The Hunting Party is a 6 piece indie/folk band hailing from New York City. Although that may seem like an unlikely origin for their timeless Americana driven musical aesthetic, they have been carving out their place in the saturated New York music scene by writing simple yet sophisticated songs of love, loss, and everything in between. The gorgeous instrumentation and arrangements are only trumped by their lead vocalist’s ability to pull you deeper into their sonic landscapes with her melodies and lyrics.
They released their first 7 track E.P. North in 2013. This beautiful collection of songs shows their range and influences. Sometimes sounding like Whiskeytown led by Emmylou Harris, while other times dipping into a more bluegrass territory with their impeccable placement of banjo. Whatever influence they happen to be channeling, each of the songs on North stand on their own to create the sound that defines the band as a whole.
The Hunting Party is taking 2015 by storm by releasing a couple of videos from their new E.P. Sirens and Lights featuring a slight evolution in their sound. Stepping a little more towards uptempo 60’s pop with “To Be Us” or finding some Motown 6/8 groove with “Chicago”.
Evensound was able to have a wonderful chat with Erica Lane, the lead singer of The Hunting Party, about the band’s beginnings and evolution.
In New York city it’s a small miracle to get even a 3 piece band together, how did you manage to assemble such an expansive group of talent?
About three and half years ago I moved to NYC from Wilmington, NC. I didn’t know anyone here, let alone musicians, so I put an ad on Craigslist. In the ad I just described what instruments I was looking for, bands I liked, what sound I wanted, etc. I didn’t get many hits, but I’ll be honest it was a miracle when I got contacted by a drummer, Dan Burke. I thought that was going to be the biggest challenge, but everything kind of fell into place. I also met with a banjo/guitar player, Erik Hamilton shortly after. They each brought in a lead guitarist, and bass player (Mike Schnapp on bass). Then about seven months in, Dan brought a piano/organ player, Dave Letchinger, and our sound started to expand. Then another few months went by and our lead guitarist parted ways, so Erik and Mike invited Nick Lerangis to play some shows and help us transition. But we haven’t been able to get rid of him since. I’m just kidding. We were all excited to have Nick join us permanently. So in a way some parts were easy, but some were difficult. A lot has to do with how you can work with people and you kind of need to be able to read each others minds. It’s weird, but you know when you have that musical connection and when you don’t.
What is your song writing process like with so many creative minds in one room?
It’s different with every song. I write the lyrics, the guys write the music. Sometimes Nick helps me edit my words. Sometimes I come with a melody in mind for the lyrics. Other times the guys bring in a solo piece and it immediately clicks with a story I have. There has also been the case where I’ve come into the room and the guys are just jamming, improvising, and I get taken away and write something on the spot. With six people it can get a little messy. Occasionally I’ll have a one on one session with guitar, or piano, and we’ll bring an idea to the table. Sometimes we’ll be working on a song for weeks and it’s gotten so complicated that we just have to bury for a while until our heads are clear. Like I said, it’s messy haha, but it is definitely my favorite part.
The comparison of Erica’s voice to Emmylou Harris and Marissa Nadler are pretty spot on. Your sound is comprised of timeless American instrumentation, are there any other influences that you’d like to note?
What’s weird, is I never thought about playing or writing Americana music. I wasn’t raised on country or folk songs. Our sound just kind of came out naturally and I think it’s because I miss home so much. That and the sound fits the stories I tell. The past few years Neko Case has been a huge influence on me. In every aspect of voice, arrangement, lyrics, she just blows me away. To name some others: Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst (his imagery beats everyone, all the time, hands down, I love and hate him for it hahaha), Sharon Van Etten’s voice also puts me in a trance. As for stuff I was raised on, my mom listened to a lot of Heart, Stevie Nicks, and Dean Martin. I don’t have her power and range, but Ann Wilson is probably one of my earliest influences. I love a lady who can rock.
What was the inspiration behind “Chicago”? The song paints such a wonderful 6/8 swing-time dreamy atmosphere. Could The Hunting Party have been a Chicago band ? Have you played the song there yet ?
Chicago started as just a few lines I had scribbled and one night when we were just presenting solo bits for writing, Dave played this beautiful little tune. After a few minutes, we slowed it down and it was one of those songs that just clicked. I’ve always been a sucker for dreamy ballads and Chicago was no exception. As far as story, it’s based on someone I knew that hand a strange hold on me. He could kind of convince me to do anything and one night I snapped out of the spell he had on me. We were talking in the car and he started rambling about Chicago and all this nonsense, and I realized I didn’t want to go anywhere with this person. In a nutshell, just another case of bad love in a make or break moment. So, no, haha, no Chicago plans or band. But we would love to play it in Chicago soon!
“Suitcases and Sundays” is also another song seeming to be inspired by a heart breaking long distance relationship. We would love to know the inspiration behind the song. The idea to have you perform the song in a church is perfect. Where was the video shot?
This one is actually about a long distance relationship. This is also the closest I’ve come to writing a happy love song hahaha, and it took me three years to get the words right. But it’s one that’s close to my heart. We got lucky with the location. Our friend Matt is a priest in Chinatown in NYC and allowed us to shoot the video there one night. It worked out really well.
What is the status of the new E.P.? Where/when was it recorded. When is the release date? What are your plans for a release show/tour?
Ah the new E.P.! Well, it’s four songs. Our more recent and fine tuned stuff. It’s heading in a direction I’m really excited about in terms of our sound evolving. It was recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks and Sean Swinney Studios. Produced by Jeremy Backofen and mastered by Richard Morris. We also did some layers in Nick’s closet last fall, hahaha. We actually just got the physical copies today and the tunes should be available next week. We’re aiming for Feb 17, right before we tour DC, Philly, and Kenyon College in Gambier, OH. But you’re at the mercy of iTunes and Spotify for when they post it. As for a release show, it’s going to be March 20th at 9pm at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, in New York City.