Hunter Hunted’s Michael Garner Talks Weezer and Writing Without Rules

Though L.A.’s Hunter Hunted has only been active since early 2013, Michael Garner and Dan Chang, the duo behind its indie rock sound, have been performing together for years. Before HH, they were 2/3 of the acoustic pop trio Lady Danville. One fewer member, a new name, and a slight evolution in sound later and HH is earning praise from the likes of Billboard, Nylon, and Teen Vogue. While enjoying a couple of days off, Garner told us about writing their debut album, Weezer, and “dating” different vans while on tour. Hunter Hunted play with Fitz and the Tantrums and The Colourist at Showbox SoDo this Friday (8/9).

Are you working on a full-length now? The goal is to have 20 really good songs and then we’re going to tear those down to however many we want on a full-length and record. We’re still in the preliminary stages. We really haven’t had much time to be home and be creative.

You opened for Weezer in March, and played a song with Weezer’s Brian Bell. Is that how the Hunter Hunted/Weezer relationship began? Yeah, we got word that he was around and heard of our band. We were doing this residency, and our manager was like “Can you guys learn a Weezer song in the next two days and play it at the next show?” We’re like “Um...yes!” It was a last-minute thing but really cool because I remember being a young boy and hearing The Blue Album for the first time. It was an early inspiration, and I still see Weezer as an important band in my personal musical growth and development.

How was opening for them? It was crazy. There’s this weird situation where you’ve held a band up on this pedestal, and they seem untouchable. But then you get to know them, and they’re really awesome people. I don’t have any less respect or admiration for these people. I actually have more because I go “Wow, on top of everything, they’re good guys.” It makes it a little more real when you can interact with them on a human level as opposed to being some screaming fan in the audience or listening to them on the radio.

What’s it like to have accomplished so much so early in your career? We learned a lot from our previous experience. You always think “If I had another chance to do it, I would’ve done it this way.” We’re getting that opportunity now. We’re definitely lucking out with some things. The first show we played, the guy who books for Conan was there and said “I’d love to get you on the show.” That was a great launching point because it kicks us into higher gear. Our second show ever, we’re playing on TV. There was a sense of urgency and excitement that we wanted to keep going. Dan and I haven’t had a chance to sit back and take it in but it’s been the most fun experience so far, and I feel like it’s just beginning. Success is very relative, and I already feel very accomplished in a way but this is in no way the end. We have so much more work to do, and this is just a good start.

Lady Danville called their van Brenda. Does the Hunter Hunted van have a name? We were married to Brenda. With Hunter Hunted, we’re dating. We don’t have a van that’s our own so we get a different van when we go out each tour. It allows us to figure out what kind of girl we want to be with for the rest of our lives.

Have you had any standout vans? The first time we went out [with the Mowgli’s], we had a sweet red 15-passenger van. It had a TV, video games. It was super decked out. But for the record, we still haven’t found the one.

What’s next for Hunter Hunted? We’re back with Fitz and then we’re playing a big show in L.A. In October, we’re going on the road with fun. We have to step up our game so we can impress the guys from fun. The beginning of next year is on the road, non-stop. In the meantime, we’re going to be working hard on writing. I want to write so much shit that 90 percent of it’s going to be shitty [laughs]. But I don’t want to have any rules or guidelines or pressure because if we go “We have to record in a month,” then I’m going to be writing under different guidelines, and I want to be able to write with the space that allows for the maximum amount of creativity just to see what this first record’s going to be like.

 
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