There’s no right direction when it comes to being in a band; as long as you’re happy with your songs and you enjoy making them, nothing else should matter. From this philosophy, American rock band from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Hundredth felt unhappy when they were following a melodic hardcore sound. You can imagine how difficult it must be, plugging away track by track and feeling empty while finding no artistic value in your own music. Turning over a new leaf, the four-piece are now spreading their wings, delving into a new sound direction showcasing their authentic selves.
With the implementation of shoegazing elements and having the right balance of heaviness, Hundredth are already turning heads with the changes they’ve made, giving high anticipation surrounding their fourth record RARE for fans everywhere. We get the scope from lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Chadwick Johnson on the decision of moving on from melodic hardcore and their opportunity of giving back to those in need with their previous non-profit organisation Hope Into Humanity.
I think it’s really exciting you guys are releasing your fourth studio record RARE soon. How do you feel about this? Did you feel like it was a long time coming?
Yeah, I really do. Because we’ve been demoing it for a while. We kinda knew what we wanted to do in our heads before we went into the studio. We were already anxious about making this record because we wanted to just do it; to do something new and explore sonic territory that we haven’t explored before, at least with the Hundredth umbrella. We’re excited about it, we wish we could just go and put it out – that way the world can just have it, you know. Say what you want, here’s the whole thing [laughs].
It’s a different sound progression from what you guys did in your previous releases. Back then, you were sort of going towards a melodic hardcore direction and now you’re implementing shoegazing elements and an indie rock vibe as well. What sparked this change in the sound direction?
I think we were just dissatisfied with where we were headed and the world that we were in. I think we just felt pigeonholed into a scene and a genre that we weren’t really fulfilled by anymore, you know. We felt like we wanted to do different things. It’s like, you don’t keep the same job – if you start hating your job, you start looking for a new job. We felt like we were hanging on to it only for a paycheck. And then we were like, “Why are we doing this?”
It wasn’t fun anymore, there wasn’t the thrill of being proud of something that you’ve created, you know. If we went in and wrote another record and released Free 2.0, I think we’d be really bummed. So, we decided we’re either not going to make another record and quit or we’re gonna write music that we want on our terms. We built this thing from the ground up so why would we just trash it all the way without at least doing what we want. It’s kind of our future, you know.
“I feel like I don’t need to scream what I want to say anymore.”
Of course, if you’re not happy with what you’re currently doing, you’ve got to change it. It’s a good change [music]. I mean, your fans have been taking it so well, which is amazing. Normally, people are so quick to judge, leaving mean comments on YouTube. You must feel a bit relieved knowing that your fans are really digging the new sound too.
Yeah, I didn’t expect it to go as well as it has. Anyone who’s asked me how they’re going I’m like, well we honestly didn’t think many people were going to follow us here. We didn’t think many people would go with us here. I feel like people who are into our band have an open mind and they also don’t just listen to one genre of music.
That’s what we were kind of like pivoting on, it’s like we’re a melodic band but it was a lot more aggressive. Now, we want to dial it back and touch on some different issues – other things, you know. Touch on different elements that we’re into. We’re insanely pumped on how it’s doing so far.
Do you know the band Turnover?
Yeah, I’ve heard of them.
I read an interesting comment on your one of your music videos by a YouTube user saying your music was like Peripheral Vision on steroids. That record itself has a lot of shoegazing elements as well. I also noticed that you guys stepped back from unclean vocals and just kept clean vocals majority of the time. Did you feel like it was a necessary progression as a vocalist?
Yeah, for sure. And about the Turnover thing, I’ve seen that too and we’ve been getting a lot of comparisons to that and a band called Balance and Composure. I don’t know, it’s weird because we don’t like see it. Those bands are cool but we think of them as mature pop punk bands, you know. We’re coming from a completely different lane in a completely different vibe. I feel like our record is still way heavier than both of those bands. Even though there’s a lot of reverb and there’s a lot of space and it’s like melancholic melodies and stuff. It’s probably just me because I’ve been in so deep and enthralled in this record – there’s parts that sound a lot heavier to me.
If I could scream over certain parts of this record, it would be like weird but it would still be considered as hardcore, you know. But the fact that we decided to sing over it all, that’s what really stamps it as different – this isn’t like what we were doing. I knew I was gonna do that going in. I’d been messing around with some songs at home – New Order type stuff and I was putting some vocals over it and I was like, “I think that this could work with Hundredth”. So, I sang over a demo at home on some of the music we were writing. I just think that added to the music more than me screaming over it, you know. Plus, I got to a point where I was sick of screaming.
I feel like I don’t need to scream what I want to say anymore. We knew what we were getting into when we decided [to have] no screaming on the record. We just committed to it, you know.
I totally get it. Even though there were similarities between those bands and stuff, it was edgy and different from what I’ve listened to before as well. I think this change is good because as you’re growing as a person, you gain different interests. Did you feel like that when you were making this record too?
I think that I felt like that way before we were making this record. I’ve never really listened to like a lot of heavy music. None of us have. We never went into the band and listened to heavy music. I love some early hardcore bands but I don’t love any of those bands more than I love The Cure or The Smiths. That’s what I wake up and listen to. For me, it wasn’t like I found all these new things and decided to make our sound.
We finally went back and went, “What got us into music? What bands have resonated with us over the last ten years? Where are we?” And that was kinda where we came from. It was more like, “What really cuts us through musically?” I think that is why we relied on going back to all these bands we really liked for years and kind of being influenced by that. Not necessarily a new band or newer band – we’re kind of going back to what really moved us.
I think it’s brilliant in 2011, you guys had a non-profit organisation called Hope Into Humanity and from it, you launched a campaign in 2012 to provide safe drinking water for areas that needed it the most. Your fanbase managed to raise enough funds for two villages from India to have clean water forever. How did you feel about that accomplishment?
It was really cool because we were at the point where it was our second record (Let Go), we were like about to turn a profit and each of us was about to be paid from being in a band. I think before we did that, we wanted to do something. Our focus wasn’t on making money – that record has a lot of social issues kind of buried in it lyrically.
It had like a call to action so we kinda wanted to present one and that’s why we founded that [Hope Into Humanity]. We carried a jar around with us to shows and people donated money and then we donated some ourselves. We had like a merch line for it where all the proceeds went to it. It was super great and I think it was a cool pairing for it to go with that record in 2011.
It must be rewarding to see that sort of impact as well. Your listeners sort of banding together and helping out for a worthy cause too.
Yeah, it was super cool because it was like no one had a lot of money. We were all broke as shit but like it was cool that it didn’t matter. We were just giving what we had away and we were met with a lot of the same mindsets and all of the same values.
RARE releases June 16 through Hopeless Records/UNFD