After a busy summer, the Grand Rapids band aims to promote two new songs and prepare for a 2023 record. The Artist Spotlight, plus the Local Spins on WYCE podcast featuring new music by other Michigan bands.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE featured two sets of musical guests, The Hacky Turtles and Lighting Matches. Come back to the Local Spins website on Saturday for an Artist Spotlight on Lighting Matches and its new studio album. Today, we feature The Hacky Turtles. Scroll down for the full radio show podcast.
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Ben Steer, bassist for The Hacky Turtles, concedes that mental health has been “a hot topic” for musicians since the COVIC pandemic upended live shows and touring, putting even more stress on what’s already an arduous career pursuit.
So the funky Grand Rapids band wanted to release new singles to let listeners know it’s perfectly acceptable to experience down times once in awhile and to reach out for help if need be.
“It’s driving it home that it’s OK to be down and depressed sometimes,” Steer said. “It’s important to connect with people that matter to you in different ways and to be able to put forth that effort is becoming more and more important as the world has become more distant.
“The hopeful nature (of the song) is that you’ve been there before and it’s OK to recognize that and attempt to pull yourself out of that.”
That hopefulness drives both of The Hacky Turtles’ upcoming new singles, “The Low Before” (officially dropping on Oct. 14) and “Hold On,” which they showcased and debuted for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE. View a teaser video for “The Low Before” here, and scroll down to listen to the tracks and the full radio show.
VIDEO: The Hacky Turtles, “The Low Before” (Teaser Video)
“Stylistically, these songs are very on-brand for The Hacky Turtles,” Steer said, noting the band actually has been playing “The Low Before” on stage for six years. “It’s a pop song with a catchy hook, powerful rhythms and features, for the first time, vocals from all five members of the group.”
FUN IN THE STUDIO AND A ‘LANGUAGE BETWEEN THEM THAT’S JUST DIFFERENT’
When The Hacky Turtles returned to Adrian to record the band’s new singles, they already knew what they were getting into – and they were ready to get serious and have some fun at the same time.
After laying down tracks for the funky Grand Rapids rock group’s 2021 album, “Dichotomy,” band members already were familiar with recording studio owner and producer Jake Rye, who’s run Adrian’s Social Recording Co. since 2016.
“We just built a really good relationship with Jake and a good process and system of how we recorded (the album). We’re really happy with how he is able to make a sound and record us,” said drummer Erik Krueger.
For his part, Rye said The Hacky Turtles “have this language between them that’s just different. Probably what stands out most to me is their connection musically and how they blend different rock influences to create their sound. … It’s really cool to be a part of a session with these guys.”
Bassist Ben Steer, meanwhile, called Rye “a total professional” who has “a really good grasp on The Hacky Turtles’ sound. We really love what he does with vocals and drums. I think he makes the band sound really big. He gives us more of an arena sound.”
The Hacky Turtles view the new singles as “a smaller release that would kind of satiate what we think our fans want” rather than a full-length album.
After playing a host of festivals and outdoor shows this summer, the band will spend the next several months writing, jamming, “experimenting with different sounds” and otherwise preparing for a more extensive recording project in 2023.
It’s also likely they’ll continue the fun-loving, energetic approach that has propelled Krueger, Steer, singer Marc Kanitz and guitarists Austin Spencer and Alex Rushlow since the Traverse City-bred band first formed back in 2014.
“We definitely goof off a decent amount,” Krueger said of their studio sessions in Adrian, where popular regional acts such as Michigander, Leland Blue and Brother Elsey also have laid down tracks.
“We laugh a lot together. We have a lot of silly inside jokes that probably aren’t funny to anyone but ourselves. But we work hard before we go into the studio. We do get down to business and focus. We prioritize trying to enjoy it as well, because why else are we doing this, if we’re not having fun?”
As Rye puts it: “How they communicate with each other is like watching a sitcom.”
The way The Hacky Turtles communicate on stage also has made them a compelling live act, one that’s cultivated a growing Michigan audience in recent years.
“It’s been a big blessing to us to play in front of human beings and just get all that energy out, playing the songs that we’ve been practicing for a while and playing some new tunes that are fresh for us and our fans,” Krueger said.
Added Steer: “Live shows are crucial to the productivity of The Hacky Turtles. It seems the band is most engaged when there is another live show to look forward to. … Trying out songs in front of an audience is the best way for us to get a handle on the new music before we put it to record.”
For now though, the band is gearing up promotion of its new singles – both of which address the importance of mental health – including a radio campaign, social media marketing and a music video.
“We’re being much more intentional about the release plan this time around than we have in the past,” Steer said, noting The Hacky Turtles are committed to “upping the game online” over the next several months.
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights Michigan music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured an interview with Lighting Matches (return to Local Spins for the story on Saturday) and fresh tracks from Myron Elkins, Cody Robert DeWindt, Slumlord Radio, Fake Baseball and Kari Lynch, as well as a classic song by Drew Nelson (who plays a LowellArts gallery concert in downtown Lowell at 8 p.m. Saturday). Listen to the radio show podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (10/7/22)
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