When it comes to reviewing these passionate musicians, I continue to find more and more songs I can relate to. But at the end of the day, I believe a lot of people can find some of their songs relatable. Hodera certainly does have a powerful impact on people who give them a chance. Doug tells me that “it’s how I measure success, the numbers are steadily up because you’re on Spotify playlists. We find people who actually resonate with our music, people that you haven’t heard from so long. I got a message (from a guy) that I talked to once in college, and they really connected to the album. I think that’s the coolest part about it.”
They also make you feel just overall good when you talk to them, like nothing is really that big of a deal. If I could do our in-person interview again, I honestly wouldn’t change anything about it…. It was that cool!
The guys have many different things that inspired them to make music, such as Doug’s Uncle (who he wanted to be nothing like) who always brought him to Guitar Center and just listened to the same songs about 20 times. Scott would listen to the Beatles, his Dad always listened to classic rock, and learned how to play the guitar and drums (which he know plays for Hodera). Matthew tells me “I wanted to be the guitar player in my jazz band in Middle School, and they played like Crazy Train and stuff. And there was this kid Mike, and he was in the 7th grade and I was in the 5th grade… Wait no he was in the 8th grade… And he was like this wicked cool kid who played this SG special in the jazz band. And there’s only one guitar player in the jazz band, (so) you were like thee guy. And I wanted to be him, but he hated me. So I just got like years of guitar lessons, then I became the jazz guitar player. And he still didn’t give a (crap).”
When it comes to influences for the songs I got a mix of answers, for instance, Matthew told me that “mental illness” such as depression and feeling unfulfilled. “I’m inspired by a lot of folk writers who are just like brutally honest about their lyrics and not like just do the same” he says. For the rest of the three, they were generally influenced by pop-punk and hardcore music. The band comfortably agrees with their genre being called “Alternative Americana.”
Scott says, “I mean it was like rock and roll pretty much in the beginning, and then I started discovering like bands. I really had an interest in bands that were kind of breaking boundaries, (like the ones) who weren’t writing choruses and stuff like that. And then really emotive type of music, and then eventually that led to the pop-punk/hardcore thing. I was like really involved with my hardcore scene for (a) while. Yeah (it was a) weird time, and I’m still like (really) good friends with some of those types of people. But it was definitely a phase type of thing you know.”
Their fan-base is kind mixed in a broad way, “I feel like the genre warrants it too. Cause of qualities kind of like attracts the older crowd, I feel like the repetition in choruses and lyrics draw like; you know; the younger crowd, and then the relatable lyrics always grab the college kids” Scott remarks. They believe their generation helped them talk about these kinds of mental struggles. Doug says, “Well I think, we were the first generations that started talking about having emotional content in our lyrics. (And of course the past generations) laid the groundwork for that… I feel like people around our age, you know like 5 years younger and 5 years older, are like very in-tune with like the content of our songs.”
Matthew tells me that they believe they “sold more records in the first week then we did in 2 years of our last record.” The reception, on top of the emotions that come with the songs, has been incredible and really rewarding for them. “We have some people that have messaged us directly, you know like friends from High School and lost in touch with…. People who just like are there on your friends’ list. And we’ve gotten some really nice like reassuring messages that you know like the content of the message was like ‘this is incredible, it is helping me through this and that’. Which is, besides the record sales, like a huge bonus… It’s the coolest thing.” And then they got on Billboard, Alek comments, “The weirdest thing about the whole experience was the email we got. It was from a personal email pretty much, and it was just Alex…. And I didn’t even know what was happening. ‘Hey this is Alex, and I’m just reaching out for some credentials.’ I stopped reading and I was like I will read this later. And Matt’s like, ‘dude you got to read the whole email.’ And (Alex) was like ‘hey, you may make the chart on the Billboard on Monday.’” This was a great accomplishment for him, because they were having trouble with social media presence. People have also been recommending the album to their friends, which is an awesome achievement they have reached.
Alek: “I had a guy come up to me in New Jersey that I… Last time I saw him I sat right across from him in Sophomore year in High School, and I don’t wanna share his last name and (stuff), but yeah that’s where I last saw him. And he doesn’t even live in the area, and it was all because someone told him about the new record and he didn’t even know I was in the band. And he just came out.
Alek says that his favorite song is Best intentions because he is really proud of making that song, “(especially since it was one of our last songs) that we were gonna cut it.” Matthew likes either Out of Sync (one of my favorites too) or Holding Patterns. Scott’s favorites are Just for Today and My Daily Chemicals. “It’s kind of like a toss-up” he says. “My Daily Chemicals is just… I don’t really do anything in the song so I kind of just listens…. Just for Today is just fun (to play).” Just for Today was a song they finished on the road and didn’t know how it would be received. Doug tells me “crowd reaction aside, I think Four White Walls is my favorite personally. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it was like the first song we all wrote together in person in Matthew’s basement. Pretty much all of our parts were made there, and that’s a very nontraditional writing style for us.” A couple of my personal favorites are Baltimore, North Dakota, Breathe Easy, and basically all the songs on First Things First and United by Birdcalls album.
First Things First: ★★★★★
Hodera on Audiotree (Live):★★★★☆
United by Birdcalls: ★★★★★
Reset to Default: ★★★★1/2