I spoke with Hellogoodbye frontman Forrest Kline a few weeks ago while their national BBQ tour was at it's height. The tour, aptly titled "The BBQ Tour" involves, well you guessed it, BBQing before each concert. Forrest explained that the band tries to set up a potluck before each show (depending on the weather, venue location, etc.) where they invite fans to come hang out, grill, and eat some veggie dogs while he plays an acoustic set. Not your typical pre-show ritual, it gives fans the chance to meet the band in a different setting before each show.
Forrest was nice enough to take some time out from driving with the rest of the band (and playing what sounded like a hilarious, but painful slapping game) to chat with me about the tour, their next album and the history behind their name. Having an energetic, albeit quirky set at times, Hellogoodbye kept the crowd at Blender Theatre alive at their recent performance in New York. From taking, what sounded like, a painful stage dive at the show to playing his ukulele, Kline is definitely an entertaining frontman. Read below for my exclusive interview with Hellogoodbye and be sure to check out their MySpace to listen to their tunes.
How’s the tour going so far?
The tour is going great. We’re getting some great responses. We’re playing some great shows, they’re filling up. We just got done with Florida and they were all really, really good shows. We’re actually playing a game right now where if you ask a question and someone can answer it they get to slap you so the morale is at an ultimate high because we’re all just really enjoying ourselves. I think this might be the first tour where the band feels really connected. We’ve always had a connection, but we’re at a place where we all just feel like best friends. So, whether we’re jamming together or eating at Panera Bread (which happens to be our favorite stop), or slapping each other in the van, we’re just all having a great time. The tour couldn’t go better. We had a couple of van problems in the beginning, but sometimes if you want the dog you’re going to have to deal with the fleas, am I right? And if you want to tour, you’re going to have to say, “Maybe the van’s going to bust.” That’s just part of the job.
What can fans expect on this tour?
The band is tight and things are going good. We’re playing three new songs on this tour which is good, so we’re switching the set up. We haven’t played new songs in over a year, and those are getting a good response. We’re selling an EP at the shows; a limited edition three-song EP. We sell 25 per show and they go like hotcakes. So, if anyone reads this before they get to the next show, they better run over and get those EP fast. And if they say they know Jon Cheese, they get a mustache kiss. A little mustache rub on the cheek, make the kids happy.
Is this tour any different from previous tours?
Our tour manager Duncan has really stepped it up in being more part of the act, instead of tour managing and that’s changed a lot. He’ll jump on the drum kit, he’ll grab a guitar, he’ll dress up as Batman and sing in the microphone and that’s really been awesome. There’s been a lot more stage dives than normal. Luckily, Travis, the bass player, is always there to catch Forrest, which is me, on the stage dives so it’s good.
So tell me about your new EP.
It’s our new EP with three of our new songs, but ukulele versions. It’s not the actual album version, so it really is a limited edition. These things are going to be extinct soon
Are you working on a follow up to your debut full-length, Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! album?
Oh yeah, we’ve been working on new things all year. As soon as this tour is over we’re going to finish recording them, hopefully have it done real soon. So, watch out America ’cause Hellogoodbye is coming to town!
Do you have a favorite song you like to play on tour?
Probably “Shimmy Shimmy.” Just because it was one of the first songs I wrote, and it’s nice that people can still be rocking out to it since it was written six years ago or so. That’s a lot fun; real simple song.
Does there seem to be a crowd favorite?
I think “Here (In Your Arms)” is probably the crowd favorite right now.
“Here (In Your Arms)” was huge for you guys. It was on the Top 40 and Billboard charts. Do you feel any pressure to make another hit and surpass the single?
You know, the same way I was feeling when I wrote “Here (In Your Arms)” I’m feeling that again. And I think the hits are going to start pouring out to tell you the truth. I don’t really feel pressured. I have been blessed with the gift of music and it just comes natural.
What is your typical writing process like?
It usually involves a little Pete and Pete, some veggie dogs and an Italian soda. And then I’m usually accompanied by Winnie and Gordie who are kind of my co-producers and Chelsea, my girlfriend, is my main inspiration as you know most of the songs are love songs.
You started out playing in high school.
Yes. I started in high school. I went to Huntington Beach High School. We played the talent show, me and my friend Aaron Flora. We played the talent show and our band was called A Colorful Symphony and we won first place. We were the closing act. And after that we were like, “We should start a band!” So we grabbed a couple of other friends and we started playing locally and things just started to go from there.
Did you ever imagine you’d be touring the US and Europe?
It was always a dream of mine, so to be doing it is a real privilege.
I read that the band name was originally inspired in part by popular TV show “Saved By the Bell” and a Beatles song. Is that true?
“Saved By the Bell” is just a real big inspiration, Zack Morris and the gang. I got beat up a lot in high school. I was skinny and had kind of a high voice so I would run home as fast as I could and what always got me through the day was quesadillas and “Saved By the Bell.” I felt like “Saved By the Bell” was a high school that I always wanted to be in because mine was so brutal.
I read in a past interview that you didn’t shop your music around at all before signing with Drive Thru records, how did that come about?
We had been playing local venues and just been getting a good response. I used to work at Drive Thru as a Web designer so I kind of had a relationship with them already and when they heard I was playing music again they contacted us and brought us in there and we signed to Drive Thru.
Do you still design all your T-Shirts and Web sites?
We still design the Web site. This last batch of T-shirts was designed by an artist that I really like, but usually we do all of our own designing and arts.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
I don’t know. I think we’re just really excited about what we do. That’s a tough one. It’s unique to our surroundings and growing up in California and drinking smoothies and running on the beach.
If your life was a book, what would the title be?
It would be I listen to country music.
Really? Does that inspire any of your music?
Yeah, I think that’s kind of the underlining theme of it all. Well, the fact that I listen to country music. It goes much deeper than that itself.
Watch a brief tour recap from the BBQ Tour below and check out their MySpace for more.
Feel free to watch Billboard hit, "Here (In Your Arms)" below as well.