We Talk With Near Hills About Their Debut Album
A huge portrait of a wrinkled bulldog hangs in the living room where Near Hills is practicing. It somehow manages to look regal and silly at the same time and complements the bulldog statue they also have. The portrait is more than just decor, it’s also the artwork for their new (and first) album that’s was released on March 15.
All three members of the band are chomping at the bit to finally get their first EP out there, and understandably so. They’ve been working on it for over a year.
“It’s been a long time coming, and it’s finally ready. We’re all so eager to have it out there,” said Maddy Ciampa, who plays the cello and tambourine in the band.
The new EP is self titled, and will feature five songs that the band has written. Jamie Moriarty, their guitar player, described it as a “minimalist” compilation. They performed a couple of songs during their practice, and fans have reason to be excited. Their gentle harmonies add a touch of soul to their indie-folk sound, and the result is powerful.
The lyrics on Near Hills seem ambiguous at points, and that’s intentional. They like to write that way to leave the interpretation up to the listener.
“It provides room for the listener to play a role in the process,” Moriarty said. “You can mold the song any way you want, which gets the listener involved.”
The EP might be made in minimalist fashion, but don’t let that fool you. Between the three of them, they play a slew of instruments. Ben Leeson, the other member, plays five different instruments including piano, accordion, and harmonica.
“People just kept giving me instruments, so I learned how to play them,” he joked as we sat on their front porch, enjoying the cool spring afternoon.
Along with the laundry list of instruments they can play, they also have some unconventional methods of achieving the right sound.
“We actually put a bass pedal against an accordion case to keep the beat,” said Moriarty.
It’s probably not the ideal way of doing it, but it achieves the desired effect just fine and is a good indicator that they know how to get creative.
As they hash out details of upcoming shows and the EP’s release party, it’s clear they’re excited. They’ve got a lot to look forward to, and so do their fans. Near Hills will be available on Bandcamp.