The Hippo


Apr 20, 2019








 Hunter CD Release Party

When: Saturday, Aug. 29, 7 p.m.
Where: Fody’s Tavern, Railroad Square, Nashua

Hunter arrives
Nashua band’s first album is a winner

By Michael Witthaus

 Tuneful, filled with smart lyrics and bushels of hooks, the debut CD from Hunter is among the best to come from New Hampshire in 2015. After opening with the Wurlitzer whimsy of “Smooth Seas Never Made for a Skilled Sailor,” it shifts moods effortlessly, similar in intent if not style to Pat & the Hats’ Fake It ‘Till You Make a Hit, an album that ruled the region last year.

The second, third and fourth tracks on the eponymous album show this well. “Que Sera, Sera” recalls Blondie in punkier times, “Before You Go, Stay” weds Paramore sass to a garage-y guitar riff, while “Something Real” has an arena rock sheen. Other standouts are the Beatlesque rockabilly of “BBB” and “Vagabond” — a searing rocker closing the record.
What’s most impressive is the fact that the Nashua group is only a year old but exudes the maturity of a veteran band. Leader Hunter Stamas, guitarist Cameron Gilhooly, drummer Connor Coburn and bass player Zack Warneka recently squeezed together on a sofa in their second-floor studio. They looked back on a heady first year, and forward to an Aug. 29 release party at Fody’s Tavern, the place where they first performed in 2014.
Hunter started when Stamas recruited Gilhooly to help flesh out her songs. 
“I was writing solo and there was a lot I couldn’t do that I needed a band for — then there was him and him,” she said, pointing to Coburn on her right and Warneka sitting at the end of the couch. 
“Our original name was Hunter and the Hims,” Warneka joked.
They found their mojo one song at a time. 
“From the beginning, we sort of recorded as we wrote them,” Gilhooly said.
“We weren’t doing anything with intent, just for fun — which we still are,” Coburn said. “We finally decided to put it together on a CD … which is why they’re all different.”
“The band is actually a little afraid of how different they all are,” said Stamas. “I’m sort of a scatterbrain, I like all kinds of music.”
Asked to name her primary influences, Stamas answered instantly: “Bob Dylan — just thinking about or looking at him.” 
“Not even listening,” Warneka added.
She named a song, “Rolling Thunder,” after his barnstorming 1975 tour and shares Dylan’s lispy harmonica style on a few others. Stamas is also an inveterate Beatles fan.
Some modern artists figure in her worldview. 
“Lana del Rey is one of the few I like that’s not 80 years old; she’s very important,” Stamas said, “But also No Doubt, Paramore, Flyleaf and Arctic Monkeys.”
With cheeky ambition — “I just want to be able to buy a lot of snacks. Snack money is key,” joked Coburn — the band is getting noticed with alacrity. They’ve appeared multiple times on Frank FM’s local music radio program, and just booked a show at the Middle East in Cambridge, Mass.
Most significantly, they successfully competed for an appearance at EarthFest, held in July on Boston Common. A battle of the bands that began with 75 online submissions winnowed down to 50 acts and ended convincingly at the Hard Rock nightclub in Boston. 
“It was unanimous,” Gilhooly said. “We went on second or third and they all went, ‘It’s them’ — no hemming or hawing.”
A video for “Smooth Seas” provided the entrée into the contest. Stamas laughs at the idea that the no-budget mermaid tale was key to their ultimate win. 
“We literally made that in a second,” she said. 
It was filmed at Hampton Beach on a freezing day last February.
“The worst part was when we went in the water,” Coburn said. “It was like 5 degrees.” 
Even if made on shoestring, the clip’s infectious charm is undeniable — just like the band, now sailing toward a bright future. 

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