If anything, 2020 has been the year to send bands into dormancy, not bring them out of it. But hey, the entire world has been upside down this year. There are no rules.
Videos by American Songwriter
To understand the present however, you have to know the Iglu & Hartly past.
It was the mid 00’s when college friends Jarvis Anderson (lead vocals, production), Sam Martin (vocals, keyboards), and Simon Katz (guitar) had formed a band and moved to Los Angeles after dropping out of school. Luis Rosiles flew from Jarvis’ hometown of Chicago to join as their drummer and LA local Michael Bucher joined as bassist. The guys knocked around the seedy Hollywood nightclubs before being adopted by Hermosa Beach, a Los Angeles sea-side community with a strong punk rock heritage, which identified with their synth-heavy, sweaty and wildly packed shows.
Two years after their west coast arrival, they had a worldwide hit on their hands in the form of “In This City.” Their debut album & Then Boom followed in ’09 and things only got crazier from there. The band jumped on the tour bus and toured the UK, Europe, and North America incessantly. As life has proven time and time again, too much too fast can rip almost anything apart at the seams and Iglu & Hartly were no exception. The group’s interpersonal relationships became strained and by 2010 it was all over. The band was dropped by the label and the members all went their separate ways.
But hey, 2020, right? Hang on, we’re almost there.
After lying dormant for nearly a decade, the band reunited for one show at California’s Hermosa Beach Summer Series Festival in August of 2019. As they say, there’s magic in music and something happened on that stage. What was intended to be a one-time thing turned into a second breath of life. The next thing you know, the guys were back in the studio recording new music.
Now, a year after that resurrection and ten years after their first goodbye, Iglu & Hartly have a new song to share with the world in “Cooler.” Written by Jarvis back in 2016, it was always kind of meant for Iglu & Hartly, even when there was no Iglu & Hartly to speak of.
“Sometimes in songwriting, if you keep the “flood gates open”, a lot of elements can come together very quickly and naturally,” explains Anderson. “What started as a writing session with my friend Luke Muscatelli ended up rousting a cheeky voice inside my head, ‘This is the kind of song Iglu & Hartly should put out if we ever got back together for another record.’
As the song came together in the studio, the guys fell in lockstep with the same creative process that worked so well for them before. Not unlike their coming back together, it wasn’t forced. It just sort of happened.
“For Iglu & Hartly, writing and recording has always gone hand and hand with me producing while taking breaks to write lyrical sections simultaneously. “Cooler’s” initial session left us with the bones of the recorded track which I thought had captured an “island” feel; kind of like the vibe of Beach Boy’s “Kokomo”, without being reggae at all. This was something I’ve tried to deliberately accomplish many times previously, but only in “Cooler” has it happened naturally!
“During the initial writing session, the “Cooler” refrain was actually a post chorus moment with a whole section in front of that. Feeling dangerous, I summarily deleted it so the chorus would start with the “Cooler” just to see how the song would respond. The result was a chorus that had the element of surprise that I love hearing in songs. That ‘…where did that come from!’ effect.
The band members weren’t the only ones falling back into the fold as Mark Needham was brought back to co-produce and mix the song. Known for his work with the Killers, Imagine Dragons, Fleetwood Mac and more, Needham worked on & Then Boom ten years ago. Being as that was the sound they were going for again, it only seemed fitting to get him back behind the board.
Big and bombastic, “Cooler” is full of throwback synths and sweat heavy guitars building to a grandiose crescendo. In short, it’s three and a half minutes of proof that you can go back home.
“I hope that our fans and newcomers will find motivation in this song. Hopefully people can find the courage to take 2nd chances and create their own comeback! We want people to feel “Cooler” as both soothing and exciting; healing and rambunctious. It just starts with saying “You are cooler than you used to be!”