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A Dirty Dozen with JON BERNSTEIN from HELLO HALO – March 2020

| 31 March 2020 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “As they look ahead to the release of a new album next month, New York alternative rock band HELLO HALO has released a new single, “Our Tomorrow Is You,” available now on all digital platforms. This is the latest track release off their debut album Maybe This Can’t Wait, due out on April 24. The band–Paul Nathaniel (vocals), cousins Jon Bernstein (guitar) and Jeremy Bernstein (bass), Juan Pablo Pastor (drums) and Chris Schortgen (guitar)–produces songs influenced by an array of musical genres from pop and hip hop to folk and j-rock. Their lyrics aim to inspire and provoke action or nurture curiosity, shifting from perceptive and cerebral to motivational and romantic.” We get guitarist Jon to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

Photo credit: Marques Walls

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Well, for starters we went into writing “Our Tomorrow Is You” always with the intent for it to be the opening to the album as well as our live show. Upon your first listen you’ll likely be concentrated on the vocals and drums, but if you listen beyond the surface to the underlying music you can hear multi-layered instrumentation including synths which truly give the song its atmosphere. We love mining through sounds and technology to give our songs dimension.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

All of us got into music early in life. While I can’t speak for everyone’s individual background, I can tell you that as soon as we all got into a room together for the first time we all shared a common goal: we all want to get as good as we can at this thing called music, and each of us knows we have boundless room to grow.  The best part about the music business is that the journey rewards you regardless of material success or social acclaim. Once you’re on the path, you gain access to a lifelong resource that will forever cultivate creativity and curiosity. Even if our music is destined to fade into obscurity, the joy it has brought to our lives remains. So perhaps we cannot give you the precise moment of realization, but we can say confidently that none of us have ever looked back. Music motivates us in ways we don’t even consciously understand, but we are very mindful that we have a lot of work to do to achieve success. That’s a mindset we share and that has guided us toward what we’re doing right now.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

We all listen to very different kinds of music, which allows for different perspectives instead of just imitating one specific favorite band. The makeup of our band allows us to individually explore new realms and create a sound with wildly different inspirations all integrated together. But one artist we all unanimously admire for their talent and use of varying styles is 30 Seconds to Mars.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

This is tough because we all come from different musical backgrounds, but something I can say is we draw inspiration from various types of cultures. Our individual relationships with music are so different that we really couldn’t stay within one specific genre or style, even if we wanted to. On a personal level that is one of my favorite parts about this band. I think as you grow older, you become more interested in creating something uniquely you instead of being a cookie-cutter version of your favorite band.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Do they have to be alive? Honestly, I think we would all want someone different for varying personal reasons, but we all vibe out on Post Malone when we’re in a party mood, so if I really had to pick just one collaborator, I’d want to work with him because it would just be a good time.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

This is always a rough question. Musicians usually try to answer this with well-known music projects that may help orient people in a general direction. But, the best-case scenario of that is someone who agrees but always sees you a lesser version of (acclaimed music legend). What we can say is we’re a rock band that invites influences from any genre, culture or musical tradition. The latter portion of this question is funny, because sometimes we like to hear who we remind fans of, but almost never do we regard it in a negative way. We’re always complimented when we hear that we sound like bands such as Angels and Airwaves or Imagine Dragons.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

This one’s easy. If there are instruments within reach, Paul and I are always interested in nothing but creating music. It’s a problem. Especially when we’re supposed to be focusing on… every other aspect of the music business. Jeremy (who we sometimes refer to as band mom) has had to add and enforce rules about bringing instruments to meetings to make sure we actually get things done beyond working on the next idea. If it’s Juan and Paul, odds are you’re fusing in cocktails and planning for a good time. Jeremy handles most of the coordination, but I wouldn’t put much stock in his cooking. That’s probably why he’s always ready to order a pizza, no matter the time or place.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I’m not sure if starstruck is the right word, but we’re all a little obsessed with our mixer, Rich Keller. He has mixed Snoop, DMX, Nipsey Hussle—the list goes on and on. We literally felt honored to have crossed paths with him and he’s really opened our eyes and helped educate us when it comes to everything that goes into this business beyond making the music. A mentor is one thing every musician should seek. It’s nothing short of amazing to have a close relationship with someone you feel is so out of your league who not only teaches you something brand new every time you’re together but also manages to make you feel validated as an artist.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Hands down the best part of being a musician is that it allows us to connect with other people in a way that words can’t really describe. As a group we’re a prime example of people who live such different lives but we’re able to get so close through our music. The fact that we get to have this connection not only with each other, but also with our fans is an incredible extension of that reward. Hearing that our lyrics connected with and helped somebody through a tough time is one of the best compliments you can get. It’s what this is all about. However, if we couldn’t continue as musicians anymore, fortunately we live in a world filled with options. And collectively, we have many passions beyond music. I don’t think anyone can meaningfully define themselves by a single craft. In our case, we are adults with diverse personal and professional interests (from science and technology to graphic design and video gaming). We consider it no small blessing to be able to pursue our musical aspirations while maintaining careers that help us afford the craft.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

If I had to answer this question super honestly I would love to be able to answer if any of this has come full circle for either you or your band?  And that’s because my answer to that would be, yes. I’ve had multiple people that I consider my idols support Hello Halo in such a magnitude of ways; whether we’ve been on the same show together, or they’ve helped produce us, or whether they’ve simply supported us via social media. It’s all rewarding and reminds me how lucky we are at the end of every day. It’s moments like those that I consider personal victories because there’s no better feeling than being reminded that the people that influenced you in the first place look at you as a peer. On the other hand, being asked what we sound like definitely got old (like at least 2 or 3 bands ago) but with Hello Halo especially. For each of us this is a project we are truly invested in, and we don’t want to confine what we create for the sake of categorical convenience. We know every song won’t land with every individual. Hell, perhaps most won’t. But we write each song with an earnest desire to make the best possible song we are currently capable of, and we hope they keep improving, regardless as to where they fit.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

The honest answer here is that we’ve made many missteps personally and as a band. We’re learning about ourselves, each other and what this thing is as we go. We’ve gone into the studio and recorded songs that we now know will probably never see the light of day. We literally re-recorded our song “Restart” from scratch because the first version just didn’t quite get there. We’ve spent money in the wrong places. Gotten stalled by the least important obstacles. And each of us has endured a good amount of “I told you so’s”. The good news is that we feel our greatest learnings come from our mistakes. So, there’s this collective sense that we’re starting to understand what we’re doing, and we’re excited about it.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

This is going to be another very biased answer because undoubtedly we would all give very different answers. And in truth, no idea how to answer this accurately. What day is it? There are just so many influential albums that I know we would die to have been there for the recording process. Alright, I’ll answer this one personally. Just give me a minute to consult the mood ring. Purple, nice! In that case, I would go with Meteora by Linkin Park. It stands out to me for a lot of reasons, but I’ll give a few. First, teenage Jon would give you this answer because Meteora was the album that made me realize I wanted to be a part of a band. Their first album just blew me away. The music was so different from anything else that was coming out at the time. But sequels are tough. Ask Panic at the Disco. So, adult Jon would love to watch a band who had such a breakout first record go about creating such a successful sophomore album. You’re telling me I can be a fly on the wall to see how that thing came together? Sign me up.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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