The music scene in the greater Portland, ME area has started to grow over the past decade, especially in the rock department. Home to many beloved venues like State Theater and Thompson's Point to small, but wonderful joints like Empire and even Mathew's Pub, local bands have found their way to the stage, the circle pits, and the hearts of many Portlanders. Local music has been cherished and supported by many, however this past year, it's been missed.
The year 2020 has not been easy for many artists, with empty stages and crowds, it is unclear when our next trip to the rock show will be...but some bands have managed to find a light through the darkness. Though shows have been postponed indefinitely, local post-hardcore bands Turner and Hate the Thought have been continuing to showcase their talent despite the ongoing pandemic.
Turner originated in Bangor, ME before making their way to the Portland music scene and consists of band members (from left to right) Brandon Poli (bass guitar), Zack Davis (vocals), Cam Stewart (drums), and Trevor Legassie (guitar). The men of Turner have come a long way from basement shows to the main stage of All Roads Festival 2018 opening for other Maine favorites like Weakened Friends and Mallet Brothers Band.
Hate the Thought consists of (from left to right) Ryan Poligi (bass), Austin Swart (vocals), Corey Halliday (drums), and Kyle Svenson (guitar)
Here are some questions I asked both the members of Turner and Hate the Thought:
1. How would you compare your music now to when you first began writing?
Zack Davis of Turner stated, "Turner’s sound has evolved in a way I never would have predicted. We began as a cover band playing pop-punk music in basements and bars. We would frequent the discariographies of Fall Out Boy, Green Day and the like". Zack also mentioned how it felt recording their first EP, "Heavensent" (2018). "As much as I love that process, it isn’t what I’d call quick. It took us roughly 2 years to write four songs for that release, all while we were all juggling college/relationships/jobs as well as Turner." But when it came to writing music, the guys would find a way to brainstorm new material even if it meant relying on the internet to communicate. Zack said, "Typically, Trevor or myself will write an initial idea out and go back and forth on it until we have something worthwhile to send to Brandon and Cam who then take it and add their own spin on it or make it a million times better by just adding in their incredible instrumental layers. We have been working less in jam sessions and more in a studio space, which allows us to experiment with sounds and textures we normally wouldn’t have the chance to".
In regards to Turner's sound today, Brandon Poli said: "I feel like we try and emulate a more diverse catalogue. There are still a lot of emo and pop punk influence in the lyrics and style, but we’ve kind of found our sweet spot in post-hardcore".
Corey Halliday also reflected on some of HTT's earlier work. Corey stated, "I'm more focused in my goals as a writer, but at the same time less judgmental. When we first started we tended to each have our own ideas as to what we were supposed to sound like, and in the name of compromise we ended up with a bit of an amalgam sonically. Now I think we do a much better job getting on the same page about the musical direction of a song upfront, as opposed to trying to meander through it."
2. With shows being put on hold due to the pademic, are you guys planning stuff on the side for when things start to open back up?
Corey had mentioned that Hate The Thought had started a "little bit of strategizing" but have become more focused on writing during the pandemic. Despite not being able to play shows this past year, they are seeing an increase in the number of times their music has been played on streaming platforms. Corey stated, "In contrast our Spotify numbers have grown a bit, and I think having music released soon will only help keep that trend moving".
Zack and Brandon reflected on what this past year was like for Turner and how their time at home has inspired them to create more for a bigger, post-COVID comeback. Brandon said, "Since the pandemic started, we’ve been recording some demos and ideas separately and writing parts for everyone else and hoping that by the time everything goes back to normal we can beef up our set list a little". Zack shared about how Turner and Hate The Thought were slated to perform a weekend tour around the New England area to promote the "Split" EP release, however it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Despite the canceled tour, Zack did express his gratitude that Turner did have the chance to perform one show this past summer, although not in front of a crowd. "We were however lucky enough to play a live streamed event in July as part of Pizzastock; a non-profit event dedicated to suicide awarness and prevention". Zack also stated that the absence of shows meant more time to write Turner's next big hit. "In the meantime we are using this forced time away from playing shows to focus on writing our next solo outing, and I could not be more excited about that".
3. Tell us more about your "Split" EP. How was it like working and recording music with each other?
Zack reflected on the positive energy that emulated from Hate The Thought as well as being able to learn from each other during the writing process. "I would lean heavily on Austin and Corey while writing lyrics, something I’m typically very private about as I tend to write about things that are very personal to me, but having them as well as my own band to critique me in a constructive way was something I will never take for granted".
Corey shared how he felt about the recording and mastering of the EP as well as how it felt to work with the Turner gang. "It was my first experience being responsible for recording and mixing an entire EP, and everyone from both bands made it a very seamless process. I think the days I enjoyed the most were the vocal and drum days. Something about being in a studio with a bunch of your friends making music feels like home to me". Outside of the music business, the men of Turner and Hate The Thought share a strong bond as they express their adoration and support for each other.
Turner + Hate the Thought's "Split" EP is now streaming on all streaming platforms.