The Very Hush Hush is a Denver-Boulder based band that makes its music spin through catharsis and meditationóa sorrowful, textured symphony. Composed of classically trained pianists, Grant Outerbridge and Peter Rappmund, TVHH is admittedly, harmony junkies. But this isnít your typical rock band kind of harmony. No, TVHH's sound is rich, layered, and subtle.
Sure, comparisons are inevitable: Sigur Ros, The Faint, Mogwai. But TVHH has something altogether different.
Because where there is space between melodies, TVHH fills it up with contemplative honesty: oceans crashing against the shore, and those little mantras that you say to yourself before you drift off to sleep.
Itís loud, but soft. Hard, but gentle. Sweet, but sometimes choppy. Itís obscure, but coherent and drives alongside wet coastal winds. Itís retro, but also futurist.
In 2003, TVHH released their EP, Washing Songs, where melancholia ruled. But in their upcoming LP, Mourir C'este Facile (Dying is Easy), due out this winter, the melancholy has been interjected with some keen kicks to the knee. And some aggression that both Grant and Peter feel is much needed.
So, the first question I gotta ask is: whereíd you get the name?
Grant - Itís kind of a 20ís detective thing. ďKeep it hush-hush. Very hush-hush,Ē you know?
Peter - There is an interesting episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called ĎHushí. Hush is just a good sexy command.
What emotions are readily available in your music?
Grant - Touches of melancholia, reservation. What interests us are those pieces that make you squint because it draws something out of you thatís involuntary.
Peter - Most of the time, people seem to need to have things spelled-out for them. Even with art pieces, you see a lot of words on paintings. You get the punch line, and then move on to the next. Our music falls more towards the style of someone like Rothko. You have to sit and stare at it for a while. You need to work a little to get something out of it.
We enjoy playing to obscurity. And to subtleties.
What do you write about?
Peter - I find it much more interesting to write about things that donít sit well with me, as opposed to say, writing about the joy of my life- or, other things which are easy to digest and dismiss. Its self medicating in a sense. I put faith in overpowering experiences- moments of clarity, or sudden revelations.
We like to use language thatís vague enough, and universal enough. Because people have emotions that they canít always assimilate, or bring up in front of others. We can trade secrets with you.
Lyrically, itís a little more obtuse. Because while I try to take what I internalize, and write it out, in the end I write lyrics that I can sing- that roll off the tongue well. But they arenít purposefully cryptic. I try to be as emotive as possible Ö
Thereís a lot of themes that we seem to use. Eyes, and water, which you could translate into drowning, or the fear before the fall. Sexuality as well.
Grant - We also work a lot with the impermanence of relationships, and the malleability of that.
Some of our work seems to be a little pessimistic. But, through pessimism, thereís always some degree of hopefulness. On the other hand, if youíre blindly hopeful all the timeóthatís one of the most depressing things I can think of.
We talk a lot about things you can get lost in, like eyes and water. Whereas we also work a lot with sexual ideas in a vague sense. Which is this crashing thing that you canít predict. You know, the entire ocean beating up against the rocks. The ejaculatory loud/soft dynamic that the Pixies perfected so wellÖ
How do you approach songwriting?
Peter - The way we write our songs could be taken in a sexual context. Like an abstract orgasm. A lot of the songs that we write, the hook comes at the end.
Grant - Itís a lot of foreplay, exposition, and then orgasm. And then youíre happy. And then you want to do it again.
TVHH isnít interested in playing-out their recordings on stage. And due to the nature of their labors in post-production, of layering their multitudes of textures, itís nearly impossible. This is one of the virtues of TVHH: you wonít get on stage what you can get at home. In this way, they will not insult you.
What do you have to say to the fact that your live performances are so different from your recordings?
Grant - Weíre looking to appeal more to the cerebral side of people. For instance, maybe its like, The Birth of TragedyÖ The Apollonian and Dionysian. For us, our recordings are the Apollonian. Our live shows are Dionysian.
Peter - Our sound is paired-down on stage. It has to be raw. But itís also honest. Itís not a lot of simulacra that weíre trying to hide behind. Thirty pedals, random gibberish spewing on video behind you, smoke and mirrors. At a live show people get to experience what we experience, when we write the songs. Before we go into the studio. When we play out itís a little orgiastic.