Austrian trio HUNGER are onto a certain something. Their debut single, “Gravity,” manages to gracefully trace a cold feeling with a warm outline, making it a compelling introduction to the electronic rock/pop stories that Lucas Fendrich (vox), Daniel Rumpel (guitar), and Johannes Herbst (keyboard/synths) aim to tell and project…like audible cinema.
After two years as H U N G E R (and many more as friends), Lucas, Daniel and Johannes have readied their debut, full-length album, F O R L O V E, which is set for release on August 19th. Austria may be home, but the reach of “Gravity” and their current single, “Amused” (with its over 300,000 streams on Spotify) has rapidly extended well past its borders and that’s reason enough to want to learn more about H U N G E R.
High Voltage: Alright, gentlemen: Please introduce yourselves.
H U N G E R: Hey there, this is Lucas, Daniel and Johannes from H U N G E R. We’ve been making music together for years since we all grew up in a small town outside Vienna, Austria. We started this project as a songwriter collective, when our former band projects broke up, with the intention to write film soundtracks or cinematic synch music. After hitting the studio together with our long-time friend and UK producer, Dan Weller, we figured those songs actually need to be performed live and a new band project was born.
HV: Can you describe H U N G E R, the music, in one sentence?
H U N G E R: It’s always hard to describe your own music. That’s why we prefer other people and the actual listeners to interpret our music the way they experience it.
HV: That’s more than fair. At the moment, you’re this enigmatic band from Vienna: Is that mystique intentional or merely the result of being an emerging band?
H U N G E R: Probably both. On the one hand, we don’t want to over-communicate things. We want our music and the visuals/imagery to speak for themselves. That’s what we love about being in a band. There are so many different ways to express yourself artistically. That’s also a reason why we don’t feel urged to present ourselves in our music videos. For now, we kind of like the idea of just being “hidden” extras in the videos.
HV: Has making music or being professional musicians always been your individual goals?
H U N G E R: Yes, absolutely. We’ve been working in the music industry for years, both as musicians but also in other areas. Johannes has been working a lot as a producer while Lucas has always been a singer/songwriter, and Daniel has been working more in the field of band management. All in all, we just love the entire process of building a band from songwriting, to live arrangement, design, imagery and video concept creation and, of course, performing live.
HV: Was there any difficulty in shedding the skin of past projects in order to create new music as H U N G E R?
H U N G E R: It took us quite a while to find the right sound for this project. We definitely had to shed some skin from former projects, but also wanted to make use of all the musical experience we gained during the last couple of years. While this project is electronic and pop influenced, some people might hear musical rock roots, especially when performing live.
HV: And live is where songs tend to take on much more character. As artists, which do you find more personally satisfying: Creating the music or performing it?
H U N G E R: It’s probably the mix and artistic variety that makes playing in a band so satisfying. We love to be in the studio and see a song develop throughout the process of friends working together in a field that they really love. On the other hand, performing live is so engaging and emotionally loaded. Direct feedback and interaction with the audience while sharing the stage with your best mates is indescribably fulfilling. Although performing live sometimes seems to be very extroverted, it is a very intimate and personal interaction for us.
HV: I’ve never heard anyone describe being on stage that way. Speaking of performing live, your first official show: Where and when was it and how did it go?
H U N G E R: The first show we ever played live was a radio promotion show hosted by CO5 Music in Louisville, KY, which was the first live introduction to the band H U N G E R. Our live drummer had to cancel the show shortly before we flew to the US. That’s why our A&R agent, Sammy, was substituting on the drums spontaneously. We had serious concerns that the first show together would be total mess but it turned out to be incredible.
HV: From the two songs that we’ve heard, “Amused” and “Gravity,” love and the various shades of romance are the connective theme so it feels like the songwriting is inherently more personal than not. Is that a fair assessment?
H U N G E R: Kind of – when writing songs we always try to wrap all our personal and individual stories into one, both in the lyrics and in sound. Often each one of us have totally different interpretations of the same song. But for writing this record we also wrote fictitious characters and storylines along to our songs. Like we did with our song “Gravity” and Sarah, the main character of the video. We actually wrote a connected trilogy along to our songs “Gravity,” “Bubbles” and “Unto The Wild.” We’ll see if we will continue Sarah’s story later on.
HV: And our introduction to Sarah in “Gravity” is pretty heavy…it’d be interesting to see how you would carry on with her story. Now these days, the typical route most new bands or artists travel to debut themselves to the world involves releasing one or several introductory EPs, but you’re going with the full album, F O R L O V E, instead. First, I greatly appreciate the full album approach. Second, why the decision to do that?
H U N G E R: That’s just the way we wanted to present our baby to the world. We wanted to let the people see the full picture and not just one specific part of the band.
HV: It’s rather charming referring to the music as your “baby.” So what can we expect from F O R L O V E?
H U N G E R: It shows all aspects and angles of the band at this moment right now. We are very happy with the result and can’t wait to perform those songs on stage.
HV: On a side note, I’ve been to Austria once: To Salzburg and it was beautiful. What’s life in Vienna like?
H U N G E R: Oh – that’s great! Vienna is a very beautiful and inspiring city full of history and culture. Every year it’s also rated the most livable city in the world. We feel very comfortable and inspired working and writing music in our hometown.
HV: What’s life in Vienna as a musician like?
H U N G E R: Vienna is well known for its classical music worldwide, but also provides an unbelievable variety of great underground music, from electronic to Jazz and all kinds of rock and alternative music. Nevertheless, the Austrian market is very small and bands usually have troubles getting abroad. We do not really have a solid leverage in the traditional music industry in Austria to help getting bands and artists abroad. We haven’t had a very big artist being successful internationally since Falco in the 80s. That’s why it’s very hard, especially for younger artists, to see vision and opportunities. But still, due to the new possibilities of the Internet and social media, more and more artists are making their way on their own. It’s definitely worth listening to Austrian artists. We’ll soon release a Spotify playlist featuring our most favorite Austrian bands.
HV: Now that is a brilliant idea and way to support fellow artists! One final thing: We’re halfway through 2016, but are there any band benchmarks that you hope to hit by the end of the year?
H U N G E R: We’re currently working on our tour schedule at the end of the year, both in the US and Europe, and we can’t wait to hit the road with this project.
(Featured Image Photo Credit: Christian Lamb)