It’s been a busy couple years for Derek Gregg and Sean Poe—better known as the Hive Minds.
Their group has gone from being a three-piece to a two-piece. There was a name change, a battle of the bands win, and numerous local shows. And finally, there’s an album.
The Independent recently sat down with Gregg (guitar/vocals) and Poe (drums) to discuss The Hive Minds’ new, self-titled album. They began working on it in October 2013, with Jimmy Heil.
“It was just not a good fit. We were working on it for a while, and we made a lot of progress, but things weren’t really clicking,” Poe said.
“A lot of the guitar tones were weird,” Gregg said. “We have nothing bad to say about (Heil). He had a lot of great stuff, like these expensive old mics, reel-to-reel, and stuff like that, but we weren’t able to get into the studio often enough, and we really wanted to spend a lot of time in there.”
They began working instead with Andrew Allen-Bentley.
“When we started working with Andrew, the feel was right,” Gregg said.
Allen-Bentley also began joining The Hive Minds for gigs, playing bass. However, Gregg said that Allen-Bentley is not an “official” member of the band.
“The Hive Minds will always be a two-piece. He’s in our band, but he doesn’t want to be a full-time member,” Gregg said. “It’s like the Black Keys: It’s a two piece.”
Gregg noted that Allen-Bentley had a lot on his plate. He wasn’t kidding: Shortly after the interview with Gregg and Poe, Allen-Bentley was named the rabbi of Temple Sinai in Palm Springs.
“Every once in a while if he’s available, he’ll come play a show with us,” Poe said.
The songs on the album were written over a long period of time—even before Gregg and Poe started performing together.
“It’s all Derek’s stuff that he’s been writing since he was back in high school,” Poe said. “When we got together and started working on this stuff, we thought these were great songs that we should get out. Derek had all the basic forms, the lyrics, and the riffs, and then I just came in with the drums.”
Gregg said that while they recorded these older songs, they were able to write new material for their next album.
“The next album will have riffs on it,” Gregg said with a laugh. “This record has more jam-band-style guitar on it, but it was mostly acoustic stuff played on an electric guitar. The songs were already there, but the next album is sweet, because it will have riffs and a completely different feel to it.”
Gregg said that he is most proud of his song “Firewater.”
“When I wrote ‘Firewater,’ I had just really started to get into Bob Dylan,” Gregg said. “I had just gone through a lot with ex-girlfriends. I was drinking a bit more, and that song is about coping with things the wrong way. That song taught me how to write without censoring myself or holding back. ‘Firewater’ is just so naked that it’s true.”
Poe said that during the recording process, they would go back and listen to songs they had already recorded, and find imperfections.
“In the studio, there were a lot of times when we’d record a song and then go on to record another song, and we’d go back and listen to that first song, and we didn’t like it. So we’d start over and record it again, because we wanted it perfect. With ‘The Gemini,’ we recorded the whole thing, and we went back and listened to it, and it wasn’t up to par with what the other songs were. So we completely scratched it, and we had to find a way to make it work. We ended up making it acoustic.”
“The Gemini” is now the album’s closing track; the acoustic sound and percussion make it a perfect closing song.
Gregg admitted the band has made some mistakes over the last couple of years. Gregg and Poe stopped playing many of the covers for which they were known, and whereas they used to play a lot of shows at bars, they now play once a month or so at Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar on El Paseo in Palm Desert.
“Playing bars for people who don’t know any of the material … it’s not that fulfilling,” Gregg said. “At the end of the night, you come away feeling really unfulfilled, like you just spent time at work. Our sets have about 10 percent covers now. We noticed it, and my dad (local musician Mark Gregg) told me we’re not a very good cover band. When we play one of our original songs as opposed to a cover, we get a standing ovation. When we play at Wolfgang Puck’s now, no one likes our covers as much as they like our originals.”
“We are more happy now playing the originals,” he said. “We have fun doing it, and we have more energy doing it. I think people have picked up on that.”
For more information on The Hive Minds, visit the band’s Facebook page.