By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Their first new music since debut album ‘Maybe This Can’t Wait,’ New York City-based alt-rock outfit Hello Halo recently partnered with Fred Mascherino (ex-Taking Back Sunday, The Color Fred, Terrible Things) for the music video release of “Under The Starlight,” which Mascherino produced and played guitar on.
The video was recorded live to tape in Mascherino’s home studio, which sets the tone for the ballad’s optimistic lyrics within the realm of a tense political and social climate. Mascherino and Hello Halo will collaborate on more songs, which will be out in the near future.
Hello Halo are lead singer/songwriter Paul Nathaniel, drummer Juan Pablo Pastor, bassist Jeremy Bernstein and guitarist Jon Bernstein.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with Nathaniel about “Under The Starlight” and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Paul Nathaniel – We did what most bands do. All the original members came up with a long list of names and we narrowed it down to the ones we didn’t hate. In the end, the name “Hello Halo” resonated the best. It fit what we were trying to do lyrically and musically.
Music Bugle – What was it like getting to work with Fred Mascherino for “Under The Starlight”?
Paul Nathaniel – Seeing as how we were all big fans of Taking Back Sunday and Fred’s later work, it felt like a surreal and incredible opportunity. Suffice it to say, we see it as a genuine blessing. We got creative about staying safe and making new music and that gave us a lot to be grateful for in a year with a lot to complain about. For everyone else, 2020 will be remembered as one of the more challenging years that they’ve had to endure. For us, 2020 will always be the year we wrote an album with Fred Mascherino.
Music Bugle – Did the music video for “Under The Starlight” come out how you envisioned?
Paul Nathaniel – Short answer, no. Let’s just say our imaginations spun up a much more dynamic music video with all the bells and whistles. We storyboarded out a series of events, shot across several locations. We were hellbent on getting out into nature and under the stars, but we came to realize all the bells and whistles were convoluting, not additive. Once we saw the product of a simple, stripped-down video that could have been shot anywhere, we knew we did the right thing. The song is enhanced, rather than diminished by seeing it performed in a non-distracting environment. Couldn’t ask for more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe New York City to someone who has never been there before?
Paul Nathaniel – It’s a city that demands a lot of you. It’s a high-energy place with some of the world’s hungriest people. Hence, a pizza place on nearly every corner. All seriousness, it’s an incredible place. This city can energize and inspire you, expand your mind and help your dreams take shape, but if you don’t have the right mindset for it, this city can drain you like no other, so I’d say it offers opportunities available nowhere else, but it’s not for everyone and that’s one of the things that makes it special, but its energy is infectious and that’s a knife that cuts both ways. It’s a city that can define you in the right or wrong ways, so be deliberate about how you allow it to impact you.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Paul Nathaniel – Tough question to answer at the individual level, but what we can all agree on is that we want to maintain an open mind. We aren’t entering this project married to one style or another. We’re each coming to this project from distinct musical influences and personal histories and we want to work with all of it – any of it. A good song is a good song and no matter the style, if we can all get to the point where we agree that a song is good, maybe others out there will hear what we hear – or at least, what we were going for.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Paul Nathaniel – Physical proximity of any kind. Songwriting involves a lot of teamwork and it definitely feels more alive in-person. We’ve managed to write well remotely, but like every other person on the planet, we’re ready to get back to being in the same room with other people and it not feeling “odd” or “unsafe.”
Music Bugle – How would you describe your newest music?
Paul Nathaniel – Unlike most of the music we’ve written, there is very little angst in this upcoming album. The vibe and lyrics draw out a kinder, more reflective and curious side of life. It’s also our first acoustic album, so we’re looking forward to seeing how people feel about it.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Paul Nathaniel – In pretty much all the ways everyone has been affected. Economic realities have shifted. Families have gone through the ringer due to both health and politics. The nature of our daily lives has changed and much of it bears little resemblance to life pre-pandemic, but we’ve all adjusted, adapted and for the most part, retained our sense of humor. Despite present trends, we’re holding onto a little aspiration when it comes to the fate of humanity.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt music?
Paul Nathaniel – Both. Social media can help musicians reach and connect with more people. It has amplified the use of visual mediums, which can deepen and expand a song’s meaning. Lots of very positive things, but it’s a new game for many musicians. Not all music-makers want to be so socially present. Not all music-makers want cameras documenting their every move, but social media presence has become an essential ingredient to pretty much every industry and to be honest, we don’t know how it will be viewed in the final analysis, but it is seemingly inevitable and given that assumption, we have to try to make it as positive as possible.
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?
Paul Nathaniel – Everything. The preparation. The nerves welling up in the greenroom. The exchange of raw, concentrated human energy. For anyone who’s ever performed live, it’s no doubt one of their most cherished experiences and the withdrawal is real. We miss it all.