This Interview is linked from the Okeechobee Official Portal Guide.
Interview with The Hails
Robbie Kingsley (Vocals)
Franco Solari (Vocals and guitar)
Dylan McCue (Guitar)
Andre Escobar (Bass)
Zach Levy (Drums)
SIGT: How did you all meet?
Franco Solari: Me, Zack, and Andre were in a band when I was like twelve years old, up through what became The Hails so we’ve known each other for a super long time. Zack brought everyone together because he had connections to Andre and I through that, he went to a music camp with Dylan, and met Robbie in the UF dining hall because he had a band shirt on and started talking. Zach has always been the glue.
SIGT: “Younger” just blew up. We’re at nearly 9 million Spotify streams now.
FS: “Younger” originally came out in 2018. We had put out a small EP before then but we were still kind of figuring out what we were doing. When “Younger” came out and got on the “Fresh Finds” Spotify playlist, that’s what catapulted us. That’s when we took it to a different level of seriousness. We dropped the next song, “Stay,” nine months later and we’ve been figuring things out as we go. We’ve reached a place now where we need to be more strategic and plan what we want to do. Like, who do we want to be? Those are questions we’re actively figuring out.
SIGT: You guys were put on this huge Spotify playlist and then it just exploded. You guys had to change your attitude, being more serious, but it sounds like you didn’t lose any sight of the fun at the core of the band?
Andre Escobar: I wasn’t even aware of how important it was to get on a Spotify playlist before “Younger” got on. We all had a lot of confidence in the song. It was the best sounding thing we put out. We had my good friend Matthew Lewin work on the production. He’s just a wizard. It comes out and then like two weeks later, it got on “Fresh Finds,” and I didn’t even know what that was. Then it was getting a crazy amount of streams every day. I guess this is how you become successful in the music industry now. It kind of blew me away.
SIGT: What kind of response did you start receiving from fans?
AE: I started to recognize a lot more attention from international fans. I would see DMs from fans England, Indonesia, all over. And our streaming analytics collect where the streams come from. We have a global outreach.
SIGT: What does it mean for you guys to be able to take all this hard work that you’ve put into The Hales and deliver it to thousands of fans at Okee?
Zach Levy: It’s pretty incredible. It’s our first big festival in our home state. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We can’t wait. When we shared the IG story of us playing the main stage, we got so many messages from friends saying they’re going to be there to support.
SIGT: How have you grown personally as brothers and friends over the years?
AE: I think there’s always been a great deal of respect between us, just as people. We started out as friends. This band has been the source of a lot of firsts for us. I think through this band, we’ve all come to realize what we can do professionally on a musical level. We’ve all learned a lot through the band. There’s a deeper level of respect amongst us now that we’re all aware of what each other is capable of professionally. It just added another layer to the bond between us.
SIGT: Cool. Would you say that you’re the one in the band that reminds everybody, “hey, we’re in this together.” If anybody does start a fight, like, “who started the fight?” Those lyrics. Are you the grounding point, or do you each help each other in a grounding sense?
AE: I think we each help each other.
Dylan McCue: Yeah. I don’t think you can point to one person because we’re all equally capable of starting a fight.
MGR: This is their manager here, confirmed that.
FS: I think we all constantly keep each other in check.
SIGT: I’ve been vibing on the song “Denial.” I read the lyrics, but what was the inspiration behind the song?
AE: Robbie and I wrote those lyrics right after I graduated College. It was the start of the next phase of our careers and our lives. We were in a state of denial about a few things at the time, one, it had felt like College had just completely flown by. It took us time to process that. It was a general statement about a few things. For me personally, some relationship troubles. There were a lot of transitions happening in our lives, it was rooted in that vibe.
SIGT: It’s a little ironic for me because the song has this feeling of like “everything’s going to be okay.”
AE: That’s what we’re trying to go for. The lyrics are not the most positive lyrics, but the music contradicts it. That’s kind of what we go for, I think, in a lot of our music generally. Leave a little room for hope.
Interview by Mitch Foster.
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