Gentlemen Hall was discovered in a basement by WFNX DJs in Boston in 2008, but their profile has risen significantly since then. Now, instead of packing basements, they're selling out shows across the country, buoyed significantly by a Billboard Battle of the Bands win in 2011 that sent them onstage with Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas.
The sextet is riding the tide of '80s synth beats that's crashing across the charts right now (they've claimed in other interviews that MGMT opened a portal to synth pop). They've got an irrepressibly poppy and energetic live set that played a large part in their Billboard win. They've even got a flute player.
Gentlemen Hall is often linked geographically and stylistically to their fellow Bostonians Passion Pit (who, consequently, also won the Boston Phoenix "Best New Local Act" award). Their song "Take Me Under" was selected by the Phoenix as one of the top ten tracks from 2011. But they're not forgetting the raving fans who made them famous. Fans can follow their exploits (including getting stuck in Canada with a suspicious customs agent) across social networks, where they interact regularly with their followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They even invite their fans to challenge them to games of Words with Friends (username: gentlemenhall).
After releasing an album's worth of anthemic electronic rock, collected on their first full-length self-titled record, they hit the road. Now, with a fan base across the country that's far outgrown their Boston basement roots, they're stopping in Indy. The band is playing the NUVO Nightlife Guide party on Thursday. They'll be joined by local rockers Hero Jr.
NUVO: Tell us about your most recent practice session. What did you work on?
Gentlemen Hall: We're all about keeping our live set and content fresh, so we've been focusing on the new tracks we will likely have on our next record. Think sneak-peek songs that no one has heard before. They are way more rock and roll, so we are really excited to bring another level of energy to our live show. Some very Jane's Addiction-meets-Rage Against the Machine guitar hooks and riffs.
NUVO: What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you on the road?
Gentlemen Hall: US customs almost didn't allow us to re-enter the states. [The agent] was "suspicious" that we had crossed the border to Canada to buy all our gear. Hence we were "smugglers." After a lot of smoothing talking from our tour manager we made it back into the good ole U. S. of A. after being heckled for a looooong time. We're still not quite sure how the custom agents made us feel so guilty for playing a few shows in Canada.
NUVO: What kind of music do you listen to when you're getting ready for a night out on the town?
Gentlemen Hall: We're new-music junkies! We've been checking out a lot of cool new music lately like Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, GroupLove, Reptar. Really, anything we can stream from our phones via the usual Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark.
NUVO: Where are your favorite spots to go in your hometown? What are some of your favorite discoveries?
Gentlemen Hall: There's a ton of local venues to lose yourself in. Great Scott is a blast; they have a 15-year long dance party going on Fridays called The Pill with Michael Marotta and DJ Ken. They also have a consistently great bill of bands that actually fit together! I know; crazy, right? That's usually the last priority of a promoter or venue but GS is doin' it right.
NUVO:How was SXSW?
Gentlemen Hall: In a three-string series of words: over-the-top. The amount of bands and venues is incredible and an absolute blast. There's zero barrier between musicians and listeners, which is how it always should be. Every single one of the dozens of food trucks that lined the streets was amazing too. If you are alive and you enjoy having fun you should absolutely make it to SXSW before you die.
NUVO: Who inspires you musically? What are the five most musically inspirational albums that have come out in 2012 so far?
Gentlemen Hall: Great songs. It sounds like a cliche but a timeless song is just that for a reason. Some favorites so far this year include White Rabbits, Chairlift, The Shins, Oberhofer and Miike Snow.
NUVO: What is your favorite local band making the rounds in Boston right now?
Gentlemen Hall: We were listening to local radio station WFNX the other day and heard Bearstronaut's new single and really dug it. It'd be really cool to play a show with them someday soon. Honestly, it's just awesome to be part of this vibrant Boston music scene!
NUVO: You're very communicative on Twitter with your fans. How has social media helped your band's recognition outside of Boston?
Gentlemen Hall: Social media is everything. It's a lot of fun to see what everyone is up to across the country, but these days we're having more fun with Instagram. Instead of hearing about people's goings ons in 140 characters or less, now you can actually see them. We have fun with it but still understand that songs and sounds are what we're here for. Social media is our "middle man."
NUVO: What's your name about? It's Gentlemen, not Gentleman. Mixups galore?
Gentlemen Hall: So many mixups. Probably half the time our name is posted somewhere, it's spelled wrong. Some other common ones are Gentlemen's Hall, Gentlemen's Club, Gentelman Hall, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[Music] Punk + Metal, Rock
[Music] DJs + Dancing
[A+E] Classical Music, Jazz + Blues + R&B