Before And After; An Interview with Nate Erickson of After Radio Hours

Formed within the DIY music scene within University of Michigan’s student cooperatives, After Hours Radio emerged with groove-heavy indie rock in 2014.  With their genre experimentation and straightforward songwriting within the tracks, the band released their promising debut that year.  As for the lineup, it would soon experience its own share of upheaval.  The lead vocalist and drummer departed the group to take up careers overseas.  Nate Erickson and Greg Hughes – who were the primary songwriters of After Hours Radio – pushed on with the help of friends and performers of other local groups.

Today, After Hours Radio has locked down a lineup with the addition of keyboardist/synth Jordan Compton and most recently Sean Batts.  Under the guidance of long-time friend and sound engineer Evan Klee-Peregon’s home studio in Detroit, After Hours Radio’s ‘What Happened?’ lyrically is composed of the struggles to maintain the balance of personal relationships and increasing commitments.

We recently spent some time to chat with Erickson to learn more about the band.  Here’s what was discussed:

I’m curious on the origin of the band’s name.  What inspired it?

It was a combination of factors. Some of our founding members liked the sound of ‘After Hours’ which is a song by the Velvet Underground. One of them was also a DJ at the University of Michigan student radio station (WCBN FM) and had experiences playing records at 3 in the morning as sort of trial when he first started with the station.

We eventually settled on ‘After Hours Radio’ because of the above reasons and to reflect our unrestricted songwriting process, which is very characteristic of the ‘freeform’ style of varied programming one can find on college radio during the early morning hours.

What was the DIY scene like in the student cooperatives during your time at the University of Michigan?

The DIY scene in the student cooperatives was quite active during my time as a University of Michigan student. A house that 2 of our members lived at (Nakamura) had a recurring series of open mics that acted as a great outlet for us to get our foot in the door with live performance.

In addition to the open mics, other co-ops such as Luther had traditions of hosting regular parties with live music. Those were our first forays into performing outside of a safety net. Other local bands and artists started around the same time and continue to perform with us to this day. There seems to be fewer bands forming these days, but the co-op music scene remains active with several events every semester.

Nate-when some of the founding members departed, you took over on vocals.  Did you feel apprehensive on assuming the role?

Honestly, I was incredibly nervous.  I felt I had big shoes to fill and I am also a very introverted person. It took 10 to 15 shows before I started to feel comfortable with the role but I think it forced me to improve a lot as a musician and performer.

Was there any discussion of the band splitting up after some of the members left?

It was never seriously considered, although we did debate changing the name.  Greg and I knew we wanted to keep performing and writing together.  Since I have a similar vocal tone and range as our previous vocalist we opted to keep the name to prevent confusing things for our fanbase.

When did it start to feel like the current lineup was being solidified?

When Sean joined the mix in April/May of 2016 things started to come together.  We wrote a couple songs together and almost immediately departed for our first tour.  We definitely stress-tested the lineup from the start.  Spending 2 weeks straight with each other in a small SUV helps you get to know each other real quick.  In hindsight it was a risky move, but it all worked out.

‘What Happened?’ was primarily inspired in part due to the band’s commitments.  What unfolded in part of the band’s increased workload and touring?

I think the most significant consequence of the increase workload and touring was our relationships outside of the band.  A lot of us moved cities in order to be able to practice and write easier and we also didn’t have much free time outside of working and the band.  So there was no longer time to maintain any outside relationships/friendships.  Everyone’s life became much more one-dimensional.  I don’t regret any of it but it was a rough transition.

In its entirety, ‘What Happened?’ as a vibrate 90s feel to it.  Would you say that the band overall was heavily influenced with the decade’s music?

We definitely are influenced a lot by the 90’s alternative sound.  Personally I’m a big fan of Third Eye Blind and Oasis, and I think the rest of the band shares my interest in the Pixies and early Modest Mouse.

How long was the recording process for the new album?

The recording process took a long time, but that was mostly due to scheduling difficulties.  Our recording engineer has been on tour doing live sound for The Accidentals much of the year and we were busy with shows as well.  The majority of tracking was done in a single day session back in November of 2016 but the mixing and production took another 7 months before we were all satisfied with the results.

Is there any plans to record a full-length album down the road?

Between Jordan, Greg, and I we have plenty of material for a full length.  We have been discussing it quite a bit.  I don’t think we will have one by next year, especially with how slow and methodical we get with our mixing and production, but there will be a full length in our future…

‘What Happened?’ EP is out now.

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