Hairpin: Cutting Through The Noise

Hairpin: Cutting Through The Noise

Have you heard ‘Rearrange’ by New York's indie alternative outfit Hairpin? We got to hear it for the first time recently. It’s one hell of a track!

The arrangement is top tier and richly layered. With dissonant guitar licks and restless drumming, coupled with clever lyrical storytelling and singer Nate Pozin’s soft and soothing vocal stylings, it delivers.

We immediately checked out Hairpin's back catalogue. We’re glad we did. You should too. It turns out ‘Rearrange’ is the band’s sixth single, with new single 'Cyclone' dropping tonight and an EP on the way.

Hairpin indie alternative rock band
Hairpin: Henry Buckingham, Ryan Couto, Nate Pozin, Alex McGourty

Friends since college, the band comprises bassist Ryan Couto, guitarist Henry Buckingham, guitarist and producer Alex McGourty, and Nate Pozin out front on vocal duties.

Wanting to know more, we reached out to the band for an interview. Happily, they said yes. A short time ago, we had a nice long chat with bassist Ryan, down the line from Brooklyn, New York City.

For the lowdown on hair, their history, highlights, favourite albums and secret sauce, read on!

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Thanks for agreeing to be grilled today, Ryan. For anyone who hasn't heard Hairpin before, please describe your sound.

Ryan Couto We're focussed on the contrast of extremes in our music. We like to incorporate diverse sounds from across the board, depending on whatever we want to say with a particular song. We love it that way.

We’ll do whatever makes our sound cut through the noise in a unique way. We want to keep our listeners on their toes.

We’d like to write with a melody we stole from classical, put to a groove we stole from reggaeton, with hyperpop sounding guitars, or something like that. 

We’d like to hear it. What’s Hairpin’s secret sauce?

Our creative chemistry is a big part of it. Put us in a room and we’ll have the bones of a new song within minutes. We all bring different inspirations and sounds to the table. The amalgamation is just really unique and fun to create.

Possibly our greatest weapon is that we’re totally independent and self-produced. We have the luxury to spend time perfecting our songs, making really detailed and thoughtful tracks that are works of love.

We don’t have to squeeze our vision through other engineers or producers. We don’t have to cut our tracks in a studio on limited time and budget. We can make really bold moves where other bands make safe ones.

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How did the band come together?

The four of us all went to University of California Berkeley and had various levels of acquaintance with each other.

Nate had a solo project that he wanted to promote via live shows, so he reached out to Henry to see if he’d be interested in joining. Henry reached out to me. Then we asked Alex if he’d be interested in joining us.

We got into the rehearsal room and immediately started jamming and creating new songs. They had a super distinct feel to them, separate from Nate’s solo stuff, so we decided to pursue the band route.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Yeah, this has been the lineup since our inception, with a few folks stepping in on drums. Shouts out to Steven Wolfsthal, Ben Epstein, Kabir Adhiya-Kumar and Jacob Stockman.

We’re lucky enough to have a lot of amazing friends who are also incredibly talented musicians, so we’ve added Alex Pundyk on guitar and Drew Adamski on synth to our creative collective.

Describe the personalities in the band. Who’s the punctual one? Who’s the diva? Who's the worrywart? Give us the gossip!

We take turns being all of those things. We all worry constantly, we’re all huge divas, and none of us are ever punctual.

Naming a band is famously hard. What's the story behind yours?

For the first couple of shows, we went by Everything Orange. We didn’t love the name, so we created a shared iPhone note and each added names as we thought of them.

We met up at a bar one night with the purpose of whittling down the 500+ names. We just removed them one by one. Hairpin won out,

There were a few other awesome ones in there. 'Phlox Carolina' is up for grabs if anyone out there is looking to name their band.

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Can you remember your first gig as Hairpin?

Yeah, it was at Baby’s All Right in New York in October 2022. It was amazing! Just an awesome show.

We’ve always been lucky to have incredibly supportive fans. Every show has been played to a packed, sold-out house.

Other than this interview, what’s been your biggest highlight so far?

It has got to be booking a headline spot at Bowery Ballroom. Absolutely no question. It’s soon, on May 23rd.

Shouts out to Eddie Sena, Arrival Artists, Michelle Carnero, Steven Jensen, and Direct Management for being in our corner and helping us make this happen. 

Good luck with it. Tell us about your most recent track: ‘Coyote'.

We've had a demo of this track since before even our first show. We finally got around to recording it. We recorded it the same way we’ve done our other stuff, at Alex’s apartment, though we recorded the drums at our rehearsal studio.

Jacob Stockman absolutely crushed the drum performance. It wouldn't be the same without his contribution. Such a pivotal piece of the song. Claudius Mittendorfer mixed it. His mix has completely brought the song to life. Massive thanks to him.

Hairpin india alternative rock band

You touched on it there, but how do you usually write and record your songs?

We all work on music individually and send demos to the group chat. Sometimes we’ll get inspired by a demo and pick it up as a group to flesh it out. Other times we’ll jam on something together and create the song then and there.

For recording, we generally record demo takes on our own, to get the structure and arrangement of the song down. When it comes to final takes, we record at Alex’s apartment.

What’s the response to 'Coyote' been like?

It’s been amazing! So many kind words from so many people.

It’s just an amazing feeling to know that people are enjoying the creative work you’ve contributed to and put out into the world. It means everything to us.

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Please tell us how you got started in music, Ryan.

My middle school had a talent show at the end of every school year. In 8th grade, I had a friend who played guitar and a friend who played drums, and they wanted to do the talent show but needed a bassist. I went and got a Rogue short scale bass for $80 and then spent a year learning to play Nirvana's ‘In Bloom’.

I was in a few bands throughout high school, played a few shows here and there, and continued jamming with friends through college and after moving here to NYC.

What's the best thing about being in a band?

Seeing our separate, individual creative contributions come together to create something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s amazing to see that happen.

And what’s the worst thing?

Analysis paralysis. For every decision we have to make, we have multiple opinions. Everything takes a bit longer than it would for an individual artist.

I think this is a strength too though. We all trust each other’s creative vision, and we end up with better choices due to having multiple people thinking about every choice we make.

If you could be in any band at any time, not including Hairpin, which would it be?

Radiohead. They’re all so insanely talented. Everything they’ve created is beautiful and amazing, and they’re constantly evolving and exploring new creative avenues and sounds.

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Other than Radiohead, who are your musical heroes?

The bassists I look up to the most, and do my best to draw inspiration from, are Laura Lee, James Jamerson, Bob Babbitt and Justin Chancellor.

Give us 3 albums everyone should own.

Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Illmatic’ by Nas.

Do you have a favourite Hairpin track?

It has to be ‘Keep It Together.’ It’s super nostalgic to me, being the first song we put out. But I love them all.

Do you have any advice for someone starting their music career?

My advice would be to make sure to protect the joy. Never lose that. The fun, the passion is where the creative fuel comes from. Protect it at all costs.

Sound advice. Thanks, Ryan, for answering our questions.

My pleasure. TEN OF CLUBS is the only website that matters. It’s my browser’s homepage. 

You lie so convincingly, but we endorse the sentiment. What’s next for Hairpin?

We're really excited about our new single - 'Cyclone' - and our next show is May 23rd at Bowery Ballroom in NYC. It’ll be a celebration of our first EP release. This is by far our biggest show yet.

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What’s your dream for Hairpin?

Win a Grammy for Best New Artist, another for Best Album, and be included on the Best Album of All Time list.

Always good to aim high. Any final words for your fans?

We love you and can’t wait to continue to share all our upcoming releases with you.

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▶︎ ‘Cyclone’ by Hairpin is streaming now on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and elsewhere.

📸 Sarah Rodriguez 

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