Photo by Paley Fairman
Last year, TIME magazine dubbed the L.A. outfit Hands as one of “11 Great Bands You Don’t Know (But Should)”–not bad for a band that wasn’t even a year old and only had a promising EP to its name. The group didn’t materialize out of nowhere, though–it’s been a long, fitful process.
Geoff Halliday and Ryan Sweeney hit it off in high school in their hometown of Philadelphia but didn’t truly start getting serious about music until college. It was there that they decided a change in scenery and sound was needed. After moving to Los Angeles in 2007, the pair dropped their folky influences (“it just didn’t feel very unique,” concedes Halliday) and linked up with Sean Hess and Alex Staniloff. It took a number of rehearsals to truly gel; finally, the four-piece latched onto a dance-pop sound that nodded to the past as much as the present and future.
Earlier this spring, Hands released its highly-anticipated debut LP, Synesthesia. The title refers to the phenomenon of being able to see shapes or colors when listening to music, and it’s all too fitting. The first word that comes to mind when listening through the record is “light”–as in, the flashing neon lights of a club or futuristic movie set. Thanks to their feverish live shows, Hands have become a word-of-mouth sensation. The band recently stopped by Studio 1A on a drab, rainy afternoon, but even in that setting the group exploded with light and sound, especially on the standout “The Game Is Changing Us.” Synthesizers and digitized loops share space with funky live instrumentation, providing the perfect bed for Halliday’s barely-contained vocals. With performances and songs as hook-laden as these, there’s no need for the sun to shine–Hands have you covered.