When we met up with the man behind Hooray for Earth’s grungy pop tunes, Noel Heroux was just coming from the depths of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where the band had been checking out an old van for sale. Heroux, who was a raised a Massachusetts boy, relocated to Manhattan’s west side just over four years ago. Sitting down at his local bar, Heroux described the sketchy practice of buying a used van from random dudes in Bay Ridge. “If I ramble,” he said politely, “just tell me, I tend to do that.” It was of course, Heroux’s “rambling” that made talking to him fun, revealing a modest charisma that may not have come across were we not face-to-face.
“I moved to Boston [from Grafton, Mass,] and that’s where the band started in 2005,” Noel explained. “I didn’t feel like a part of anything [in Boston] and I kind of got burnt out. I was living under a rock basically, living in our rehearsal space. I was just closed in,” he confesses. During the next few years, Heroux would move to pretty much every neighborhood Boston had to offer, but never quite found whatever it was that he was hoping to discover. “I didn’t really talk to anyone—didn’t have a phone, didn’t have email or Internet. So, it wasn’t a really productive time of growth for me,” Heroux says, looking back. “My girlfriend was living in [New York,] and we had the whole long distance thing going on for a while.” So in 2007 Heroux made the plunge, packed up his life and left Boston for New York.
“Moving out of there was so necessary. When I came out to New York, I was much more relaxed.” Heroux paused to realize how funny that can sound, calling New York a relaxing place, “I mean that sounds crazy—its crazy here, but I was removed from a really negative place.” Heroux explained that before Hooray for Earth officially started, “there were weird little incarnations of it, but it was, uhh,” he pauses, “mostly shit.” Reflecting on his music then, as opposed to what Hooray for Earth is putting out now, Heroux justifies, “When we first started, like I said, I wasn’t really experiencing the world—I just had a bad attitude. I actually think that if I just took all the vocals out I might like it, it was just me being really pissed off. It was like I had something to prove – lyrically and how the vocals came across – to me it sounds like someone who had a lot of baggage. Once I got away from it, it was the most unattractive thing to hear.”
Thankfully, things have drastically changed for Heroux and Hooray for Earth—touring with the likes of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Architecture in Helsinki,—not to mention playing their own packed shows at places like Brooklyn Bowl. For Heroux, the show at Brooklyn Bowl has been their best so far. “I was so shocked to see how many people actually came to see us, it was late—like a 1am show—and it really blew my mind. I was prepared to play for 50 people, I thought ‘oh it will be fun, we are playing at Brooklyn Bowl, its going to sound good and we’ll just get drunk,’ but then 450 people were there! That was the first time I thought—‘ok, we are doing something half decent.’”
To get a sense of their experience during the early days of the band, Heroux described one of the weirdest shows the band has ever played, in Jacksonville, FL. The audience was a measly 3-5 people. Hooray for Earth shared the bill with a punk band, and the band was just miserable. They spent the evening berating the bartender, trying to light a fire onstage because it was too “cold,” and insistently referred to the sound guy as “Ogre,” “[they were] yelling, ‘Yo Ogre, we can’t fucking hear shit up here.’” Ashamed to be involved in the whole thing, Hooray for Earth played four songs to the few people left in the crowd and called it a night.
Clearly, Hooray for Earth have come a long way… and the best part is that they deserve it. Oh, and even better yet, they returned to that same venue in Jacksonville on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart tour, only this time it was completely sold out. “It was so fun,” says Heroux. “JP [Pitts] from Surfer Blood did our lights, which were basically crazy, seizure-inducing flashes. It was probably the most fun we have ever had at a show. It was just such a triumph.”
Now is the time to catch Hooray for Earth in your town, before every show is a sold-out show. Catch Hooray for Earth as they tour with Cymbals Eat Guitars throughout the fall.—Annick Mayer