The Halfways discuss their music and the local scene

Photo by Natalie Bojorquez/FIUSM 

Junette Reyes/Entertainment Director

Diego Saldaña-Rojas/Staff Writer 

In the series of sit downs with local artists, FIU Student Media has had the opportunity to sit down and interview artist Smurphio from the local electronic funk band known as Afrobeta, local hip-hop artist Flight Williams from the collective rap group known as Outta This World, local DJ and producer Jesse Perez, Harlowe G. and Lauren from Jean Jacket, Juan Turros and Michelle Forman of ¡Suénalo!, and members Michelangelo, Alana Dym, ChrisP and Sean of The Cornerstoners.

This time around, FIUSM got to interview up-and-coming local band The Halfways in collaboration with the WRGP Radiate FM program called Local Radiation.

The Halfways is comprised of rhythm guitarist and vocalist Daniel Fernandez, lead guitarist Alejandro Facusse and bassist Harrison Kelner. All three members performed acoustically live in the studio during Local Radiation.

How did you guys form?

Daniel: I started writing songs three years ago and then in 2012 I recorded an album. Alejandro and I know each other from back home in Honduras, which is where we’re from. He decided to move to Miami in April of last year and since then, we’ve been practicing together. And then we met Harrison, a.k.a curious George Harrison, at Churchill’s when he saw us playing a set there. He lives in my building, curiously enough, and he became the bass player.

How would you describe your sound?

Daniel: I think it’s a mixture. Our sound is very different live say in a bar for example. We toned it down for the radio. Live, I would say it has like a jam, progressive feeling. If there were bands today that I could say we sound a little bit like, I would say White Denim, maybe Unknown Mortal Orchestra. And those are current bands. But classically, I say we sound or at least we’re very influenced by bands like The Who, Grateful Dead and obviously The Beatles and Pink Floyd.

You’ve mentioned that your sound has changed. How would you explain that transformation?

Daniel: Well, inevitably, when more musicians are added to the mix, the sound changes completely and it’s not a conscious decision. When I was playing alone, I was writing songs one way but now that I’m writing songs for a full band, it inevitably sounds different. And when you hear us playing together, it just rocks more. It’s harder.

Alejandro: Your album doesn’t have very strong percussion. The percussion, actual drums, brings a lot of heavy elements into the mix.

Daniel: Whereas what I recorded alone would be psychedelic folk, what we’re doing now would be more like jam, progressive rock, even with elements of fusion. Songs change a lot within themselves.

How do you compose your music?

Daniel: The way we do music is that I write the songs and then we adapt them as a band. Really, there are no limits to where a song can go. If you listen to these songs played here today in a rock setting, they’re going to sound much more different. They just have more effects pedals to begin with, more grit.

What is the meaning behind the track titled “Rope”?

Daniel: To be honest, sometimes I write songs and I don’t really know what they’re about until after. But if I had to assign a meaning to this song, I would say when you screw up, sometimes it’s best to leave things alone and not correct. Because sometimes when you try to correct them, you end of messing things up more.

What is the meaning behind the track titled “Gnarltrees”?

Daniel: That was actually the first song that I wrote that I was willing to show people. To be playing it on the radio is pretty cool. It’s about “The Empire Strikes Back,” when they’re in Dagobah and their ship is stuck.

How did “Burning House” come about, particularly the intro?

Daniel: Just in the beginning we were trying to incorporate the sound of Venice. We were messing around and tremolo picking is really fun, so we wanted to incorporate it into the song. We were trying to start the song and we were just fooling around.

Where have you performed?

Daniel: We have performed at The Electric Pickle, at The Stage. Then we performed at other places that I’d rather not mention. We’ve performed at Churchill’s too. We’ve done smaller things.

Alejandro: Tobacco Road. We played at The Hard Rock once.

Daniel: It’s not as rocking as it sounds but it was fun.

Alejandro: It was on Halloween and everyone was dressed up, so it was pretty cool.

Do you improvise during live performances?

Alejandro: Yes! We just like having fun and we like to keep things fun and the way to keep things fun is just to improvise and see what comes out of certain situations. Live, there are certain jam parts in between songs where there’s a lot of space where we can just improvise.

Daniel: The structures of the songs are pretty much decided on but what we play during each one is not necessarily always the same, so I guess we do improvise.

How have the crowds reacted to you?

Daniel: Well, everybody seems to like it but they’re just not really used to this kind of sound, especially here in Miami. So it gets them by surprise, which I think is a good thing.

What are your thoughts on Miami’s music scene?

Daniel: I think the best way to put it is that it’s incomplete. There is a bunch of stuff boiling and it’s good but I feel like if we want to create something worth being musicians for, then I think all musicians are going to have to work together to make something that jells. We’re not quite there yet, but at the same time I feel like Miami is still growing as a city and the music will grow along with it. I’m glad to be here at the start.

How do you feel you are contributing to the local music scene?

Daniel: Well first of all, I feel like we’re contributing to it by being musicians. I feel like it’s hard to find musicians here in Miami. Being musicians is the first step. We’re still not the best we can be but I feel like we’re growing along with it and hopefully one day it’ll be something worth looking at. 

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