An Interview With Hail the Sun's Shane Gann

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Shane Gann is the guitarist/backing vocalist of Chico, California's Hail the Sun, whose latest album, Wake, will surely be appearing on numerous year's end lists in the near future.

In an e-mail interview with Empty Lighthouse, Gann talked about having friends instead of fans, reading the YouTube comments and being a "slithery little sneaky snake." Check out the full exchange below.

Empty Lighthouse: Thanks so much for speaking to us today! We're loving Wake over here, how has the reception been so far?

Shane Gann: From what I can tell, people seem to be really enjoying it! From the few reviews I've read, comments on YouTube (yes, I do like to check them out) and Reddit posts, it seems that people understand and appreciate the direction we're moving in, which is really all we can ask for as a band.

Well, that and a vault full of gold coins that we can dive in like Scrooge McDuck, but that's a little further down the line. Like a year.

Your drummer Donovan Melero and guitarist Aric Garcia played in a death metal band in high school. Is that where the blast beats come from? Do you guys still listen to any death metal?

The blast beats are definitely Donovan's way of keeping his grind core chops alive, and we all like them (in moderation). I know he, Aric, and I all still listen to a lot of heavy music, bands like Between the Buried and Me, Nails, Dillinger Escape Plan, and tons more.

We like to get down with the get down. We all grew up on hardcore shows, and we'll continue to throw it into our music as long as it continues to be badass.

Who does the hardcore vocals on 'Cosmic Narcissism?" Is it Shane Gann, who's listed as "Voice of the Cookies?"

That would, indeed, be me.

I think I wrote those "Voice of the ___" things in like 2009, and now that you point it out, I'll probably change them now that you mention it (for the record, it references Cookie Monster, who screamers are often compared to, and I guess I've always been the "screamer" in the band).

Anyway, this album really only called for it in one part, which I wrote, in the middle of one of a couple of songs which I also wrote.

I was shocked when I read that both the lead vocals and the drums are handled by Donovan Melero. Is this reaction typical when people see you live for the first time?

Yeah, we get a lot of people who have never heard of us coming up after the show and saying things like "You guys started playing and I heard singing but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from." For the most part, people know our drummer is our singer just from word of mouth, but it's always fun to see that sheer surprise from someone who was unaware.

Makes us feel sneaky. Slithery little sneaky snakes.

From listening to Wake, you can tell that a lot of work went into it. Is it gratifying to know that Hail the Sun is starting to break through in the press?

It's gratifying to know that people are noticing the work we put in. We took two years to write this record, because we wanted our first full-length to really make an impact, and it seems to be doing just that. I'm constantly blown away by the amount of digging people do into our music, our lyrical content, the flow of the album, etc.

We're aware that the album isn't perfect, but it's our best effort at this point, and it feels great to see the appreciation of those efforts.

As for press, I guess this interview is proof that we're getting out there, and it feels amazing. Let's do more interviews.

According to your Facebook page, the band formed while studying music technology, does having this kind of background make writing easier?

It makes writing easier, it makes recording easier, and it makes touring easier. Donovan and I both have degrees in Recording Arts, and I have another one in Music Industry.

Studying the ins and outs of everything from music theory to microphone placement to ear training to live sound has been immensely helpful in guiding us in the way we write and rewrite our music, as well as how we record it and perform it live.

I can hear a finished mix in my head while working on a singular part, for instance.

We can see how musical ideas tie together to help a song or an album feel more cohesive, and strive to hit that target as accurately as possible.

Can you tell me about the significance of the name Hail the Sun?

It's pretty straight-forward (I know because the name was in place before I was in the band). So basically, like, there's the sun, right? And the sun is all, hot, and allows us down here to use its energy to sustain life, yeah? So pretty much if we didn't have the sun we'd be screwed, right? One day, the sun will cease to exist, and with it, all life reliant on it.

We are leeches, constantly feeding off this floating energy source. It just makes sense that we not take it for granted, and give it some credit once in a while.

The press has obviously drawn the Anthony Green comparisons, is this annoying or flattering?

It's more flattering than annoying, definitely. Anthony Green is an amazing singer with a unique tone and fronts one of the most influential alt-rock bands of our time. I think anyone would be stoked to sound even remotely like him.

It can get annoying when people say we sound like Circa Survive, because we really don't, in my opinion.

But those people are only focusing on the voice, and I can't blame them for that. Overall, the fact that Donovan sounds somewhat similar to Anthony Green has undoubtedly done more good for the band than bad.

What does the future have in store for Hail the Sun?

More touring, more writing, more recording, and a few bonus treats for the fans along the way (a music video or two, a mini-documentary, etc.). Really just way more Hail The Sun in general.

We've done a LOT in the past five years, and we're not even close to being finished.

Hit us up if there's anything else you'd like from us! We're open to suggestion. OH and we've got Christmas sweaters, so get on that.

Thanks again! Is there anything else you would like to add?

One thing: Be our friends! We're all on social networks, so hit us up on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Snapchat or whatever. We'd rather have a collection of friends than a collection of fans, but we can't do it if we don't know who you are.

I'm including all our usernames here. USE THEM.
Donovan Melero - donovanmichael_hts
Shane Gann - hailtheshane
Aric Garcia - arockhts
John Stirrat - johncat_58
Hail The Sun - HailTheSun

Thanks for reading!

You can stream or purchase Wake on Hail the Sun's Bandcamp page.