Bradley Hale is a DREAMBOAT. I first fell in love with him many years ago back when I was playing bass in Field Mouse, and we played a show at Death By Audio (RIP) with Brad's band Now,Now. It was Halloween and he was dressed as a honey leopard. I never learned what a honey leopard actually is, but I did learn that Brad is one of my favorite producers and songwriters. Brad's solo project SOMBEAR was the soundtrack to my summer spent house-hunting in Los Angeles, and Now,Now's 'Threads' was a go-to record for hours spent driving across the country with my band.
When it came time to discuss producers for 'New Love', Brad's name popped into my head right away. When I learned that he was into my demos and we were going to work together, I was THRILLED. He flew out to Long Beach where we recorded with co-producer Forrest Kline, and the next two weeks were spent visiting the beach in the morning, making music all day, and watching RuPaul's Drag Race at night (love u Jinkx Monsoon).
Not only did Brad make me a life-changing sandwich on more than one occasion, he transformed my rough ideas into the pop songs of my dreams. Check out my interview with Brad below to learn a little more about my favorite honey leopard.
AW: How long have you been a creative person?
BH: Oh boy, ever since I remember. The story I always tell, which is one of my earliest memories, is writing my first song called “The Cat Threw Up In The House” which I composed on a drum kit built out of play-doh canisters. I grew up teaching myself music by ear, lucky enough to have instruments available for me to tinker on. My dad played in bands when he was younger, so he’s to blame.
When you were a kid, did you dream of doing what you do now?
I feel like I may have mentioned this to you when we were making “New Love”, but I’ve always wanted to be a song-writer / producer. When I was in middle school I would write and produce songs for my little sister and her neighborhood friends, pretending / hoping they would be the next Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child. It’s insane to me that I’m pretty much doing exactly that, maybe not on a Spice Girls level, but closer than I ever thought I would be.
How do you define ‘success’? Do you feel successful?
Success is kind of a weird word to me, mostly because it’s all relative. I feel successful because I followed a path that may not have been easy, or the most financially stable, or the quickest way to be able to buy a house, but it’s immensely rewarding, knowing that I went after something that would give me success in an emotional way and not a traditional monetary way. I feel really lucky though that I can pay my bills with a career music, it took me a long time to get there, but it’s a good feeling.
My album is called 'New Love'. You remember the first time you fell in love? Can you describe the feeling?
I get infatuated really easily, so the initial ‘falling in love’ feeling happens to me a lot with people and things and music and experiences. But if I think about it, falling in love goes beyond the romantic sense. I remember falling in love with music. Going home after school and learning any song I could on my new Fender Squire Strat (bright red), trying to write songs with friends, aspiring to be the next John Williams, getting my first drum kit and playing 3 Doors Down songs over and over. I haven’t found ‘the one’ yet, so I don’t really think I’ve ever official fallen in love with a person yet, so here’s to Mr. Right, come and find me you idiot.
How old were you when you had your first KISS!!! Feel free to tell us the story?!
I think I was in first grade. It was in one of those tunnel slides at my elementary school playground at recess. It was super romantic. And then it was done and I went and played tag for the rest of recess.
How old were you when you had your heart broken for the first time? How did THAT feel?
I don’t have a specific story about getting my heart broken, all I know is that when it does happen it slaps me in the face. I’m usually really naïve about relationships / crushes so I’m always really unprepared for that kind of thing to happen.
Do you even believe in love? Feel free to elaborate.
I do. But like I said before I think it’s beyond romance. One great example is my relationship with Cacie (bandmate). There’s no one in the world that I could have the same relationship with. We are the best of friends, have been for 12 years or so now, and I can’t imagine being without her. I feel like I probably got homesick for her when I was out in California making your record, but that was healed by attempting to go to Dunkin Donuts and singing about it.
What was your favorite part of working with me? Your least favorite? ;)
Oh god, too many good things. I love your enthusiasm, and at the same time your realness. You’re so enthusiastic, but somehow not in that dangerous way that lets things slip through the cracks. You’re also just so genuine, that there is no bull shit to navigate when working with you. My least favorite part is that you left and went to Hawaii and didn’t go to Disneyland with me.
What is your greatest memory associated with our time together?
Again, too many. But I loved our morning ritual of going to Seal Beach and / or eating huevos rancheros. I got so used to that, and when you left for Hawaii I didn’t know what to do with myself. I also loved the night we went to Denny’s. I feel like we were delusional and thought those disgusting grand slams we got were the best meals we had ever tasted.
What is your favorite track on ‘New Love’?
I love “Counting Down”. I love how it’s much more electronically driven but still feels like an AW song. I love how it immediately gives me a nostalgic feeling. I love how classic it feels. And I love how simple yet hard hitting it is. That’s what I strive for when I make my own music. Something that captures your attention in a subtle way and keeps you in that world. Something that creates an emotion that people can’t get enough of.