With the band’s first tour completed and a second album under its belt, Hydra Plane’s influence is on its way to extending far beyond the Capital City.
The surf-rock three-piece comprises of University alumni Jacob Stanley and Stephen Nelson, and music senior Eric Stewart.
Though Stanley is the main lyricist of the group, all three members contribute to songwriting. Nelson and Stewart build off Stanley’s nascent ideas and create full arrangements around them. Much of the band’s second album was inspired by the change in his life after a breakup earlier this year, Stanley says.
The trio’s sophomore effort is a departure from their self-titled debut album but retains its signature elements of psychedelia, jazz and funk. The record, titled “II,” cements this sound and brings what some would label a niche style into the main arena. The shifts are seamless, the hooks easy to follow.
Listeners will hear longer, more evocative instrumental tracks, strong bass parts and vocals that range in tone throughout, all characteristic of the band’s style. Songs vary from smooth and endearing to nostalgic and laid-back.
Ben Livingston of Earthship Records produced the 11-track album in only two months before the band embarked on tour. The recording process was slightly rushed, Nelson says, but the group wanted a timely release to have fresh material to play.
“It was like two weeks before we were about to leave, and we hadn’t heard any tracks yet,” Stanley says.
Though recording “II” was a quick turnaround, the tracks featured were already being developed a year prior — as soon as they finished their debut album. In true Hydra Plane fashion, the band already has its next project in mind — album “III.”
Stanley, Stewart and Nelson aim to have their third album underway sometime next summer, so they can go on tour again in March.
“We really want to take our time and write like 10 of the best catchy songs, so that we can to get our music in as many people’s ears as we can,” Stanley says.
The band recorded its debut album at the LSU School of Music, so changing to Earthship Records resulted in a shift in sound, Nelson says. They could hear themselves more clearly, and subsequently experimented more with instrumental technique.
“I think that the sound remained consistent, but we focused more on making sure that our sound was cleaner than the first record,” Nelson says. “I think the ingredients remain the same, but there might be a slightly different dispersal of the outcome because we all grew as musicians and instrumentalists,” Stanley adds.
Listen to the album below:
Hydra Plane has had nothing short of a busy summer. In June they released a joint album with local rapper and frequent collaborator Josh Henderson, also known as _thesmoothcat. Future collaborators for shows and/or tracks may include Baton Rouge-based neo-soul group RiaRosa, which Stanley also plays in.
The album features Clark Lambert on trumpet (“Sweat Rag”) and spoken word from poet Emily Jean McCollister (“Bad Witch”), as well as additional vocals from Chloe Marie of Alabaster Stag (“Bad Witch”).
The tight-knit music scene in Baton Rouge prepared the band for its next stepping stone: New Orleans.
Upon returning from their nine-date summer run, Stanley and Nelson have since relocated to the Crescent City, where they’re working to carve out their own niche in the city’s music industry and expand Hydra Plane’s presence in the Big Easy. Fans will see more shows scheduled in New Orleans at venues like Gasa Gasa, Southport Hall and Hi-Ho Lounge.
“It’s a weird position to be in, being a band that has the material that we have now and the way we perform together … moving to New Orleans and virtually knowing nobody, it’s kind of weird, but it’s definitely a process that we’re taking our time to figure out and understand,” Nelson says.
If Hydra Plane attracts new fans in New Orleans as quickly as it did in Baton Rouge, the band’s career will be nothing short of a success.
Hydra Plane is scheduled to play Mid City Ballroom on Sept. 21 and will perform at the Bloom Music and Arts Festival on Oct. 6.