For more than a decade, the Handgrenades have met weekly to play together. That weekly habit – in good times and bad, with changes of membership, through the pandemic – is one reason why the band is ready to get back on stage for the first time since November 2019 and release new music into the world.
The band’s latest album, “After Hours,” comes out Aug. 13, and Handgrenades co-founder Nick Chevillet said it was one of the most difficult recording experiences of his life. Yet, it also was one of the most creative, stretching the band in unexpected ways. He hopes the sound of those moments – live, raw, dealing with coronavirus and still finding a way to come together – comes through the music and the album release show planned at Ferndale’s Magic Stick.
“It sounds weird, but the pandemic gave us what we needed, which was time off to start feeling like we had to play live,” said Chevillet, one of the original members since its Allen Park days and songwriters for the band.
Singles including “I’m Away” have done well online and on Spotify, signaling that fans are ready for the album. More importantly, ticket sales for the album-release party Aug. 14 have been fast, indicating that everyone who loves seeing bands in person are ready for a reason to get out and have some fun, Chevillet said.
“People are hungry for live music,” Chevillet said. “That creates a lot of pressure. We expected to sell some tickets, but it’s almost sold out. … A lot of people get into the habit of seeing local bands and live music as their main social outlet.”
Recording the album was a testament to that love of doing things as a band and capturing that signature Handgrenades sound, Chevillet said. The production is top-notch, but not being able to be in the same room throughout the process proved one of the toughest parts of the process, he said.
“We don’t live together, so we still had to be super cautious about playing in the same room,” Chevillet said, especially in the height of the pandemic when singing out loud was not exactly social distancing. “Our producer, Zack Shipps, had to come over and make a mobile recording set up.”
Once they had the base tracks, they continued to collaborate in different locations and with different combinations of the band to get the final recordings done. They would send the result to Shipps, who mixed it all together. It was a process like no other, Chevillet admits, but it created a special result.
“I didn’t know how to record music before so I learned a lot about it,” Chevillet said with a laugh. “It would sound and feel so good, but then cases would spike and we couldn’t get together. That was so frustrating. But we came out learning a totally new way of doing things and now we’re overall enthusiastic about it.”
The release show will start at 7 p.m. with open doors at the Magic Stick. There will be sets with Mac Saturn and Bryan Huge Iglesias as well as performances by DJ Seven Whales and DJ Sam Morykwas. The show is all ages and tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the event. There also will be an afterparty at the Alley Deck.