The whole band met while we were all attending Hofstra University. It’s a pretty funny story, actually, because we weren’t even looking to form a band. It all started in Accounting 102, where Frantz and I (Mike) had met. Mike was producing beats for hip-hop artists in Long Island at the time while Frantz was in a couple of other bands.
We initially bonded over our sense of fashion in class, and eventually had a few jam sessions together, along with the rest of HOAX - Kevin, Jacob, and Paul - who were all in different bands with Frantz. We got along very well and realized we all had a very similar vision - to create music with purpose and meaning and to make a real impact on humanity. It just felt right. And the rest was history. It was very serendipitous; HOAX might not even exist if Frantz and I had never met.
Your album, "b?", which comes out this fall is largely inspired by your trip to India. Could you talk about your time there?
It’s so funny because I feel like everyone always has some epiphanous spiritual journey back to the motherland, and I guess we are no different. India was definitely the inception of the idea as it was presented to us. The idea of being. Think about having a conversation with someone you just met for the first time. What are the first questions that you ask them? Probably, “what do you do?” Why? Probably because you want to categorize them as a certain person based on their occupation, or what they DO. In India (and this ideology exists elsewhere around the world!) the conversations leaned more towards your character and your core and in essence your being. And with this, how was your being impacting the fellow beings around you. It was as if you being can then lead to what you do, but it does not work in reverse. This album is our sonic exploration of this concept, and questioning can we even find being, in a world so centered around doing?
When can we expect your next album?
We announce all of our news and releases on our Instagram.
The band has a distinct sound coined, “the sound of beautiful sadness”. Please describe a moment of sadness in your life that has turned.
I’m a huge Ernest Hemingway fan and there’s a quote he has (it floats around the interwebs a lot): “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” BUT YO, I am not claiming in any way that HOAX is intelligent or anything close to that (we’ve got a long way to go), but I see this quote as sort of a reflective expansion on the idea that “ignorance is bliss.”
Intelligence can be looked at as self-awareness, and the more you become self-aware of who you are and what humanity is, the easier it is to believe that things will never change. But I think it is that self-awareness and those feelings of sadness that leave you at a crossroad with two choices: to retreat inward and live selfishly or to accept empathetic love as the only way to overcome. It’s not easy and most days feel like a tightrope between those two choices. But I think that idea has been a major exploration in our music.
How has your creative process evolved?
Over the years, our creative process has expanded outwards. When we first started, I think I held in all the creative burden because most of the songs were all my lyrics and ideas, but as we grew as individuals together, that process has definitely become super rounded and open. Frantz (our bassist) has been a huge creative force in my writing now. He would challenge me to never settle, whether it be on the concepts, the lines themselves, or the simplicity. I think that has been a huge movement in our creation process: simplicity and organicness. Just like we hope that people can find their most natural self and be in love with living with that, we search for that in our creation process.
Another part that I think has evolved in our music over time is the idea that the song comes first. We try to put our egos aside and think of the song as its own entity. On this project, we worked with our producer, Darro, who did not try to change any of our music one bit but instead extract the best ideas in our music. It was just really great to get a fresh new perspective on our music and have it critiqued (especially when you are so close to the material) and have to have reasons for every musical decision.
What inspires all of your eclectic fashion styles?
Cop out answer: but everything. We go through phases, but I think we dress exactly how we feel, which I dig. We get inspired by people, places we travel, and I think moods. We call our aesthetic modern vintage, which I think honestly derived from the music we make.
What do you want to say to those in Gen Z working so hard to fight for human rights?
Keep on the good fight! Whatever you need from us, let us help. I think the conversation has taken a weird turn where people get into arguments only believing what they believe. No matter what points are made in a debate, no party is willing to concede. The JFK protests in New York of 2017 were a big turning point in our life, cause you got to see how ignorance could hurt a whole group of innocent people. But an empathetic conversation is the only thing that can really impact change. The idea that you can step outside of yourself, your limited experiences and perspectives, and really hear someone out in a way where you want to creatively work towards a better world - without listening in a reactionary way. To me, that is the next evolution, and that’s why human rights are so important; it always has been. Especially for people with a voice, we are meant to be the voice for the voiceless and for the people that feel like they don’t belong. Only love can conquer hate, and this is what we always aim to express in our music.
What do you all do on tour to make self-care a priority?
I think inspiration is everything - knowing that it's not just music to us, but our whole lives inputted into this medium. Not going alone is also a huge plus, being a band is honestly like being in a family, fights and all, but just knowing you have someone looking out for you in all aspects (making sure you don’t burn out is huge). Reading, movies, and watching Paul play Fortnite are great de-stressors (he’s a beast even though he still prefers GTA V).
If you could be any specific dog breed, what breed would you be and why?
I would say an American Pitbull Terrier, mostly cause I have one (her name is Luna), but even more so because they get a bad rep based on their appearance and oftentimes their past. If people stopped judging Pitbulls and likewise stopped judging other people, we’d probably all be a little happier.
What is one thing you would like to say to your fans?
A fan or not, something that we hope our music inspires out of you is a touch of empathy. It is easy to get caught up in everything going on around you and in your immediate life, but take some time to think about everything you haven’t thought about. Think about the people around you: How does your life impact them? It doesn't have to be through your actions or what you are doing for them. Rather, maybe just take some more time to be. GET IT? CAUSE OUR ALBUM IS CALLED "b?"!