Beyond the Music, Just North of Ordinary: Alexander Hastings
Local Denton musician Alexander Hastings gave us a tour this week around a shared recording studio where he works closely with Chris Demiglio of the Demigs. The space was surprisingly welcoming with colorful drapes and large rooms filled with beautiful instruments.
Alexander Hastings and Kevin Layne from the former band, The Wishlist, are now in a band together called the Wellington Lights. Hastings has also joined another Denton band, The Demigs, while simultaneously working on his solo album.
Hastings has a sharp wit, which made for an entertaining interview. Check out his inspiring comments.
His Girl Friday: How did you come up with the name Wellington Lights for your band? You’ve named your house, your recording studio and didn’t you name your car?
Hastings: Debra. (Laughter) I’m typically happier with those names. At the time, we wanted the name to sound American. Previously, we had a more British-rock influence. I don’t know the origin of the word Wellington but it had a 1800s sound to it. It was just one of the many words. Somehow Wellington stuck and Lights was attached to it because we really wanted to make it positive.
His Girl Friday: You seem to have always worked with strong males.
Hist Girl Friday: No, strong male musicians. (Laughter) Have you work ever worked with females?
Hastings: One of my favorite sessions [in the recording studio] has been with Petra Kelly who plays [violin and vocals] with Spooky Folk. She’s also played with a few other bands like Leatherwood.
His Girl Friday: How would you categorize The Demigs’ music for potential listeners?
His Girl Friday: Who are The Demigs’ influences?
Hastings: Originally the band was compared to the Pixies. This was back when I was only a fan of The Demigs. They had an opening and asked me to join, and I couldn’t say no because I liked the band so much. Now there is more of a variety of influences. The band is more eclectic than it used to be. We’ve also changed drummers since the album started. There has been more creative input for the new album and the album seems to be more varied. There are even a couple of folk tunes.
His Girl Friday: How would you describe The Demigs’ listeners?
Hastings: I had an idea recently that we should try more to appeal to outcasts and weirdos. Maybe that fits us as a band better.
His Girl Friday: Do you have any Denton musician influences?
Hastings: Ryan Thomas Becker has influenced me. He’s probably the musician I believe in the most in this town. I’m typically influenced by my friends.
His Girl Friday: Who are your greatest influences?
Hastings: I don’t know if they influenced me musically, but as people: Jonathan Richmond, Woody Guthrie and John Vanderslice. I whole-heartedly believe in their music. I’m also a huge George Harrison fan. Maybe he’s more of a musical influence for me. I’m afraid of using the word influence with music.
His Girl Friday: What are your favorite Denton venues to play at?
Hastings: [The Rubber] Gloves. I always love Gloves. I’m a fan of Dan’s [Silverleaf], but I’ve never played there. I’m looking forward to our next show there.
(The Demigs should be having a show at Dan’s Silverleaf on November 9th.)
His Girl Friday: What is your favorite part about the Denton music scene?
Hastings: There is always a lot going on. It’s a very vibrant music scene. There is a good opportunity to hear different kinds of music and to be exposed to new things constantly. That’s probably the best part about Denton. I love this town.
His Girl Friday: Do you plan on music as a career?
Hastings: I hope I don’t make it big.
His Girl Friday: You hope you don’t make it big?
Hastings: I just want to be able to eat, sleep and sometimes take hot showers. Cold ones will do in the summer but right about this time of year they get kind of difficult. I never want to stop being involved with music. I tend to have a better time promoting other peoples’ music. What’s enjoyable for me is to play for free on a street corner somewhere. I think part of my interest in recording is the ability to capture other people that I’m a fan of. That’s why I want to record [Kevin Layne’s solo album]. I don’t think that people have heard Kevin the way that I have, having spent many long nights alone with him in a bedroom… (Laughter) That sounds bad. Hm. Let me restate that. Having many long practices with Kevin or us just jamming, there are those moments that you see when somebody is really into themselves and what they’re doing is inspired and natural. I feel like people aren’t always able to recreate that or they are recording at a place where they don’t feel comfortable. I want to help get that out of people and share it.
His Girl Friday: How long have you been playing guitar? What sparked your interest in music?
Hastings: Well, I was pretty much born listening to the Beatles. When I was 9, my mother bought me a guitar. That’s the only reason I play that instrument; it’s what was there.
His Girl Friday: Did you teach yourself how to play?
Hastings: Yeah, I taught myself. [My mom] bought me a chord book with my guitar. For months I learned every C chord. I couldn’t make a song out of it. I tried C to Cm to Cadd9 and it wouldn’t sound right. Eventually I figured out, when I was probably flipping through a Beatles book, I saw that you actually have to use different letters. Oh, OK, G and then C. (Laughter) OK, that sounds the way songs sound. That really changed a lot for me. But I never forgot all those C chords I learned. I throw those in there sometimes. It’s pretty cool. (Laughter) High school is when I actually started to write things, maybe junior high. A lot of times I feel like I haven’t started yet so that’s a really hard question for me to answer.
Hastings played a couple of impressive tracks from the new Demigs album for us.
The new Demigs album, the new Wellington Lights album and his new solo album should be finished in the next few months. Come check out a show and be sure to pick one up.