Hammock’s Marc Byrd: “We Were Trying To Express This Cathartic Togetherness”

Hammock have just released their new album ‘Love In The Void’, and for the duo, it represents emotional collaboration in its finest form.

Hammock’s new album ‘Love In The Void’ is out now via Hammock Music thru Secretly Distribution.

An album that finds the duo returning to a more band-based sound compared to their recent ambient work, it’s a record that represents a renewed love and appreciation for being able to work as a unit to create something bigger than its parts. Grandiose, gorgeous and guaranteed to give that fire in your soul a bit of stoking, it is one of the year’s most fulfilling pieces of art so far, and one that will stick with you long as it is faded into the background.

To find out more about they put it together and what it means to still be able to make music of this powerful ilk together after all these years, we sat down with Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson…

What was at the forefront of your minds when it came to deciding what exactly you wanted this album to feel like?

Marc: “This album came about as more of a response than a reaction to how isolated we were over the last few years. We made ‘Elsewhere’ and had some songs we had made before the pandemic hit, but when it came to sitting down and making this record, I told our management how much I wanted to get back into the studio with other human beings. I wanted to have that back-and-forth exchange of ideas and the energy that many people in a room can create. So that’s what we did. That was the incentive when it came to figuring out what songs we had would be for the album. And it was a lot. There were like 28. And even then, when we were able to get into the studio, there were still songs, like ‘Gods Becoming Memories’, that were created from the ground up.

“We were trying to express this cathartic togetherness. That’s what I like about the record as a whole. It feels more like a band-type record than anything else we have ever done. We’ve all been living in our own private worlds, right, and this would be helpful in some way. Like, ‘Thank God, I finally get to rest a little bit’, but then the isolation kicks in, and that solitude is gone. That can do a number on your mental health. So this record is us looking towards a more together community and creating some love in what initially felt like a void.”

Andrew: “Catharsis is a good word for it, for everybody involved. It was a joyful experience. The guys we worked with in the studio over at Trace Horse had been dead in the water. They had nothing coming in until we booked ten days. It really felt like a door was open for so many people.”

Marc: “The thing is with those guys are, they are Gen Z, and that’s something we wanted. In Nashville, there’s a studio in every corner and house. Cynicism can creep in that you’re just making another record, but with these guys, they would tear down drums and build other ones to make a section of a song work. They weren’t afraid to be creative, and they didn’t push back when we pushed them. Having that younger energy in the room with us was so good for us.”

Andrew: “And they got all of the references we brought in, and they showed us some things we had never heard of. That was really nice, having that conduit going. You only get that when you’re in a studio for a period of time.”

That comes through even more when you both are so used to making intimate music in your own space, and the comfort of that can take over so many more elements than you probably wanted it to. So being thrown in at that end and remembering what it’s like not to be in that comfort zone again is so helpful…

Andrew: “And in the past, whenever we would have other players on our tracks, more or less the tracks were already done. So the collaboration had already been done. But with these songs, that was happening from ground zero.”

Marc: “And we had a drummer that we trusted as well, which really helps. A nice easy-going spirit. It was such a nice balance of personalities. And also, we usually make a record in three days, just going in to do the things we need to perform properly. But we knew this one would need more time. We needed the time to develop trust before then having everybody step in and want to do the absolute best that they can.”

To have this all off the back of ‘Elsewhere’, which was a record that perfectly embodied a moment in time, is a huge jump…

Marc: “‘Elsewhere’ was about creating a space to exist in whilst we all try and get through what we were going through. That was why it existed, and I hope that it did give people that hope and belief that this isn’t going to be the way things are forever. ‘Elsewhere’ is where we all wanted to be when that solitude turned into isolation, and we hope it was an anchor that could be used until togetherness was possible again.”

And that’s where the idea of the void comes from, but the void doesn’t have to be seen as a negative thing. The void is whatever we make of it, and the thing Hammock has always represented…

Marc: “Around the time we were making ‘Mysterium’ when my nephew passed away, that was it for me. There’s the romanticism of the dark because you have never truly experienced the depths, and then there is the omnipresent feeling of that darkness when something shatters within your life, and there’s a shock. From living through that and coming out the other side, rather than being paralysed by what the darkness could be you set out to try and make whatever that darkness is a little less dark. You are not being consumed by it at all times. It’s up to us. A lot has happened to us, and Andrew and I always take a countercultural approach. It’s one thing to scream into the void because everyone else is screaming, even if you’re screaming the right thing. Saying the right thing is wonderful, but you can say so much more by doing the right thing in a way that feels like you have stepped away from the noise and given yourself some space before stepping forwards again and speaking normally. It’s more thought out.”

You have had to deal with it over the years within every single one of your releases. For those listening, the meaning of your songs changes daily depending on what is going on. So for you two, it must have a beautiful but challenging effect, knowing you’re still here and still using the band to express yourselves…

Andrew: “It’s not something we consciously sit around and consider. The way we think about is that we are incredibly lucky to get to do what we do. The fact that we even get to do this at all, that’s what we talk to each other about. We can’t believe that anybody gets this. There’s still a 99.9% chance that people will only pay attention to this and the music we make. When we put out our first record, we didn’t expect anything. We just did it for us. We’ve looked back and appreciated the processes we found ourselves in, but I don’t feel we sit around and reminisce.”

Marc: “I think that I need a lot of time alone. I’m a pretty private person. I need to be by myself, read a lot, absorb that information, let it go through my brain, filter it into myself, and then go into the music. Before we made ‘Mysterium’, we were trying to make more electronic-styled music, but when the thing happened with my nephew, I told Andrew I couldn’t make the record we were working on anymore. So that’s when we shifted. That almost felt like it was forced upon us, and it would have been such a betrayal to ourselves to try and make something we were doing fit into our current situation rather than it be a natural shift. A lot of times, what happens is that we start making music. We have a machete, and we are swinging it. We are still determining where we are going. We’re just going up the hill. Then things get cleared out, the path presents itself, and that’s the way that we go. The music tells us the way to go. That’s why we are the sort of band that can do the variety of things that we do. All we have ever wanted to do was make music that, if we heard it, we would want to ask what it is.”

It’s all about being human and finding your way through the world in the most natural way you can. A computer can’t process a feeling. It can’t influence the way that you do something based off emotion. The only way that music can do that is when you, as the creators, believe in as much as those hearing it…

Andrew: “And the thing is that once we have one record out, we are already figuring out what we want to do with the next one. Going through that process of belief all over again. We call it the sickness. We can’t help it!”

Marc: “Even if we call it quits, there’s a lot of music in our archives that we haven’t released yet. We want to find somebody who can take care of all of that when that time comes and do something with it. But here and now, Andrew and I have known each other for a long time. And I always say, if there were two of me in the band, we would have beaten the shit out of each other by this point. I don’t think that two Andrews would ever air their grievances to each other. We balance each other out in so many ways, and that’s why we can still work in the way we do. We want everything to mean something because it means something to us.”

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