Today’s Feature, August 3-4: Trevor Hall

January 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm (Today's Feature)

A few weeks ago I had a chance to talk with Trevor Hall

over the phone. We greeted each other with your normal ‘Hello’s’

and of course I thanked him for taking the time out of his

very busy schedule to talk. I had only heard his voice from songs like

“Other Ways” from the Shrek 3 soundtrack and a previous recording I hunted

down after looping “Other Ways” on repeat for a week straight.

When he answered the phone; friendly, calm, happy, my ears did a double

take. Hall is so casual and relaxed, I felt like I was talking to an old friend,

just catching up and granted this was all in the first two minutes of meeting him.

However, it was this maturity and positive outlook that I would later learn, is what

Trevor Hall is all about. But still, the person on the phone could not be the booming,

electrifying voice on his four song Geffen EP, “The Rascals Have Returned”. When you listen to Hall’s music you immediately want to start throwing comparisons at him; The next Dave Matthews, the next John Mayer, the next Jack Johnson, even the next Bob Marley…albeit with a west coast style. Musically and professionally I realized that Hall trying to compare him will be a greater challenge then I thought. He does sound like the above mentioned, his guitar playing is on point with the most seasoned guitarist and his lyrics do compare to the “big names” that deservingly so, have become legends. However all those greats that have paved the way, made their names in their late twenties to early

thirties…Hall is only nineteen! His fresh and original sound has

placed him in an entirely different category. A category filled with great young prodigies

like Brett Dennen or Jonny Lang all of which have become leaders in their field.

I learned a lot about Hall during our phone call. For one thing, I have yet to meet an

artist with his kind of outlook regarding their career. He refers to music as ‘food’, refers

to himself as a ‘listener’ rather than a performer and

that making music is an incredibly spiritual thing for him. Unlike his musical counterparts

in the business, Hall doesn’t see his career as well, a career. He didn’t

get into music for money, fame or recognition (all of which will be coming

his way) and laughs at being called ‘successful’. He openly stated that he would

still be playing music even if he was still working at the old surf shop and

doesn’t understand all the attention that he is getting. Well, Trevor, get used

to the attention and if he ever went back to just working at a surf shop,

chances are that would be the most popular surf shop on the west coast…and not

for the great deal on Oakleys.

You could throw his tracks to any ‘music head’ who claims to not listen to mainstream

and even they will be obsessed with his magnetic sound. Unlike the other artists his age,

you won’t find Hall tracing around Hollywood or making an unwanted spectacle of

himself or getting hooked up in the tabloids. Hall is the complete

opposite of what ‘young music’ has become these days. He is very close to his family,

goes to Temple, keeps in touch with his friends and to say that Hall has a “good

head on his shoulders” is a blatant understatement. Take it one

step further, he’s got the music down, he’s already carving a tight niche in the music

world but he a humanitarian as well. Hall has not only stepped outside of the box, he

is crushing any kind of packaging that people may try to place him in. Deeply spiritual

and thankful for every day, Trevor did a benefit concert raising about $5,000

for the ashram boys in India. All proceeds benefited the education,

clothing, food, etc. for the orphan children at Yoga Vedanta Kutir, which

of whom Trevor had stayed with while living in India. Show me this kind of

character in modern music today…you can’t, which simply is why Trevor Hall

could very well be the best young artist today (he is going to hate me

saying that).

His latest EP, “The Rascals Have Returned” has an official home on my iPod.

I even went to the Apple Store at my local mall and asked if there was a way to make sure

his tracks could never get erased from my iPod, barring any of those

crazy updates they send me (true story…I know, I’m weird like that…but

on a side note, the Mac people were very sincere in their sarcastic

eye rolling when I posed this question). On “Under His Blanket” Hall’s lyrics

run off smooth and put together; a mix of pop, blues, rock, reggae, even rap

at times, drenched in some of the most original poetry music has heard in years.

Lyrically, any other artist might have saved some lines for a whole other song,

just to fill an album but Hall doesn’t hold back. “Under The Blanket” gives you a

taste of what he has to offer and then piles on the extras. Rock turns into hip hop,

turns into pop, turns into blues, turns into reggae.

Line after line, he hits you with rhymes and stories so unique you can’t help but get

attracted, to steal one line from his song “The Rascals Have Returned”,

“like bees coming to the hive”. After I played his EP, I couldn’t help

but think, Hall may be the diamond in the ruff that today’s music has been waiting for.

If his upcoming album “All I Can Do” (October-Geffen Records) is only half as startling

as the EP, then well, let’s just say holiday season will come early in the PensEyeView.com household.

Check out his XXQs to find out more…

XXQs: Trevor Hall

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How is everything?
Trevor Hall (TH): Good, good, everything is good, thanks.

PEV: So, how and when did you first get started in music?
TH: My father was a musician, he was a drummer, so I kind of grew up beating around on the drums a bit. I started to play all kinds of instruments throughout my youth, and then kind of settled down on the guitar and you know, got some lessons and went from there. My dad was the seed and it kind of took off from there.
PEV: Describe the feeling when you step into a recording studio for the first time?
TH: It was really, really fun. I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure what to do but once I got settled into it, it was a lot of fun. Laying stuff down, being able to listen to it and being able to work with really great musicians was a real blessing. It was a lot of fun and that is one of my favorite parts of music; getting into the studio and seeing what comes out. It was a lot of fun, a lot of fun (laughs).

PEV: What can people expect from your EP “The Rascals Have Returned”??
TH: I don’t know really (laughs). They were a group of songs that as a team, we thought would give a good first impression. I hope they represent positively and love and positive things to people. I hope people in times of sadness can turn it on and feel good and times of happiness turn it on and feel better than good, you know. I just wanted to share some food with the people.
PEV: How is the sound on “The Rascal Have Returned” different from other albums out there today?
TH: I don’t know…I think that it has its own style to it. It has an acoustic kind of rock vibe but it does have a little bit of hip hop influence to it as well just from the way that I sing and the way that I rhyme. On “Proof Of Destruction” and “Under the Blanket”, I think it is a good blend of different things and I think it is a little fresh and new. I think it will be a good piece.
PEV: I really liked the design of your site and of your album. They seem very spiritual. Did you design the cover of the EP?

TH: No, my friend painted it.
PEV: The site though, does have a very spiritual and Zen-like design. Is that something that you had a big input in?
TH: I like to control every aspect of the artistic side of my career. The pictures, to the music, to the web site, no matter what. I want people to understand what we are trying to portray. The cover of the EP was painted by a friend of mine from high school. I just said, ‘the album is called Rascals Have Returned and just do whatever you want’ (laughs). She painted the two guys and I just loved it. I thought it was original, I thought it was cool. I didn’t want some picture of me on the cover…I didn’t want that, I just think it was just out there and liked it. For the website I gave them a bunch of photos and drawings of mine from over the years and asked them to do a collage and that’s what we got.
PEV: When you create music what kind of atmosphere do you like to be in?
TH: You know, it doesn’t really matter because the atmosphere really influences the music. I like to be alone, that is one thing. and I like it to be really quiet. I like to write in late afternoon or midnight or one. I just like things to be very chill but that doesn’t mean I have to be in the forest or anything. I can be in an apartment in New York City…whatever you know. As long as things are turned off, focus and just letting things come through.
PEV: You have been compared to artists like Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Bob Marley, to name a few. Were there any artists that influenced you growing up?
TH: The big, big influence was when I heard Ben Harper. I remember exactly where I was, I was working in the surf shop and then one day I was just scrolling through the CDs and I found the Ben Harper one. I put it on “Shall Not Walk Alone” which is a cover of a Blind Boys Of Alabama song and I was just like ‘Oh-My-God’ and listened to the whole CD. I was just blown away and really got me started into the acoustic kind of path. I have always been a huge Bob Marley fan, not just of the music but of his life and message. I read biographies oh him…the whole nine yards. I am just all about what he was doing. He was one of the pioneers that kind of pushed me along.
PEV: Another one of your songs that is getting a lot of attention is “Other Ways”, from Shrek the Third soundtrack. That is a pretty big honor. How did all that happen?
TH: I have recently been working on my new album and that was one of the songs on there that the Ron Fair, the president of Geffen, liked. Interscope was doing the soundtrack for Shrek and you know he just pitched it to them. It was just a timing thing. The song was done around the time that they needed another song for the album and he pitched it to them. I was really stoked to get it in there before the album even comes out.
PEV: Who is another artist on the rise that you think everyone should be looking out for?
TH: I love, not just because I’ve toured with him, but I love his live shows, they are awesome, and I think his music is awesome, Matisyahu. He has already made a name for himself but you can still go up to people and say, ‘you heard of Matisyahu?’ and they’ll be like, ‘No’. I think he is really big now and feel he is just in the beginning stage. But I feel like he is going to be much bigger. He’s doing something totally original and it’s not a joke, it’s full on real and once you go to a show you can see it. I think he is doing what music is all about which is just playing for people and letting people have a good time. I think is he definitely going to get a lot bigger and don’t underestimate him.
PEV: Do you remember the first live performance you ever did?
TH: Yes, I, do…(laughs)
PEV: How did it go?

TH: I was nervous, I didn’t want to do it. My manager, who wasn’t my manager at the time and just a family friend that lived in LA, I sent him my music, not to get a gig, just to say, ‘look what I did for my birthday, I recorded a CD’. And when I was in LA, he got me a show and was like ‘no way, I’m not doing it, not in LA’ but he talked me into it. It worked out and it was fun and the room was packed and I messed up a lot but it was fun, you know (laughs). It was a good experience and if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be doing this for a living.
PEV: Speaking of that was there a certain time that you said to yourself, ‘this IS what I want to do for a living’?

TH: People have asked me that and never at any time was I like, ‘I want to be a musician’, even after I signed the record deal…or not really even now. I know it is my job and know that I have to make money to live, I know all these things but at the end of the day the music has been with me since birth…it is a practice for me. It is a really spiritual thing for me. I mean even if I was doing some other job I’d always be playing music. I never really saw it as a job. I was never like, ‘Oh I want to be a musician’…even if this album comes out and Geffen drops me, I’d still be playing music. Maybe not on such a large scale but I would still be sharing my music with people. But never was there a time when I said, ‘I want to be a musician’. It never happened like that.

PEV: Well, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about it flopping, but that is just my personal opinion

TH: We’ll see…(laughs)
PEV: What is the best part about playing live?
TH: You know live is what music it’s all about. Music is food. The thing about playing live for me is when you have a good show…I mean, I’ve played shows where people are screaming for the headliner (laughs). Oh well, what to do, keep playing you know. But when the music clicks and the people click, the best part about it is I feel like I am not really performing, like the crowd isn’t really listening. I feel like we are all there, we have all come together, were all listeners. Shed our troubles from the day, you know. Music is a Godly thing. Whether you think it is horrible music or whether you think it is great music. Music is the language of the spirit. When everything clicks the best part about playing live is when you feel like you are a listener too. And you’re not the performer and I think that is one of the highs for performing. When you’re up there singing these songs…you are just there listening with everyone else, that is the best part about playing live.
PEV: How has life on the road been for you?

TH: Right now…it’s horrible(laughs). It would be nice if I had a big tour bus (laughs). But life on the road is good. The thing I like about the road is that you don’t have any attachments, you know. You’re in one city and the next night you’re in another city, then another. You can’t get attached to people or too comfortable because you never know what you’re going to get. I feel like that is a good practice, it’s a good spiritual practice; not to get attached to anything. The only hard thing about traveling is that I’m a vegetarian and your traveling with a van full of “band guys” who when you pull off at the next exit, all you have to chose from is Subway (laughs). Sometimes I feel like I’m going to turn into a Subway sandwich (laughs). Other than that it’s a beautiful thing. You learn a lot and meet interesting people.
PEV: What has been your favorite city to travel to so far, international or US?

TH: I have a couple favorite cities but I don’t really like cities too much in general, just because there’s a lot of people and noise and stuff. I love Chicago though…for whatever reason, I love it there. Everything about it, the food, the vibe, it’s a great town. I love San Francisco, it’s a good community. I would say those are my favorite places to play.

PEV: What is one thing we would be surprised to hear about Trevor Hall?
TH: What would people be surprised to hear about Trevor Hall…I don’t know (laughs), I’m not that surprising of a person (laughs). Besides my music, I’m not that interesting (laughs). Oh, man, I don’t know…I know you get that a lot but I don’t know (laughs)…I’m not that interesting.
PEV: So when you get to relax what do you like to do?
TH: Usually when I’m not playing I’m at the temple. I like to do a lot of painting and I like to surf. Music is what helps me relax so even when I’m not on the road I love to play music.
PEV: What do your friends and family think about all your success?
TH: They’ve all always been super supportive. They always call me, you know. Always asking how things are going and try to network me up. But they don’t treat me any different, I’m still Trevor. I’m still my momma’s boy, I’m still my dad’s son. I’m not anything different to them. I don’t like the whole scene, I don’t like where the scene is going these days. Famous people sit on this pedestal. I feel like we all people, we are all equal. They help with my ego and they’ve always treated me the same way. It’s been nice.
PEV: So what is next for Trevor Hall?
TH: The next thing is to get this record out. We’re about to go into the studio and mix it. Get it done get, it going and we’ll start to promote it. I’m doing some show this summer, some with Stevie Knicks, doing some shows around LA this summer and really just trying to get the album out.

For more information on Trevor Hall, check out http://www.TrevorHall.com and check out http://www.TrevorHallMusic.com

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1 Comment

  1. Today’s Feature - March 24-25: The Wailers « PensEyeView.com said,

    […] Yeah, Trevor Hall’s been opening for us this part of this tour. He’s a great guy. Great […]

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