While they’ve been playing music together since they were in high school, Wall Township-based quartet Halogens kicked off 2016 by putting out an exciting release that truly reflects the maturity and progressive development of their sound.
Crafting together an upbeat, alternative arrangement of songs that received many likeable comparisons to The Front Bottoms and Sorority Noise, the band’s self-titled EP Halogens was a breath of fresh air that immediately got me excited about the New Year ahead. Drawing in listeners with eccentric hits like “Kitchen Sink” and “Ayúdame!” there’s no doubt in my mind that Halogens is a group that should be on everybody’s radar in the coming months.
Right after Halogens celebrated the official release of their self-titled EP, I got to talk with drummer George Saives, lead vocalist/guitarist Zach Henry and guitarist Charlie Throckmorton about the immediate reception of their new record, the band’s progression since releasing I’m Gonna Miss Me When You’re Gone in 2013, and the friendships that they’ve made in the local scene while they were attending school together at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Thank you very much for the interview, guys. Would you please state your name, and your musical responsibilities in Halogens?
George Saives: Yes, I am George, and I play drums.
Zach Henry: I’m Zach, and I play guitar and sing.
Charlie Throckmorton: And, I’m Charlie and I play guitar.
To ring in the New Year, you released your self-titled EP, Halogens. What has the immediate response been like so far?
GS: It’s been super positive, actually. Everything’s been awesome so far, and we’re still waiting to get that one review that shits all over us, and it hasn’t happened yet so…that’s cool.
Not to mention, you also had an extremely successful record release show in the beginning of January at The Den in Westfield. What was it like to celebrate the EP’s release and play this material live to over 140 friends and showgoers in a packed DIY space?
GS: So, we had Grin & Bear, Dutch Boys, Corrina Corrina, Semiotics and Save Face open. We were expecting 100 or so people to come out, and the final head count was 142, and it was fucking wild; that place [The Den] was packed. We got to play the whole EP live, which we’ve done a couple of times now, but it hasn’t been like since we’ve released it, and it was sick. Like, everyone was very into it and moving around and singing along, so it was cool.
Excellent! Now, the self-titled EP is your first official release since 2013’s I’m Gonna Miss Me When You’re Gone, and it’s pretty clear that you’ve definitely come a long way since then. From a musical and a personal standpoint, how has the direction of Halogens’ style changed throughout the last couple of years, and leading up to the self-titled release?
ZH: I feel like it’s more matured of music… right?
GS: Yeah, I think on our last release, each song could belong to its own genre almost, I feel like. Whereas this release is a lot more cohesive—like, the song sounds different, but they pertain to the same kind of sound, and I feel like we’ve been able to create by playing so long together. I definitely think it’s a much more mature release, and it really shows what we’re trying to accomplish and what we’ve been working on.
From the very get-go, there were a lot of elements of the EP that totally reminded me of emo and pop punk contemporaries like Tiny Moving Parts, Modern Baseball and The Front Bottoms. Would you say that you are personally influenced by these acts?
GS: Yeah, every single review that we’ve gotten so far has made the comparisons to Tiny Moving Parts and The Front Bottoms. I definitely get The Front Bottoms part—like, we all love them, and I’ve actually never listened to Tiny Moving Parts, and I don’t think anyone have actually. So, it’s kind of funny hearing that consistency between everything.
That’s very interesting. With that being said, what are some other influences that you’ve drawn inspiration from for this record specifically?
ZH: I think musically, especially the first couple of songs, Have Mercy was very influential on those songs. And then… I don’t know, I guess a lot of other music that we listen to.
GS: We all have a common ground of bands that we listen to, like The Front Bottoms and Sorority Noise. You could probably hear those in there [on the record] a little bit. Then, we listen to our own stuff—Zach likes a lot of weird folky stuff that I don’t really get (laughs), and I listen to a ton of progressive metal, which you probably hear in my drumming. So yeah, there is a very large list of different things that we all listen to, but it all comes out kind of nicely in the music.
Definitely! After you announced that you were going to release the EP through the Monmouth County-based DIY label, Why Bother Records, you partnered up with the Mayflower Collective. Tell me a little bit about your relationship with these collective groups. How did they become involved with helping you put out the self-titled EP and prepare for its release?
GS: I first met Phil McGarry from On Your Marks my second year at Ramapo College of New Jersey, and that was right when he joined On Your Marks, and that kind of introduced me to the whole Mayflower Collective. I went to the “First Thanksgiving Show” [booked by the Mayflower Collective]—or maybe it was the “Second Thanksgiving Show”—at Red Bank Rehearsal Studios, and I was just like, “Holy shit, this is fucking crazy. They have all these kids coming out to their shows, and this is something that I want to be a part of so badly.”
We actually sent Mayflower the recordings right when we were done with the self-titled EP, but our timeline for the release didn’t work out the same, like at all. So, we actually weren’t going to be on the Mayflower Collective for this release.
And then, some things happened with them where all of their plans fell through, and it opened up for us to release the EP with them. We booked up with the Mayflower right after their Thanksgiving show this year, and actually worked out perfectly.
As for Why Bother Records, I’ve known John Bazley [Why Bother Records]… same thing, I met him my sophomore year at Ramapo, and he’s amazing in every sense of the word. He has so many connections in the industry. We wanted to expose this to a wider audience—obviously, I wasn’t trying to spend all of my time sending out emails to bigger labels that were not going to be acknowledged.
So, I thought it would be cool to hit up a smaller label, and John was super on board from the beginning. Why Bother made 25 tapes, and we sold half of them at the release show, so hopefully we will have some more of those coming in soon.
While Halogens is based out of Wall, you have several members in the band that attend school together at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Do you feel like the connections that you’ve made with the Mayflower Collective are heavily intertwined with the relationships that you’ve built in college as well as the pop punk scene close to home?
GS: Yes, absolutely—especially in Ramapo and Montclair State University, and Monmouth University too. There’s just so many kids who are involved in everything going on, and it’s awesome to see. We’ve all been playing together since my junior year of high school, and it was weird going into college and feeling like nobody gave a shit in the beginning. But then I hooked up with these kids and made all of these friendships, and it’s awesome. Everyone just feeds off of each other, and there’s definitely a lot of support throughout the state.
Now that the record is out, what are some long-term goals that you’d like to accomplish in the coming year?
GS: We have a few cool shows coming up throughout the spring that we haven’t announced yet, but they’re definitely some pretty important shows in terms of us moving forward and progressing as a band. So we’re excited to announce those soon.
We’re pretty much strictly playing to kids from our high school, from Ramapo, and from a select group of people from the Mayflower Collective, but now we’ve really been able to branch out and meet a lot of new people, so that’s awesome; I’m just really happy that was able to happen. It’s very in the works right now, but we’re really trying to make a summer tour happen, and you know, start touring more. We’ve yet to do that—the furthest we’ve played from home was Rhode Island so far, and we’re trying to do a few weeks of touring in the summer. Hopefully we’ll progress with that and then see what happens.
Halogens will be performing at The Aquarian Weekly’s Sound Series: Start At The End, which will be taking place at The Bitter End in Manhattan on March 30 alongside Hiding Out, Gin War and Owl Kill. Their latest self-titled EP, Halogens, is available now on Why Bother Records. For more information, go to facebook.com/halogens.