Hobart W. Fink’s music can be described with two conflicting, yet fitting words: raw and sophisticated. The punk-grunge group’s tunes feel like a trip back to the 90’s, with simple drumbeats, guitar-heavy tracks and angsty lyrics belched out in passion. The Los Angeles-based quartet is fronted by lead vocalists Jayk Gallagher and Lauren Lakis, who also have active careers in acting. In some songs, their voices work together flawlessly in harmony while other times, their vocals counter each other, almost as if in competition, which is ironically symbolic of the duo’s on-again, off-again romantic relationship.
With multiple lineup changes since Hobart W. Fink’s formation in 2012, the band has managed to develop their own sound with influences from groups such as Nirvana, Interpol and Green Day. Their debut album, Back and Forth Forever, which will be released August 26th, was recorded and mixed by Chris Kasych, who has worked with P!nk, Phantogram, Vampire Weekend, and more. In anticipation of the album release, the band will be playing a residency at Harvard and Stone in L.A. every Tuesday in August so swing by and get ready to headbang to their high-energy performance before they head out on tour in September.
Moxipop caught up with Lauren and Jayk to get some more insight on the inner-workings of their band and their upcoming release.
Mxp: What is your music writing process like?
Lauren: Jayk brings in almost all of our melodies and hooks. As far as lyrics go, sometimes I write them and sometimes he writes them.
Jayk: Sometimes I have a dream, and I wake up and hum into a recorder. Some of my best songs are songs that I just dreamt, and then I woke up and recorded it. Later, when I’m around musical instruments I’ll sort of figure out how it goes. Other times, I’ll just be rocking out on my guitar and I’ll make something that sounds really good and I bring it to the band and we figure it out as a group.
Mxp: Where do you guys get inspiration for the themes of your songs?
Jayk: A lot of the inspiration comes from our on-again, off-again relationship with each other. A lot of the songs on the album are about either breaking up or getting back together or love or hate.
Lauren: It is interesting though because about half of the songs were already made before I was even in the picture but some of the lyrics –even to those old songs– are just kind of premonitions of stuff to come between our relationship.
Jayk: Yeah there’s this song called “Queer” about how I can’t stay in a relationship and that was written before she even joined the band. The verse that she sings is about autonomy and it’s funny because when she sings that, it’s as if she’s singing what I’d be saying to her. One of our songs, “Dreamies,” has a bunch of specific stuff from our relationship and it’s a love song, so if we’re broken up and playing it, it’d be more difficult to perform.
Lauren: Yeah, I’ve cried playing “Dreamies” before.
Jayk: But then a month later we’re back together and the song is like a celebration.
Mxp: Have either of you considered leaving the band to avoid having to painfully perform happy love songs during tough times?
Lauren: I love being in the band. I think it helps to be able to step outside of yourself and know that in the future it’s not going to be that painful. It might feel a little intense at first but I think we’re going to be okay.
Jayk: We’ve had other singers in the band but Lauren is the most on the same page as everyone. It really means a lot when everyone in the band is on the same wavelength. It really comes across in our sound. Without her it wouldn’t be the same band at all.
Mxp: You guys both have a pretty solid career in acting in addition to music. What is like balancing these two passions?
Lauren: Sometimes acting is very limiting creatively because you’re working within someone else’s parameters, but with music, it’s like an explosion of creativity in a whole different way. I think that music lends itself to the acting and vice versa.
Jayk: Music is acting in a way. Acting is all about getting onstage and expressing yourself and being really honest. For me, music helps me be more honest because the only character is me. It all goes hand in hand.
Mxp: What was it like working on your album with Chris Kasych who has recorded with a lot of big names in the past?
Lauren: He’s so cool. This was my first time recording in a studio so he was very patient and accommodating and helpful. He made me feel like I was in an environment that was safe to learn and make mistakes.
Jayk: He really knows what he’s doing, but he’s not overbearing. He’s a collaborator rather than a controller, so it didn’t feel like we were conforming to someone else’s vision. It felt like he was helping us reach our vision. He actually went out of his comfort zone to help us get what we wanted. For example, I like to hear a lot of white noise on my guitars and he was very willing to work with us to get the sound that we wanted.
Mxp: Since Back and Forth Forever will be your debut release, do you feel a lot of pressure as it being a defining album?
Lauren: It’s so exciting. I know how our songs sound because we play them live all the time, but it’s a whole different experience to have a physical copy in your hand. I’m so excited to share it with the world.
Jayk: I wouldn’t say it was a defining moment because I’d hate to be boxed in by the one thing, but when we put out our single “So Many Losers” in April, it got a lot more attention than the other singles we put out in the past that was recorded with different people. I think the quality of the recording really was reflected in the amount of attention we got. It’s a good feeling to know that our ideas and our thoughts and our efforts are getting out there in a package that people will take seriously.
Lauren: I’d say we put a lot of care in it. It’s like our baby.
Mxp: What can fans expect from your live shows?
Jayk: We love it when the audience gets into it.
Lauren: It’s always good when the audience is giving you some energy back because so much energy is given by us every time we put on a show. It’s fun when fans jump around to our music and dance and mosh.
Lan proudly finds her roots in Long Beach, California, but spends most months of the year in Chicago, where she studies journalism and psychology at Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys photography, watching indie movies, exploring nature and watching ABC Family television shows when no one’s looking.