Sunday, January 3, 2010

Q&A: Hallie of the band The Unlovables

So I first met Hallie back in good ol' 1998. I was working at this indie fashion shoppe called Moda (it was a Hot Topic-ish shoppe before there was Hot Topic). One night, this gal bounces in the store and my manager, who happened to like my music, was playing one of my CDs, the Mess band CD "Pretty Ugly". Hallie liked it and soon we were in conversation. She was on tour with the Rent musical. Fast forward to when I moved to New York for a few months. We hung out and she was way Rad. The indie label Melted Records featured her as the model on the cover of their compilation CD "My so-called punk rock life" which featured my song "Six" (set in New York- I wrote it there while on tour in 1997). Melted released 2 CDs of my music, "Mess you up" & "Split" (which also featured the Huntingtons). Hallie and I kept in touch when I left NYC. She started her own band, the Unlovables, and I got to perform with them on tour 3 times in 2005 in New York- at CBGB, at the Continental, and in Brooklyn. When they were on tour, they performed with me at the Barley House here in Dallas. They are a great band and tons of fun! If you like poppy fun music, you will love them! She's a wonderfully gifted singer and songwriter and a wonderful friend as well. Get to know Hallie right now and read on!

Q: Tell us how the unlovables began, and what's going on with the band now.

Hallie: The Unlovables really began like 10 years ago! It's seems impossible that
it's been that long, but back around 1999, I was teaching myself to play bass and I started writing songs basically just to entertain myself. How I got from playing my songs alone in my room to playing them up on stage with a band is still kind of a mystery to me... it just kind of happened! I was a huge music fan, so I guess I knew a lot of musicians just from going to shows all the time. And when the word got out that I was playing bass and writing tunes, suddenly I had people offering to play with me, and a label offered to put out an EP, and the next thing I knew I had a
band :). Recently, the band's been taking a little hiatus. Like I said, this whole
adventure started 10 years ago, so it seemed like the right time to take a step back. We are all busy working on other projects. It's been great. I've been acting full time (check out my show!, and Frank and Mikey are in like a million other bands. And Frank's also been diving into the film world, producing documentaries and stuff. We wanna put out a 7' soon, it's just a question of finding the time.

Q: how did you begin singing and playing bass?

Hallie: I've always sang. Always. My mom was a professional singer, and she had
me singing before I could talk. So I grew up singing all different kinds of music... from being in choirs and performing in musicals, to belting out Cure songs in the shower, haha. Playing bass came a little later when I started listening to punk rock. The music just... god, it just got me so amped! Listening to bands like Screeching Weasel and the Muffs really changed my life.It was like I HAD to teach myself to play. I wanted to be a part of all this music that was so exciting to me. It wasn't enough to just listen and sing along at home.

Q: I know you used to do musicals, because that's how we met! Tell us a bit about your background in performing, and what effect that's had on singing in a rock and roll band.

Hallie: Totally! I met you all those years ago when I was performing in the
national tour of RENT, and my tour came through Dallas. Actually, can I tell that story? Cuz it's so awesome... I was shopping in Deep Ellum, and I wandered into this shoe store, and the music that was playing in the store was some amazing pop punk band that I didn't recognize. You were working at the store, so I asked you what band it was, and you were like "Oh, this is my band!" And we've been friends ever since! That was back when you were playing with Mess, which is still one of my all time favorite pop punk bands :). OK, back to yer question. Musicals. I actually haven't really done one since RENT. The shows that I've done since then have been a lot cooler, haha. But I used to really love musicals! And it was really by being in
musicals when I was growing up that I learned to sing, to harmonize, to be comfortable on stage, etc. And it's probably why so many of my songs are like little stories... because in musicals the whole purpose of the songs is to help tell the story, to push the narrative forward, to reveal something about the characters. I think even though my songs are written for a band, and not for theater, there is still something a little theatrical about them. Just because that's my background and it's inside me.

Q: You've appeared on album covers, have you done any other sort of modeling?

Hallie: I really don't like modeling, but I have done a little bit of it. I've
posed for a ton of New York photographers and I've done some print ads (The Gap paid for the first Unlovables album, haha. Because I did a big ad for them, and used that money for our recording costs). Mostly I find it pretty boring. Acting is way better, cuz you still get to dress up and wear fun makeup, but then you get to actually DO SOMETHING. Not just stand around looking pretty. I don't have a lot of patience for that.

Q: Are there any crazy tour stories you can legally share with us?

Hallie: Well, the other guys probably have wilder stories than me. I am the big
nerd of the band, the one who goes to bed early, and tries to stay healthy when we're on tour. But once we were driving through a state forest at night... we were in the Northwest somewhere. And Chelsea and I really had to pee, and we were in the middle of NOWHERE. No gas stations, no 7-11's, just trees and tress and more trees. And we finally got desperate and asked Frank to pull the van over so we could pee in the woods. It was really dark and we were totally scared. And the only light to see by was the van headlights. And just as Chelsea and I were back in the woods with our pants down, at our most vulnerable, Frank turned the headlights out. JERK! It was freaking pitch black, and totally terrifying. We screamed our heads off. I was sure that Bigfoot was gonna get me.

Q: what sort of bass guitar and amplifier do you play and why?

Hallie: Oh, god, I am so not a gear-head. I still play the first bass I ever bought. It's a lousy cheap bass called a Lotus, and I've just never replaced it because I'm so used to playing it and I can't imagine playing on anything else :)

Q: Can you play other instruments too and which ones?

Hallie: Nope, no other instruments. I can barely play bass, haha.

Q: What's performing in New York like compared to other places, and what are some of your favourite places to perform and why?

Hallie: New York City rules! We have a really fun scene here full of great bands.
Sometimes it can be hard to get people to come out to shows, just because it's such a busy city and there are always 800 other fun things going on. But mostly the shows here are fun and well attended. Lately we really like peforming at this place The Alligator Lounge (it used to be called Lost and Found) in Brooklyn, because we have friends that work there and they give us the freedom to set up the shows however we like (with no cover charge, whatever other bands we want, etc.). And we really like
playing at the Cakeshop on the Lower East Side, too. Any place where you can see a punk rock show AND eat a delicious piece of cake is good by me.

Q: What other bands and artists do you like and listen to regularly?

Hallie: Hmmm, lately I'm all over the place. Punk: Dillinger Four, Toys that Kill, Monikers, Chinese Telephones, The Tranzmitors. Pop: Tegan and Sara, Stars, Spoon, The Thermals, Santogold... a mish-mash of stuff.

Q: What inspires you to write songs? Are there any songs you've written that are your favorites and why?

Hallie: I write songs because it's fun! That's really what mostly inspires me. But I guess a lot of times I'll have something in my life that I'm trying to make sense of, and writing a song about it helps me to sort it out in my brain. Mostly relationship stuff, I guess. My favorite song I've ever written is probably "I Already Know" off of our first full-length CD. I've always just liked the way the melody and the harmonies play off eachother in that one. And the lyrics really capture what I was was going through at the time in a really simple, sweet way. I
don't think it's considered one of our "hits", haha, but it's always been my favorite. "Dance Party" is probably the other one I'm most proud of, because I love the little story that it tells of 2 people getting to know each other and falling in love through their favorite music.

Q: What does the future hold for yourself and the Unlovables?

Hallie: I am having so much fun performing in the show that I'm in, Fuerzabruta,
so I'm gonna keep doing that for awhile. And there's talk of that show touring to other cities like London and L.A., so that would be really cool. As for the band, hopefully we'll get around to recording that 7" before too long. Cuz we've got some new songs that we're excited about, and we want to get them out there!

Q: Do you ever plan a return to musicals?

Hallie: Probably not, but you never know. I hear they're working on a Green Day
musical. Maybe I'd do that one :)

find Hallie online at: