Photo by Alyssa-Leigh Willey
After waiting on top of the parking garage for nearly 15 minutes, a sunset barely forming amidst dark clouds on the Columbia skyline, a Jeep pulls up and parks. Almost as soon as Rob Magee and Evan Delp step out of the vehicle, skateboard and guitar case in respective hands, their vision for the photoshoot is set straight.
“What if we did, like, some shots in this stairwell? Could we get a light in here?”
“Could you get one of us climbing up on this barrier?”
It’s a fitting attitude for a band set up as straightforward as Homemade Haircuts, a group that was formulated years in advance of their debut EP, "Hold the Door."
“I actually met Evan during our senior year of high school,” Magee explains, describing how he and his fellow USC sophomore and band member crossed paths. The idea of starting a band began with the two mentioning their musical abilities ... or lack thereof, in Magee's case.
“He was saying how he kind of played guitar," says Magee.
Delp interrupts, “And you told me you played the bass."
“I said I have a bass...” Magee pauses, a smile forming, “and I didn’t say anything else.”
“It’s funny, because what I heard was you saying, ‘Yeah, I’m really good at the bass.’”
Both were accepted to USC, and Magee spent the fall teaching himself how to play the guitar. In spring they found themselves in some of the same classes, sitting together and scribbling lyrics and ideas onto their class notes.
“We toyed with the idea of starting a band during the spring,” Delp says. “But it didn’t really become a reality until we actually started finishing songs. So this past fall was when we really started to turn it into something – figuring out that we actually want to play shows and record music.”
The majority of the songs from "Hold the Door" were written during the end of their freshman year.
“I flew up to Philly after Christmas and we recorded the whole EP in like, 10 days in his room,” Magee explains.
Although Delp hails from more of an acoustic, singer-songwriter background and Magee relates more to groups like Cage the Elephant and Vampire Weekend, the two are able to connect on different levels to musicians who record music in DIY settings.
“Translating into the EP are these different indie-rock, singer-songwriter backgrounds, like those are the songs that we listen to. But when I listen to bedroom pop, I think that it’s taking notes on production technique rather than just listening to the music itself,” Magee says.
The EP is made up of five songs, each with their own raw sense of self-discovery. According to the band, it’s better to listen to all five in order to get the real idea behind the record: the nostalgia and triumph that comes along with getting to a better emotional place in life.
“I think ‘Spring Cleaning,’ the ending song, kind of answers the questions and concerns that are brought up in the first song, ‘Carsick.'” Magee says.
“But if you’re gonna listen to one and not listen to the rest, then definitely ‘Weather,’” Delp adds. He pauses for a minute and looks over his shoulder at the sun, which is now peeking over the top of what looks like, quite fittingly, a storm cloud; a sudden change of weather, just like the song’s lyrics suggest.
A plane flies over us as they answer the typical, “What do you want to see come out of this project?” question. The engines are loud, adding an ominous air to the end of the interview.
It’s the first time that they don’t seem 100 percent straightforward. Magee and Delp are both studying abroad next year, completely unsure of what’s to come of the group. The one thing they are sure of is a change of scenery, hoping that it provides experiences to heighten song lyrics and subsequently a follow-up record, with higher quality sound, coming as soon as they get back home.
Neither seem worried about the effect of their trips abroad on the group, and honestly I don’t feel worried either. It’s merely a brief change of weather.