This article first appeared in The Alt on September 22, 2017.
Photos by Ariel Einbinder
“It was just one of those days where everybody was at Stacks,” vocalist and guitarist Noah Bondy recalls.
The Lark Street coffee shop is a well-known communal space for the artists and musicians of the city so it would be hard to identify this dreary January memory as a rare one, save for the fact that he happened to stumble into future bandmate Audrey Goodemote.
“We started talking about how there isn’t a lot of female participation in the Albany music scene…and we were like, ‘Let’s do it, let’s start a band.’ I think Audrey thought that I wasn’t serious,” he says.
Bondy—in the midst of his band Slowshine’s ongoing breakup—was looking to play in a band again, Goodemote had never even thought of being in one. “I played music casually in my room,” she says. “I would just use it as a form of expression and I didn’t want to show it to anybody. Just like a diary sort of deal.”
After she posted an Instagram video covering “Brother Bryan” by Waxahatchee, Bondy tried again. “Hey, I’m serious. Let’s start a band, I really wanna do this,” he messaged. They nabbed mutual friend and D.P. Dough workmate Alex Brooks—a wonder on bass, drum and guitar whose band Jasper played their final show at Albany’s Tulip Fest—and Ethan Sullivan on the drums. By spring they had a record, and they’ve been sprinting ever since.
Hate Club dropped their breakout EP No, Seriously, after only three weeks of writing and and another two of recording. The four-track collection was released on April 19, the day before their very first show. It’s a feat they don’t take lightly.
“I had never been in a band before so this is just how it goes,” Goodemote said as Brooks shook his head, laughing. “No, nope. That is not how it goes.”
“I recorded an album for like two years,” Bondy joined in. “This was the quickest I’ve ever seen music get written and recorded.”
The band members admit the time crunch of their debut had their guts in knots. Good things take time, but No, Seriously certainly isn’t a disappointment. The lyrics are heartfelt and more than satisfying to belt out at a basement show. The instrumentals are simple, but with every listen you catch a new hitch in Goodemote’s vocals or a depth to Bondy’s, and the care and attention that are put into Brooks’ bass lines in songs like “Passive // Aggressive,” will stay with you.
“You don’t have time to be nervous,” Brooks said. “You can’t do something that quickly and expect it to be exactly what you want it to be, but to have it be pretty damn close is really nice.”
Like many first albums, Goodemote explains, No, Seriously, has a sense of magic to it. It’s raw. Hate Club didn’t know the potential they were sitting on, or how long it would last. They were learning how to play together, discovering how their individual ideas, melodies and feelings could mesh and out of their cohesiveness came a solid EP.
“We just started getting closer and forming that band bond, making something that we could be really proud of. I’ll probably look back at that as one of the best times of my life,” she smiles.
When it came to building their sound, Goodemote had “years of feelings” to put into words, Bondy had a good amount of lyric and melody ideas on the backburner from his Slowshine years and Brooks became the brains behind the rhythm, writing for both bass and drum.
“Alex’s bass lines are essential. They pretty much carry every song, as far as the progressions. A lot of the time we’re playing like two chords the whole time and Alex really fills it out,” Bondy said, grinning at Brooks. “by actually playing notes.”
Since Sullivan moved home to Long Island at the beginning of the summer, the role of the drummer has gone to whichever friend is available for an upcoming set. Jack Chaffer jumped on the kit for the summer tour and local friends such as Dan Maddalone (pictured with the band above)—who has produced all of their releases so far—play with the band for sets closer to home.
Hate Club has come a long way since January. On top of the dozen or so local gigs they’ve played so far, the band set out on a memorable Northeastern tour with Full Body this past summer and will take the stage for Lark Fest this weekend. Their live performances get stronger with every set, garnering a respectable following in the DIY scene—and not just on a local scale.
They’ve been repeatedly featured on a Seattle radio station’s indie rock playlist—alongside well-known artists like Tigers Jaw and Pity Sex—which adores their building, heartbreaking tracks like “Letter,” where Goodemote’s voice crackles and wails, “And you hurt me / Don’t say you never did / And I’ll blame you / Even though I said wouldn’t / And I’ll fucking drown / In my disillusionment.” They’re the kind of lyrics that make it completely understandable that the vocalist has had two fans—on separate occasions—tell her Hate Club’s music brings them to tears.
“I think it’s crazy that you can connect with someone on that level. That’s something that I really want to strive for. To find something in common that we feel and put it into a sound, a lyric, a chord,” she said.
As one of the few women in the area fronting a rock band, Goodemote offers a breath of fresh air. She has brought a new voice to the Albany DIY scene and a new songwriting perspective that has formed the band’s identity and sound, inspired by what she calls “radical softness.”
“[It’s] this idea that it is sort of punk to be open about your feelings and about who you are, and using that lyrically to connect with people. I think that’s a cool and powerful thing that we’re able to do as musicians,” she explains, adding that her focus isn’t on the musical technicalities.
“I don’t have those years of skill under my belt,” she says. “A lot of it is just like, ‘How does this chord make me feel?’ Not, ‘Oh, F major 7 is a really romantic chord.’ A lot of bands do have that ability, but that kind of holds them back a bit, I think, because you lose what really makes you feel something. It’s not relatable to the average person who doesn’t play guitar, who can’t appreciate that you’re in a weird time signature.”
Instead, Hate Club’s sound is built around moments of silence, a break before a great lyric or riff that resonates with a listener. In tracks like “Vice Versa,” a slow building chord progression breaks off completely. A moment later, the band swells together and Bondy’s voice breaks through, slow and deliberate: “What should I be? / Criticizing music scenes?”
The moments are about “making sure there’s enough empty room to make somebody’s heart feel something,” Bondy says. “When I listen to music, there are certain moments in songs where I’m like, ‘That was it. That was the whole song to me.’ I think building a band around moments like that isn’t exactly conventional but I don’t know why someone hasn’t thought of it.”
In mid-July, the group put out their first single to follow their EP, “In The Shadow of Two Gunmen (Pt. 2),” a dark and stormy track that Bondy referred to as “the most ‘us’ that we’ve ever sounded.” It was a promising follow up, the band says, after an EP that could’ve very well been a creative miracle.
“The EP, I love it still, and the songs are cohesive but you wouldn’t listen to it and think ‘that’s the sound of Hate Club,’” he explained. “With the single, it’s all those sounds put together and it’s like, ‘There they are. They found it.’”
“It felt like a good thing,” Goodemote adds. “That the EP wasn’t just some random magic we had as a band. We’re gonna continue to have this cool thing going and this sound that’s ours.”
Hate Club is still in its infancy and has plenty of room to develop, but for a band with only five songs under their belt, the standing members have a pretty solid base.
“Whenever we hang out, we end up playing music,” Goodemote said. “I think looking ahead, it will be cool to keep that approach but think a little more critically about some things without losing that rawness, that earnesty.”