On October 27, I met with two members of the local indie band Hank’s Dream. The Montreal-based group welcomed me into their living room, where I conducted an interview in an artsy, musical atmosphere amid festive Halloween decorations. The band consists of four young musicians, two of which are McGill alumni: Henry, Fred, Zach and Henri. They are currently working on their second album following the success of their latest and debut single “San Francisco.”
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Philippine d’Halleine for The McGill Daily (MD): Can you introduce us to the band members?
HENRY (H): My name is Henry, I’m 25, from Ontario. I started the band in 2019 and then I moved to Montreal in 2020 to go to the Université de Montréal (UDeM) –at that point I met all of the musicians who are currently in Hank’s Dream and reformed the group with them. I play keyboard and sometimes guitar, and I’m also the lead singer.
FRED (F): I’m Frederic, I’m 23 and from Montreal. I studied guitar at CEGEP and then did a bachelor’s degree in jazz music at McGill University. I’m a guitarist, and I do backing vocals. Then we have Henri who is the bassist – we met at McGill during our undergraduate degree in music – and Zach, the drummer, who met Henry at UDeM.
MD: When did you realize you wanted to start a music career?
H: For me, it was the last year of high school when university applications came around. I had to decide if I wanted to play music or do something else. I really liked history at the time, but I realized that I was so much happier doing music. Also, I was lucky to have parents who wanted me to do whatever made me happy. Then, once I was in university for music, there was no question – I was sold on the whole thing.
F: I think for me, there wasn’t this big moment of realization. I wanted to give a CEGEP program in music a try, and I realized that I loved it. Every show I go see, play in, or listen to, my passion gets even bigger.
MD: Henry, you decided to create the band in 2019. Why did you choose to launch a project like this?
H: Well, it was the last year of my four years of undergrad in music. There weren’t that many people
who were into non-classical music or pop music. So, me and my very good friends at the time ended up playing in every project. Every time someone would have a show, and needed a band, they would get us three to be the rhythm section. In the summer of my fourth year, I wanted to do the same thing, except instead of filling in for parts of a band, we would be the entire band. And then all of a sudden, we were an indie band.
MD: What type of music inspires you? What do you listen to?
H: We’ve all been influenced by our parents. They grew up in the 80s, and have this common passion for classics like the Beatles, my mother also introduced me to new wave artists like Joy Division, or Jonathan Richmond. Much of the music they played for us when we were little influences us today.
MD: How would you describe your music?
H: World music maybe? It’s a hard question. We use dream pop a lot – hence the name of the band. Hank’s Dream is a combination of that genre with my nickname. But the dream aspect is more interesting to us. It comes from, as I said before, the fact that we were always playing behind other people. And then I wanted to just play, without having to back anyone. But on a less poetic level, it came from my username on video games, which was always Hank’s Dream. Another contender was Midnight Croquet.
MD: Your self-titled debut album was released in 2020. What was the intention behind it?
H: 2019 was the last “normal” year right before COVID. We were semi-formed as a band and were starting to introduce people to the original music we had written. At that point, we had three songs in our set that were original, and then a fourth one was written during the recording process. It was during lockdown when there were no more live shows. I think if it wasn’t for COVID, we probably would have continued to develop as a group and then maybe have waited to put out a whole album. But because the pandemic stopped our development, live music, and getting together in general, we decided to put out what we had.
MD: Were you satisfied?
H: I think so. It’s definitely an imperfect album. We’d like to rework some things on it, which is something we will do in the future, but it got the message across. And for people who had been coming to see our shows in person, it was a way for them to hear the music during the pandemic.
F: It’s important for a small band to release at least something, no matter how good the quality is. Just releasing it allows people to find the show at any time. The goal now would be to record a real full-length album – a real LP.
MD: Now that restrictions on live shows have been lifted, how are you back in the Montreal music scene?
H: For a while, we were doing shows around once a month. But we’ve started to become more interested in the releasing music aspect.
F: 2022 was really our year to play and show our music to the world. We tried to get an audience in the Montreal scene, which worked out pretty well. In 2023, we’ve already done some major shows, but the second half of the year is more about working on the album and planning future releases for 2024.
H: Presently we have the four tunes from the EP that came out in 2020, and up until this June we had nothing else besides that. We would play 12 songs in a show with eight of them unreleased. We realized that we can’t keep playing shows with no vision or end in sight for when it’s going to be released. Therefore, we started going full focus on the recording and put “San Francisco” out in June. Now we’re working on getting all the other things out. Our next project is coming out sometime soon in November.
MD: Can you tell us about any future projects?
F: We’re working on the next album, which hasn’t been recorded yet, but we’re making progress. We’ve got lots of crossover projects, and from time to time we get together on the same project.
H: We also have a music video that was directed by our talented friend Guillaume Knobloch. On my side I created a soundtrack for a short film that’s in the editing process.
MD: How do you feel the Montreal music scene is responding to your music? Would you recommend this city as a place for young musicians to start their careers?
H: The scene is so welcoming, that’s the best part. On the level of getting help from festivals or grants it’s harder. You take the good with the bad. One of the ways that I think Montreal indirectly helps musicians is the fact that (knock on wood) rent is so cheap, because with the income that I have from doing music, I couldn’t live anywhere else. I couldn’t live in Toronto for sure. I think just the fact that Montreal is an affordable city for students and young people is part of what makes it a good music city.
MD: Will we be able to catch you on stage again soon?
H: There is a show in November that will celebrate the release of our new song. You can check our Instagram for the address and the date.