Within a year, local band Hydra Plane went from small gigs and a handful of recordings to opening for popular bassist Thundercat this Sunday night.
When The Daily Reveille previously sat down with lead singer and guitarist Jacob Stanley in March, the band was gaining traction with its EP, “The Ether,” on Bandcamp and opening for Ship of Fools at the Varsity Theatre. Now the trio has finished its first full-length self-titled album, slated for release Sunday and have around 50 gigs under their belts.
Stanley graduated from the University in May, while bassist Eric Stewart and drummer Stephen Nelson, jazz studies senior and percussion performance senior, respectively. While, Hydra Plane is still based in Baton Rouge, Stanley hopes to make larger nearby cities like New Orleans regular venue spots, he said.
“It’s been a pretty steady incline as far as chemistry [among us], but [our first year] was a lot of trial and error because we’re still mostly in Baton Rouge,” Stanley said.
Since its inception in 2016, the group’s self-described surf-rock, psych-fusion sound has evolved into a more experimental style.
“Every once in awhile those influences will come out, but we’ve definitely shifted [our sound] since then,” Nelson said. “[To describe our music is] a year-long question that we still haven’t found an answer for.”
The album’s 10 tracks are all original songs. A few, like popular track “Shit Storm” will be familiar to longtime fans, while others have only been performed only a handful of times; however, the entirety of the tracklist has been played live at one point or another, Stanley said.
Selecting the tracklist wasn’t difficult for the group. Since releasing its first EP, Hydra Plane has written seven new songs that are now on the new album. For the remaining three songs, the band picked tracks they felt the crowd most related to, Stewart said.
A majority of the album was recorded on campus in the recital hall of the School of Music with the help of University recording technician Bill Kelley, Stanley said.
The self-title album “Hydra Plane” features some surprises as well, such as guest horn players on “Googa Dooga.” Fellow local musician _thesmoothcat is also featured on the album and has performed several joint shows with the band.
Along with finishing the album, Hydra Plane has put much of focus on their upcoming show this weekend. The group had already planned an album release party, but when Stanley realized one of the band’s largest influences, Thundercat, was playing the following night, he saw an opportunity. After some persistence and a month of waiting, the band was approved as an opener.
“Releasing our album was going to be our biggest moment so far, and it just so happened to coincide with one of our favorite bass players [coming to Baton Rouge],” Stanley said. “It’s the perfect situation that could’ve happened.”
Baton Rouge’s music scene has been on the incline over the past few years, Stewart said, as Hydra Plane's well-attended performances and frequent appearances show.
“All local bands we’ve played with so far have been phenomenal,” Stewart said. “It’s so great seeing our friends [in bands] doing their thing, and there’s lots of support among [the scene]. It’s nice to see everybody reaching for the same goal.”
For the near future, a possible tour is regular talk among the trio, as well as playing music festivals throughout the state. One of the loftiest goals for Hydra Plane is to eventually play the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Stewart said.
In the span of a year, Hydra Plane crafted its original, dance-inducing sound into a full-length album — paired with its alluring stage presence, the trio has figured out how to make a lasting impression on audiences.