When it comes to Half The Animal's band name, drummer Nick Gross explains that it’s a game of interpretation. “You can incorporate it a bunch of ways,” Gross tells AXS. “We always say that all of us have our power animal, half of us are humans, but the other half of us are our animal instincts and the things that drive us forward.I think that those are sometimes the most important things, to tap into [the] animalistic sides of our energy and personality.”
And the band’s music shares those driving, untamed qualities. Half The Animal’s early singles are part euphoric rushes, impulsive bursts that tap into our natural, unspoken motivations and part strong songwriting. Their breakout single “Babylon” soars with a towering hook and pounding drums while frontman Chase Johnson sings about the difficulties that come with shedding bad habits and personal growth. It’s heart on the sleeve music that inspires as much as it makes you want to get up and do something, anything.
As a band, Half The Animal has been gestating for a long time. Johnson and Gross grew up together in Laguna Beach. “We met in church class, got kicked out on purpose to talk about music and formed a band called Open Air Stereo in high school,” remembers Gross. After appearances on MTV’s teen reality drama “Laguna Beach,” the two went in different directions, reluctantly leaving their band ambitions on the backburner. Gross started a recording studio in L.A. Johnson became a fashion photographer. They eventually regrouped to write music and rebranded as Half The Animal, and rounded the ensemble out with Evan Smith and guitarist Dan Graham in the middle of last year.
But like most bands, figuring out a sound and identity in those early days proved difficult. “Chase and I have been writing songs together for probably over 10 years now. So we just kind of have a system of how we like to do things,” says Gross. “Bringing in guys like Dan and Evan have made things quicker and allowed us to really focus on what kind of band we want to be and how the songs are going to sound. It’s a hard thing when you launch a new project, making sure everything sounds consistent and congruent often can be challenging.”
For such a young band, Half The Animal’s music sounds surprisingly realized and polished. At the end of this month, they will release their debut EP, Shapes, and it will give listeners a glimpse of Half The Animal’s sound and aesthetic.
“We spent a year and a half writing 20 songs. These are our top four that we chose. We feel like we have a pink, a purple, a red and a blue and they kind of have their own different diversity and [sound] to them,” explains Gross. “It doesn’t really pigeonhole us too hard into a specific category right out the gate, and we’re pumped.”
Shapes is out March 31 on Strz Records. Check out the lyric video for “Babylon” below.