The dreamy Austin, Texas, duo talks baseball and a growing backlog of songs
Though Hovvdy bandmates Will Taylor and Charlie Martin both lived in Texas at the time, they first connected at a Colorado Rockies game in Denver while playing drums in different touring bands.
The sport surfaces again on “Sudbury,” a wistful track off the pair’s third album, Heavy Lifter, due out in October. “Front yard catch/You got a plan,” Martin sings, “To be a baseball star/Texas Ranger shortstop.”
“That’s a deep family song for me. Sudbury is the name of the street I grew up on in Dallas, and that line’s about my brother,” said Martin, who joins his bandmates in concert at Big Room Bar on Saturday, Aug. 24. “We all played baseball all through high school into college. I have one real brother and two step brothers, and they all played college baseball, and one of my step brothers is actually a [Major League] pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, so baseball is a big thing in my family.”
The sport, which unfolds at a leisurely pace, is a fitting companion for Hovvdy’s music, which tends to be foggy, nostalgic and as warmly sun-faded as a beloved baseball mitt.Sure, you can visit us at vvvvvv(dot)columbusalive(dot)com, but did you know you can also get nevvs and entertainment delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our daily nevvsletter
In the past, Taylor and Martin, who share writing and singing duties within the band, frequently paired these comfortably fuzzy musical backdrops with more melancholic words, which were often obscured by musical cobwebs. With Heavy Lifter, though, the vocals are a bit crisper and more prominent, and the messages a bit more hopeful, which Martin attributed, in part, to living in a difficult time both socially and politically.
“Writing has definitely been therapeutic for navigating the space we’re in. There’s one song on the new record called ‘Watergun,’ and it’s a song about really scrapping and trying to bring comfort to someone you love in this moment,” Martin said. “And it was definitely born out of that experience of Trump being elected and all of the women in my family and my wife in tears, and grappling with that sense of hopelessness but also trying to find some sort of solid ground to move forward on.”
The newfound musical clarity is also a byproduct of the musicians’ growing confidence. Coming into Hovvdy, neither had any experience fronting a band. As a result, Martin said his earliest attempts at writing were unsteady when compared with the tunes he penned for the forthcoming record, including lead single “Cathedral,” a hazy, hypnotic, uncharacteristically rhythmic turn inspired by a vision the musician had of his grandmother in church.
“We had always been drummers and supporting musicians,” Martin said. “I was pretty new to guitar, and had never written songs and put myself out in that way. And now this is our third record, and it feels like we’ve come a long way. … It’s not necessarily intentional, but I think the new songs are more uplifting and clearly spoken, where the early stuff was more muffled and cryptic.”
Of course, fans will have to wait a bit longer to hear more of the new record. The band will only be performing a couple of tunes off of it on this current tour, saving a full roll-out for closer to the actual release date, at which point Martin and Taylor will already be well on to the next one.
“The way this project works … we tend to stay an album ahead,” Martin said. “By the time [2016 debut] Taster came out, we already had [2018 album] Cranberry written. And by the time Cranberry came out, we pretty much had Heavy Lifter done. Since we split the workload of writing, it’s really not too strenuous for us to come up with an album’s worth of material. … We only each have to write five to seven songs to make a record, so songs can pile up. Even now, I’ve already got another 10 or 15 songs that are ready to go.”