The Hive Minds are one of the busiest bands in the Coachella Valley. After recording an album, finally finding a permanent bass player, and playing several shows in the valley, they continue to push the bar higher for themselves.
During a recent interview in Palm Springs, frontman Derek Gregg said that they are also pursuing a little bit of an edgier and different sound.
“We just stepped up our game on every label,” said Gregg. “We’re just a lot more professional. Our new songs aren’t something I just wrote up and said, ‘Hey Sean, throw a beat on this.’ We leave things open for interpretation as a group. It’d be a cool vibe how Sean and I would do it and it was an in the moment kind of thing, but it’s just a lot better now. We’ll vamp on a part until it locks in and we don’t accept it until we’re comfortable with it. We put a little bit of a pop-punk influence into it. It’s high energy for sure.”
Sean Poe, the Hive Minds drummer, agreed that their songwriting has changed for the better.
“We’re doing a whole different kind of songwriting,” said Poe. “A lot of our songs are quite a bit different than our older stuff. We have group vocals going on now and Matt is doing backup vocals on every song. We have some group chants going on.”
Matt Styler, the Hive Minds’ new bassist, is also taking part in the writing process.
“Stuff gets workshopped now,” Styler said. “We actually take the time, play the part, and say, ‘How does everyone feel about that? What can we do differently? Where can we go from here?’ Obviously, it wasn’t there before from what it sounds like, but now songs get built instead of coming in and adding stuff to it.”
Currently, the Hive Minds are working with Ronnie King, who also recently worked with IIIZ (formerly the Yip Yops), and also big names such as Tupac Shakur, Rancid, Mariah Carey, and many more.
“We’re going to record an EP of about 5 tracks,” Gregg said. “I got a lot of compliments on our album, and people said it was really chill. But wait till you hear the next one.”
As for how Styler joined the Hive Minds, Styler and Poe have known each other for awhile and also played together in a very short-lived band earlier this year that didn’t go past 1 show at Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert. Styler told the story about how he just found his way into the band.
“I knew Sean from a previous bands and I would get invitations to Hive Minds things. One day I was super bored. I asked my friends if they wanted to check out one of their shows that night and we went out and saw them play, and I’m totally digging everything that they’re doing. I went, ‘You know, I think they might benefit from a bass player. I’m a bass player.’ I asked Sean, ‘So do you guys want a bass player or are you doing the 2-piece thing?’ and he said, ‘Derek really wants a bass player! He’s tired of having to play rhythm all the time!’ I told Derek and he just started to test me. He told me, ‘Meet me in 2 days, I’m going to teach you an hour’s worth of original songs.’ I was stoked, actually. I was all like, ‘Oh great, I have nothing on Monday, awesome!’ They recently told me, ‘We’ve had bass players before, but you’re the first official third Hive Mind that we’ve had.’ We actually click.”
Styler fit in well with the Hive Minds sound and was also a perfect fit personality wise for the band. Gregg recalled how surprised he was that it all worked out in the end.
“There was so much time where we were working and didn’t build relationships like we have now, I remember one night we all hung out and did the comradery thing, and we stayed up till 4 in the morning. It was a trip because I realized that I felt bad because I didn’t appreciate how he stepped in. Sean and I have a really high work ethic and that’s how it’s always been, and Matt was just able to step right in there and we developed a strong sense of band and work ethic, and a very strong friendship.”
As for their first self-titled album that was released last year in December, Gregg said that while he’s content with the album, it didn’t go as far for them as they had originally hoped.
“We got positive feedback and nominated by CV Weekly for Best Album, but I don’t feel like it got the reception I hoped for, honestly. Maybe we had a problem with how we promoted it, I don’t know. But we’re working with a manager right now, so once we release the EP, we’re going to do it right.”
“It was under the radar and didn’t really pop out at all. I didn’t hear a single person tell me anything bad about it either. Everybody has praise for it but I don’t think it reached the audience we hoped for. We just signed on with Morgan James to be our manager and it’s already working out in spades.”
There was one thing I had to ask that I have never asked before during my previous interviews with the Hive Minds – what’s up with the matching black and white outfits and vests?
Poe said that it’s something he’s done in life and on stage.
“It doesn’t really come from anything. I’ve always just had the philosophy that I’m going to a gig or I’m going to work or something like that, so I need to dress up a little bit and look better than if I was scumming around or something. I believe, ‘This is your job, dress like you’re being professional. So I’ve always had that philosophy. I’ve always worn a collared shirt to any gig that I’ve ever done. Derek just dresses like that all the time.”
Gregg admitted that he’s that way all the time.
“I dress that way when I go out for coffee. But black and white is pretty iconic when you think about it.”
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