Not So Idle Hands

| 13 Aug 2014 | 08:10

    It's a rainy afternoon in Belgium, and Brooklyn duo The Hundred In The Hands has its hands full navigating a van down a long, winding hill through a bisque-like fog. The band has been working its way around European byways like this for the past month.

    “It’s nice to hear an American voice again,” vocalist Eleanore Everdell says as she takes the phone. She and multiinstrumentalist Jason Friedman are halfway through The Hundred In The Hands’ first “full-blown” European tour of their brief but already exciting career together. As Friedman suggests, this particular foray is going quite well.

    “Europeans are not as fearful of synthesizers as people have been in America, where people used to get a little freaked out by them,” he says. “But [Europeans] do have a much longer history of being open to dance music, so I think they’ve adopted us a bit faster.”

    The Hundred In The Hands formed in 2008 when Everdell, a Williamsburg singer/songwriter who had worked on songs with TV On the Radio and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, joined Friedman as part of the touring band for his self-helmed project The Boggs, an anything-goes outlet that stretched from Afro-pop to the delta blues to garage rock. The two found a connection in new ideas, and upon their return to Brooklyn, went into the studio to record the song “Dressed in Dresden,” which the band released online in December 2008.

    British dance and underground hiphop tastemaker Pure Groove picked the track up for a 7-inch in March 2009. That June, The Hundred signed a record deal with U.K. electronic powerhouse Warp, home to !!! (whom Hundreds began their European tour supporting), Grizzly Bear and Flying Lotus. A well-received EP, This Desert, followed a year later.

    Currently, the duo is touring in support of its full-length debut, a selftitled work rooted in European dancepop that’s both expansive and multidimensional: a collage of synthesizers and bass-heavy grooves that draws on myriad subtle influences, including hip-hop, R&B or punk.

    These diverse influences have provided both the pain and pleasure for Friedman and Everdell, two songwriters not used to collaborating on ideas in the studio— though you wouldn’t be able to tell from their quick adaptation.

    “In The Boggs, I was obviously the only songwriter,” says Friedman. “What came out of it was all mine. Eleanore also has experience songwriting, so the big thing for us has been working with a collaborator for the first time and learning how to handle those different opinions and ideas.”

    His cohort takes it a step further:

    “For me, it was a relief to have someone to talk to about stuff. When you’re the driving force behind a band, like with what I was doing before we met or what Jason was doing with The Boggs, it can be exhausting. You carry a lot of burden with you.”

    Differing opinions leading to new ideas may be the foremost charm within the band’s dichotomy. It’s allowed The Hundreds In The Hands to exist as equal parts push and pull, contained in the studio and raged on the stage.

    “We’re definitely louder live than on the record, which is pretty cleanly produced,” says Everdell. “We like to feature Jason’s guitar more on stage, and he has some shoegaze-y effects that make everything bigger and crazier. With recorded music and live music, there are really two different sets of rules for how you go about it, and we try to do extended versions of songs and get a bit more zoned out when we’re playing for people.”

    So far, the changes have been met with positive results, though live exposure in America has been held to somewhat of a minimum. The band ran a short tour with The Temper Trap in early autumn, but most of its time has been devoted to writing new songs.

    “Neither of us are people who can write that well on the road,” Everdell admits, explaining the band’s touring rationale. “We tend to need more of a closed-off, focused space to write properly.”

    That time will come again with the New Year—starting with a homecoming at Webster Hall. Welcome home—we’ll do our best to hold off the fog.

    >> The Hundred In The Hands Dec. 9, The Studio at Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St. (betw. 3rd & 4th Aves.), 212-353-1600; 8, $15.