Pinegrove Joins This Year’s
XPN Fest Line-up
By Rob Nagy
In less than a decade the indie alternative rock band “Pinegrove” is on the rise. Anchored by Montclair, New Jersey natives, front man and principal songwriter Evan Stephens Hall (vocals, guitar) and Zack Levine (vocals, drums), the group, which features varied musicians that includes Josh Marre (guitar, vocals), Nandi Plunkett (keys, vocals) and Sam Skinner (guitar),
Adam Carlo (bass) is riding a wave of success on the heels of their latest release “Cardinal” (2016).
“This was the first album that got any attention beyond our friends and the indie rock community,” says Hall, from the recording studio in upstate, New York. “When we signed with Run For Cover Records we had a little bit of a budget. We were able to buy a new van and that helps us tour and advertise ourselves basically and have a PR budget, too. The reputation you get from being on a label like Run For Cover, they have a built-in listenership that’s excited to hear anything they put out. We finally had a team behind us, including our booking agent, people who understood where we were coming from and wanted to help us without changing us. That was huge for us.”
Currently in the studio working on their follow-up release to “Cardinal,” Hall is enjoying the creative process and the solitude of crafting their untitled impending follow-up due for a spring 2018 release.
“We’re really happy to be working on this new album,” says Hall. “We are working on 15 songs but I expect it to be 12 songs long. The songs wrestle with those consistently relevant questions about good and evil and self and how does one be a human being in this world. Being in the middle of it is hard to step back and see what I’m exploring, but essentially it’s trying to earnestly explore myself, and what it means to be a human right now.”
“We’ve got a place near Hudson and Albany, New York that is very rural with no neighbors to bother us, and no distractions to prevent us from making this record,” adds Hall. “We’re deep into it, doing sessions every day and it’s coming along really well. I’m out here on 8 acres of land and my closest neighbor is 95 years old.”
“This is the first album that I’ve been able to work where I haven’t had other obligations,” says Halls. “Being in a band is more than just writing songs and recording them. I also do the visual arts for the band. It’s been my dream to just be able to focus on this and be able to support myself doing the work and to dedicate myself to doing the best work that I can. So I feel that I’m in a pretty good place.”
Formed in 2010, Pinegrove’s Hall and Levine’s kindred spirit as friends and fellow musicians dates back to their youth.
“I’ve been playing with our drummer Zach since we were about 7 years old,” recalls Hall. “We were friends and musicians. We were in a band from middle school all through high school and it was always our plan that after college we would try to do it. During college I was starting to write songs. Pretty much everyone in the project has their own songwriting moniker and all terrific stuff and people that I am so honored to be playing with, some of my favorite songwriters. We have a variety of musicians that join us depending on their availability.”
“I think there have been a few important milestones along the way,” adds Hall. “I think most importantly was creatively when I realized that I was onto something. These songs are designed to be the best songs for me, the songs that solved my problems and resolved emotional friction for me. So when I found they were able to do that, which is when I was about 17 or 18, I thought, not only is this something that I want to do but this is something that I have to do. It’s part of my emotional process. It was part of my life.”
After releasing their debut album “Meridian” in 2012, Pinegrove has released a collection of full- length studio albums, EP’s, live recordings and compilations.
Hall thrives on stage, working a backbreaking schedule of more than 200 concert dates a year, which will include an appearance at this year’s XPN Fest later this month.
“It’s surreal,” says Hall. “I love performing. I think it’s the most direct presentation of what we do, and one of the more persuasive ways to get someone along with our message. I hate to say that I’m somewhat desensitized to it at this point. It is happening gradually. Where I am cognitively in our growth is maybe 6 months behind where we are. So we get up on stage and it’s in front of more people than I expected and they’re more enthusiastic than I am prepared for. At times, if I pay attention to how intense it was, I couldn’t do what I have to do, so you have to kind of shut it out a little bit.”
“I love to try to bring people together,” adds Hall. “I think my main aim is to be inclusive and let everyone know that they’re welcome as they are. A lot of our songs are about love, especially how to love better and identify failures of love and moving from there with humility and compassion. It’s a really powerful experience when we can all do that together.”
Pinegrove performs at the XpoNential Music Festical presented by Subaru on Friday July 28, 2017. For show times and tickets visit the BB&T Pavilion Box Office, Live Nation Box Office in Bala Cynwyd, PA, Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 800-745-3000. You can purchase tickets online until July 27. After this date tickets will be available at the gate only.
To stay current with Pinegrove visit www.pinegroveband.com