Southern California quartet HAWAI (two syllables, “huh-why”) always point out that they are a band, not a state, unless by state you mean the mental and emotional kind. Then the foursome — singer-guitarist Jake Pappas, bassist Jared Slaybaugh, keyboardist Matt Gillen and drummer Jesse “Bumper” Dorman — transport listeners to a pretty dreamy one.
HAWAI’s new single “Think About It” is the capstone to the sound the quartet has been crafting since debuting their “Working All Night” EP in 2016. With a melody that takes hold and won’t let go — not to mention tastefully restrained production — the song bridges heartsick ’80s synth-pop and contemporary West Coast indie. Blue skies for blue hearts, if you will.
“Think About It,” which follows two other singles the band has released this year (“Alive” and “I’m Not Dead”), appears on HAWAI’s second EP, “Hide in the Ocean,” made with producer Frederik Thaae (Atlas Genius) and out Dec. 8. The song actually originated on a nine-hour plane flight with Gillen, playing around in GarageBand. “When he first showed me the song,” Pappas says, “I remember my eyes opened really wide. I think I said something like, ‘Holy shit, this is it!’ I’m not sure what that entails but I felt like it was something special.”
Of the song’s story, Pappas says he tried to capture an awkward moment of silence between two lovers. “I have this fascination with fictional narratives when writing lyrics,” he says. “I put myself in this scenario that hasn’t directly happened to me, and I often find myself writing about regret and hardship. [Starting with] the first line, ‘She stares into endless space in a silent state.’ I had this picture of a girl, who just found out something, and she’s standing blank-faced, staring out into space. And then the tag line, ‘I think about it’ is where the boyfriend comes home, sees his girl standing there and she doesn’t say a word. So he thinks about it — that feeling of, ‘Oh shit, what did I do?’ I liked the idea of writing about that feeling of being way too inside your head, where no words are exchanged. Just thoughts. And the thoughts build and build into this gigantic illogical assumption that spirals out of control.”
||| Stream: “Think About It”
||| Also: Stream “Alive”
||| Live: HAWAI plays Dec. 7 at the Constellation Room along with Mt. Joy and Twin Oaks (tickets). They also perform Dec. 11 at It’s a School Night at Bardot.