Hailing from Shreveport, Louisiana, Super Water Sympathy are following up their 2011 self-release Vesper Belle with Hydrogen Child, the next chapter in the development of the band’s self-made genre Water Pop. Hydrogen Child is a twelve-track synthesis of classic symphonic ambience with modern rock ‘n’ roll anthems which will be released April 23, 2013 on Portland, Oregon-based indie In Music We Trust Records.
Formed in 2010, the group consisting of brothers Billy and Clyde Hargrove (bass and guitar, respectively), Ryan Robinson (drums), Jason Mills (keys), and Ansley Hughes (vocals) clicked from the start, sharing a similar vision for the band’s sound. By fostering and combining their individual strengths with each member contributing and writing songs on the new album, the band has truly come into their own with Hydrogen Child.
Deciding to work on the new songs with producer Cam Blackwood (Florence + The Machine, Coldplay, Morrissey), the band flew to London to record them; whereas Vesper Belle was all over the map musically, this time they wanted to concentrate on a sound that was the most representative of the band, resulting in a much more focused album.
“There is a definite cohesiveness insofar as the arrangement and lyricism,” says guitarist Clyde Hargrove. “We honed in on a few songs from Vesper Belle that we thought were most representative of the musical direction we are going, and used those as a benchmark for the tone of the album. Vesper Belle is much more eclectic in style and Hydrogen Child is more of a concept album.”
The concept being transformation whether through love, death, or rebirth.
“There is an inherent and intended playfulness brought about by Ansley’s vocal production and lyrical arrangement that creates purposeful and sometimes ironic dissonance against this landscape,” Hargrove comments.
Following the album’s completion in the summer of 2012, the band flew back to the States and hit the road on the Vans’ Warped Tour, allowing them to preview the songs in front of an audience prior to the album’s release…and the reaction was great. They also lent their writing and production skills to B.O.B’s Strange Clouds with the track “Chandelier.”
From the instantly hooky pop of “Sunday School Dress” to the build and undertow of “Anthem,” a dreamy yet subdued melodic number, through the piano-driven eeriness of “Magnolia Parade,” one listen to Hydrogen Child makes it clear that Super Water Sympathy can write a memorable pop song.
This is also evident on the anthemic “Purple Poppies,” a sweeping, mid-tempo number that showcases the band’s ability to mix orchestration with Hughes’ voice, allowing her powerful pipes free range, but making sure the music is clear and crisp as well.
“We try to make the lyrics paint a picture, but at the same time to conflict and contrast the mood and landscape of the music, thus giving balance and harmony in the two textures,” comments Clyde. “Our band’s sound is built around the ambience of Jason’s pads against Ansley’s voice. We like to make things blend very deeply and high at the same time. I would say our sound is ambient-pop-rock.”
With comparisons bound to conjure up images of Coldplay, The Fray, and Florence + the Machine, regardless of what you think of those acts, Super Water Sympathy can play to the pop crowd, but Hughes’ stage presence and commanding voice also ensures they fit right at home on Vans’ Warped Tour, who has invited them back this year.
When asked how he feels the band has grown between the two records, Clyde isn’t shy. “Hydrogen Child came out a lot bigger and healthier than what we were imagining. Compared to Vesper Belle, this album was a big step forward,” he says. “We spent a lot of time working together in group-think sessions next to rivers and R.V. parks. Most of the writing was done in group sessions as was the production rather than individual ideas. We also adapted a unified idea of a concept and stuck to it.”
“This album is much more of an organically collaborative effort as far as all the members go,” he continues. “A lot of Vesper Belle was the adaptation of a lot of our musical projects we had been working on before the band had formed to a certain ambient sound. This album is the product of all of us writing together and knowing what we sound like, so the writing style is more congruent. Although, there are some songs that certain members had heavier hands in, this album is a true band collaboration. Every member of the band has written lyrics and music for this album.”
One change in production that brought stellar results on Hydrogen Child is the band went for a lot more natural sounds with Hughes’ voice. “We decided to not do much to Ansley’s voice [in post-production]. We are suckers for reverb and delay, but we left it pretty raw and dry – and it really came out nicely. She has such a viciously elegant voice that to let it stand alone against the wild seemed natural.”
Hydrogen Child is truly a leap forward for Super Water Sympathy, and Water Pop has never sounded so good. The band plans on touring relentlessly across the United States (with plans to tour Europe, too) to expose and share their sound with the masses. Come check it out, the Water is just right…!
The band’s current tour schedule:
04/12/13 – Artmosphere – Lafayette, LA
04/13/13 – Howlin Wolf – New Orleans, LA
04/20/13 – Phoenix Underground – Shreveport, LA
04/21/13 – House of Blues (w/ Youngblood Hawke) – New Orleans, LA
05/02/13 – Yesterdays – Natchitoches, LA
05/03/13 – Louisiana Tech University – Ruston, LA
05/04/13 – Maxine’s Pub – Hot Springs, AR
05/06/13 – Avogadro’s – Fort Collins, CO
05/07/13 – State Room (w/ K’s Choice) – Salt Lake City, UT
05/08/13 – Red Room – Boise, ID
05/09/13 – Sam Bonds Garage – Eugene, OR
05/10/13 – Blue Moon – Seattle, WA
05/11/13 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR
05/12/13 – Belfry – Sisters, OR
05/15/13 – Café Du Nord – San Francisco, CA
05/16/13 – Fulton 55 (w/Killola) – Fresno, CA
05/17/13 – Whiskey Richards (w/ Killola) – Santa Barbara, CA
05/18/13 – Viper Room (w/ Killola) – Los Angeles, CA
05/19/13 – TBD – Tucson, AZ
05/28/13 – Prophet Bar ( w/ Flobots ) – Dallas, TX
06/29/13 – Finnegans Wake – Alexandria, LA
VANS’ WARPED DATES:
07/13/13 – Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – Uniondale, NY
07/14/13 – Comcast Theater – Hartford, CT
07/16/13 – Toyota Pavillion – Scranton, PA
07/17/13 – First Niagra Pavillion – Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh)
07/18/13 – Blossom Music Center – Cuyahoga Falls, OH (Cleveland)
07/19/13 – The Palace of Auburn Hills – Auburn Hills, MI (Detroit)
07/20/13 – First Midwest Bank Amphitheater – Tinley Park, IL (Chicago)
07/21/13 – Canterbury Park – Shakopee, MN (Minneapolis)
07/23/13 – Cricket Wireless Amphitheater – Bonner Springs, KS (Kansas City)
07/24/13 – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater – Maryland Heights, MO (St Louis)
07/25/13 – Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood – Atlanta, GA
07/26/13 – Vinoy Park – St Petersburg, FL (Tampa)
07/27/13 – Cruzan Amphitheater – West Palm Beach, FL (Miami)
07/28/13 – Central Florida Fairgrounds – Orlando, FL
07/29/13 – Charlotte Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – Charlotte, NC
07/30/13 – Riverbend Music Center – Cincinnati, OH
07/31/13 – Marcus Amphitheatre – Milwaukee, WI
08/02/13 – Gexa Energy Pavillion – Dallas, TX
08/03/13 – AT&T Center – San Antonio, TX
08/04/13 – Reliant Park – Houston, TX