A track laced with necessary social comments holds the capacity to resonate with listeners, and this is exactly what Hembree’s “Reach Out” hopes to do. Looking to the premise of asking for help and doing so without fear, the indie rock band calls out for societal change in the hopes of ushering in a wave of compassion with a triumphantly vibrant sound. And, with the band releasing a live rendition of their poignant track today, it becomes all the more captivating.
“Believe it or not, we finished this song in early 2020 before the virus and lockdown had even started. It’s wild how that can happen. You write something at an entirely different time, and then it resonates with the present,” explains the band. “But I do think these societal issues have been happening for as long as humans have been around. People neglect to help those who need it most, and those who need help the most are often too afraid to ask for it. It’s quite the predicament. So the song came about as kind of a commentary on these issues that we see in everyday life that can happen to anyone.”
Upon the release of the “Reach Out” live music video, the collective sat down with Wonderland to discuss the premise of their new project and their formation as a band. Head below to hear what the brand had to say…
Hey guys, how are you? How has this past year been for you?
We’re doing pretty well! We are rolling with the punches that the virus has presented for artists, enjoying putting music into the world again and playing some live shows. Last year, while very terrible on a global scale, was very interesting and positive on a creative scale. Knowing that live shows were out of the question, we took it as an opportunity to hide away in the studio, and it turns out The Beatles and Brian Wilson were really onto something when they stopped touring to record. The extra, and sometimes endless, time to create led to what I believe are some of the best songs we’ve ever recorded. We were able to really block out any outside noise, focus on the narrative of an entire record, and experiment creatively and sonically in ways that we had never done before.
With everything that happened last year, was your creativity affected?
I took it as an opportunity to really grow as a songwriter. I had some other projects go on hold, and with touring out of the equation, I started to realize I may never get this much free time to write a record again. So I spent nearly every day at home in my studio. Writing, revising, rewriting. It was a very fulfilling experience as an artist. I’m very thankful that I still felt the urge to create during such a terrible year. I don’t blame any artist who didn’t feel a desire to get into the studio and write. The writing was pretty therapeutic for me, and working on the record with the guys felt like a nice escape from reality for a bit.
How did you guys all meet? What sparked the interest in music?
It was kind of wild, but we’re almost a full family band. Alex and Austin (guitar and drums) are brothers, and Eric (keys) and I are brothers-in-law. Then we’ve got Garrett (bass), who’s been one of my best friends since childhood. We’ve all known each other for about 15 years, and we used to play shows with each other’s bands when we were kids in Kansas. I know for me, I was pretty much born into music. My parents are both amazing musicians, and music has always kind of felt like the only route for me. Aside from being a professional baseball player, but I let those dreams go at age 15 ! I grew up around studios and live shows, and as a young kid, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of being in a band. I remember when I was like five years old, my favourite thing to do was pretend to manage my made-up band, with my made-up bandmates, so this band dream has been with me for a long time.
And you guys are back with your new single “Reach Out”, talk us through the production process!
This song was one of those songs that just kind of appeared out of nowhere. I was working on a different song and started to record some bass. As I was getting my levels set, I stumbled onto the “Reach Out” bassline. I immediately abandoned the song I was working on, and started working on what became “Reach Out”. I think because the initial riff happened in such a playful and organic way, that led me to want to keep the whole production in that realm. Hence, the “Hey kid, whatcha lookin’ at?” sample, and the gliding synth. That synth was actually a sub-bass that I kept pitching up. It was another sort of happy accident. I was also listening to a good amount of Pink Floyd at the time, and I always loved how they combined some disco grooves with funky and big guitars. Eventually, we took it in to the studio to clean up the original demo a bit and add some live instrumentation. It was the first song we finished for our next record, and it was very clear it was going to set the tone for the whole album.