The last time North Carolina post-hardcore outfit Hopesfall released an album, the iPhone wasn’t available to the general public and Facebook had yet to become a verb used in everyday vernacular. Now, times may have changed (somewhat drastically) since then, but thankfully Hopesfall have remained constant. The band’s fifth full-length album ‘Arbiter’ is everything the band is known for and so much more: lush, expansive, melodic, and musically transcendent. Killyourstereo.com fired off a few questions to guitarist/principal songwriter Joshua Brigham about ‘Arbiter’ and here’s what he had to say.
First off, the World Cup. Who were you backing to win this year and any favourite matches that stick out so far?
As a Barcelona fan, I wanted to see Messi win it and secure his legacy as one of, if not the, greatest footballer of all time. Obviously, that went south, so I just wanted to see great matches.
More seriously, let’s talk about new Hopesfall. How did the new material on Arbiter all come together?
Over many years; we worked on and off for 8 years, and at times we would take a six-month break. All the guys in the band have been more focused on their careers and family life, so music was always a distant third but we hung around long enough to piece it together. We also had a lot of help from our friends at Equal Vision [Records] and Vudu Studio.
With the release of ‘Arbiter’, this year marks eleven years since the release of the last Hopesfall record (with ‘Magnetic North’ in 2007). The landscape of alternative music, and pretty much music in general, has changed drastically in that time. Why was it important for you guys to bring Hopesfall back at this point, and where do you feel Hopesfall fits in in this current musical landscape? Do you even care about such external matters?
The timing of the record has less to do with strategy and more to do with when we actually got finished making it. We aren’t really sure where we fit into the music scene. Are we even in it?
In an interview with Alternative Press last month, you mention how this current line-up of Hopesfall is somewhat of an all-star lineup, with everyone having been in the band at some point but at different times. How did this connection feed into the reunion of the band, and did that impact composing the material that eventually became ‘Arbiter’?
It had a huge impact on the music. Chad [Waldrup] joined on bass and immediately started contributing, especially when Dustin [Nadler, guitar] or I had a creative dry spell. Chad comes from the same school of thought that we do on guitar. Plus, we’ve all written together before, so we didn’t need a ‘get to know you’ period.
‘A-Types’ is one of my all-time favourite records, and easily my favourite album in the Hopesfall discography. I’m curious to know how you feel about the previous Hopesfall records now, looking back on them after such a long absence, and where you feel ‘Arbiter’ slots in both thematically and tonally?
This record is still new to me, but my overall impression right now is that ‘Arbiter’ is a pretty decent mix of the last three records. I can see a little bit of each of those records in this one. So, I guess it fits in nicely right after ‘Magnetic North’.
You guys returned to Mike Watts for ‘Arbiter’ who also worked on your last two albums. What level of input did Mike have in the process, and was there an overall feeling/vibe/message that you guys had in mind when conceptualizing ‘Arbiter’ as a complete Hopesfall record?
Mike is a trusted collaborator; he gives us great feedback, he pushes us when we need to be pushed. We wanted the record to sound big and we wanted it to sound like a bunch of guys playing real instruments in a room together. A really nice sounding room! We didn’t have an idea of what we wanted ‘Arbiter’ to be when we started, it just kind of grew into itself. Hopefully, people look at it as a cool collection of songs that flow nicely together.
Jumping off that, what’s your favourite track from the new record and why?
Faint Object Camera is my favorite track. It’s a slow, grinding song with a lot of tension and melody. It’s very fun to play.
Lastly, with ‘Arbiter’ and the band now back together, will we finally get to see Hopesfall do an Australian tour?
Going to Australia has always been a dream of ours. The stars would really have to align, but if they did, we would certainly consider taking some time off work to do it!
‘Arbiter’ is out now – read our review of the album here.