Sneaking out at midnight. Breaking curfew. Underage drinking. Revealing clothes. Dark makeup.
Teenage rebellion is a wonderful phase we go through in an attempt to find ourselves- and nothing beats the thrill of disobedience. For biting punk-spunk rockers The Haunt, rebellion is more than a pinnacle period of adolescence; it’s a gripping aesthetic promoting freedom of expression, unapologetic beliefs, and blissful nonconformity.
After releasing their sophomore EP Social Intercourse in April, the band has made a swift return with their new single “Hollywood”, a riot anthem that has quite the story behind it, written specifically for a film that brandishes a plot composed entirely of young-adult spontaneity and humorous chaos – ironically similar to the record’s cultivation.
It was while the band was in the midst of recording their new album in Los Angeles (set to drop this upcoming fall) that they got word from acclaimed comedic actress and now director Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation, Dead to Me), who asked them to write a song for her Hulu original film, Plan B. The teen comedy follows Sunny, a straight-laced high school student (Kuhoo Verma) and her slacker best friend, Lupe (Victoria Moroles) who have 24 hours to hunt down a Plan B pill after a wild night gone wrong. And with just about 24 hours to create the track, The Haunt – pulling an all-nighter and recording in an Airbnb at 5 o’clock in the morning – managed to produce a song encompassing fierce liberation, rowdy and beaming.
Fresh out of the waters of South Florida, the band was born out of a family affair, coined from the shared last name of 18-year-old superstar Anastasia Haunt (lead vocals) and hotshot older brother Maxamillion (guitar, production). Accompanying them are powerhouses Nick Lewert (drums and production) and Nat Smallish (bass), and in their music video for “Hollywood,” you can watch the foursome – adorned in glowing pinks and blues, black fishnets, crimped hair, MTV graphic T’s, and mesh shirts – perform at an 80’s themed house party with a fiery discord.
New music. New features. A fresh sound. There’s much to be discussed with The Haunt regarding their wild experiences and musical endeavors, and I had the chance to find out all about them.
First thing’s first: what made you want to form a band, and how have you all evolved as a group since then?
Hey! Thank you so much for having us. Anastasia and I are siblings and we started playing music together when she was around 9 years old. She would play open mics and I would play guitar or piano accompanying her. We started as a two piece doing covers of popular songs, and then eventually started writing our own music. After some time playing as a two piece we adopted a drummer, and then eventually a bassist. A few members later and now we have our current solid group of Anastasia, me (Maxamillion), Nick Lewert (drums), and Nat Smallish (bass).
Having siblings of my own, I know how there can be the highest of highs and lowest of lows when working on something together (God bless them, and my patience). Can you go more in depth on your relationship and how you separate the family life from the professional life?
Honestly, we’re pretty fortunate that our relationship is the way that it is. We only argue over stupid things, and almost never argue for more than a few minutes. Before we started playing music together, we didn’t have the best relationship, but the band turned us into best friends. Sure there are times when being in a band with your sibling is annoying, but it’s almost always much more high than low.
What/who influences your sound, and how do you use those influences to create a sound all your own?
Pretty much everything we listen to influences the music we make in some way. There’s a few artists that influence us much more than others, like The White Stripes, Royal Blood, Paramore, Amy Winehouse, and a bunch of others, but we’re constantly taking in new ideas to help create really interesting music, even in strange places such as 90s hip hop and old blues.
What does your creation process look like, and what valuable contributions (other than your instrumental skills) do you each bring to the music?
Our creative process is different on every song. Sometimes Anastasia will write a bunch of the lyrics and the melody for a song and bring it to me and Nick to produce it, and build out some instrumentation. Sometimes we’ll write a piece of music with some melodies and give it to her to make it better. It’s never a process that’s set in stone, which is part of why I think we have such a diverse range of genres and styles that we hit in our music.
Moving on to your new single “Hollywood.” What was it like to hear not one, but two of your songs featured in a Hulu original movie? (Congrats btw!)
Thank you! It was honestly such an amazing feeling. We definitely want to thank Hulu, and everyone on the Plan B team, especially the director and good friend Natalie Morales.
I understand that the record was created under a significant time crunch. What was that experience like? Most favorite/least favorite part?
It definitely was. There was no least favorite part, aside from awake at 5 AM LOL. It was a ton of fun, we were in an Airbnb in LA, and we were told that they needed a version to reference for the song like… ASAP. So we got to work when we got home (around 2 AM) and created all of the final tracks that night. All of the final, guitars, vocals, bass, drums, we did it all that night/morning at 5 AM. We’d never written anything like that, so it was a really fun and weird experience. We like to think it sounds like the actual chaos that went into creating it.
Even though the track was initially made with the movie in mind, did you still have something specific you wanted to say regardless? And at the end of the day, what tone/aesthetic/character did you want the song to encompass?
We were told to make a party/girl-punk song, so that’s what we did. When we made “Hollywood,” we were channeling a crazy high school party as our biggest influence and we think the song and video reflect that!
Your music video for the single looks like it was tons of fun to produce. What made you go with an 80s theme, and are there any amusing highlights from the taping?
It definitely was a ton of fun! We threw a little event at our rehearsal space with a few good friends and played through the song, and performed our live set for the first time in over a year. It was honestly so much fun.
So I’m aware that “Hollywood” is set to be on a future debut album of yours. How does it feel to finally be releasing a full project, and what can we expect from it compared to your past discography?
We’re honestly super excited about what’s to come, but we’re actually keeping it pretty under wraps right now. What I can say is that it’ll be a ton of fun, with a lot more of a rock and punk influence on a lot of the music, while still staying very modern on the production aspects. Be on the lookout for new jams 😉
With restrictions settling down, are there any plans for you guys to get back into regularly playing gigs, or even a tour?
Yes! We’re working hard to book as many great live shows as possible, so always check our social media (@WeAreTheHaunt) for updates! We can’t wait to play for you guys again as the world starts to open.
While we anxiously wait for the release of your new album this fall, what will The Haunt be doing in the meantime?
We’re constantly producing new music, and creating new content for our fans. Our social media is the best way to keep up to date on new music, which we try to put out as frequently as we can, so definitely check in there as often as possible!
Thank you so much for having us!