Gentlemen Hall: Midwest electro-pop from some Boston boys

Upon bestowing the “Best New Band” award in 2010 to Gentleman Hall, the Boston Phoenix wrote that “These songs sizzle and pop with resuscitated beats, bass lines and laser-booty synths that argue the last 20 years should be stricken from the record.”

The band that came back to Indianapolis for the WZPL Jingle Jam with Matt Nathenson and Christina Perri on December 3 at the Egyptian Room, is touring behind their new record When We All Disappear, and effectively mixing retro grooves with pop radio friendly production. Sort of like OK Go, without all the stunt videos.

Meeting at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, the gang of synth-pop rockers has crafted tunes that recall the ’80s – maybe a little Controversy-era Prince-and thump with an electronic backbeat that melds club-happy bottom end with a familiar grooves. Nuevo Duran Duran? Cars for the newbies? Some hidden Hall and Oates influence from their last big record (Big Bam Boom)? All of that.

I wanted to know more about the band, so I talked with singer/guitarist Gavin McDevitt, who had flute player Seth Hachen (from Indiana, by the way) at his side, helping with the answers.

ROB: There’s distinct ’80s flavor to what you do. Talk about where your sound comes from.
Gavin: We were never as big into the ’80s musically as we are into the ’80s as far as gear and instrumentation. A lot of our sound comes from a vintage analog synthesizer called the Juno 106 which was most prevalent in the 80s. But we try to keep as modern of an approach as possible!

ROB: Any influences from your city that you hear in your music. I hear the Cars…
G: We are a Boston band with deep roots in the Midwest. We believe all the great music being made in Boston creates strong vibrations and energy that go directly into our music. The current Boston music scene is amazing. We feel like this scene is something similar to the Seattle grunge scene in the ’90s. Bands are very supportive of each other, but are writing very unique music that is very now.

ROB: What has been the track of your career? Openers? Clubs? Writing more than playing? What has worked for you?
G: We definitely weigh all as equal. As many irons in the fire as possible, man! Although we do really believe a band will be remembered 100 years from now for one thing… The song. We write a lot. LOT.

ROB: You’ve played with some long-active bands and at some larger venues. Any moments that have seemed like a nice turning point for your progress?
G: It seems like in today’s day and age, it’s simply all about making real fans one at a time. The momentum has been building but there has been no “break,” if that makes sense. A lot of exposure may have given you a big record deal in the past, but today we just try to make fans and not be forgotten.

ROB: Ever been to Indianapolis?
G: Indianapolis is one of our fondest memories as a band. We opened for Muse at the Verizon Center. This was probably the most fans we’ve made at one show. Sold out of CDs and T’s. And Muse put on one of the best shows we’ve seen in a long time.

ROB: Anyone in the band have Midwest roots?
G: We wear our [Midwestern influence] with pride. Two of us are from Cleveland, one from Minneapolis, one (Seth) is a South Bender, not too far from you.

ROB: Anything I missed that you want to add? Shameless plugs or smart-ass remarks?
G: Big shout out to Boston’s beloved model @LoVeSeXnGIA. She is a taste maker in the city and we are lucky to be shooting our music video for the single “Gravity Will Break Our Bones” with her in a key role.


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