Dreaming To Believe: An Interview with Hidden In Plain View

As we continue to see many nostalgically significant icons of our youth celebrate their accomplishments and embark on anticipated tours that cherish the past, we are sometimes blessed with the opportunity hear our favorite bands play the albums that got us through our toughest break-ups, those awkward middle school days or even the best years of our lives—live, in its entirety.

One band that now can be added to this category is the Northern New Jersey-based pop punk outfit, Hidden In Plain View. Reuniting for the second time since 2013 at last year’s Skate And Surf Festival (which also featured beloved appearances from The Early November, Midtown and Saosin), the band has a productive, yet exciting first half of 2015 to look forward to with an upcoming tour that perfectly aligns with the 10-year anniversary of their iconic debut full-length, Life In Dreaming.

While there are only a small handful of U.S. shows including stops in New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, there is no doubt that these will be special in their own way.

Even though Hidden In Plain View was a group that I was extremely late in the game with listening to up until I saw them for the first time at Skate And Surf, I still found myself very intrigued to hear that they are still shining in the spotlight—especially with the announcement of their forthcoming EP, Animal, which will be their first studio release since 2007’s Resolution.

Just a few days before Hidden In Plain view prepared to adventure across the sea toward the UK to start their Life In Dreaming tour, I talked with frontman Joseph Reo about touring in support of Life In Dreaming and the reignited spontaneity that heavily influenced the writing process of Animal.

Later in the week, Hidden In Plain View will be starting its UK tour celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Life In Dreaming. What are you looking forward to about this run the most?

            Well, I am actually… I would have to say that I am looking forward to just doing this one in the books—like, the first show is getting the butterflies out (laughs). And you know, it’s funny because I’ve never, ever had butterflies getting on stage. But when you go between shows as long as we have—I mean, when we did our first reunion, it was back in 2013, and then the second show did was Skate And Surf and that was last year. So it’s been quite a while since we played a show again. Now I’m already feeling like, “Oh… okay. Gotta see what works, and what doesn’t work.”

I am sure both you and the band have reflecting back on this release, especially since the tour is coming up so quickly. On a personal and musical level, how do these songs still resonate with you today as they did 10 years ago?

            Honestly, it goes in twofold I think. I love recording. I love recording and making music with the band, so there is something to be said about that, but I think what it all boils down to is the live show. It’s always been about getting up and playing, even when there was hardly anybody there to see you. The feeling that you get when you play live is just not something you can put into words, so for me, it’s the shows first.

We went seven years without playing a show. I didn’t really realize it until we got off stage at the Theater Of Living Arts at our first reunion show—the void that was there, and that void was fulfilled after that show. Just feeling like, “Oh man, we’re playing in a band again,” and that was it.

I was having this conversation with somebody recently about how you, bands from 10 years ago… so many of them “still matter.” And they were trying to tell me that it’s music today, you know? It’s not “good enough,” so people are looking back 10 years to remember what they liked. I am sure that might be some of it, but for me personally, I think some of those records were awesome, and Life In Dreaming falls right in there.

When we did Life In Dreaming, we were still very much a band from New Jersey that… we just got our feet wet. We had just singed a deal with Drive-Thru Records and we got our feet wet on a couple of tours. But when we got into the studio, we knew that Life In Dreaming was going to be a good record, and I still definitely love the songs on that record.

We were just practicing yesterday, and, you know, bands put so much into their setlist every night when they get up on stage, or what order they are going to play their songs, and Life In Dreaming just kind of has a good flow (laughs). Like, it was really nice to not worry about and just be able play it from front to back.

How long would you say that this tour in support of Life In Dreaming has been in the works? Was this something you that you had planned out in the back of your mind immediately since playing Skate And Surf last year?

            No. At the time, we were actually going to do the UK, and we were just going to do three dates. Some stuff fell through, so we had to reschedule those shows, along with the show in New York, so we pushed them back to the spring. And that kind of hit us—it was like, “Woah, it’s going to be 10 years… well, we may as well.”

Other bands are definitely doing the “anniversary tour” idea, and so we played with that idea too. We were like, “Oh, do we jump on that bandwagon? Do we do that?” And you know what, we were like, “We’re not going to let what other people do drive our decisions.” It’s something that we wanted to do—celebrate that record, what it meant to us and obviously what that record meant to the people who bought it and to the people who own it. So no, it wasn’t something that we really planned on doing until the shows kind of got rescheduled and we realized, “You know, 10 years later, this is something to celebrate.”

Not only will you be celebrating your past, but in a few weeks you will also be releasing a new 7-inch on Rise Records called Animal. What was it like reconnecting with the rest of the band in the studio and putting together Animal?

            It was awesome. We are fortunate because when the band broke up, we went all of our separate ways with everybody doing something differently. But Rob Freeman—our guitar player and singer-songwriter of the band—he just continued with his producing and engineering.

I think it just happened creatively. He just kind of reached out to me first. He said, “Hey man, listen, check this out, I wrote this.” And it was the riff to “No Way Out,” which was one of the songs on Animal. We got to practice together, and [drummer] Spencer Peterson flew out from Los Angeles and laid out a bunch of drum tracks, and we kind of just took getting together from there with just writing the songs. I think “No Way Out” came out great, but shortly following was “Hunting The Hunter” and “Self-Inflicted,” and I think those songs get better and better.

So, it’s just been creative—and again, another outlet, another void that we just filled in our hearts after not doing it for so long.

Considering that a lot of time has passed since you’ve released any studio material, did the spark and excitement of reuniting again make a huge influence on the writing process?

            Yeah, definitely. The songwriting happened because we were together, we were playing and wanted to write songs—I think that just kind of went hand in hand. But we also knew that we didn’t want to just play shows where we are just constantly playing our old material.

You know, it’s complicated now getting everybody together to write stuff. I mean, it’s happening, but those three songs, the way they happened, it was great. And to have more music to play, I consider myself pretty lucky, and I consider us pretty lucky guys.

To add onto that, is there any possibility that releasing Animal could hint toward the possibility of releasing a third full-length? Or is it too early to say at this time?

            To me, the word “full-length” just really kind of scares me (laughs). That’s a lot of pressure, and I don’t even know if people like full-lengths anymore; it’s depressing. I love full-lengths, but… I don’t know.

Here’s the way we are operating now: It’s really just, if it feels right, we’re going to do it. We’re not going to force it, and I think for an LP right now, just sounds like forcing it. So, I think we are going to stay away from that area for now.

I honestly don’t blame you. That does seem like a really huge mountain to climb, especially even for other bands who would get back together. A new full-length is the first thing that a lot of their fans would always think about, wouldn’t you agree?

            Yeah, but also I remember when Lifetime got back together and they were releasing a full-length, I remember being a little hesitant. Like, “Oh no, what if it doesn’t live up to Hello Bastards or Jersey’s Best Dancers?” But you know what, it did (laughs), that was a great record.

But I don’t know if fans want to give it their full attention at that point, or how they are going to approach new music, from a band where they kind of have the image in their head of. So yeah, I don’t know, I guess everyone is different.

With that being said, after the dates you have lined up for these upcoming Life In Dreaming shows, what does the future have in store for Hidden In Plain View for the rest of 2015?

            You know, I don’t know. There’s a lot of ideas that we want to do. A lot depends on other people. Not so much the guys in the band, but the ideas we ran across with some of the friends in other bands that we used to play a lot with—you know, shows like that perhaps. But who knows, maybe we’ll just lay low and write some more songs; we haven’t really discussed it.


Hidden In Plain View will be playing at The Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia on April 9 and the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan on April 11. Their upcoming EP, Animal, will be released April 14 on Rise Records. For more information, go to hipvmusic.com.