BROTHER SPORT: There’s an undeniably spiritual element to Hosannas. The band, created and maintained by brothers Brandon and Richard Laws, presents a swirling mix of cerebral, layered beats, intricate synth and keyboard parts, and harmonies that simultaneously occupy spaces both dark and light. Lyrically, they draw from all manner of inspiration, but gravitate toward the natural, mystical, and divine. And as anyone who’s caught them live can attest, watching it come together is truly a sight to behold.
This week, the brothers take a break from recording in their hometown of Portland, Oregon, and head south for a string of California dates, which includes a Sunday-night stop at Santa Barbara’s own Muddy Waters Café.
While a Portland act at heart, Hosannas have a deep and long-lasting relationship with our sunny seaside town. An earlier incarnation of the band was formed while Brandon was attending UCSB, and over the years their shows here have become a second homecoming of sorts. As testament to that, the Laws brothers spent the month of January playing host to S.B. friends Gardens & Villa, who headed north — and shacked up in Brandon’s North Portland home — to work on new material. The resulting setup — Hosannas working in the attic, Gardens setting up shop in the basement — made for a productive, if slightly reclusive start to the new year for both acts. I recently caught up with the Laws brothers via email to discuss their new tunes, new wheels, and plans for 2012.
First and foremost, how’s the writing going? The writing has been going in a pretty fantastic direction. Every day feels like a major crossroads in one of those “choose-your-own-adventure” books that we used to read as kids (and probably still would if there was a way to make that not embarrassing). It is very much an environment where any idea could go in any possible direction, which I think is a good thing for us. We are already super excited about whatever we end up making because we have put a lot of love into it, so even if it sounds retarded at least it will have character.
Do you guys have a projected timeline for recording? Releasing? We will be in the studio for a few days before we head down to California, so the recording is already underway. We plan to record the tracks in batches, so we will be in and out of the studio quite a lot. As far as releasing the album, I don’t think we have any real idea when that might actually happen.
I got a small sprinkling of what you’re are working on firsthand, but how would you describe the new material? So far the new record kinda sounds like walking through the cockpit of a haunted spaceship, except there would be really loud weird music playing everywhere.
The liner notes for your last release, Thug Life Nicole, mention how that EP reflects the new direction you two are moving in. Can you expand upon that/talk a bit abut how Thug Life is informing what you’re working on now? I think the new record is going to be a major departure from Thug Life Nicole. That EP involved us wrapping up a few loose ends left from a previous phase of Hosannas. With the new record we can just start from scratch and try to make it into anything we want it to be.
You recently played host to Santa Barbarans Gardens & Villa. How’d it go? Awesome. Heavy coco-vibes in the clubhouse.Lots of bro-time in a real good way.
Both bands were working on writing new songs during January. Was sharing the space a motivating factor in the writing process? Definitely. Sharing a space for a month with similarly minded musicians who you respect has a strong effect on you. Both our bands play music for 10 hours a day or so and during breaks we would hear their jams creep in through the walls. I know it definitely pushed me to keep working and to try and make our songs better. Also, there were plenty of times where we’d sit down and show each other what we were working on to get some feedback on it. It was what I imagine [Andy] Warhol’s Factory was like, minus most of the amphetamines.
Is the Portland music scene pretty tight knit and conducive to forming tight band friendships? Yeah. Actually, Brandon has been playing guitar in another Portland band that we like a lot called Aan. Also, I have been doing some fun collaborative things with some folks around here myself. Portland has a many expansive realms of music both extra rad and super lame, so we often just hide out behind great walls of esoteric synth modules in order to keep our own musical rituals in top form.
What’s the touring lineup look like for this leg of dates? We are doing this leg as a two piece. The idea is that we’ll be trying out some songs from our new album. Probably more of a mid-tempo Portishead vibe than our last show at SOhO.
Last we spoke you had plans to tour in a Hearse. Oh yeah. [It’s a] 1988 Lincoln Town Car Hearse, Eagle Edition to match our new sounds. Black and chrome.
What are you thinking (or hoping) will be the reaction to your new set of wheels? I think it is a very practical car for a touring band to have. [It gets] way better mileage than a van, much bigger than a station wagon, there’s rollers in back for your gear, and you know it probably hasn’t been driven over 45 MPH. I haven’t really thought about peoples reactions yet. Maybe it will help them realize they we are a legit goth band, and not just some pop-dance outfit from the cold northern country.
What’s on the stereo currently? Any new discoveries that you’re especially excited about? The new record from this Norwegian band Alog is exciting; it’s called Unemployed. Some Clams Casino, Santigold, Light Asylum, and then a lot of ‘80s electro-funk shit. I don’t know why that started happening, but I like it.
Hosannas play an all-ages show at Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) this Sunday, February 12, at 8 p.m. with Ghost Tiger and Watercolor Paintings. For info, call 966-9328.