There’s no getting around how, uh, great Great Highway is (that was a terrible pun, I’m so sorry). The four piece indie-electronic band from San Francisco – made up of Jason Hunter, Meredith Whelan, Sarah Morgan and Sean McAllister – just released their fourth album, Industrial Love Scene. I’m sure Jason and Sarah have been furiously preparing for their CD release show today (read on for details!), but they were kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions about their sound, their songs, and their future.
Syd: I’ve been spinning your new album a lot lately – what was the main inspiration for it?
Jason: Lyrically, our inspiration was really the relationships that have defined each band member individually, specifically the separations and strife. A lot of pop music is about the simple sadness of breaking up, while edgier rock is often about scorned lovers shouting at their ex-counterparts. Industrial Love Scene inhabits a different space, treating relationships as complex entities.
Syd: “Smoke” is my favorite track on the album! Walk me through the creation of it.
Jason: Thank you! That’s lovely to hear. We wanted to explore the way that loneliness and fear can mingle together. You know, one feeling breeds the other. We also wanted to show how you can feel this deep loneliness – and fear – even when there’s someone there. A lack of understanding, the inability to meet on the same emotional wavelength, can make two people seem very far apart and alone even if they’re physically together.
We paired these themes with music that changes depending on who’s speaking. The male and female vocals in that song are very much like characters in a mini-play: it’s a girl who’s wrestling with herself and with complex feelings, a guy who just doesn’t get it, doesn’t feel empathy for her condition, and their individual struggles to feel connected.
Syd: What sets Industrial Love Scene, your 4th album, apart from your other releases?
Jason: I think this record taught us what the sound of Great Highway really is; we have a much more specific direction now than we ever did before. It’s funny because a moment hit this past year when we realized we could actually describe what our sound was. People would ask us and instead of saying “oh I don’t know, we’re not sure, it’s kind of this or maybe that” like we did the first couple years, we can now clearly and instantly articulate that this is beat-driven, harmony-layered indietronica fueled by emotionally-driven lyrics.
Syd: What are the future plans for the band? I’m excited to see where y’all are headed!
Sarah: Now that we’re at a place where we have a sound really defined, the sky’s the limit for us musically. We are really lucky to have 4 members who are extremely strong singers and instrumentalists, so there’s nothing we can’t do. We are actually already starting to write tracks for the next album. We got all our aggression out in this album, so we imagine the tone will be a little lighter.
Catch the bands CD release show TODAY, March 20th at Awaken Cafe in Oakland, Calif. More details and tickets are available here! You can also connect with the band via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or subscribe to their YouTube channel. Be sure to grab a copy of Industrial Love Scene on iTunes or the bands Bandcamp page!