Song Premiere | Gray, the New Black - Counting the holes in my heart

Dallas band, Gray, the New Black, releases their debut single, "Counting the Holes in My Heart." Vocalist Mike Hamilton and bandmates Johnn Hesseltine (drums) and Chad Woodward (bass, synth) sat down to talk with us about the song's inception.

Brittany Griffiths | 26 April 2019

photo courtesy of Mike Hamilton


Song: Counting the Holes in My Heart
Artist: Gray, the New Black
Release date: 26 April 2019

     “Counting the Holes in My Heart,” is the first single from the Dallas-based band Gray, the New Black. The band has gone through multiple iterations over the last decade, shifting members as some have moved, but the current line-up consists of Mike Hamilton (guitar, keys, vocals), Johnn Hesseltine (drums), Chad Woodward (bass, synth), Allison Hamilton (vocals), and Lauren Kidd (vocals). Though the band self-recorded an 8-track EP back in 2011, this single represents the first sharpened attempt to record their music in a studio setting. “We recorded the song in Plano with Bradley Prakope (Promix Engineering) and Josh Goode in Bradley's home studio. It took roughly 30 hours of active recording, and another 12+ to mix,” says Mike Hamilton, “it was mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering (who has an impressive portfolio of Grammy nominated albums to their name from the Milk Carton Kids, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn't Do, to Bonnie Raitt's, Dig in Deep... as well as albums by local artists E.B. the Younger and Sarah Jaffee). All three of them were indispensable to the process. We couldn't be happier with the result. We funded the recording by playing about 12 shows in 2018, and spent every dime on the process.” Mike, who has been building his own home studio for the past year, notes that one of the reasons for taking their time on the single was to learn more about the studio process, and how a song develops from start to finish, from recording to mixing to mastering. "That was another big thing... we wanted to watch the process of recording it from somebody that's like not on a YouTube tutorial."

     The single, which was written ten years ago, carries a special weight for Mike in particular. “These lyrics are probably some of my favorite lyrics I’ve ever written,” says Mike, “I think in general, I write lyrics in kind of like a splotchy, painting thing so I storyboard almost more than a narrative. So each little stanza, or whatever, is its own little picture, and then there’s a bigger picture, but it’s not linear – if that makes sense.” Mike reflects on the inception of the song, and how he began writing it in the middle of the night in his bedroom, recording the initial demos into the speakers of his laptop. The song has morphed over the years with the introduction of new bandmates who have added their own ideas to it, before settling into the recorded version released today. "We wanted something that says, 'Hey — here's what we sound like, it exemplifies what we do, and it sounds professional.'" In the long run, Gray, the New Black would love to record another 10 songs, enough for a full-album, but for now, they're more than pleased with the way "Counting the Holes in My Heart" has turned out.

You can follow Gray, the New Black, listen to their new single, and keep track of their upcoming shows and releases at the links below.


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Brittany Griffiths is a writer from Dallas, Texas. She is the founder and editor of Spontaneous Afflatus, an independent publishing house that specializes in poetry and short story collections. She is also the editor of Wavelength Magazine. Last year she released her debut poetry collection titled, Ebb & Flow.

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