Photo by Tonje Thilesen
Although Hundred Waters relocated to Los Angeles, their Florida roots run as deep as our state's springs, and experiencing their sound is a lot like diving into one on a balmy day: The music vacillates between thick warmth and shocking cold, with melodies both sticky and clean (see "Out Alee"). Their echoed vocals are reminiscent of summer showers on a tin roof. If you know Florida, you sense it there (or perhaps you shoehorn the influence in), and since the band sprang from Gainesville and three of its members - Paul Giese (electronics/guitars), Zach Tetreault (drums/vocals) and Trayer Tryon (electronics/guitars - are Orlando natives, it comes as no surprise. You can take the Floridians out of Florida, but you never really step away from our strangelove state (whose hand in our lives has a mind of its own).
Currently touring on their sophomore album, The Moon Rang Like a Bell (our review here), Hundred Waters comes through Orlando 9 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at the Social. In an email interview with the band, Tetreault likens the experience of performing here to a certain homecoming, reflecting on how he and fellow band members frequented that particular venue in their youth: "We'd go to shows at the Social (previously Sapphire Supper Club) multiple times a week. Playing there is not only nostalgic, but sort of a childhood fantasy realized. Getting to see and play for our friends and family doesn't hurt either."
But when they were ready to release the new record, they didn't want to do it here (Florida) nor there (California), choosing instead to throw a starry-eyed release party in Arcosanti, Ariz., for three days, which is where the name of their record came to them. "The night we sent the record off for good, we were in a very special place in the Arizona desert when up rose the most unbelievable moon we'd ever seen," Tryon says. "Meanwhile we were having an intense, difficult conversation that in retrospect seems to fully represent the struggle of this record. That private moment was undeniably the defining experience of making the record, and we thus had little choice when the title landed."
The photos from that Arizona bout are remarkable, but we couldn't help but wonder if they'd ever try to do something similar closer to home. Tetreault's response demonstrates his fondness for Florida:
"Florida is really beautiful, it's true. Growing up in a large suburban city like Orlando though, you have to look for it, seek it out. During our Gainesville days, we frequented Itchetucknee Springs. That place is magic and holds a very special place in our hearts. We used to go there once or twice a week, dive into the crystal clear water and swim the entire duration of the river. Coasting through that cool water was a time to clear the mind and hone in on anything and everything. There's also a channel of islands in the Canaveral National Seashore (off the East Coast) where we've gone camping every year these past few. Dolphins swimming all around, beautiful sunsets, good fishing and bio-luminescent jellies covering the shore at night. Pretty magical.
"As for doing a special one-off in Florida sometime, it's certainly not a foreign concept. We've got a lot of friends who make amazing art in Florida, and it would be a dream to create something centric to that in our home-state. So yeah, keep an eye out for it."
Some of those local and regional artists include Maximino, Michael Parallax, Emily Reo, XXYYXX, Moon Jelly, Kodak to Graph, Hear Hums, Roadkill Ghost Choir, MSNRA, Levek and Sales, who they specifically requested to open for their date this week at the Social. But Florida isn't the only state with cities the band has come to love.
"San Francisco is definitely up there for us," Tetreault says. "We've played almost every possible venue you can play in that city, and I guess it's earned us some sort of stripes there, because now when we play our own shows people really come out to support. We're playing the Independent at the end of this tour, the biggest venue we've headlined there. NYC and Chicago are always really special, too. It's always changing, especially now that we're out on a new tour, seeing how people are reacting/responding to the new record. We just came from a few Texas shows, and they were all surprisingly pleasant, Austin in particular."
Hundred Waters vocalist Nicole Miglis is a big part of that response, quickly becoming one of the most enchanting voices in modern music with a range she showcases on every track, hypnotically natural and inspired by varied interests that may surprise you.
"It's hard for me to separate songwriting from voices," Miglis says. "I listen to songwriters, but I'm more interested in what they're writing about, and their honesty, than their voices. I'm a big PJ Harvey fan. And Joni Mitchell. They've meant a lot to me in a lot of ways."
She goes on, "I also think Meredith Monk is inspiring. And lately I've been listening to a song by Elvis called 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' on repeat because the singing in that song, I think, is some of the most beautiful singing ever recorded."
But perhaps the most curious influence she revealed was her devotion to spoken word, hip-hop and poets like Amiri Baraka, T.S. Eliot, Sylvia Plath, E. E. Cummings, Ogden Nash, Allen Ginsberg. "I have a lot of recordings of poets reading their work," Miglis says. "I love listening to those."
Now that the band is based out of California, they're excited by new sights, sounds and developments that could impact their next release.
"California is fantastic," Giese says. "It is very strange and tropical, like Florida, which I think we really enjoy. The cultural and natural landscape changes quickly as you traverse it. The L.A. scene is vast and varied, which we are still only starting to uncover – there is a tremendous amount of people making art, which is very intertwined despite how large of a city it is. I think the sheer amount of resources and communities of artists allow for making an environment that is constantly evolving and drawing from tangential sources. I think that's exciting. It's really hard to say about the inspiration; I think that sort of thing is subconscious for us in relation to a place, so we will have to see how it manifests as more new music emerges, which it is."