An Interview with Paul Hammer from Savoir Adore

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The Savoir Adore duo originated out of Brooklyn, New York, releasing two albums with ex-member Deidre Muro. The band’s third album, The Love That Remains (out now) features new vocalist, Lauren Zettler, and helped to define the band’s new sound and dynamic. Founder and vocalist, Paul Hammer joined me, via telephone in sunny Los Angeles, to chat about band changes, romance and the aftermath of the photo to the left.

Your new album, The Love That Remains has been out for just over a month. How does it feel to have your music reach Australia?

It is very exciting! With this album, we’ve had little bits of success around South America and Europe – with the last record too – so, for me, I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that it connects with people in Australia so we can get down there and play eventually. Hopefully next year – once we get a little bit more of a fan base there, because it’s hard to tour in Australia, especially for a five piece band. Hopefully things keep catching down there. It would be a dream to come down!

Have any Australians come up to you at shows? 

We’ve had Australians at shows but they live in New York, Los Angeles or something, so I don’t think, no one thus far has. We’ve gotten emails [and] had people reach out via facebook, but never in person.

You’ve essentially been with the band for ten years – but you recently got married, lost and gained band members – that’s lots of changes to happen in one go! Has that influenced the band or the sound – especially on the new album?

Definitely, it did. The biggest way it influenced was originally in terms of the concept. It was very meaningful in a way that Deidre left the band, but I also found a new partner in a romantic sense, who I’m now married to – so that was this big change that happened right when I started to write the record! Then, on top of it, when I started writing with Lauren it was a completely new perspective on writing, performing, and what the band could be about.

The band started as an experiment so, in a weird way, this is like a reverse – it forced me to confront a lot of things emotionally, musically and professionally [and] to push myself to write new music. Looking back on it now, I don’t think there would be this result without all of those changes.

Were there any moments when you thought, “what do I do now that Deidre is gone?”

Yeah, absolutely. I knew she had been frustrated with touring a lot and had some things going on in her life, but it was actually very sudden, so it was jarring in that sense – especially considering the fact that we were always a duo.

It made it very difficult at first, but [that was] part of the evolution over the last two years and part of why I needed time to figure out what I wanted to do next, what I wanted to sound like, and then, another year to put the album together. I look back on it now and I can’t imagine it any other way [laughs].

Do you see Deidre now? What is she doing now?

I haven’t – it’s been a few months now. Even when she was in Savoir Adore, she had a solo project, it was more throwback, 60s thing called Deidre in The Dark, so she was doing that and she’s also started a new project with her brother called the Violet Sands. One of the big parts of it was it’s not as much touring-focused – it’s more about studio work, producing and writing new music.

Did you do any touring without any female in the band?

No, we didn’t. It was an idea that we were toying with, but, then as soon as we started writing the new music – I enjoy that duality, I enjoy the combination of a male and female vocal, and the different personalities that can be created that way, so we waited. We didn’t play a show for almost two years, but now, luckily, we’re back in full swing.

How are fans responding to the new sound, Lauren and the new album?

From what I can tell from the shows, the fans really enjoy it. It’s especially nice to play it all live – this weekend was basically the first time we played the whole album.

It was funny because a couple of the guys in the band had actually played with Lauren in her band – she’s done a bunch of different projects so we already knew that we meshed musically and personally. Then once the new recordings were coming together, the rest of the band were more involved so they were more attached to it and they felt like they were apart of the new sound as well.

What’s it like singing your older songs with Lauren taking over the vocals originally sung by Deidre?

At first it was weird, I have to admit, because it was so different – and I think it was probably even weirder for Lauren because it’s coming in, singing and, not only playing parts, but also singing someone else’s melodies. It also quickly became apparent which songs fit and worked better than others. Now I’m so used to it and really like the change – it breathes new life into the songs, even the old ones.

Is Clifford, your van, still part of the band as well?

Now we have Clifford 2.0 – we have Clifford’s son. The original Clifford had 200,000 miles on him from touring – the brakes went out, the engine was failing – so we ended up selling him for very cheap! We ended up looking for a new van and the first van we found they said, “we’ve got this big red van here!” and it was meant to be.

And the funny thing is we just rented a van in Los Angeles, also [in] red. So we are very connected to the spirit of Clifford wherever we go! [laughs]

Savoir Adore is French for to know love. Do people assume you guys know/are French?

Sometimes, yeah. The first time we played in France was really funny. This girl came up to me, and it was the most french thing possibly that could have happened – she had a cigarette and goes, “you know your name means nothing because it actually is bad grammar.” Then, she was like, “but it’s very pretty, but it means nothing” [laughs]

Some people are like, “So you’re French, yeah?” [But] we just happened to name the band a french phrase. [laughs]

Do people struggle to pronounce it correctly as well?

It is a hard one. It’s always what my mum complains about. She says we’d be more famous if we had a different name and I’m like, “Thank you mum for your advice” [laughs]

The problem too is that it always, at least in English, it gets auto-corrected on computers to Savior Adore – so we’ll get to a venue and we’ll be like, “Oh, that’s our name! That’s so cool!” but then we’ll notice that it’s misspelt and we’re like, “great …” It happens maybe 50% of the time.

Name aside, how would you describe your music?

I would say the word romantic, guitar-driven, dance music.

There’s definitely this overall romantic aspect to the band – is that an underlining message in all of the songs as well?

It is on this record more so than the last. A lot of it too it was a metaphor for  understanding and being able to hold magic in a way – our version of magic is almost loving and having love between people. So, especially with this album, I wanted there to be a little bit of a romantic thing but then also a little bit of a introspective thing.

A song like Giants is very much about a personal journey, so I wanted this album to jump between a personal introspective struggle but then also a romantic one, because the two, in life, are very connected. Who you are as a person and who you view yourself as is directly connected to how you treat others and how you love others – I wanted those two ideas to come across through the record.

I read an interview where you spoke a little about the previous albums being more fantasy/character based, more narrative, whereas this one is more personal and open. Which album would you suggest to listen to first in order to get a sense of the band?

It’s so hard because I would love people to listen to the whole progression because there really is an evolution to the sound, narrative and story. If I had to pick one, I would say the newest record – just because it’s a combination, and a combination of everything we’ve done before. It combines all of the emotions, characters and elements of things that are a little more larger than life but it’s also a little bit more honest.

Where did the title, The Love That Remains come from?

The title of the album is a nod to my wife. That phrase is a translation of a Brazilian-Portuguese phrase – saudades, which is something you say to someone when you really miss them. They often say the love that remains, it’s actually the love that remains when two people are apart. It’s something that my wife taught me when we first met, and then we were first apart – and it stuck.

You were only just recently married – so you’re still in the honeymoon phase of your marriage. How does your wife feel about you being off touring the world?

[laughs] I think I’m in my honeymoon phase with my wife but also with this album. [laughs] Luckily a good part about where the band is at too is that none of us are in the position where we wanna hit the road for six months straight.

It’s actually crazy, in addition to me, two other band members got married this summer and one got engaged – so it’s been this summer of love for the whole band! We’re all on the same page with wanting a balance between spending time with people we want to spend time with and then touring.

You guys were essentially signed pretty fast when you guys started, right? So your lives must have changed so much in such a short amount of time.

Very fast. Almost too fast. It was confusing. [laughs] I like that it ended up that way though cause the music always came first, in a way. Then whatever we had to do to build on that we would do organically – we would form a band, we’d get a van, we’d make more music and in that way it would perpetuate itself. I’m happy that it’s always been that way rather than having too much of a focus on being famous or something.

I’m loving your current single, Giants, and its colourful video. Did you just find paint in the weirdest of places after filming?

[laughs] We did – but also we had a very, very difficult job of cleaning up the space that we worked in. They did not appreciate all – we had confetti, paint and we were basically in this building for about four hours after the shoot cleaning up everything.

Did you just find the hands coming at you abrasive?

That was the original idea for the video and it was hard to capture because people were just grabbing at me in different ways. At times, when I was like, “Oh, put more effort into it” – then it got more aggressive and I was like, “Well, less” and then it didn’t look good enough. I got man handled for twenty minutes!


For more on Savoir Adore, please visit: www.savoiradore.com

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