never really talked about before?


The entire making of Life In Dreaming is a vivid memory for all of us.  I can think of one I am pretty sure I only shared with my older brother.  

So when we first met our producer, Jim Wirt (No Doubt, Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin, Hoobastank, Incubus) we met him at the studio on 4th Street in Santa Monica, California.  It was a small studio, but it had some real history. Jim told us to meet him at the studio and to bring our CD collection with us.  We toured the studio, he showed a quick few things and we settled in the control room. It was a dark room, small with a couch and maybe two other places to sit, some analog gear and gear you would expect to see in a control room built in.  

It was the five band members, Jim and CJ (who engineered).  We got comfortable and just started talking about our ideas and he shared his favorites of the demos and so on.  So he asked us to pick out our favorite albums and specifically ones that had the rock sound we were looking for.  It was like we were going to have a listening party and just chat about what we hear and what we like and want.  Hell yeah, let’s chill.  The band all agreed on The Color and the Shape by Foo Fighters.  That album has such a great big guitar, heavy hitting rock sound and we wanted that.  We also played some other songs with cool snare drums sounds and guitar tones.  Blah blah… Jim loved our ideas and agreed.  

He then put on his albums. A bunch of great ideas came forth of course.  But one of them was Pet Sounds, by Beach Boys. He wanted to talk about Wilson’s vocal choices and harmonies and he wanted to discuss how we might try to do something similar (Want to hear the obvious Brian Wilson influences see Halcyon Daze and Innocent Ones).  Anyway, I loved that album so my jaw’s on the floor and I’m ready to start recording immediately.  He pointed out Wilson’s choice here and there, he made some suggestions to some stuff Rob and I could do.  

The coolest part was he did share that the sound board in the control room was the exact same one the Beach Boys used when they recorded Pet Sounds, so we were hearing it right out of one of the machines that helped create it. Here we are, our little band from New Jersey, in Santa Monica, in a real studio with a smart guy, listening to Beach Boys and getting ready to make a record. It was just a really fun music moment for me that had us all really ready to work day and night for 5 weeks making that album.  It was a part of my life I’ll never forget.  Jim Wirt and CJ Erikson were excellent guys and a real solid team. I forever love them both. 


I always see fans asking for new presses and represses of your discography on vinyl. Is there any chance that we’ll see more of your music on vinyl anytime soon?


Yes absolutely, unfortunately we don’t have anything solid to announce yet with all of the back orders on vinyl.  The wheels for a ‘Tantrums' vinyl are already in motion.  Unfortunately for the DTR stuff, that is out of our control.  We don’t own any of the rights to that so that is up to the folks there to make that available.  I saw there was some action on the DTR instagram, fans should go hassle them and maybe by sheer demand they can get something cooking?  Ya never know with the power of voices on the internet.  

You’re set to perform at Furnace Fest in the Fall. How are you or how will you prepare for the performance? 


It took us sometime to find a drummer to play with us.  We had to unfortunately move on from playing with our drummer Mike.  We think we have that officially ready and so now are getting together to jam.  Like I mentioned earlier, jamming the songs gets the creative desire going quick so I guess you’ll have to be at Furnace Fest to see what we pull off.  


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


Sure, I’d love everyone out there to stream our new songs.  Stream them a lot and ask your friends too.  The more we share these awesome songs the more folks we can reach and share them with.  Nothing makes us happier than making those connections.  


Come say hey on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc… and thank you. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to chat. 

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