Hailing from the musical hotbed of Austin, Texas, Gabe Hascall made his name as both a founding member of theImpossibles, and later cult-favourites, Slowreader. As a solo musician, Gabe estimated he has already recorded over 200 songs, yet his upcoming album, Realize What’s Real, out next month via Austin Town Hall Records, is only his second, “official” solo album. Written and recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic, the album took seven months to complete, and in Gabe’s own words was, “finished and torn down several times before it reached its logical conclusion”. Ahead of the album’s release, today Gabe is premiering his new single, Never Say Never.
Never Say Never is a beautifully precise piece of songwriting, from two guitar lines that are panned wide and seem to almost mirror each other, that are so perfectly chiming they almost sound like steel drums, to the warm hug of the organ that seems to hold the whole thing together. Emerging from the beautiful backing is Gabe’s double-tracked vocals, rich and melodic without ever being showy, it brings to mind the likes of The Antlers or Here We Go Magic.
Check out Never Say Never below, and then read on for our Q&A with Gabe, where he discussed his upcoming album, the importance of putting in time to get the results you want and why he’s, “planning on writing and recording at a furious pace until at least I’m 100”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Gabe Hascall?
I am a 43 year old songwriter and singer from Austin, TX. My past bands include The Impossibles and Slowreader. As a solo artist I am officially getting ready to release album #2 but I’ve been working on music pretty much nonstop for the last 20 years.
FTR: Your new single, Never Say Never, is premiering here today, what can you tell us about the track?
Whenever I finish a song I never think it’s better or worse than any of the other ones but once the recording starts coming into place sometimes certain things or whole songs stand out and feel special. I love “Never Say Never.” The beat is awesome, the melody is precise and the hard panned guitars are relying on each other for survival.
FTR: The song is lifted from your upcoming album, Realize What’s Real, what can you tell me about the recording process?
I record everything at home using very basic instruments and recording equipment. I’ve been learning how to record in my own way for a very long time. I’m not sure why I feel like I need to do everything myself. It’s been all trial and error and working until it sounds right. As time has gone by I’ve just gotten better at hearing how it’s supposed to sound. It sounds really good now.
FTR: What did you do differently compared to your first record?
The instrumentation on the first record was a little more straight forward and I used loops of real drummers on that one. This one I programmed a lot of the beats and sequenced a lot of the notes. I’ve been using the MC 505 groovebox for a long time and I have two of them now but I think I’m getting ready to retire them. There are many new directions in which to go!
FTR: You’re obviously known for playing in other bands, how do you approach a solo album differently to a more collaborative record?
I learned a lot from my bandmates and I am the musician and songwriter I am today partly because of them. I miss the love and camaraderie but at this point I am as isolated as someone working on music could be. This is how I like it. It feels more like what I imagine it would be like for someone who writes books or something like that. I just put in the time because I feel like this is my role to play. If I put in the time I get the results and it all comes easily.
FTR: Who are your influences as a songwriter? What were you listening to when you wrote that record?
There are many songs and artists that I will always love and admire but I spend so much time on my own stuff that I don’t listen to other music that much right now. I have to decompress a lot. I watch a lot of films, though. Shows, too. I think all art and creativity are coming from the same place so it’s easy to feel inspired. It’s necessary.
FTR: It’s obviously a strange world to be releasing the album into, how has the pandemic affected your plans?
A year ago I was going to start playing out live quite a bit and that obviously didn’t happen but I’ve been keeping busy with writing. I’ll be ready to go when things really start to open back up.
FTR: What’s the best way for people to support musicians at this time?
Shit, I don’t know. Purchase music if you can. Emotional support? Everybody needs some of that. Love and understanding? I don’t really know what else there is to offer. Also, people can just be ready to get going when it’s all going again. I don’t think that will be a problem. People still love music. They miss live music, absolutely.
FTR: Once you can get back out on the road, what can people expect from the Gabe Hascall live show?
I’m going to be playing by myself with some cool shit coming through some extra amps on stage and sometimes I just going to bring my little nylon string guitar on stage and stick a mic in front of it and sing a play a whole show like that. It’s gonna sound great – lots of loud guitar sounds. Acoustic guitar can be a very violent instrument, especially if one of the two middle strings is *slightly, barely* out of tune. If I can get my keyboard chops back I’ll sit down and play some of that through an amp with guitar pedals. Down the line I’ll start reaching out to other people about helping me out with my live show. For now, it’s just me.
FTR: Why do you make music?
It’s what I was born to do. 🙂
FTR: Do you have any other creative outlets beyond music?
I’ve been uploading a bunch of streamlined live videos, mostly on instagram but now other places, too. I’m trying to make each one cool and unique and its been a fun challenge. Other than that, no. Nothing besides music.
FTR: What are your ambitions for this record? Is music still a viable career?
I used to want to be famous and probably rich, too, but now I’m not thinking too much about that. I just want to do my best work and go where it takes me. I’m not looking to have a career, per se.
FTR: What’s next for Gabe Hascall?
I’m planning on writing and recording at a furious pace until at least I’m 100 and probably going to chill after that.
Realize What’s Real is out May 20th via ATH Records. For more information on Gabe Hascall go to https://twitter.com/GabeHascall.