There’s something different about a talented, upbeat rock band; a certain positive energy flows through the space the music inhabits, almost as if the human brain is naturally conditioned to react in such a way. When that first infectious chorus hits the audience, the room seems to overflow with passion, a reminder that the simplest and most straightforward sounds can also be the most powerful.
With its latest full-length, High Beams, the New York pop-rock quartet 1-800-BAND sets out to recreate this feeling as often and as honestly as possible. Frontman and guitarist Al Huckabee is 1-800’s driving creative force; his endearingly simple, ’80s inspired songwriting style is what makes the band great. Huckabee knows all too well the power of the kind of music he creates and strives to use it for good.
“When I go see a band, I just want to see them having a blast and working really hard on the stage, you know? That’s a thing a band can give to an audience,” he says. “To me, the greatest thing a band can do is sort of bring this — ‘let’s have a great time right now.’ That’s sort of the goal.”
Huckabee and the rest of 1-800 will be looking to bring that exact vibe to Now That’s Class on Sunday, the final date of their tour in support of High Beams
— and given the quality of the record’s material, they should have no trouble getting the audience exactly where they want it. Highlights like “One Time Goodbye,” “Cotton Candy” and “Do It Again” check every box on the list of things a great pop song needs to have. It doesn’t hurt either that the band was fortunate enough to work with legendary jangle-pop producer Mitch Easter, who made his name working on R.E.M.’s early material.
“He has a long history of bands like the early R.E.M. stuff,” says Huckabee of Easter’s influence on the record. “It has a little bit of jangle and a little bit of twang, which is sort of what we’re working in right now.”
Indeed, High Beams
does tend to lean in a bit of an Americana direction, as Huckabee grew up playing in more country-oriented rock bands in his native Delaware County, Ohio. However, he insists that each member of the band has an influence on 1-800’s sonic direction and is grateful for the wide range of influences coming from all directions during the writing process.
“[Keyboardist] Polly has these tastes that run in a strange metal direction. Steve, our drummer, he’s super grounded in country music,” Huckabee says. “If you ask each member of the band who the influences are, it’s all completely different — but we’re all friends, and we all enjoy working together, so we all go in a room and start making music and what comes out comes out.”
Whatever the exact dynamic may be, 1-800-BAND are definitely doing something right. Expect boundless energy and pop-rock spirit when they roll through Cleveland next month.