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“1, 2, 3… 4,” says Adam Guidry before tossing a tiny egg shaker in the air, leaping off a chair to catch it, and flailing across the ground.
It’s his third miss in a row, and his band, the Hungry Hearts, have started to grow weary with his coordination incompetence.
“Did you forget how to catch, Guidry?” mocks guitarist Jake Sullivan.
The Fredericton band, Hungry Hearts, have granted me a chance to sit down for a laid-back (mostly) acoustic practice as they rehearse for their Welcome Week performance opening for Maritime heavyweights In-Flight Safety.
It’s funny to watch the band, generally tight and on-point live, acting so lax in practice. The rehearsal is less rock, more talk.
“We generally spend more time hanging out than practicing,” says guitarist Ryan Gallen.
When the show rolls around, students can expect a highly rowdy and dynamic concert. Fronted by Guidry, a tiny comet of charisma on stage, the band is loose and reckless live – comfortable simmering down and letting Guidry croon solo, or chiming in for focused five-part harmonies and gang vocals.
The band owes dividends to Tom Petty, Springsteen and the Beatles – but their flair for Americana-driven punk rock isn’t lifted exclusively from the classic rock station.
Guidry’s vocals are often flat, but not dull – it’s more akin to the sedated strength and consistency of The National’s Matt Berninger. His band members work like they’re hooked up to an ever-flowing IV tapping harmonies through the bloodstream.
Hungry Hearts were born when Guidry and his long-time pal Ryan Gallen sat down with a couple acoustic guitars and bounced snippets of songs back and forth.
“We started out playing silly songs together,” Guidry says. “Then we realized there might be something more to those tunes.”
The band added long-time friend Dan Goyette on bass, and his roommate Sullivan. They are rounded out by St. Thomas University student Jeremy Hardy on drums.
“It was really when Dan joined the band we realized we could do harmonies,” says Gallen. “We knew we had a lot of really strong singers.”
There’s an unspoiled earnestness to their music and lyrics – some of their songs live in the same naïve universe as the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.” They’re not uniformly up-beat, but there is an undeniable optimism. Even when they are betrayed by a best friend (as in “Friendly Fire”) their day still isn’t ruined.
The group have only released an EP to date but are planning to record their debut album in September with Fredericton’s Brad Perry. The EP was recorded in two days last spring, and though they’re happy to finally have a finished version of some of the songs they don’t feel like they’ll capture their live energy until they release the full-length.
“Brad did sound for us a few months later and was really impressed,” says Guidry. “There were lots of things he hadn’t realized about us as a band the last time we recorded.”
For now, the band will continue fine-tuning their sound live, and keeping it loose backstage.
“In the end we do this because it’s fun to be in a band with these guys,” Gallen says. “And we’ll keep doing it as long as it stays fun.”