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A downtown Greensboro adventure with the Hush Sounds

by Heather MacIntyre

Bob Morris, the band’s lead guitar and co-vocalist, staggers out from the bunk area of the bus and plops down with the rest of us in the front. His fiery red hair is sticking up in more directions than a TIGI-Bedhead hair model and his lips are barely awake and remain in a pouting stance. He grabs a beer out of the fridge and whines, “I can’t do this whole slant thing. It’s driving me insane!” Drummer Darren Wilson chimes in, “Ahhh, you too man? I know. It goes like this….” He motions with his arms the very deep tilt of the bus parked on Greene Street outside the club. “I woke up today, and I couldn’t go back to sleep!” Morris gets pumped and raises his voice. “You don’t even know! Your bunk is on the bottom side…. I can barely keep from falling out of mine!” They all sit and agree while looking over to the line at the club wrapped down the street and past their bus. Morris looks over at me and laughs, realizing that he just woke up in the middle of an interview. Stretching, he squints across the aisle at their tour sheet. “Where are we again?” The Hush Sound (www.thehushsound. com; www.myspace.com/thehushsound) has been on a rocket boom for the last few years, ever since Ryan Ross of Panic At the Disco brought some of their music to the attention of bassist Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy. Ross admitted later that for Panic’s first hit album, the Hush Sound (who has been around longer) was part of their influence. The members say one day they received an e-mail (with the worst grammar and spelling ever) from Pete Wentz proclaiming his interest in signing the band. Immediately they began their career adventure following in some of the pop scene’s biggest shoes — but, oddly enough, without so much “pop.” This indie-rock/folk-pop group started opening shows with their catchy tunes alongside one of the biggest names on their label: Fueled By Ramen (later to be co-signed to Decaydance). Bands like Panic, Fall Out Boy, Phantom Planet, Jack’s Mannequin, Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship and more all took turns fighting over these kids to take across country. But for this 2008 summer tour, it’s their turn — they’re the big boys (and girl) on campus. Headlining across country, it’s now them bringing along the younger siblings, Las Vegas’s the Cab (www.myspace.com/thecab) and Pittsburgh’s the Morning Light (www.myspace.com/ themorninglight) — to showcase to the world. New Jersey’s Steel Train (www. myspace.com/steeltrain) has been out and around long enough to not consider them a “little sibling,” but they love touring alongside each other. I bet their name rings a bell too? Why: Steel Train toured with Greensboro’s House of Fools a while back, so you may remember them playing a show at the same venue as this Hush Sound event — Greene Street (www.greenestreetclub.com). But, what about the Hush Sound? They’ve been here too. Bassist Chris Faller says, “I know we played here, it was at the Z Club? I’m pretty sure it was a ‘Z,’ but I saw an ‘N’ on that main street up a block… did they change it? Did it used to be a ‘Z’ or did the sign just fall sideways?” It was for the Jack’s Mannequin show that the N Club (www. nclub.com) put on well over a year ago. I have no idea how constantly touring bands like that can even try to remember specific dates, venues and places… all the way down to where they got coffee: “Where is there a Starbucks around here? Gosh!” moans Morris. “Nah, dude…” interrupts Faller, “That place, I swear, there is a place up the street — the Green Bean. They have good coffee!” I’m stumped. That’s my place… how do they know about it? So, we all walk up the street and into the Green Bean (www.myspace.com/ greensborobean) for some espresso when we notice lead singer/keyboardist/front lady of their band Greta Salpeter (who has been a classically trained pianist since age three, no big deal) has already beat us there.

“Wethought you were asleep in your bunk!” Wilson walks over to her whileadmiring the art-covered wall and almost runs into someone staring atthe extensive barista menu. After a few minutes, Greta and I leave forsome one-on-one girl time and end up at the Metro Station for adelicious blackened tuna salad — and the boys of course, go to JimmyJohns. “I really love this college city. We’ve been so many places thatit seems most towns are too small or cities are too big, but there area select few like Greensboro that have a little something for everyonewithout going overboard and overwhelming you at each step.” We sit andchat, and she talks maturely about the band and their high-schoolbeginnings and how they’ve been together ever since. While I’m sittingand attempting the math in my head, she explains, “I’m twenty.” And…I’m astonished. The rest of the band also refuse to break theripe age of 23. “We aren’t even the youngest on the tour,” shecontinues, “The Morning Light… most of them are like nineteen.” It’smind-boggling how fame can be reached at such a young age today. Notthat we haven’t heard similar stories in North Carolina,like Farewell’s (www.myspace.com/farewell) guitarist Will Andrews, whohad to finish high school through an online homeschooling program onthe road so that he could go on a national tour. The Hush Sound, basedout of Chicago, started off when Greta and Bob met and became friendsat 12 years old — all four members have been in and out of differentbands with each other at very early ages, until finally it stuck. Thetwo of us meet up with Wilson, who paces out of the Obama campaignoffice and joins us on our walk back to the club. “I told them aboutour Obama song, and that they should come out to the show,” he says,“but the guy just sort of looked at me weird.” We arrive andthey load in and the show begins all so fast. The opening intro is apiano piece by Salpeter that sets a mood with an explosion of “Honey”as the rest of the band joins in. Most all of the songs performedduring the evening are from their recent release, Goodbye Blues, whilea beautifully arranged harmony between her and now fully-awake Morrisfill the venue. Her voice is sexy, sultry and somehow still possesses ahint of youth (lest we forget, she’s 20), very much like Fiona Applewith a hint of Sherri Gilbert (of Eisley). She’s sporting the ’70shigh-waist black jeans that are back in style, and her hair’s thrown upinto a messy and wiry bun. Every couple songs they all switch upinstruments, proving their multi-musical talents that obviously startedat a much younger age than any of us could imagine. At one ofthe more comical points, Wilson gets his chance to come out from behindhis drums to rap on their new Obama song (in his Michael Jordanjersey that he hasn’t changed in two weeks) . The girls in the crowdscream over him like a Backstreet Boys concert in 1998. Everyone in theband chants through their mics, “We believe in Barack Obama, he lovesyou, and he loves your mama!” The band is happy and artsy, and theyclap along to their own songs, making it obvious that they enjoyplaying their own music as much as the somewhat crowded downstairs ofthe venue enjoys watching them. One of their last songs has everyoneyelling over each other to the lyrics of their radio hit, “As You Cry,”sung primarily by Morris; one might recognize it from tuning intostations like 107.5 KZL over the summer. When the performanceis over, they run back inside after the lights turn back on and givesweaty hugs and autograph everything in sight — taking pictures withfans and talking to everyone until kids are shoved out the door forcurfew. Then the tour manager turns to me exhausted and run down.“Where can we all go get a drink around here?” he ask. I laugh.Everyone changes clothes and spends the remainder of the evening pastlast call at their new favorite North Carolinapub, M’Coul’s (aside from Greta, who is underage —but she doesn’t mind,she falls asleep long before the boys even leave for the bar).

Write in to win a copy of their 2008 album Goodbye Blues and tell me your favorite part of their show last week: heather@yesweekly.com .

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