Considering what Hundred Waters has achieved so far in 2015, it boggles the mind that this quartet is barely three years old. But forget the fact that "Show Me Love" soundtracked Coca-Cola's multi-million-dollar Super Bowl commercial. Or that, the following week, Nicole Miglis, Trayer Tryon, Paul Giese and Zach Tetreault gave a stunning performance of "Cavity" on Late Show With David Letterman.
Even more impressive is the confidence that this Los Angeles-by-way-of-Central Florida band exudes — on stage, on record and in interviews like the one we squeezed in via email before Hundred Waters headed out on a two-week East Coast tour leading up to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
Take the track-by-track remix treatment of 2014 album The Moon Rang Like a Bell, which was released last month. Several reviews debated whether it was a timely ploy to piggyback on the band's surge of post-Super Bowl interest (and sales, which rose 8,000 percent, according to Buzzfeed). But Tetreault (drums) says the idea has always existed; immediately after The Moon Rang Like a Bell was released, the band contacted nearly 100 of its favorite artists to contribute — and they then took six months to finalize the reworking.
"We're always writing new music, but I'd say as more people listen, we tend to make more and release less," says Tryon, bassist-electronic instrumentalist. "So this [remix] record demanded that we loosen up a bit. [It] was more about the joy of having people we look up to work with our music. We can't be as tough on others as we are on ourselves."
But that self-criticism has contributed to Hundred Waters' meteoric rise. "We work ridiculously hard," Tetreault says. "This last year has been a total whirlwind, but [it's] felt pretty natural. We're growing and maturing in a lot of ways, and things like the Super Bowl spot and Letterman appearance are really redeeming."
Vocalist Nicole Miglis, who grew up in Melbourne as an introverted aesthete and studied classical piano at the University of Florida, cites legendary punk rocker Kim Gordon as a source of inspiration when it comes to evolving into her own role as celebrated frontwoman.
- Jacqueline Verdugo
"The memoir she just released quotes that well-known phrase," Miglis says. "'People pay money to believe in themselves.' We're not any more confident than the next person, but when you're on stage, I think you have a responsibility to commit to what you're doing. Even if shit goes wrong, you just believe in it. If you're able to slough off insecurity, you get transported somewhere else, where none of that stuff matters."
That makes the Super Bowl ad, which highlighted Coca-Cola's #MakeItHappy anti-bullying campaign, feel particularly resonant. Hundred Waters' music can be blissfully ethereal or hauntingly disembodied. But in that 60-second spot, Miglis' inward plea to suppress her feelings of cruelty, ugliness, evil and hate connect directly with today's often-toxic online world.
"We felt really good about the message of the Coke campaign," Tetreault says. "We saw the spotlight as a chance to drive the message further. We knew people would be looking for the song after it aired, so instead of putting on our sales hats, we decided to give it away for a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Bullying starts at a young age, so if we [can] play a part in helping kids get better mentors and creative inspiration, then we've done something much bigger than the spot itself."
- Jacqueline Verdugo
Although they clearly hold their artistry and public image to a high standard, Hundred Waters aren't above a little fun. Giese (guitarist-electronic multi-instrumentalist) admits he was slightly embarrassed when he saw Hundred Waters' upcoming tour itinerary.
"Three of us attended Dr. Phillips High School, so I actually thought it was our high school auditorium," he says of the band's March 13 date at downtown's elegant new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. "We are nothing but excited to play in this space to the people of the place [where] we learned and grew."
Referencing the band's eye-popping light show on Letterman — and the intricately woven sweater/jumpsuit that Miglis wore and famously entangled Dave with after the performance — Giese adds, "We knew people would see us and it would live on the Internet, maybe forever. So we tried to infuse as much intention into it as possible. Visuals are important, and our goal is to create an environment that amplifies or translates the music as lucidly as possible. Our current live show, which we're bringing to Orlando, [demonstrates] that intention much more than we could on Dave's show."