A few weeks back, we got a call into the show from Joe Reo of Hidden In Plain View. The recently reunited band will soon be embarking on their ten year tour for their debut album Life In Dreaming, but first, they released a new EP called “Animal” which is on iTunes now. During the course of our 15 minute discussion, we touched upon the writing process for the new EP, why the band felt they needed to make their new music feel “authentic,” and what Hidden In Plain View is doing to make their ten-year tour stand out from the pack. I hope you enjoy!
TGS: We’re here with Joe Reo of Hidden In Plain View. It’s pretty exciting that the namesake of the show could come onto the show with us.
Joe Reo: Yeah, I was gonna ask you guys, for sure. I wasn’t sure where you got the name Garden Statement.
TGS: Hey, you know we do the best in emo music for WTSR. So we figured we’d give it to one of the best in that genre’s history, because we do try to focus on New Jersey music, so we figured it was a pretty fitting title for the show.
Reo: Yeah, cool! Love it!
TGS: So we specifically brought you on because we’ve had some really exciting news on Hidden in Plain View the past few weeks. One of those, first off, you guys just released a new EP titled Animal, and pre-orders for the physical copy are up on MerchNow, I believe, correct?
Reo: Yeah, you can pre-order the vinyl on MerchNow. It comes out April 14th, I think is the exact date.
TGS: So this is obviously your first release in seven years. And in even more exciting news you just released the album for free on iTunes right away. What was the decision making process like for that?
Reo: Yeah, people thought that was weird. I thought that was a good idea. We all thought that was a good idea.
TGS: Yeah, I thought it was really cool. You don’t see that too often in this genre of music. Obviously, I made the joke on twitter I think that you guys “Beyonced” your new EP, so what’d the decision making process for releasing it out of nowhere come from?
Reo: You know, you want your music to be heard. All bands do it differently these days, I don’t really think there’s any one way to go about releasing your music- I don’t think there’s any rules you have to follow in the music industry. It is what it is. We’re not really at that crossroads, we just wanted to get it out. It’s been quite some time since we ever released anything, so it wasn’t about anything but getting it into people’s hands as quickly as possible.
TGS: Yeah, it was nice. You know, we had waited seven years for a new release from Hidden in Plain View, and all of a sudden you didn’t have to wait another six weeks, you got it right away.
Reo: And we liked that it was kind of a surprise. We laid low, we announced a couple of shows. We did two shows over the last couple of years, but I liked how we laid low, and then surprised people with it.
TGS: And then another surprising aspect of the release, was that you guys announced that you signed to Rise Records as well. Can you tell us about the decision making process and why you though Rise Records was the best fit for you guys?
Reo: You know we really didn’t make the decision, it just kind of happened. We released “No Way Out” last year as a single just on our own, and started talking to the guys over there. And they were really hyped on it, and they asked us if we had any other stuff. We did- we were kind of in the midst of tracking it, in our guitarist Rob’s studio- and it just kind of happened naturally. We weren’t looking around for any other labels. They came to us, and it made a lot of sense, so we just joined up and released it.
TGS: It was sort of an organic fit then.
Reo: It’s been so long- it’s been seven years really- between the break, when we really disbanded, and when we started getting back together to do stuff. So we made it a point to not overthink things. If it felt natural, then we just wanted to go with it. And this was one of those moments where it felt pretty natural. It didn’t make a ton of sense to go, “okay, let’s go someplace else and see if it would make sense here, or see if we can use this to launch another better deal.” Those guys are really awesome over there, and they’ve got a great bunch of bands. Even a couple of bands that we are still really close with from back in the day. But, yeah, it didn’t really make sense to go anywhere else.
TGS: Yeah, and I think a lot of people were commenting right away that Rise was actually a really good fit for you guys in terms of what they can offer and in terms of a lot of the people that are on that lineup would fit really well with you guys if you decided to go back on tour again.
Reo: I kind of always felt the same way, and I’m a big fan of their bands. Their whole lineup, they have a bunch of great bands- and they’re smart, so it makes sense.
TGS: Yeah, for sure. So I actually have a question regarding the EP’s title. The title is Animal on the EP. I was wondering if that was a working title for “Hunting The Hunter,” which has a line about being an animal, or if it was a preview for something else that’s on the way?
Reo: I can’t say that it was a working title for “Hunting the Hunter” cause that one was titled “Hunting the Hunter” from the beginning, but they definitely play off each other for sure.
TGS: I was curious, because (on iTunes) it says “Animal (Single),” so I was just intrigued by that.
Reo: Yeah, I can’t understand why iTunes does that. It really is an EP, but you can’t list it as an EP. They list it as a single. I don’t know if it hurts us or what. I try not to look to deep into that. But yeah it’s a single up on iTunes. But it really is an EP, you know, a 7”.
TGS: So I was wondering if you wanted to go song by song through the EP, and talk a little bit about each of the songs, and where you got the inspiration for certain aspects of them.
Reo: Well as far as the songwriting goes, lyrically, that’s not my boat. I’m the singer of the band, but in these three songs I didn’t write one lyric. They’re all Rob’s lyrics, and he’s told me about his inspiration for them, and I don’t know if I’m comfortable sharing them, or sharing the meaning of them. But to that point too, I kind of like our listeners to take what they get from it. So if I was to go and tell you the meaning of the song, it might take away from someone else who listens to it- what they get from it. So I’m always hesitant to talk about the meanings behind the songs. I can tell you about tracking it and recording it.
TGS: That’s actually where I was going with the question, as it turns out. “Hunting the Hunter” definitely draws off the intensity of the band’s live set, so I was wondering if that Theater of the Living Arts reunion show had any effect, or was something that was in your head, on the recording of that song?
Reo: Definitely. You know when we sat down to start writing some songs. We all agreed that we wanted to go back to that 2004-2003, and try to capture the sound that we had then. And even back then, our sound was diverse, but one of the things that I loved about Hidden in Plain View was that we had a rawness to us. We had an edge to us, and we could get hard, we could get angry, emotional, and it would come off as authentic. That was really how we wanted to approach the songs for this release. We wanted to capture that energy- that rawness and authenticity of it. I really think that our fans pick up on that. When you go so long in between release, people go, “Oh, great, they’re just trying to cash in on whatever they used to have.” We wanted to come out and turn some heads. That’s the way to do it, is to just put out an aggressive couple tracks.
TGS: Speaking of turning heads, the last track, “Self-Inflicted,” seems to be headed in a really interesting direction. The first three minutes are pretty much a vintage Hidden in Plain View song, and then there’s another four-minutes at the end of the song that are definitely a little bit outside of the comfort zone. It has an element of electronic music. Do you think that’s something that you guys are going to feature a lot more in your music going forward?
Reo: Yeah, probably. We started picking up on that towards the end of our run in 2007. In our last two shows, we’ve been trying to add a little bit of that electronic sample element. It’s a lot of fun to do live, and I think people remember, “Oh, that was cool, I remember when they did that.” I think the whole thing that I love about playing live, and the thing that I love about being in a band, is just making people remember you. There’s a thousand bands out there, and it’s really hard to be remembered and be the one that sticks out in people’s brains, and so you always try to get creative. And I think that electronic loopy stuff is one of those things- and it sounds cool.
TGS: Yeah, I remember at Skate and Surf last year, you guys had the Katy Perry sample during one of the songs. That was pretty memorable.
Reo: Yeah, that was one of Spencer’s idea. But we did have that drum off with Rob and Spencer in the live show. We used to do that back in the day, so we thought okay yeah we’ll do it again, so we thought, “how are we going to do it a little different, and a little fun,” so we threw the sample in there. You saw that, you were there at that show.
TGS: Yeah it was pretty memorable, it was really cool. So moving on then, since we just talked about live shows a lot. You guys just announced a ten year tour for your album Life in Dreaming. So what was the decision making process behind deciding to celebrate the album in this way?
Reo: Life in Dreaming is just that record for us, and when I say us, I mean the five of us. Making that record and writing that record, and everything that went into that, was just a really special moment in our lives, and the way we were together at that point. Not to mention, I think it really got the most attention from fans and from people. I think when people think of Hidden in Plain View, they go back to that album. Even the cover of the album, and the way it looks and feels, so it just makes sense to us to celebrate it. And I know a lot of bands out there are doing the ten year thing, or the fifteen year thing and they’re playing the albums front-to-back. We were a little hesitant to jump in on that wave, but at the same time, we’re going to do it from the bottom of our hearts. We’re going to do it with authenticity. The people who come- the fans who come- and want to feel nostalgic, and want to get into those songs, they’re going to see us have a great time playing it. I really think it makes sense, if we’re going to be playing reunion shows, to just turn these shows into Life In Dreaming 10th anniversary shows.
TGS: I think one of the most interesting things about these ten year anniversary shows, you guys announced now two VIP packages, one in New York and one in Philadelphia for your brewery, right? Your home brewery, the Hidden in Plain Brew. So do you want to talk to talk a little about that and how fans can get involved in that?
Reo: I can’t say I came up with the name, but it’s a pretty clever name. Yeah, you can go to our site, HIPVmusic.com, and you can see a list of the shows and the VIP packages there. But I started brewing, just really beginner stuff, I think it was 2007-2008. And I got really into it, and by about three years ago, my whole entire basement is a brewery basically- you know, home brew set up. I have about eight batches right now set-up. Well not eight, I have about six, getting ready for these VIP packages. So what we’re going to do, we’re going to open up the doors to these VIP packages early to the show. We’re going to let fans come in, listen to our soundcheck, hang out, meet and greet, and while we’re talking, give them a chance to buy some merch early before the fans come in, and then while we were hanging out, we were going to pour some of my home brews.
TGS: That’s a really creative idea, and you know, it’s a way to distinguish this tour from some other ten-year anniversary tours.
Reo: Yeah, I think it should be fun. I know me and all my friends we like craft brews, and it’s a pretty big thing out there. I’ve been brewing for a while, and I think I can brew some pretty decent stuff, so I thought, “what the heck.” The guys in the band thought it was a pretty good idea, so I’ve been brewing a lot to get ready for it. I’ll have a little set-up going there, pouring some beers, and we could talk about beers, we could talk about music, we could talk about whatever, but we’ll be there hanging out. I think it’s pretty reasonable too. We also have a little souvenir we’re giving out there too. It should be a good time.
TGS: Yeah it sounds like a cool idea. So are you guys announcing any more dates for the Life In Dreaming tour, or is that all we should expect.
Reo: We’re good on the Life in Dreaming tour. The dates we have up are the dates we’re doing for that tour. But as far as other dates, I can’t say. I don’t know for sure.
TGS: Another question in terms of plans in store for 2015, is Animal the only taste of Hidden in Plain View music we’ll be getting in 2015, or will we be seeing more in the future.
Reo: I couldn’t give you a timeline, because I never know how that stuff works out. But we’re always getting creative, we’re always writing. I think Rob just sent us a message that said, “I’ve got some sick riffage.” I guess that means he’s got some pretty good guitar stuff going (laughs) so… He’s a really creative guy and he drives all of the writing we do, and he never stops, so we never stop. Really, getting back together two years ago has just been really positive, and it’s been a really great outlet for us. So I would expect more. I can’t say it will be in 2015, but it’s possible.
TGS: But it’s coming at least, that’s the exciting news.
Reo: Yeah, but we’ll definitely be writing. Whether we release it- I don’t know how we’ll release it or when we’ll release it- but I’d say you can probably look forward to it.
TGS: Okay, that’s good enough for me. Thanks for coming on the show, we really appreciate it.
Reo: Thank you!
The band rolls through the area on April 9th at The Theatre of the Living Arts in Philly. You can find tickets to the show and VIP packages at