The Halfways are a psychedelic rock quartet from Austin, Tx that employs elements of various musical styles to create a unique mixture: Imageful Psychedelia.
Funk, folk rock, baroque pop, jazz, and grunge are some of the genres that seep into the band’s songs. Their live sound is characterized by energetic performances featuring rich sonic textures, vocal harmonies, unusual song structures and strong usage of dynamics and tempo changes.
The band has been making their rounds in the Austin music scene for about a year now and with the release their debut EP this month, the future sounds bright for The Halfways! Tropicult got to talking with band leader Daniel Fernandez…
Why do you do play music?
I play music because it is the single activity that brings out the absolute best in me. I am inspired both by competition and collaboration and music has a little bit of all of that. Music causes the strongest emotional reaction from me so I just had to take part in it.
What/who inspired you to create?
When I was 12 and kids in my school were finally beginning to gravitate towards sports, science, math, etc, I still wasn’t sure what I liked. I knew I liked music but it wasn’t until I was introduced to rock music that I knew just how much. My sister was very influential in that sense, having been heavily into rock at the time. She introduced me to a lot of bands I came to love even more than she did! I bought my first guitar and upon my first visit to music camp when I was around 14, I realized that I wanted to create music forever. Something about being surrounded by so many talented musicians brought out this will to join the race.
What’s an integral element to The Halfways’ sound?
I think an integral element to The Halfways’ sound is our use of unusual song structures. Popular music usually follows the “verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus” formula and while excellent music has been created following that formula, I am partial to using a unique combination tailored to each particular song.
When I write a song, I like to picture each individual section of it as being a new page in a story book or some sort of musical vignette. By practicing this method, or lack thereof, I have become increasingly comfortable writing with no one main goal in mind but rather allowing the song to take its own shape at its own pace. This brings out the possibility of incorporating a variety of musical styles.
How has your music changed over time? Have you always played psychedelia?
With practice comes improvement and I’m happy to say I feel that is the case with our band. Stylistically it’s also changed a lot. The first songs I wrote had a more folky acoustic aesthetic while the latest ones have incorporated jazz, funk and psych elements.
As for the second part of this question, I’ve learned I’m not even entirely sure we play psychedelia now! haha Much like “indie” in past years, the term “psychedelic” has evolved to mean a wide variety of things, a lot of which I don’t think we fall under.
It has become kind of an umbrella term like “EDM” which, as we all know, has many different kinds of music of varying qualities under it. Because the question of “what kind of music do you play?” comes up often, “psychedelic rock” usually does the job. I also came up with the term “Imageful Psychedelia” to kind of hint at that musical vignette concept I mentioned earlier.
Even so, I wouldn’t want our band to be limited to any one particular genre so I will say that our music is more a mixture of jazzy, funky, folky, jammy and rock elements!
What advice / lesson would you give yourself if you could go back and time and talk to your teenage self?
To stop thinking about thinking about doing things and actually getting to doing them. To work twice as hard as however hard I was working (which wasn’t very hard haha). Results can be made tangible with hard work and it’s a simple lesson that I feel even my dumb teenage self could have understood, especially if a time traveling version of himself were the one relaying the message.
When did you start The Halfways?
The Halfways started when I was living in Miami in early 2012 and I decided to record what would become my first album, Exit. It was a short, poppy acoustic album that I wrote along as I recorded it using an acoustic guitar, midi controller, and household items for percussion (coffee cans, salt shakers, table tops). The end result, while far from perfect, came out quite nicely for it being my first foray into the recording world so I was inspired to keep going.
After I released that in early 2013, our guitarist Alejandro moved to Miami where we formed the first full lineup of the band and started playing some shows in the Miami scene. After that lineup unfortunately disbanded, we took it upon ourselves to move to Austin in late 2014 where we reformed the full lineup and have been playing live shows ever since.
How did the EP come about?
The EP came about because somehow we got to work with James Petralli, lead singer of Austin band White Denim on our single “I Don’t Mind” which we released in February 2015. After that, he suggested we come and record an EP with him. With a handful of songs already written and with a tight window of time to work with James, we were forced to get our performances really tight in about two weeks, having just gotten a brand new drummer after our first Austin drummer quit unexpectedly.
Unfortunately, due to a lineup change within his own band, he had to drop out of the project early and I was forced to self-produce the EP after that! Luckily, we had a great engineer (Nick Joswick) and we were really happy with the end result.
How would you like see The Halfways develop?
I want to see this band develop into an effective creative outlet for any members that might make it up at any given time and an accurate exploration of all the musical tastes that come naturally to us.
As a musician , what’s your ultimate goal?
To create tasteful music, regardless of style, that attempts to bring something new to the table each time. It’s arrogant to think that everything we create will be earth-shattering and amazing but we can strive to at least create something that is new for us and do things in ways we have not previously attempted.