Interview: Hidden In Plain View

Hidden in Plan View

Recently I was able to connect with vocalist Joe Reo, of Hidden In Plain View, to discuss the recent singles his band has released. We also reminisced over the great Life In Dreaming record and the memories that surrounded those sessions, as well as the new touring plans for the band. I was able to get Joe to drop a few notes about the culmination of what these new singles are leading to, as well as some unique merch packages that will be announced shortly. You can check out the recently released music on your favorite streaming service, including Amazon Music here.

Alright, thank you so much for your time today, Joe! Can you tell me about what Hidden In Plain View has been up to as of late? I understand that you’re releasing a new single called “Ragdoll” this week, correct?

That’s correct.”Ragdoll” comes out tomorrow. So yeah, we’ve been up to a lot actually. We’ve been releasing slowly, one by one, singles that will eventually be on an EP. And you’re the first people that I’ve ever told that too! We keep getting all these messages on social media saying, “Just drop the album. Just drop the whole album!” But it’s an EP so…that’s what we’re up to right now. And of course, we’re in preparation for just planning a bunch of shows for later this year and into next year.

Sweet! Do you have any unique merchandise packages for the new EP, such as vinyl? I know everybody’s a big fan of that, but obviously with vinyl shortages and everything like that, those details could be somewhat up in the air…

So ChorusFM is getting all the exclusives! We are planning on a vinyl release for the EP absolutely. As soon as that’s made available, we’re going to drop that. But of course, like anything, whether it’s an appliance or a car, it’s on back-order right now. But when we do get that, we’ll drop that as well as new merch will be coming later next week.

Excellent. So I saw on the band’s Facebook page that you got a beer to be named after the Life In Dreaming album by Heavy Reel Brewing Company. So how did this partnership come to fruition?

It was kind of like a dude’s dream come true. I’ve been quite active in home-brewing for about 12 years. Personally, it was a hobby I picked up around 2009, and so I just got pretty good at it. And I’ve just met some people along the way. Funny enough, just like the Heavy Reel guys,  they are from New Jersey, Seaside Heights, New Jersey. So they’ve known about Hidden In Plain View well before a lot of people knew about Hidden In Plain View. In fact, Jeff from Heavy Reel, he and I were shooting the poop about just a lot of our old school shows that I couldn’t even believe anyone was even at. But he reached out to me on Instagram, I replied, and he had the idea of doing a collab. He said, “I know you’re a brewer…” And I was like “Well, yeah!” “So do you have anything you want to brew?” And I did, of course. So we used my recipe. We used my go-to recipe, and we threw it together and scaled it up…It’s a West Coast IPA. We thought about naming it a couple of different things. We strayed away from the go-to puns, like “Hidden In Plain Brew,” but we all agreed that Life In Dreaming is just close to everyone’s hearts, so that’s the IPA.

Sweet! I absolutely loved your material on Drive-Thru records, and especially the Life In Dreaming album. While some bands on the label kind of lamented about their experience with Drive-Thru, what’s your band’s take on the partnership you had with Drive-Thru?

Yeah, wow. No one’s ever asked us that! Which is strange, because I think it’s the same situation for any label. I mean, like a business relationship. So whereas you start off, and you want everyone to be close friends and for it to be collaborative, where everyone’s got their say…you get too many cooks in the kitchen, and you can disagree. And that’s kind of what happened with us. I think they found themselves in a situation with us, when we were dropping Resolution. They had their priorities and their money tied up. We were also pretty “toured out” and pretty tired by that point. And I think that was when we really started kind of saying, “Hey, what’s going on here?” Today, did they play fair in the long run? I would say, no. But I think at the same time, we were very fortunate and lucky to be a part of that label. So, it’s been 20 years. Yeah, but I mean, you just look forward, and look forward to what’s coming up next. But no, it was good, and it was bad, but I think that was it. That’s the case for a lot of people in a lot of business relationships.  We never felt the need to lament in public about DTR.  Other bands kind of did that for us. 

Okay, that’s a pretty good answer! I like how you framed that.

Were there any shouting matches between us? No. We just wanted them to be honest, when they weren’t, maybe they were. Maybe they weren’t honest because they were trying to soften the blow off some bad news, like they didn’t have the money to put us in the studio on time, who knows?  You’ll never get the truth, but if they were just downright hiding something, I don’t know.

I appreciate that honesty. What continues to inspire both you, as well as your bandmates, as musicians?

I think the bottom line for all of us is just trying to get our music out to as many people as possible, and interacting with people I love. I’ll be somewhere, and someone will say, “Oh, my God, you are in Hidden In Plain View! I love you guys. You guys are amazing!” That kind of stuff just can make your year, your month, your week, your day, and your moment. We started the band because we wanted to be in a band. And I don’t really ever consider any of us really bad guys. We’re just kind of a bunch of guys in the band. Yeah, even now we’re releasing this EP with some help from a distro company, along with people who’ve been close to us for many years. But really the goal here is just to reach as many people as we possibly can.  We love that we can still make music for a real audience.

That’s great. So looking back on your past material, what do you think is the ultimate legacy now for Hidden In Plain View? You mentioned people coming up and recognizing you and things like that, but how would you like to be best remembered?

Best remembered? You know, I think I would definitely want to be remembered for our honest sound. I want to be remembered as a band that was very approachable. I don’t think we were the kind of people to get out there and just try to over service and try to put ourselves in situations where it was where it was trying too hard and coming off inauthentic. But we really like being in this band and really enjoyed our shows, so I would probably say our live show too. I mean, that’s where it all comes together. You’re face to face, you connect, the voices sing loud, and hands are up in the air. It’s a back and forth. It’s a true connection. So, probably our live show and our direct connection with our fans, that has to be our legacy. And it felt like we’ve always poured it out on stage. We’ve always sounded good onstage.

That’s definitely a good way to be remembered! What do you look most fondly of back upon the Life In Dreaming album? It seems like everybody connected with that one more than anything, but is there a certain thing that stood out from the recording sessions, that you can vividly remember most about that record?

Adam, I think we could have an interview based on Life In Dreaming alone. Life In Dreaming was a culmination of a lot of songs. Songs we had written in our very first band practices, two songs we had written in pre-production two weeks before we started recording. But it was a real moment in our lives where I feel like we were getting by, we had some but in hindsight very little experience. We had been in the recording studios before and Rob was really getting a feel for producing and recording for himself. And we had learned a little bit about the process, but nothing really prepared us for working with Jim Wirt. When we worked with Jim, we were at Fourth Street recording studios in Santa Monica, California. And for a bunch of Jersey kids, that was a really fun experience. And the way the songs just shaped, we connected with Jim, sonically.  He got just what we wanted the guitars to sound like and the vocals to sound like. Creatively it just felt right in every moment we were doing it, and now even when we play those songs, it just brings you right back.  It really holds up.  

Yeah, it sounds like it still resonates with people today, which is the cool thing about music in general. Now with the teasing of the new singles from your band, what does the future look like for Hidden In Plain View, and would you be open to touring more extensively if the record takes off, and things like that?

As far as touring more extensively, absolutely. We have always been a band that wouldn’t agree to do something unless it was cool. As corny as that might sound, you know the money could be there, the money might not be there, but we’re not going to agree to a tour if it’s not worth it. By that, I mean, fun for everyone involved. Not something that’s just like, “Let’s get our numbers up.” It’s not like that anymore, if we ever were like that. It may not be a tour, but it’s going to be a ton of one-offs. And it looks like each one-off will probably be really focused on that city. By putting support bands or bands with us that makes sense for there at that moment at that time, and to celebrate something that everybody wants to be a part of.  But in the near future, when I get home from vacation, we’re gonna hit the writing process again right away. So maybe next time it will be an EP, or it’ll be a full length. These new songs just sound like Hidden, they sound like they should.  I want more of that.

I see you got added to some of the festivals too, like September’s Furnace Fest, which looks really cool!

I’m sure you’ve seen the lineup, but yeah, we’re thrilled to be there! I’ve got some bands that I can’t wait to see.

It’s kind of like a mini Warped Tour kind of reconciliation of all those great guys. Any  last words for the fans?

Just a humongous “thank you.” We’re endlessly grateful for our fans. Most of the people are interacting with us on social media. So if you don’t follow us on social media, go find us trying to connect with you all there, but thank you for sticking with us so long and we’ll see you at the shows.

Sounds good! Enjoy your vacation!

Thanks, Adam!