Barely three months ago, Haunter was gearing up for the future. The band drew favorable comparisons to the likes of Chvrches of Ellie Goulding with their debut single “Love You Better,” and things looked to be heading in the right direction for the self-described former emo kids.
Then the COVID-19 outbreak happened, and everything changed. Like the rest of the world, vocalist Lucy Lenoir, bassist Mark Schroeder and guitarists Mike Ray and Enoma Asowata’s lives were upended by the ongoing pandemic. As a result, the quartet has been unable to physically share space for more than two months now, and a trip they had planned to Los Angeles to record more songs has been postponed.
Fortunately for fans of energetic pop music with electronic undertones, not even the coronavirus was enough to keep Haunterfrom releasing their second single, “Miss Me.”
“With technology being what it is, most bands are at least able to write and collaborate from home and put something together,” Ray said in a recent interview with the Houston Press. “So I’m hoping that, in a year or so, or whenever the world is back to normal, there might be a wealth of good art that comes out. That’s one thing I’m really hoping that maybe will be good in all of this.”
Haunter's latest release — produced by Tyler Smyth, who has worked with the likes of Falling In Reverse and I Prevail — doubles down on the self-love espoused in “Love You Better,” with Lenoir’s soaring vocals telling a familiar story of heartbreak and healing.
“I had just gone through a crappy breakup, so we had a lot of fun writing this song," Lenoir said. "The verses are about different people. One of them — I was going to Los Angeles, and my boyfriend at the time was texting me, talking shit.”
As she was stepping off a plane, Lenoir received a message from her boyfriend, detailing his misgivings about their relationship. The text ended with, “When I’m gone, you’re gonna’ miss me," and Lenoir realized she had been told that more than once before. So she began writing.
Mike Ray, Lucy Lenoir, Mark Schroeder and Enoma Asowata are Haunter.
Photo by Taylor Foiles
“For me, this song is bittersweet. It’s reminiscent of the past but it’s also kind of sassy,” Lenoir says.
But no one is innocent all the time, and Haunter wanted both sides of the story to be told. They linked up with California crooner R I L E Y, a friend of Ray and Schroeder’s whose music Asowata likens to blackbear and Jeremy Zucker's. Including a verse from the male perspective, the band hoped to make the song's themes even more universal.
“A month after we sent it to him, he said, ‘I’ve got it mapped out and tracked,’ and when we heard it, we were like, ‘This is spot on.’” Asowata said of R I L E Y's verse. “It was the perfect counterbalance to everything else going on in the song.”
With “Miss Me,” HAUNTER has written a boy-bye anthem for synth-pop enthusiasts. The song feels whimsical, like you’re driving through your old neighborhood, recollecting but not exactly missing your past.
“The songs definitely tell a story,” Lenoir said of both singles. “Every song we wrote was about something happening at the time, so it’s kind of the story of all of us.”
But fans of concept albums shouldn't get ahead of themselves, because that isn't what Haunter has planned. Though Asowata thinks it might be something listeners may be able to construct for themselves.
“I’ve listened to all the songs we've put together and, while they all feel different, you could construct a narrative if you put the songs in the right order,” he said. “So it’s my hope that, when we build a larger body of work, someone could put together their own playlist and make it reflect their own story.”
With another eight tracks in the queue and plans to record a few more - as soon as flying is advisable, that is - HAUNTER fans won’t be left waiting for new content for very long.
“There’s going to be content coming out all the time,” Asowata said. “Every six to eight weeks, whether it’s music or art, you’ll get something from us.”
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business.
Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.