A Few Minutes with… Hasty Page
Back at the end of January, the alt/indie rock power trio Hasty Page from Upstate New York announced that they would be putting out their last installment, a final EP titled Tightrope. In anticipation of the March 11th release, I had the opportunity and honor to sit down with the whole band to discuss the new record, how the group got started, and what their next moves might be.
When did you guys first form and how did Hasty Page come to be?
[James]: I played in a band with Josh in fourth or fifth grade. He and I were always in school together. Josh was in band class, and I was in orchestra. So we were separate in that, but we knew each other, and we kind of made a band. “Band” is a strong term for something that was very soft. We played one birthday party that no one went to.
[Josh]: We were just a couple of middle schoolers jamming out to Green Day really. Later I was in a band for about two and a half years called Vontus. Then Zane and I met each other through a couple of ex-girlfriends of ours. He and I started out doing some acoustic shows together. We said, “Well, now we need a bass player if we want to do this.” I said that I knew James, and we all had a jam not too long after that. A lot of people don’t know this, but Hasty Page at its original formation had a different lead singer. At the time I had no interest in being the lead singer. I had just started to play guitar, write music, and sing, so I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Our friend P.J. Ferguson was our singer for a couple of months. Eventually, he went off and did his own thing, and I said “ Well, I guess I’ve got to be “the singing drummer” now.
Your first EP ever was originally released on March 11th, 2016, and was later re-released on March 11th, 2020. Your new EP is coming out on March 11th, 2022. Have you guys just been keeping the tradition alive, or does March 11th have a deeper meaning to you?
[Zane]: So the first EP we released was on March 11th. Then there were some weird issues and it was off of streaming services for a while. When we were able to re-release it, we said “Why don’t we release it on the same day as the original?” So now for this last EP, we figured we’d release it on the same date as our first one, six years later.
You recently announced that Tightrope would be Hasty Page’s final installment. What made you guys come to this likely difficult decision?
[Zane]: I don’t think any of us have plans to stop making music with each other, like, ever. But we’re all pretty scattered right now. I’m in Nashville, Josh is in Queensbury, and James is in L.A. now. So we can’t really meet up to rehearse.
[James]: Yeah it’s hard. I think bands are kind of like sports in a way. Sometimes you just don’t know when the last time you put on those pads is going to be, you know what I mean? Just having to be adults, face the realities that everyone is facing now in these times, and figure shit out. It just becomes kind of tough.
[Josh]: It’s a weird time, man. I think our plan back in 2019 was to finish college, do one more Day at The Lake show, and then “call it quits”, whatever that means. Just because we didn’t know what life was going to be like after college. Then Covid happened, and we said “Well, let’s just take it day by day at this point.”
You released “The Wire” back in June 2021. Did you guys know at the time that this would be the last ride?
[Zane]: I think so, even if we didn’t say it out loud. I feel like we knew we weren’t going to be writing and recording too much moving forward, so we wanted to put out the songs that we had finished.
[Josh]: We recorded in the summer of 2020, in the same place we recorded our first EP, in my basement. Except this time around, we had good gear and actually knew what we were doing. I think it was the most fun I’ve ever had recording an album. We just picked a week, and the whole time, we were just making music while the rest of the world was on fire. It was just so peaceful and fun. I think it’s the best we’ve ever done. It’s all there, wrapped up in 5 songs. It’s super vulnerable and just…us.
From the first EP to the records in between, and now finally Tightrope, how do you think the group has evolved along the way?
[Zane]: I think genuinely and unbiasedly that Josh and James are the best drummer and bass player that I will ever play with. But from where we started to now, it’s just crazy. I still have some early phone recordings of us that are…pretty rough. So to just see the progression of everybody has been wild.
[Josh]: I would second that. I think with our first album, I listen to it now and it definitely sounds like we’re in high school, from a production and songwriting standpoint. I think that I personally was trying to sound like somebody else. I wanted to sound like Young the Giant and Kings of Leon. I was in my sad boy indie rock phase back then. But I think as the albums and years went on, we just fell into this state of not knowing precisely what our sound is, and that’s what made it exciting. We kept writing, and it just kind of happened. Whether it was a song that one of us brought or something we wrote together, we fell into this vein of “Oh, this is what we sound like today.” We would just write how we feel, and not try to be something else anymore.
When was the first time you all realized that you really had something special going on?
[Zane]: I think it was when we wrote our first song together that didn’t completely suck, “My Scars”, off the first EP. Which technically was the first song we wrote, so I guess I’m exaggerating a little. But after we wrote it, we recorded and released it, and I had never released anything prior to that, so it was cool, it felt amazing.
You guys have performed at so many shows all over the place. What are some of your favorite venues you’ve played at?
[James]: The Orange Peel, a lot of good nights there. The Lake George Beach Club is up there for me because we just have a really special relationship with them over there. Definitely The Hollow. We had a lot of fun times at the Putnam Den as well.
[Josh]: I think my favorite place that we’ve ever played was The Linda, just because they were such good shows.
[Zane]: Playing at The Hollow opening up for Ripe was probably my favorite show ever. From the front of the stage to the back of the room, shoulder to shoulder, the place was packed. That was a cool night.
All of you are seasoned, professional musicians who have played with different artists and ensembles individually. What’s different about making and writing music with each other?
[Zane]: When the three of us are together, it’s like we’re one unit. When I play with all of the other people I play with, which I love to do, I feel like I’m the guitar player. But I feel like with Josh and James, it’s like one collective mind working on the same thing.
[James]: It’s like that shoe that just fits really well. There’s always that one special, original thing that you’ll always compare everything else to. With music, the reference point for me will always be playing with the guys.
[Josh]: I feel the exact same. I have the privilege of playing with a lot of great musicians, but it never amounts to this, where it all started. Even before this, I was a drummer in another band, and it was very comfortable and a great experience. But this was the first thing that I was able to call mine, but also share it with two other people that were interested in cultivating this groupthink. It’s just three moving parts that work really well together. The three of us know what’s happening, when it’s happening, all the time. That’s what Hasty Page is.
What’s a moment in the history of the band that you will always cherish?
[James]: I really enjoyed it when we went down to New York City and stayed at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn, on the floor. I think one of the first things that really drew me to playing music live was showing up to all sorts of different venues and getting to play a certain role for the night. It’s like an escapist thing. I really enjoyed showing up to new places with these guys, playing that role, and just milling around together.
[Zane]: The Times Union Center show was special. The fact that the three of us got to do that together was really cool. I just have a lot of little memories that I always think about.
[Josh]: That’s a difficult question. I feel like in life, every group of friends has its ups and downs in life, but looking back it’s all just so positive. It’s hard to narrow it down to one specific time. But the first time we played the Beach Club, a lot of our friends were there, and the place was packed. We played “My Scars”, and to this day I can still hear the crowd singing the song over the top of us playing it. I literally broke down in tears behind the drum set, because that’s my ultimate goal, is to have someone know the words to our songs, and to know that it means something to them. It was such a heavy and special moment.
Finally, is this a farewell to Hasty Page? Or is it more of a “goodbye for now”?
[Zane]: I think as far as the title of Hasty Page it’s not a farewell forever, but a farewell for a bit at least. But I feel like us doing music together is something that will happen again in the very near future. I don’t know if it’ll necessarily be under the name of Hasty Page, but it will be the same people.
Make sure to check out Tightrope when it drops everywhere on March 11th. You can keep up with everything and explore Hasty Page using all of their links below.