A fondness for nostalgia and a love of modern sonics are the twin forces behind Liars, the new album from Chicago electro-flavored rock trio Hidden Hospitals that’s debuting exclusively below.
“The creative mission of this band in general is just to perpetuate rock n’ roll in a new way — a lot of oscillations and envelopes and transforming sound while staying in a rock n’ roll format,” frontman and songwriter Dave Raymond tells Billboard. “With this record we wanted to just push forward in that direction. There’s a lot of guitar work on this record that’s masked. It hides in the technology a little bit more than it did on (2014’s Surface Tension). We’re paying homage to the past, that expression of rock n’ roll, the band format, which we love and also trying to live in the contemporary realm with the sound and technology we have.”
Raymond put demos for Liars‘ 10 tracks together in Chicago, then wrote lyrics during a three-month stay in Los Angeles. “I did it all at once,” he explains. “I wanted it to be an uninterrupted snapshot and be in it until the work is done. These larger projects tend to take a long time and there’s a lot of experience that breaks up your mindset. But all the lyrics for this record are from a particular state of mind, just my view and perception of the world.
“The record is called Liars, which I think is just a statement of maybe what I think is a connection isn’t necessarily a connection. A lot of those lyrics on the record are wrapped up in that.”
Hidden Hospitals then recorded in Nashville with regular collaborator J. Hall, who Raymond says is “rooted in rock n’ roll and in keeping sound, making you feel like you’re inside of it.” Rich soundscapes dominate throughout Liars, from the urgent airiness of “Pulling Teeth,” the flowing melody of “The Weeds” and the synth bass propelled “Better Off,” to the guitar meltdown “Taking Sides” and the propulsive rocker “Typecast.” The latter, in fact, is “the most crossover song on the record,” according to Raymond. “That song is wrapped in nostalgia. It’s very rooted in my past and my history in music and with playing in bands. The intent was to keep it brash and keep it very rock n’ roll on the surface but elevate in the chorus in a way that’s a little floatier.”
Hidden Hospitals kicks off its touring to support Liars with a hometown show at The Burlington in Chicago on May 18, the day the album comes out. More dates are currently being arranged. “That’s my favorite part of playing in a band,” he says. “We maintain that playing on stage is kind of the expression of writing the songs. We can take them to a different place than what you hear on (the album), which is very exciting to us.”